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Oct. 11, 2012 Volume 34, No. 8

Business college dean discusses ways to increase student, faculty diversity

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LEADERSHIP Joan Gabel, dean of the Trulaske College of Business, gives a lecture Oct. 5 in Memorial Union for MU’s Leadership in Diversity Series. Rob Hill photo


Diversity important to business college success, Dean Gabel says

As a young lawyer, Joan Gabel initially hid her pregnancy from her bosses, knowing if she didn’t she wouldn’t be given good cases or courtroom assignments until after the birth.

When she returned to work after a short maternity leave, her boss told her no courtroom until she “got some sleep and didn’t look so frumpy,” said Gabel, dean of the Trulaske College of Business, Oct. 4 during her Leadership in Diversity Series speech in Memorial Union.

Gabel shared the anecdote to illustrate progress in workplace diversity and inclusiveness. “That baby is a senior in high school now, and her story will be a lot different than mine,” she said.

Still, there is more work to be done in this area, including at the business college. 

One of Gabel’s responsibilities is to prepare her students to succeed in a global business world that is ethnically diverse. 

“We know the world’s fastest growing economies are not here or in Europe,” she said. “They’re frontier markets [in Africa and southeast Asia] that have very low English proficiency [and] a whole different set of perspectives,” she said. Other challenges are to attract a diverse mix of students and faculty to the college.

Attracting diverse faculty has been difficult, she said, because the college’s starting salaries aren’t that competitive. But things might be getting better. Since summer, the college has hired one minority faculty member and made an offer to a second, Gabel said. 

The college already has the Trulaske Business Academy, an on-campus summer program for minority students in Kansas City, Mo., St. Louis and Chicago interested in pursuing business. Even so, college officials want to do more. That’s why this year they hired a full-time recruiter who focuses on recruiting students from diverse backgrounds.

To help train MU minority students, the college is revising and diversifying its curriculum. One implementation will be a “Strategic Learning Map” — a combination of a choose-your-own-adventure book and The Game of Life that trains students to think about pathways to success that multicultural awareness can bring. 

“If we teach our students that what they bring to the table and their uniqueness is a source of pride, if we live that,” Gabel said, “I don’t see how we can’t accomplish what it is we want to accomplish and become who we say we are, which is One Mizzou.”

For more information on the diversity series, go to 


— Erik Potter