Emory Business School Hires First African-American Woman as Dean

Erika Hayes James's prior experience includes consulting Fortune 500 companies and serving as the senior associate dean at the University of Virginia's business school.

Posted: 05/20/2014 01:15 PM EDT

Erika Hayes James has been selected as dean of Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, marking the first time a minority woman will lead a full-time MBA program at a top-25 business school. 

The former senior associate dean for executive education at the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia will assume her new position on July 15. James’s additional accolades include a Ph.D. in organizational psychology and serving as a consultant to several Fortune 500 companies. 

Claire Sterk, the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Emory, told Fortune that James’s race and gender were not influencing factors in the school’s hiring choice.

"Breaking a glass ceiling of sorts by bringing her into the top business school role is just a bonus," she reportedly said.

Bloomberg Businessweek previously ranked the full-time MBA program at Goizueta No. 1 for job placement, while four of the school’s degree programs ranked in the top 25.

Despite the historic hiring of James, gender and racial diversity among faculty at business schools nationwide remains lacking. A survey from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) revealed that, in 2013, only 3.8 percent of full-time business school faculty identified as Black. Another report by the association showed that 22 percent of American business schools have female deans.

An investigative report from The New York Times also shed light on an evident achievement gap between female and male members of the Harvard Business School community, which has an alleged history of treating its female students and professors offensively.

As for James’s ascent to the dean role at Goizueta, John Fernandes, the president and CEO of AACSB, told Fortune it signaled “a big day in history.” He also predicted that the upcoming dean will become “the shooting star” for minorities and women in business school.

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(Photo: Courtesy Emory University Goizueta Business School)

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