News Archive

Incoming DBA Cohort is Flush with Diversity

By Keith Morelli

DBA Cohort

TAMPA (March 12, 2020) -- In a program that, year after year, assembles proven business, government and military leaders from all walks of life, this year’s incoming cohort in the Muma College of Business’ Doctor of Business Administration cohort is something special.

  • There are 12 women in this cohort, the highest percentage ever.
  • Six of the students are from out of state: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Texas and two from Illinois.
  • Two of the students are from outside the United States: Belize and Canada.

The cohort is made up of the usual CEOs from major corporations focused on furthering their careers through improving their research methods or planning the next chapter of their lives: teaching in a university classroom.

But this cohort’s diversity extends beyond the boardroom.

  • One student is the co-CEO of a dog-training company.
  • One is the CEO of a nonprofit that provides services to the needy.
  • One is a counterterrorism intelligence professional at MacDill Air Force Base.
  • One is chief of staff at St. Petersburg College.
  • One is a business lecturer with the University of Belize.
  • And one is a lobbyist in Georgia who also runs a family olive farm.

Mary Hodges West is the olive farmer/lobbyist, whose brother, Joseph Hodges, was part of the DBA Class of 2019. West was well aware of the program’s rigor and had no preconceptions about the makeup of the cohort and is “genuinely pleased” at the range of diversity in the small group.

“I recognize that my studies and experiences will be enhanced by a wonderful representation of people of different ages, genders, ethnicities, cultures, educational experiences, businesses, philosophies and more,” she said. “Starting with our January orientation, I took the time to personally meet and learn about each of my classmates. I’m glad I did. No one disappoints.

“I honestly believe that my advanced educational journey and future after graduation will be richer because of these folks and the breadth of their differences.”

Diversity, said DBA Program Director Matt Mullarkey, is what sets this program apart and this cohort exemplifies what the program strives to achieve.

“The experience with our first six DBA cohorts,” he said, “has shown that the diversity in backgrounds, industries, experiences and regions of the world leads to a diversity of thought that dramatically enriches the exchange and learning that occurs among the participants and instructors in the program.

“The DBA degree is grounded in research methods that capitalize on these diverse experiences.

“We are thrilled,” Mullarkey said, “to be a doctoral program that is attractive to a broad blend of seasoned professionals from the Tampa Bay area and farther afield with backgrounds in every business discipline.”

While gender, racial, ethnic, geographical and professional diversity makes a mark on this cohort, Mingyuan Li, a project manager at Amgen and member of the Class of 2022, said she was impressed by the range of ages. This cohort’s students range in age from late 20s to early 70s.

“Diversity is very helpful in viewing the same thing from different angles,” she said. “It helps everyone to think outside of the box.”

The blend of different cultures and diversities also reduces biases, she said, and all that together has a tendency to impact not only the discussions in the classroom, but the behaviors and collaborations of DBA students in their personal lives as well.