The first and only director of the Office of Student Diversity at Kelley Indianapolis soon leaves the position knowing the IUPUI campus and Kelley School have made great strides in embracing the diverse community it supports.
Russell Vertner, also a Kelley instructor of business administration, plans to retire at the end of the spring semester. He leaves a record of improvement in the areas of diversity for the business school but hopes more can still be accomplished in the years to come to attract students of color to business fields.
“The campus as a whole has improved its diversity operations and offerings,” said Vertner, who was named director of Student Diversity and Assessment in 2000. “The campus is doing many more things to spotlight the value of diversity. The culture is much more supportive, familial, positive and unified.”
Phil Cochran, associate dean of Kelley’s Indianapolis operations, said, “Russell provided Kelley with wonderful insights into ways to embrace the diversity of both the larger community and our students. While we continue to attract an increasingly diverse population into the business school, we do so with a much better understanding of how both the school and the business world can benefit through our successes."
Vertner also was placed in charge of student assessment efforts. When paired with the courses he taught, his coordinating responsibilities for the Diversity Research Scholars Program and other duties, he found little time left to devote to targeted recruitment efforts—at least not to the level he sees as necessary for the school to adequately reflect the available talent. Another challenge facing the recruitment of diverse students is the highly competitive market for Central Indiana.
Kelley Indianapolis currently has more than 40 undergraduate students with international backgrounds and nearly 200 minority students. To improve upon those numbers, Vertner said his successor would need to continue building alliances with diverse community groups and focus on recruiting younger students into business.
“(Kelley) needs to be on their radar screens as a viable destination earlier. We need to be a first choice for these students,” he said. “Beginning early in junior high or high school, we need to do more to show young people the areas of business that are exciting, challenging and rewarding, and help them to connect the dots.”
For the past eight years, students in Kelley’s Diversity Research Scholars Program have joined other IUPUI research programs to highlight individual business research efforts. Vertner said Kelley should continue to expand and support the program.
In addition, diversity efforts may be enhanced by the revival of the Minorities in Business Club to allow students “to feel a stronger sense of ownership and unity, a place for social bonding and professional development,” he said.
Vertner is among three faculty members leaving and being honored at a May 4 retirement celebration.