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Al Edwards
  Al Edwards

Black Business Students Honor Professor Emeritus

3/9/2006 --

BBSA names annual conference after Al Edwards.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Alfred L. Edwards, professor emeritus of business administration at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, was honored at the 30th annual Black Business Students Association (BBSA) Conference for his 32 years of contributions to the school. Ross students renamed the conference after him during a banquet held on Feb. 17.

Edwards joined the faculty in 1974 and has been a driving force in recruiting top minority students ever since. He also was instrumental in leading the Ross School's effort to join the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, a 13-school alliance that works to bring African American, Hispanic American and Native American managerial talent into MBA programs.

Those efforts didn't go unnoticed. "Other schools began to increase their minority enrollments, which led to a lot of competition," said Edwards, who added that if he had it to do over, he would have put more effort into hiring more African American faculty.

Edwards, known to many former students as "Dr. E," said he receives a lot of credit for solving students' problems. "The truth is, they solve their own problems by talking it through and I just listen," he said.

Edwards said there was no student lounge back then and students would congregate in his office to discuss family, work and school. "It was a social place," he said. "One of my colleagues asked to be moved because it was so noisy."

David Wooten, assistant professor of marketing at Ross, remembers his mentor's office as a "Black student lounge."

"There was a lot of student traffic between classes or at the end of the day. Dr. E knew more about the students' social lives than did many of their classmates," he said.

Several students met their future spouse in Edwards' office. Wooten met his wife, Lynn Perry Wooten, assistant professor of strategy and management and organizations, while in the PhD program.

"I was in my second year and Lynn was a prospective student," said Wooten. "Dr. E's office was a popular meeting place. It was an 'unwritten rule' to bring prospective students to his office to hear his perspective and meet other members of the community."

Frederick McDonald, MBA '95, said the conference should have been re-branded a long time ago. "I would respond a lot quicker to an e-mail invitation that has Dr. Edwards' name on it because I would do anything for him," he added.

Dean Robert J. Dolan also was pleased to see the conference named in Edwards' honor. "To me, it's a very special conference. It brings together three generations of the school—prospective students, students and alumni—and captures the spirit of Dr. Edwards," he said.

At this year's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day lecture, Dolan overheard a conversation between MLK speaker Michael Dyson and Edwards. "Michael asked Dr. Edwards what he did at the business school and his response was, 'I taught economics.' The last thing I'm going to say is that he just taught economics," said Dolan.

This year's conference, "Continuing Our Legacy: Breaking Barriers, Setting Benchmarks," brought corporate sponsors and attendees together to participate in professional development workshops, panel discussions and social events.

The BBSA was founded in 1970 and is one of the largest student-run organizations at the Ross School. The association is dedicated to the recruitment of Black business students and the professional and academic development of its members.

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For more information, contact:
Heather Thorne
Phone: (734) 936-8421