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Modupe Nyikoale Akinola

AB ’96, MBA ’01, AM ’06, PhD ’09*

The first Black professor to rise through the ranks to earn tenure in Columbia Business School’s 100+ year history, Modupe Akinola has served for over a decade as 1) a resource to students and staff of color, 2) an active proponent and creator of sustainable DEI efforts, and 3) a bridge-builder across differences. Faculty director of the Bernstein Center for Leadership and Ethics, she has researched stress, bias in academia and systems that can hinder the advancement of women and people of color in organizations. 

At Harvard and Columbia, Akinola has led multiple DEI initiatives. She is a member of the HBS African American Alumni Association, HBS Women’s Association, and Harvard Black Alumni Society. 

With her hope that “DEI efforts are prioritized broadly” at Harvard, Akinola advocates:

  • Diversifying courses and extracurriculars so that “students from all backgrounds see themselves in the materials, in the faculty, and can share their lived experiences with others without fear.”  

  • Hearing diverse experiences of students, faculty and staff “so everyone in the community feels a sense of belonging, regardless of their role.”

  • Ensuring diversity in Harvard’s admissions team and expanding outreach to underrepresented communities. 

  • Eliminating admissions preferences for recruited athletes, children of donors, and legacy students (noting that athletics should be valued the same way other extracurriculars are) given the Supreme Court’s admissions ruling. 

“I believe the University’s commitment to DEI will be an integral part of the institution’s continued relevance and success in attracting the leaders of tomorrow,” she writes.

Modupe Nyikoale Akinola
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