Dean of Professional Studies and Human Performance, Dr. Joy Smith, second from right, joined other HBCU business school deans at the New York Stock Exchange June 1.
When Dr. Joy Smith gathered around the ceremonial closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange earlier this month, it was, she said, one of those moments she’d dreamed of for years.
“It was a total fan girl experience,” Smith said.
The experience came by way of attending the HBCU Business Deans Roundtable in New York City. Smith, ECSU’s Dean of Professional Studies and Human Performance, joined other HBCU deans for the annual roundtable conference inside the stock exchange building to hear from various corporate CEOs about diversity.
For Smith, being a part of the closing bell on Friday, June 1, at just seconds before 4 p.m., was icing on the cake. It was a highlight to a very productive day, she said, discussing issues that directly affect HBCUs.
“A lot of what we talked about had to do with diversity and having hard conversations about diversity and what it means to be a diverse HBCU,” she said.
One of the big issues facing smaller HBCUs, such as Elizabeth City State University, is dealing with what Smith says is the “cream of the crop,” versus “the middle.” Those so-called “cream of the crop” students are the ones with 4.0 grade point averages. There are, however, the average students, or “the middle,” and the hard work is making certain they do not get looked over by not only schools, but also corporate recruiters.
“Diversity is about looking at the average students across the board,” Smith said. “Not looking at just the A students.”
Part of ECSU’s mission is to educate an under-served population and provide an opportunity to thrive in a higher-education environment. For 127 years, that mission has paved the way for many successful men and women who have graduated from ECSU and gone on to do great things.
But Smith says one of the challenges facing the smaller HBCUs is getting the attention of corporate recruiters for its graduates.
“Smaller schools can get missed in recruiting trips,” she said. “Our students feel like they are not invited to apply.”
The work Smith and other deans attending the conference are doing, however, hope to change much of that. Meeting with CEOs from companies such as Vimeo and Aerospace Corp, they made suggestions on how those corporations could better reach out to the wealth of energized and talented students at the smaller schools, such as ECSU.
Smith’s work during the roundtable also got her named to the HBCU Business Deans Roundtable Executive Committee. That new appointment will give her a more active role in representing the cause of smaller HBCUs, and subsequently potentially giving ECSU students a higher profile in the business world.
While that work is what took Smith to New York, the chance to be a part of a Wall Street tradition and be present to ring the ceremonial bell is what brought out the wide-eyed kid in her. Growing up in the New York area, Smith says her father was an executive with Chase Manhattan Bank, and she had had a lot of “backstage” glimpses at the world of high finance, but never made her way to the exchange bell, until now.
“It’s a surreal experience,” Smith said.