BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Robert Thomas, an administrator, professor, and scholar in diversity management, will join the Indiana University Kelley School of Business as its inaugural associate dean for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
Thomas, assistant dean of diversity and inclusion and Darden Restaurants Professor of Diversity Management at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business, will join the Kelley School on July 1, pending completion of the faculty appointment process and approval of the IU Board of Trustees.
“Robert will bring a wealth of experience in diversity leadership, business law, and management to this new position, which was created in response to recommendations from the Kelley School DEIB Task Force,” said Ash Soni, interim dean and the Sungkyunkwan Professor.
“He will also bring an understanding of Kelley’s history of innovative diversity programming and a listening ear to learn from our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and hiring companies how to make Kelley even more of a model for inclusive and equitable communities among business schools,” Soni added.
Thomas earned a PhD in economics, a Juris Doctor degree from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Princeton University. In addition to the University of Florida, he has held positions at the University of Michigan, Stanford University, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of London, and Aix-Marseille School of Economics.
Prior to earning his PhD, he practiced law for two years in San Francisco.
Thomas said he is excited to become a Hoosier. The move will be somewhat of a homecoming for his wife, Michele, who is a native of Gary, Indiana, and who earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at IU. Thomas is an avid cyclist and is curious to see how he fares against the rolling hills around Bloomington.
“Diversity makes us all better,” Thomas said of his new role at Kelley. “It’s really not about changing minds, it’s about opening them. We don’t want everyone to think alike. The goal is to have an environment where people are open to understanding and respectful of others — not despite their differences but because of them.”
Soni expressed appreciation to members of the Kelley School’s ad hoc DEIB Task Force and the permanent DEIB Committee for work they did in establishing the need for the position and in developing the criteria for candidates.
“We had a stellar field of finalists,” he said. “Thanks to all of those who participated in the search process.”