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Erika James was appointed Dean of Goizueta Business School in May 2014, becoming only one of three African American’s deans at an American colleges of business.  She’s also the first minority woman to head a full-time MBA program at a top-25 business school.

Prior to her position at Emory, James served as Senior Associate Dean for Executive Education at the Darden Graduate School of Business.

On what it meant to be the first black Dean of a top tier program:

It’s certainly a privilege and an honor to be in this position. It’s also a significant responsibility and  quite honestly  a shame that in 2014 we’re looking at the first African American woman to hold this kind of position. It’s a responsibility for me to create an environment and a context that makes business school a viable option for racial minorities or women or others who have not traditionally been included.”

On her greatest inspiration:

“Women often have to make tough choices when balancing home and career. Watching my mother gave me both inspiration and a desire to more fully understand the aspects of women in the workplace and what it means to be a leader.”

A published researcher and award-winning educator, her expertise in workplace diversity and crisis leadership has led to recognition in scholarly journals and mainstream media. She has also taught and consulted on topics including decision making under pressure, trust and change management.

James grew up in Texas and graduated from Pomona College. She pursued an M.A. and Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology at the University of Michigan.

In more than a decade of service at Virginia, James worked in various roles including Associate Dean of Diversity — the first to hold the position. She was also course head for the MBA core organizational behavior course and served as area coordinator for the Leadership and Organization Behavior unit at Darden.

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Shifting Society: Erika James, Dean of Goizueta Business School at Emory  was originally published on