Anastasia Bailey and Charlie Stevens remember the challenging paths they took in pursuit of careers in academia. Earning a PhD can, at times, be a lonely experience, one fraught with disappointment, setbacks and frustration.

But for Bailey (PhD ’16) and Stevens (PhD ’10), Fisher’s partnership with a nationwide organization smoothed out many of those bumps in the road and provided them with critical connections and support as they completed their doctoral degrees.

The PhD Project is a program that seeks to increase workplace diversity by increasing the diversity of business school faculty who encourage, mentor, support and enhance the preparation of business leaders. Fisher and The Ohio State University are among hundreds of institutions aligned with the PhD Project and its mission of diversity and inclusion.

Stevens, Charlie
Charlie Stevens (PhD '10)

“It was an incredibly helpful organization in terms of both providing me with the right skill set for success, and a peer network of fellow students and network of faculty members who served as mentors,” said Stevens, an assistant professor management at Lehigh University. “The academic world is an exciting and stimulating one, but it is also psychologically challenging — it is easy to have doubt, to get frustrated, to lose perspective.

“In the area of research, where projects take many years to complete and you endure many setbacks and rejections along the way, it can be challenging if you do not have support and people you can turn to for help.”

Bailey, Anastasia
Anastasia Bailey (PhD '16)

For Bailey, Stevens’ PhD Project experience was influential in her decision to explore a transition from a corporate position at P&G to the PhD program at Fisher.

“The PhD Project helped connect me with Charlie, who was in his final year of his PhD studies,” Bailey said. “One of the great things the PhD Project does is that it helps introduce you to a network of other students, many of whom are similar to yourself. This cohort, which is nationwide, is invaluable because of the parallel experiences everyone is having. There’s a lot of learning and sharing that goes on.

“For me, it was great to be a part of an organization where I could connect with other minority women, who are mothers and who are going through a PhD program.”

At Fisher, six faculty members and one PhD student have ties to the PhD Project. They include W.C. Benton, Justin Birru, Tracy Dumas, Shannon Harris, Matthew Rodgers, Cynthia Turner (pictured below) and Aaron Nelson.

Brand photography - Cynthia Turner 2

“In many cases, it is hyperbole to talk about something being a "life-changing experience" but in this case it is no exaggeration,” he said. “Now that I have graduated and am into my academic career, I am constantly amazed at just how much I learned while at Ohio State, the mentorship I received — and continue to receive — and the professional and personal connections I have built as a result of my time at Fisher. I always greatly appreciated Fisher's commitment to the PhD Project, and the consistent drive to back up words with action, by selecting minority PhD students and hiring minority faculty.”

From connecting like-minded minority PhD students from across the country, to providing key funding and networking opportunities at national conferences, the PhD Project has had a tremendous impact on increasing the number and awareness of minorities in academia.

“The PhD Project has been extremely important to me,” said Bailey, an assistant professor of management and global business at Rutgers Business School. “There aren’t many minorities in academia. The PhD Project provides an important support system to empower individuals to become trailblazers and to increase the number of minority faculty at universities to better mirror their students.

“When I step into my classroom, it’s exciting for some and surprising for others that I’m their professor just based on the fact that I’m a woman and that I’m a minority. It will be great when that becomes less of a surprise. We’re not there yet, but the PhD Project is helping us get there.”

The PhD Project

Since the PhD Project was created in 1994:

  • The number of minority business PhDs in the U.S. has increased from 294 in 1994 to more than 1,300 today
  • More than 300 minority doctoral students currently receive help from the PhD Project
  • More than 1,000 minority business professors have earned doctoral degrees thanks to the program

Completion & Retention

According to AACSB International, completion and retention rates of PhD Project members eclipse the U.S. average by a significant margin:

  • 70%: U.S. average for overall doctoral program completion rate
  • 90%: Average PhD Project completion rate
  • 60%: U.S. average retention rate for overall higher education professors/faculty
  • 97%: Average PhD Project professors/faculty retention rate