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Stanford GSB | Ms. 2+2 Tech Girl
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Stanford GSB | Ms. Healthcare Operations To General Management
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Chicago Booth | Ms. CS Engineer To Consultant
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Kenan-Flagler | Mr. Engineer In The Military
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Ross | Mr. Automotive Compliance Professional
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Harvard | Mr. Marine Pilot
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Former Harvard B-School Prof Slams Dean For School’s ‘Systematic Anti-Black Practices’

Warm light glows invitingly from inside Harvard Business School on a cold, winter evening..

Harvard Business School

OUTRAGED BY A DECISION TO PASS OVER A HIGHLY QUALIFIED BLACK WOMAN FOR THE TOP MBA ADMISSIONS JOB

“There are no blacks in any position of leadership including associate or assistant deans. There are only 2 black tenured professors and less than 3% of the entire 300-plus member faculty are black. There are zero Course Heads who are black. And in the leadership positions held but non-faculty members, none are black. I asked for a meeting with a Nitin a few years ago where I shared all of these facts and very little has been done.”

What particularly outraged Rogers was Nohria’s decision in 2016 to pass over a qualified African-American as managing director of admissions and financial aid in favor of a white alum who had only graduated from Harvard Business School two and one-half years earlier. Chad Losee, then with Bain & Co’s Dallas office, had no experience in either admissions or campus recruiting.

“I was furious,” recalls Rogers. “That was the beginning of the straw that broke the camel’s back for me.”

The candidate who Rogers believed should have gotten the job was Shari Hubert, who graduated from Harvard with her MBA in 2000 and had already racked up over a dozen years of work experience in admissions and recruiting. At the time, Hubert had been associate dean of MBA admissions at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business for more than three years. She brought an impressive resume to her candidacy, having been director of recruitment at the Peace Corps, a senior vice president at Citi who managed a team of seven recruiters who screened applicants for both analyst and associate positions for the global bank and nearly three years as head of campus relations at General Electric.  A highly personable executive universally liked by those who work with her, she had also worked at NBC Universal, BCG and Merck. Hubert moved on from Georgetown a year later to become associate dean of admissions for Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

‘ONE OF THE WORST EXAMPLES OF RACISM THAT I HAVE SEEN AS AN ADULT’

Shari Hubert is now associate dean of admissions for Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business

“He took a non-qualified white guy over an extraordinarily qualified black woman,” says Rogers, still angry over the decision. “It was one of the worst examples of racism that I have seen as an adult. That guy he promoted wasn’t qualified to be a dog catcher. It is a hell of a statement about racism. Nitin did that because there were white faculty on board asking for him (Losee) to be promoted.  I was absolutely furious with the Black Alumni Association for not saying anything.”

Then, in late 2017, Rogers would be turned down for a promotion to the position of Professor of Management Practice, a four-year appointment for practitioners who are non-tenured faculty members. At first, he says, the school’s faculty tried to dissuade him from applying for the promotion. He applied anyway, submitting his application to Nohria in December of 2017. “I was told by Professor Paul Healy, the head of the subcommittee appointed by Nitin, that every candidate who ever applied in the history of HBS, has been promoted,” recalled Rogers in his letter to Bacow.

“While that was interesting to hear I knew that nothing was guaranteed, especially given HBS’s horrible history with black leaders. My research showed that only 1 black person, Dennis Hightower, has ever been promoted to the position of Professor of Management Practice. Dennis was promoted 21 years ago. And since that time, no other black person including Senior Lecturers with stellar executive resumes from Fortune 500 companies such as Henry Mcgee (Harvard ‘74, MBA ‘79), the former President of HBO Entertainment, and Paula Price, the former Vice President and CFO of Ahold USA, had ever been nominated for the position.”

REJECTED FOR A PROMOTION, ROGERS FINALLY DECIDED TO LEAVE HBS IN 2019

Rogers was confident he would get promoted. After all, he had by that time been CEO of two entrepreneurial ventures, authored a textbook on finance as well as 20 new case studies. He had a successful record of teaching worldwide, including at West Point, racking up a record 26 Professor of the Year awards in executive programs as well as two Most Outstanding Professor in the MBA Program at Kellogg, along with accolades from colleagues, students and alums at HBS.

In mid-2018, he was told by Healy that the subcommittee’s decision to turn him down was not even a close one. Healy, Rogers says, told him it was unanimous that he was not qualified to be a Professor of Management Practice due to substandard work experiences, publications, and teaching.

“I told Paul that I was disappointed and vehemently disagreed with their conclusions,” wrote Rogers to Bacow. “I also informed him that all of the published information stated that the decision was solely Nitin’s, not the subcommittee. He told me that he had spoken to Nitin and he agreed with the subcommittee and therefore that was the final decision. I told him that was counter to what was published. I was entitled to hear directly from Nitin and not to do so would be unfair and the epitome of unprofessionalism. On June 28, I received an email from Nitin informing me that he was not promoting me based on the subcommittee’s recommendation.”

‘THIS SCHOOL THAT I DEARLY LOVE NEEDS TO CHANGE’

Steven Rogers

While explicitly telling Bacow that he was not asking for an appeal of the decision, he was hoping that the new president would commit to a change agenda at the school. “I am citing my experiences to highlight the fact that HBS leaders have an intentional or unintentional anti-Black disposition that is making a mockery out of our motto that we ‘Develop leaders who make A difference in other people’s lives.’ This school that I dearly love, needs to change,” he added. “True inclusion is not organic, it comes from purposeful leadership because it requires change and disruption. HBS’s leadership is doing exactly the opposite; allowing the status quo to reign, which perpetuates the organizational norm of excluding qualified blacks.

“Paul’s reasons for denying me the promotion is a perfect example of the “old white guard” furthering the status quo by falsely claiming that a black person’s work is substandard despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I was shocked when he opened the meeting by telling me that the subcommittee was not impressed with my ownership of a real estate company that provides housing to low-income black citizens in one of the poorest communities in the country. He said that it was the subcommittee’s belief that this company and my leadership were not impactful or innovative, and it reflected the “absence of a deep level of leadership.”

In retrospect, says Rogers, he realized then that what you have at HBS are “leaders who know nothing about race, who are uncomfortable about race. What Nitin has done is followed the practices that he saw from other people. The white faculty at the school seemingly don’t care about the black community. They don’t care about black business. They find it beneath them. I remember when Nitin was out there on campus with students carrying a sign that ‘Black Lives Matter.’ I said that doesn’t mean sh-t to me. Sometimes young students get seduced by this symbolic participation. But then they sit in class for a whole year and see two cases with black people and the cases are years old.”

‘BY THEIR INACTION, HARVARD TRAINS THE FUTURE LEADERS OF BUSINESS THAT BLACK PEOPLE DON’T MATTER’

Before finally leaving the school last year, Rogers took a parting shot by going public in an interview with The Boston Globe. But he was far more circumspect in his criticism than he is today. “I love the place, but I’m disappointed,” Rogers told the Globe. “After complaining and making a statement about that, it’s time for me to go.” Yet, when he saw the comment by Linda Hill that she didn’t believe the failings of the school were not for a lack of trying, he felt somewhat betrayed. “I was so hurt to see that,” he says. “I have become so jaded now. Even if you do have black faculty, the question is, Will they stand up? The only way this school is going to change is if there is recognition by everyone who is complicit in what has happened. This place needs change from the outside in. It’s irrational to think it is going to be done from inside.” 

When Nohria’s statement was published on Harvard Business School’s website on Sunday, Rogers could scarcely believe it. “Nitin is outstanding as a politician,” says Rogers. “He is very gifted with taking the temperature of the climate. I believe he did it because every company in America was doing it and, nothing came out of the faculty about this. Harvard should be one of the best of the best. But by their inaction, they train the future leaders of business that black people don’t matter. Harvard Business School has been a training group for the perpetuation of the status quo that black people don’t matter.”

The school has now called for a virtual town hall meeting this Thursday (June 11th) at 3:30 EDT, an invitation to an “HBS Community Conversation on Race.” But the invite from Norhia acknowledges that the “genesis for this event was outreach from our African-American Alumni Association” and that it will be led by two senior lecturers, Tony Mayo and Andy Zelleke, who is an African-American.

“The school has no black leaders! This session is being led by a well-meaning, good white guy, and a part-time guy who was crapped on by the school,” says Rogers. “Linda Hill and Tsedal Neeley are the only two black tenured professors and they have virtually no relationship with the black students or alums. No black professor on campus has written an article or participated in any events in support of Floyd, the black community, black protestors, or black businesses.”

Rogers’ conclusion? “The school cannot change itself with internal people,” he maintains. “All of them are part of the problem and helped to create, sustain and impregnate anti-black practices at the school. Outsiders are needed to implement true change.  I don’t know what other schools have done but I do know that we should be the best of the best. If we were a publicly owned company, we would be graded as one of the worst companies in the country for diversity. The black community at the business school has been treated as second-class citizens. By almost every measure you can identify, the school has made no progress. ”

DON’T MISS: HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL DEAN APOLOGIES FOR RACIAL FAILURES

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