Grateful for the support they received 30 years ago, two successful alumni from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business are giving back in a big way. Derica Rice and Robin Rice-Nelson have donated $1 million to the school to create a fellowship fund for minority MBA students.
The gift, announced today (February 8), will create a fund that supports students who are part of the Kelley School’s Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, the national organization co-founded by Kelley in the mid-1960s that works to enhance diversity in business education by supporting and mentoring African-American, Hispanic, and Native-American MBA students. The Rice Consortium Fellows program will back fellowships for two first-year Consortium students and two second-year Consortium students annually, helping to “enhance diversity and inclusion at the Kelley School and help its Full-Time MBA Program continue to attract many of the best and brightest underrepresented students,” the school announced.
The couple, highly successful executives who met at Indiana Kelley before graduating with MBAs in 1990, credit their Consortium fellowships with opening doors for them. Now they want to do the same for other deserving minority students.
“We are deeply grateful to Robin and Derica Rice for their generous support of this journey,” Idalene “Idie” Kesner, dean of the Kelley School, said in a statement accompanying the announcement of the gift. “Their gift is a wonderful example of ‘paying it forward.’ The opportunities their gift provides to future business leaders — the gift of education — produces benefits far, far greater than one program or school or university. It is the gift that benefits entire communities.”
BOOM IN MINORITY ENROLLMENT AT CONSORTIUM SCHOOLS
Through The Consortium, more than 900 students have earned MBA degrees from Kelley since 1966. More than 500 students enroll annually in MBA programs at Kelley and 19 other member universities.
This year, however, that number is up significantly, says Peter Aranda, Consortium executive director and CEO — and that bodes well for the organization’s 30 By ’30 Initiative, an ambitious plan to achieve 30% minority MBA enrollment in all member schools by 2030.
“I don’t want to jinx it, but our entering class from Fall of ’19, we had a handful of people over 500 in the entering class spread across 20 schools. And this year, Fall of ’20, with the same 20 schools, we had 594 students,” Aranda tells Poets&Quants. “That’s an 18% increase in enrollment, which puts us well ahead of what we were hoping to accomplish in terms of our 30 By ’30 Initiative.”
Gifts like the Rices’ only help get Consortium schools — and graduate business education writ large — closer to achieving the core goal of the initiative: greater minority representation in B-schools, and thereafter in corporate boardrooms.
“One of the things that The Consortium is doing in conjunction with each of the member schools is trying to build out a plan,” Aranda says. “We’ve been in this awkward situation where we’re this organization over here in St. Louis, but our students are actually going to a school that may be in Bloomington and may be in New York City or wherever it is.
“And we interact with the students very intensely for a short period of time and then the schools of course have them for two years. And in those split loyalties, there’s this sense of competitiveness in terms of trying to do fundraising. And so we basically just said, ‘Let’s throw all that out the window. We want alums to make contributions, but we don’t care about keeping the money.’
“And so we’ve created this program where we’re trying to get alums to make contributions to support Consortium fellowships at their alma mater, and the money goes to the school. And so what Derica and Robin have done dovetails so nicely into that. And that it’s such a gracious and generous gift that it will have real impact. And we’re hoping that that will inspire other well-heeled folks that have the ability to make contributions like that to step up and do it.
“But at the same time, we’re happy when large numbers of alums write out a check for a hundred bucks. It’s still green, and it still helps. And so the idea is to try and create a pool of funding at each of our members schools to help ramp up the number of fellowships.
“And when you think about going from 15% or 20% URM enrollment as a percentage of the domestic class to basically doubling that to 30% by 2030, there’s two fundamental challenges. One is, where do we get the students from? And two, where do we get the money to pay for them? And so this is part of that, where do we get the money to pay for them. And I’m just really thrilled and excited about their contribution and thankful that they’re able to do that.”
A ‘LONG HISTORY OF SERVICE TO IU & THE STATE’
Since earning his MBA from Kelley, Rice has spent more than 30 years as a healthcare executive, including a 27-year career at Eli Lilly and Co. He most recently served as the executive vice president of CVS Health and president of CVS Caremark, the company’s pharmacy benefits management business. He currently serves as a member of the board of directors for the Walt Disney Company, Target Corporation, and Bristol Myers Squibb Company. Rice was also a trustee of IU from 2007 to 2016. He serves as a founding member of the IU Black Philanthropy Circle, the university’s first affinity-based giving circle that works to formulate programs and policies to enhance engagement and philanthropy in higher education to support Black alumni, faculty, staff, students, donors and allies.
Nelson-Rice has had executive positions in marketing at Eli Lilly and AT&T. She serves as a philanthropist and volunteers on a variety of community boards and institutions, including the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana.
“We are honored and grateful to Derica Rice and Robin Nelson-Rice for this generous gift that will provide invaluable opportunities to our students and help Indiana University in its mission to strengthen diversity and ensure IU is welcoming to all,” IU President Michael A. McRobbie said in a news release. “The Rice family’s long history of service to IU and the state is exceptional, and we will always be appreciative of their extraordinary support and commitment to IU.”
The gift will be counted toward the $3.9 billion campaign, For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign. Additionally, the Kelley School will continue to support The Consortium’s annual Orientation Program & Career Forum in honor of Derica Rice and Robin Nelson-Rice.
“We have long recognized the importance of raising awareness of the benefits of diverse learning environments and promoting an environment that is respectful and supportive of all,” Dean Kesner says. “We recognize we have more work to do, yet at the same time, we are excited about our journey and hope these new scholarships stimulate others to join us in promoting greater diversity, equity and inclusion.”