What Harvard MBAs Say About Their New Dean
Harvard Business School students are praising the school’s new dean for his efforts towards improving diversity and inclusion. But many also say that they are disappointed in his lackluster efforts to engage and connect with second-year students and student organizations, The Harvard Crimson reports.
RACIAL EQUITY, DIVERSITY, AND INCLUSION
Srikant Datar was named as Harvard Business School’s 11th dean back in 2020. Since officially taking office in January of 2021, Datar has made racial equity, diversity, and inclusion one of the three main goals he intends to work on during his tenure. Digital transformation and partnerships with other Harvard schools were two other main goals.
In September, Datar named Terrill L. Drake as the B-school’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. Drake is responsible for helping to enhance and sustain an inclusive and equitable campus climate that engages students, faculty, staff, and the broader community, HBS states.
“I think what is really important is setting forth an infrastructure that is really going to set the school up for years and years of success, and being able to progress and move forward,” Drake tells the Crimson.
And, in the past year, HBS has put in substantial effort in building that infrastructure. According to Drake, the school has established a diversity and inclusion office, recruited more diverse faculty — out of 13 individuals who accepted offers, eight were women and seven identified as people of color – and offered new courses focusing on race and identity…all during 2021.
Many HBS students have praised Drake for his accessibility and openness to work with students on ideas and initiatives.
“He’s been very easy to get a hold of,” Second-year MBA student Layeeka M. Ismail tells the Crimson. “We’ve had to reach out to him for some discussions on behalf of the Islamic Society, and he’s just been very receptive and open to meeting the students and hearing our feedback.”
SOME STUDENTS SAY THEY FEEL DISCONNECTED FROM DEAN DATAR
While many HBS students praised Dean Datar’s efforts to improve diversity and inclusion, some second-year MBA students said that they felt disconnected from the dean.
Keven D. Wang, a second-year MBA student and co-president of HBS’s Asian American Business Association, stated that many Class of 2022 students have yet to have the opportunity to connect with the dean, let alone even meet him. Wang mentioned that while Datar gave a welcome speech to the incoming first-year MBAs, second-years did not receive the same level of engagement when returning to campus.
“So, in a sense, we were really never formally introduced to Dean Datar in an in-person setting, ever,” Wang tells the Crimson.
Eduardo Ortiz Gross, another second-year MBA student and co-president of HBS’s LatAm Club, expressed similar sentiments.
“I was kind of shocked that we [the LatAm Club] haven’t had any personal communication with him,” Gross tells the Crimson. “I remember seeing Dean Nohria at at least, maybe two or three Zoom calls with all of the students, or at webinars for all of the students. And that has not happened with Dean Datar.”