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We are pleased to announce that Modupe Akinola, Associate Professor of Management, has been appointed Director of The Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics. An expert on stress and workplace diversity, Professor Akinola transitions into the role at a pivotal moment in the global conversation around ethics and leadership in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and pervasive systemic racism.
Professor Akinola joined the Management Division at Columbia Business School in 2009, after earning her PhD in Organizational Behavior from Harvard, where she also received her BA in Psychology in 1996, MBA in 2001, and MA in Psychology in 2006. Her research examines how organizational environments can engender stress, and how this stress can influence individual and organizational performance. She also examines the strategies companies use to increase the diversity of their talent pools, as well as the biases that affect the recruitment and retention of women and minorities. Modupe has authored numerous publications on these topics, and her work has been covered in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal, among other outlets. She has received various awards, including the 2015 CBS Teaching Excellence Award.
As Director, Professor Akinola will build upon the legacy of her predecessor, the late Professor Katherine W. Phillips. She will set and oversee strategic priorities as they relate to faculty engagement across divisions, enhancing the student experience in the context of leadership and ethics, sponsoring and promoting cutting-edge research, and increasing The Center’s external presence. Professor Akinola will also work closely with the Student Leadership and Ethics Board (SLEB) to develop new initiatives for The Center focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as broaden The Center’s engagement with other academic and corporate partners.
Professor Akinola’s strategic direction for The Bernstein Center dovetails nicely with Professor Phillips’ vision and The Center’s mission to develop ethical leaders who promote positive business solutions to make the world a better place. The Center will continue to emphasize pedagogical innovation in leadership and ethics by bringing together leading scholars to discuss best practices for teaching and institutionalizing DEI at business schools, an initiative started by Professors Akinola and Phillips in 2018. Additionally, cross-university initiatives, such as the Reuben Mark Initiative for Organizational Character and Leadership, will continue. This initiative, spearheaded by Professor Phillips, leverages the intellectual capital of Columbia Business and Law Schools to design courses and programs focused on optimizing organizational culture.
Today, the world is at a critical juncture with more calls for ethical leadership in business and a rising demanding for approaches to governance that address systemic inequality. The Bernstein Center is excited for the many ways in which Professor Akinola will build upon its long-standing legacy of remaining at the forefront of leadership and ethics education in business schools and beyond. The Bernstein staff, which includes Olivia Haynes, Traci Rosenthal, and Shirley Sheung, looks forward to working alongside Professor Akinola.