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Milano links diverse faculty to diverse workforce

Bernard J. Milano, president and trustee of the KPMG Foundation and The PhD Project, discussed his dedication to creating an academic environment that prepares students for a diverse world.

One of the keys to increasing diversity in the corporate workforce is to attract more diverse faculty members to universities, Bernard J. Milano, president and trustee of the KPMG Foundation and The PhD Project, told a Lehigh audience this week.

“Diverse faculty is a means to an end—our goal is a more diverse workforce,” said Milano. “If we don’t increase the pool, we will forever be shortchanging ourselves.”

During his public talk at Perella Auditorium in the Rauch Business Center Monday afternoon, Milano discussed his dedication to creating an academic environment that prepares students for a diverse world. A broad spectrum of the Lehigh community attended the lecture.

The PhD Project, founded in 1994, aims to address the need for more people of color in corporate America by increasing diversity in faculty.

“We care deeply about the production process of developing students for the work place,” said Milano, who served on President George W. Bush’s board of advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. “Having a diverse experience in academics is crucial to survival in the corporate world.”

Everyone has a place in this work

From 1994 to this year, the number of business faculty members of color nationwide has increased from 294 to 1,116. And the number of doctoral candidates of color has more than doubled, from an estimated 175 to 377, Milano said. But more work needs to be done, he added.

A diverse pool of faculty benefits students of all backgrounds, according to Milano. Seeing experts from different backgrounds shows students from homogenous environments that anyone can be an authority on an important subject. And diverse faculty help students of color, who have been shown to gravitate toward faculty and staff members from similar backgrounds, succeed, Milano said.

“Before meeting him, I built up this image of a 7-foot corporate titan, but he was the complete opposite—engaged and humble,” said LeVaughn Nesbitt ’13. “Mr. Milano is committed to diversity in the classroom, in the workplace, and in our community.”

A graduate of Temple University with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting, Milano got his start at KPMG’s offices in Philadelphia, and sits on the board of directors for the Campus Compact, a coalition of more than 1,100 institutions dedicated to promoting civic engagement. To many, his work is a call to action.

“My challenge to you would be to find where you fit in this picture,” said Provost Patrick Farrell to the audience. “You all help create the climate in the classroom; everyone has a place in this work.”

Story by Karl Brisseaux

Posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2012

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