Kelley School of Business alumni, Derica Rice and Robin Nelson-Rice made a $1 million donation to the school's consortium program. The donation will fund fellowships for MBA students.
The couple, who graduated from the Kelley School of Business in 1990, have had executive positions at Fortune 500 companies. Rice recently worked for CVS Health as the executive vice president, and Nelson-Rice worked executive marketing positions for Eli Lilly and AT&T.
The purpose of the consortium is to increase diversity within the graduate community, enhancing inclusion in global business education, according to its website. The program also strives to reduce underrepresentation of African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans in the business world.
Regina Funk, director of Diversity and Inclusion for graduate programs at the business school, said not finding funding can derail excellent candidates. This donation will help and give fortunate students an opportunity to pursue their dreams, she said.
In order to be considered for the Consortium, students must first be admitted into the Kelley School of Business MBA program, Funk said. The consortium is open to all students from various backgrounds that show commitment to the rigor of the program. During admission, recruiters want to see students who give back to underrepresented communities.
Funk said the program is trying to make the lives of the underrepresented population easier. The work Kelley staff is doing is important and is constantly evolving to fit the various lifestyles of students.
Starting in the fall , the donation will fund four fellowships for diverse Kelley MBA graduate students within the consortium, according to an IU press release. Two fellowships will be awarded to two first year students, and the remaining two will be awarded to two second year students.
The various fellowships include a full scholarship tuition and health insurance while enrolled in the program.
This program allows students to interact with peers from backgrounds similar to theirs. Students like Sennel Threlkeld II, a full-time Kelley MBA student, consider the consortium program a tight knit group like a family. Being able to be amongst a diverse goal-oriented group has made him appreciate the work being put into the program.
“I think that’s why programs like the Consortium exist,” Threlkeld said. “They’re trying to increase underrepresented minorities' roles within the business world. Had it not been for the consortium, I probably wouldn’t have been here at Kelley to begin with.”
Threlkeld said the classes he is enrolled in have given him real-world experience and teaches him the fundamentals of the business world. Considering the donation, Threlkeld hopes it will fill the recruitment gap he has noticed within the program.
“If we’re not getting diverse students that want to come here it doesn’t matter how many fellowships we have to offer, we’re not going to have anyone to give them to,” Threlkeld said.
He said he is glad to see Black alumni giving back to the consortium community, and commends the Rice couple for their gift.
Another consortium student, Marcus Hill, also has high hopes for the donation.
There is a documented need for financial support, Hill said. These new fellowships should provide adequate funding, encouraging new members to join the program.
He said the courses he is enrolled in are giving him substantial knowledge and preparing him for the next level of his career. When he read about the gift, Hill said he was moved and felt inspired.
“It really inspired me to just give back and really support the next generation of students who are coming through Kelley,” Hill said.