Lehigh University’s one year MBA program, 1-MBA, recently partnered with the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) as a diamond tier partner. The Lehigh 1-MBA Summer 2021 cohort will be the first to experience the partnership.
Through this, Lehigh will offer a full NBMBAA scholarship as well as several other partial scholarships to deserving 1-MBA students who are a part of the NBMBAA. In addition, the NBMBAA will promote Lehigh’s 1-MBA program to its 20,000 student member base.
“I saw it as a really interesting opportunity for an underserved population to get some fantastic resources through the National Black MBA Association along with a very strong business education at Lehigh. It really is a win-win for both of us,” said Kevin Ezzell, director of Lehigh’s 1-MBA program.
The NBMBAA currently has 51 partnerships, 20 of them being with historically Black colleges and universities.
“We’ve been working for seven or eight months with the NBMBAA to set up a partnership agreement like they have with a lot of the top tier MBA programs in the country,” Ezzell said. “There’s potentially opportunities for students at Lehigh, undergraduate and graduate students, to start to engage within their organization. They’re very focused on career readiness, career outcomes and serving as a guide for careers primarily for Black professionals.”
LePra George, the senior director of chapters, members and university relations at the NBMBAA, said he is hopeful that the partnership with Lehigh will provide their member base with new academic opportunities and connections. He said that while Lehigh has less racial diversity than other partner programs, they want to offer a variety of schools for their members to choose from.
“Lehigh has a phenomenal business program, it’s one of the few schools to offer a computer science and business program,” George said. “I thought our members would appreciate the opportunity to do that.”
Eric Bowman Jr. is one of the 25 students in this year’s 1-MBA summer cohort. Bowman graduated from Howard University, and of everyone in the cohort, Bowman is the only Black person.
“It was something I wasn’t used to at all, coming from a place where most of the class is Black,” Bowman said. “But I never was uncomfortable in the cohort and I never feel unsupported. Just looking around at my peers it was a little shocking, but I’m sure that in the future there will be more Black students in the cohorts as Lehigh builds a stronger partnership with the NBMBAA.”
Despite Lehigh being a predominantly white institution, both George and Bowman believe that this partnership can include more Black students in MBA programs, which they are nationally underrepresented in.
“One of our goals has always been to bring a diverse cohort of students to the university; it really should be the goal of any MBA program but our program specifically,” Ezzell said. “We only bring 25-30 students in per year, so we want people with very different, diverse backgrounds.”
George said that even if not many new NBMBAA members are gained from Lehigh, it will still increase the connection points that pre-existing members have to the university.