May 05, 2021 • By Xanat Hernandez
The Black Management Association (BMA) at the UCI Paul Merage School of Business held their first annual conference on May 1, where they announced the Bradford Fellows Fund, a scholarship for students active in the BMA or UCI’s Black Thriving Initiative. The first Bradford Fellows Scholarship will be awarded in the 2021-2022 school year to a Merage School undergraduate or graduate student.
The fund was endowed by Professor Tonya Williams Bradford and Professor Kevin Bradford. The Bradfords were the first African American tenured faculty members at the Merage School and by joining the UC system they doubled the number of African American faculty in UC business schools.
“We wanted to mark this milestone with an endowed scholarship that reminds people that even when you are the first, it is important to create opportunities for others to follow,” said Tonya Williams Bradford. “It is our sincere hope that others will see value in supporting the goals of this scholarship by contributing to it.”
Both Tonya and Kevin Bradford began their careers in corporate roles but stayed connected to faculty mentors at their respective MBA granting institutions Northwestern University and the University of Notre Dame. Both were encouraged to pursue scholarship and their doctorates. Now Kevin Bradford is the newly appointed associate dean of undergraduate programs and his teaching areas of interest are sales management, digital marketing and advertising. Tonya Williams Bradford is an associate professor and studies consumer rituals. Together, they founded the BMA at the Merage School in Fall 2020.
“We envision that the BMA will foster community across students, alumni and the broader Orange County business community,” explained Tonya Williams Bradford. “It is our hope that in decades to come, we will be blown away by the positive impact the organization has on strengthening the fabric of the Merage School as well as serving as a hub of innovation and inclusion for the Southern California business community.”
The BMA was founded to help foster an environment where people are able to bring their whole selves, be respectful and find value in difference. Their mission is to build a community that facilitates and promotes networking and professional opportunities, develops strong relationships with Black students and local businesses and maintains strong relationships with Black alumni and current students.
After guiding the launch of the BMA, the Bradfords wanted to alleviate the economic challenge of higher education for a student passionate about the organization’s goals.
“We are strong believers in deploying actions to support our principles,” said Kevin Bradford. “We are committed to the positive trajectory of the Merage School and UCI’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. We are each involved in mentoring students and engaging alums. We look forward to getting to know the recipients of the Bradford Fellows Scholarship as they make their way through the Merage School and their careers.”
The Merage School is proud to continue its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion through this new fund.
“The BMA is less than a year old and has already started building networks that will help many Merage School students and alumni thrive,” said Dean Ian O. Williamson. “With this gift, the Bradfords continue to break barriers and display extraordinary leadership.”