Beau Barnes, recipient of a doctoral scholarship designed to increase faculty and student diversity in business colleges, says he wants to boost the number of American Indians teaching in Oklahoma business colleges.
“I do feel responsible for making sure that Native Americans have the same opportunities and are encouraged to go into academic fields,” said Barnes, 28, who received a KPMG Foundation scholarship valued at $10,000 a year for up to five years. The scholarship is designed to help minorities gain doctoral degrees in accounting, as well as to increase faculty diversity. Barnes earned his master’s degree in accounting at the University of Oklahoma and will seek his doctorate at Texas Tech University.
Minority professors are role models who inspire others to enter accounting and business professions, said Manny Fernandez, national managing partner of university relations and recruiting at KPMG. The KPMG scholarship program takes credit for helping to triple the number of minority business professors in the United States since 1994. The KPMG Foundation says there are 909 minority business school professors in the U.S., about 4 percent of the total.
At Oklahoma State University, where Barnes earned his bachelor’s degree, 13 of 151 business college faculty last year were American Indian, African American or Asian American. Another 18 were international hires and 120 were Caucasian. None was Hispanic.
Cornell Thomas, OSU’s vice president of diversity, said business professors of all races are difficult to hire because they can earn more in private industry. But a diverse faculty is important to helping students broaden their perspectives, he said.
“It better prepares them to work with any kind of person anywhere in the world,” Thomas added.
Cornell said OSU recently was awarded a nearly $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to help 12 minority students pursue doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.
According to university officials, more than 400 minority students are enrolled in business doctoral programs with another 45 to 50 scheduled to start this fall.
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