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CU launches program to develop business leaders who value diversity

Take the diversity activities in Cornell's Undergraduate Business Program, mix in faculty mentors, add opportunities for developing leadership qualities and serve with a certificate of competency. What you will have in the end is a select group of Cornell graduates trained to be business leaders who value diversity.

The Business Opportunities in Leadership and Diversity (BOLD) Program, launched Sept. 27-28 in the Department of Applied Economics and Management, will accept its first group of undergraduates in December. Each accepted student will be paired with a leadership mentor -- a faculty member who has held a leadership position -- who will work with the student for the next three years to ensure that he or she obtains adequate experiences on the personal, group and organizational/community levels to build the expected set of competencies in leadership and diversity.

"Our alumni have told us that in the corporate world, they see a real need for students to be educated and have experiences in both diversity and leadership," says Cindy van Es, senior lecturer in statistics and director of the new program. "Students moving into the business world should have some sense of working in diverse environments as well as have a handle on the theories of leadership. We're trying to help our students build competencies in both of these arenas."

To fulfill the certificate's requirements, students must show they have held a leadership position -- for example, in athletics, the Greek system, professional student organization, teaching assistantship or an organization's board of directors -- and have participated in a host of activities, such as attending a leadership conference, speaker series or professional forums, and taking certain courses and reflecting on their experiences by writing about them. They also must show evidence of experience in a diverse environment, such as by participating in a substantial community service project and preparing a presentation or paper on the experience in the context of what they have learned about leadership and diversity issues.

Another component of the BOLD program involves all the undergraduate business majors -- about 700 students. Starting next spring, all first-year business students will be required to take Personal Evaluation and Development (AEM 102), in which students will assess and develop their personal strengths, team-building skills, leadership, diversity, ethics and integrity, and trust. As part of this course, all students will be required to participate in a community service project. Collaboration on a junior-level organizational leadership course is underway with the Johnson School.

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