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Academic opportunities shared through the PhD Pipeline.

Studies show that minorities, particularly Hispanics and African-Americans, are dramatically under-represented on business school faculties. Achieving greater equity, experts say, will begin with getting more minority students into the “pipeline”—the PhD study process.

Antoinette Smith, a member of the School of Accounting faculty in the College of Business at Florida International University (FIU) has made it her mission to spread the word: getting a PhD is within your reach. It’s far from easy, but it’s rewarding in many ways.

On November 13, Smith and four of her colleagues shared information in a panel discussion, “The ABCs of a PhD in Business.” The panel addressed an audience of business undergraduates as well as others who logged into the session.

Panelists Jonathan Milian, Abhijit Barua, Antoinette Smith, Cristobal Ruiz and William Newberry

The figures make for a dramatic case: minorities represent only 3.7 percent of all business faculty members, and 5.4 percent of doctoral students.

“Why are there so few minorities in PhD programs?” she asked. “The answer is simple: No one applies.”

For Smith, who started her PhD work when she was a single mother with two children, advanced academic study provided prestige and an income for her family, even during her studies. She uses her own example to help promote PhD Pipeline, a program at Duke University that introduces minority students to the doctoral process.

Participants explain training for the academic life.

The panelists echoed Smith’s sense that a PhD, and a career in the academic side of business, were worth investigating. Abhijit Barua, who coordinates the PhD program in accounting; William Newberry, coordinator of the Management and International Business’ PhD program; Jonathan Milian of the School of Accounting; and Cristobal Ruiz, assistant director of the School of Accounting, gave practical details

“Getting a doctorate will be costly in terms of time and effort, but the way Smith described the benefits was really inspirational,” said Baldemar Fonseca, a junior majoring in accounting. “Being a minority, and the first in my generation of my family to go to college, it would be great to take on the ultimate academic achievement, the most advanced degree.”

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