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Down to Business

Ricciardi College bolsters equity through various initiatives
Story Series
Action: Racial Justice and Equity

Equity and business do not always go hand in hand. Nor does positive change on this front happen by accident. Faculty, staff and administrators in Bridgewater State University’s Louis M. Ricciardi College of Business know this, and in recent years have taken steps to put a greater focus on issues of equity, and economic and racial justice.

Here are some of the programs within the College of Business that address equity gaps on campus and beyond.

Ricciardi College of Business Equity Walk Team

This team is composed of faculty and staff from the three areas in the Ricciardi College of Business: the Department of Accounting and Finance, the Department of Aviation Science, and the Department of Management and Marketing. Guided by the book From Equity Talk to Equity Walk: Expanding Practitioner Knowledge for Racial Justice in Higher Education, by Tia Brown McNair and Estela Mara Bensimon, et al., team members meet monthly and discuss issues related to race, gender and sexual orientation, economics and more.

The team’s recent work has included conversations centered on the Supreme Court’s decision ending affirmative action in higher education, equity in connection with the use of artificial intelligence and how the pandemic exposed inequities across all spectrums of society (regarding race, economics, health, education, etc.). Also, the team issued a survey concerning awareness of equity-related issues and created special coordinators for the college’s introductory courses and a few higher-level classes. The latter involves “examining these courses to make sure we are prepping students at the beginning of their education and not leaving our students of color behind, and ensuring the College of Business’ core curriculum keeps up with their needs,” said Dr. Jeanean Davis-Street, dean of the Ricciardi College of Business.

Organizations and Boards

The Ricciardi College of Business has two advisory boards: a general one and one focused on issues pertaining to the aviation industry. Both boards have established an internal subcommittee charged with enhancing the college’s commitment to both social justice and equity.

Also, the university now has student chapters of the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals and Women in Aviation International.

Bearing Up

This mentorship initiative was proposed by the dean a few years ago, but COVID put a temporary halt to it. It seeks to pair students of color with a faculty member, administrator or staff mentor. Each mentor will have 5-10 students to meet with and support during the academic year.

The students meet with the mentors, whether during a structured luncheon, at a campus event or somewhere off campus, so they will feel they have someone who is advocating for them.

The goal is to reintroduce the program in spring 2024.

Summer BIZ (Business Immersion Zone)

In an effort to assist new students with high school GPAs between 2.0 and 3.0, the Ricciardi College has created Summer BIZ. This initiative allows these students to take an Introduction to Management course for free and also learn about the other business disciplines within the college. Additionally, the students have a chance to experience college life during their time on campus, which increases their engagement with BSU and the likelihood of successful retention.

Summer BIZ was initially a one-time experimental expansion of the Summer Bears program, which has a proven track record on enhancing student success and retention. The university’s investment in both Summer Bears and Summer BIZ speaks to its desire to funnel support to programs that have potential for successful outcomes.

The Summer Biz program, funded by BSU, currently runs for two weeks. The goal, Dr. Davis-Street said, is to extend it to a five-week summer session.


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