“When you’re an underrepresented minority in a business school, you’re often the only one, or one of a few,” says Mary Gilly, a senior associate dean and professor of marketing who was recently inducted into the PhD Project's Hall of Fame. “When students and faculty are brought together through the PhD Project, the students get the support they need to succeed.”

Mary Gilly Honored by PhD Project for Efforts to Boost Minorities in Business PhD Programs

October 05, 2018 • By Aaron Orlowski

For many underrepresented minorities, life as a doctoral student in business can be lonely. Mary Gilly, a senior associate dean and professor of marketing, is striving to change that, and was recently honored for her efforts with her induction into the PhD Project’s Hall of Fame.

The PhD Project encourages underrepresented minorities, such as African American, Hispanic and Native American people, to consider doctoral programs in business. The program also provides support throughout their doctoral program and beyond into their academic career.

“When you’re an underrepresented minority in a business school, you’re often the only one, or one of a few,” says Gilly. “When students and faculty are brought together through the PhD Project, the students get the support they need to succeed.”

As part of her efforts to increase minority representation in business doctoral programs, Gilly has spoken at meetings for PhD Project’s Marketing Doctoral Student Association, and has mentored doctoral students who have participated in the PhD Project. She also received the Williams-Qualls-Spratlen Multicultural Mentoring Award of Excellence in 2011.

Enrolling more minorities can demand a more holistic approach to admissions, Gilly says. She makes sure to carefully read and consider applications from underrepresented minorities.

“Some applicants take non-traditional routes to doctoral programs, and I like to think about how a potential student will contribute to the program, as well as how they will contribute to the academy once they graduate,” Gilly says.

Boosting minority representation in corporate and business environments not only creates opportunities for those who have been historically excluded from advancing in their careers, it also makes good business sense.

“Research shows that diverse work teams are more creative than homogenous teams,” Gilly says.

Gilly maintains a close relationship with her PhD students, oftentimes even after they’ve left UCI. Because of her students, her research has taken a variety of new directions, from consumer acculturation of Mexican immigrants to the U.S., to the role of the service provider in compliance-dependent services such a weight loss, to consumer territorial behaviors in commercial spaces.

Merage School leaders are major supporters of the PhD Project, including Dean Eric Spangenberg, who currently has a doctoral student who participated in the PhD Project.

“The Merage School was the first among the top business schools to reach more than 50 percent female faculty. That achievement reflects our deep commitment to diversity and inclusivity,” Spangenberg says. “We couldn’t be more proud of Professor Gilly for receiving this honor. She follows in the footsteps of our former dean, Andy Policano, who was an inaugural inductee to the PhD Project Hall of Fame in 2011.”