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Making Diversity a Priority

New recruiting program creates personal connections with candidates from diverse backgrounds

By: Marguerite Darlington | Photo By: Camilla Klyve

Making Diversity a Priority

The BBA admissions team launched We Mean Business, an event designed for BBA candidates from diverse racial, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds.

The Wisconsin School of Business is one of many programs across the U.S. challenged with achieving a more diverse and inclusive student body.

"Statistically speaking, we were behind," says Jeffrey Sawyer, director of BBA recruitment and admissions. "We needed to refocus."

Last year, the BBA admissions team launched We Mean Business, an event designed to give candidates from diverse racial, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds a unique insider perspective on our BBA Program. Attendees met with BBA staff, faculty, and current students to learn about the BBA Program and the underlying values of the Wisconsin School of Business, a culture of inclusion and collaboration.

"We want to break down stereotypes about the business school," says Ilsa May, assistant director of BBA recruitment and admissions. "A big part of it is just providing greater access to the Wisconsin School of Business and facilitating one-on-one conversations with faculty."

We Mean Business primarily serves two groups: underrepresented minorities and first-generation students. The program recruits admitted students from high schools and the pre-business population already enrolled at UW–Madison.

Last spring's daylong event offered a unique view of the BBA Program, including a peer-to-peer perspective from 13 currently enrolled students with diverse racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. The results were promising—77 percent of the candidates who attended the event joined our BBA Program this fall.