At a pivotal moment of racial reckoning in American society, Michelle M. Duguid, M.S. ’05, Ph.D. ’08, is now leading a redoubled effort to foster inclusivity at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.
An associate professor of management and organizations in the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Duguid on July 1 became the college’s new associate dean for diversity, inclusion and belonging.
“I’m hoping that, now more than ever, people will be on board to see that change needs to happen,” said Duguid, who joined the Cornell faculty in 2017. “I hope it’s really salient to people that this role and these issues are important and that we haven’t done enough in terms of changing systems and processes to address discrimination. I want to use this opportunity to make a real difference.”
One of Duguid’s initial tasks will be to revitalize and lead the college’s council on diversity as a representative advisory group of students, staff, faculty and alumni. Kevin Hallock, dean of the SC Johnson College, will sit on the council.
As Hallock said July 7 in a message to the college community: “The group will assess our college’s current efforts to address racism and promote diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging; address progress on specific action steps; discuss new steps being developed; and review and recommend modifications to our approach.”
The council will convene by the end of August.
“We want to increase our diversity, but more important than just recruiting more diverse faculty, staff and students is that, once they’re at Cornell, our minority members really do feel that they’re a part of the community and that they can bring the best of themselves,” Duguid said. “When everyone feels that they’re a part of the culture, it benefits everyone – and not only our ability to work but our ability to function as a college. In the end, everyone flourishes.”
Recent efforts at the SC Johnson College to increase diversity and racial justice awareness include: formation of the national Black MBA Alliance, a multi-institution group co-founded by Cornell’s Black Graduate Business Association; and the MBA Students Care fundraiser, held in June, which raised more than $66,000 – far exceeding its original goal of $20,000 – to support the nonprofit Color of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization.
Duguid graduated summa cum laude from Howard University in 2003 with dual bachelor’s degrees in psychology and political science. She received her master’s and Ph.D. in organizational behavior from Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
Her research interests include social status and power; group creativity and decision-making; inter- and intra-group relations; diversity; and social categorization.
“I am very data-driven,” Duguid said. “I plan to be very systematic in collecting data and creating concrete, actionable steps that will move the needle on diversity and inclusion together. Data collection is nothing if we don’t use our data to make real changes.
“Cornell is a renowned institution that was founded on the principle of ‘any person, any study,’” she said. “With this as a core value, we should be leaders in creating a welcoming and cohesive community that other organizations will look to as a model of diversity, inclusion and belonging. We must do all we can to make this happen.”
Jeannie Griffith is senior writer and editor in the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.