Leaving a lasting legacy

Class of 2004 Professional Diversity Scholarship enhances MIT Sloan experience

Dan BarcanPhoto: Dan Barcan, principal of the McAuliffe Regional Charter Public School and winner of the Class of 2004 Professional Diversity Scholarship, with his wife and son.

Like the classes before them, the Class of 2004 wanted their class gift to be something that would improve the MIT Sloan experience for the students who came after them. The result of their gift, the Class of 2004 Professional Diversity Scholarship, has been a gift that keeps on giving — on many levels.

The scholarship — which seeks to attract students with unique work experiences, educational endeavors, or national backgrounds to MIT Sloan — supports the belief that the overall MIT Sloan student experience is enhanced by having a widely diverse student population.

This belief was important enough to the class that they committed a great deal of time, effort, and money to make the scholarship happen. A 15-person committee pulled together an 86 percent participation rate, resulting in a total pledge of $168,000. The committee then worked with representatives from the MIT Sloan Alumni and Admissions offices to set up the fund, scope the scholarship, and obtain a list of candidates.

In addition to supporting the educational endeavors of students with non-traditional backgrounds, the Class of 2004 Professional Diversity Scholarship also serves as a way for members of the class to stay in touch.

“Each winter, I ask for about eight of our classmates to volunteer for the scholarship selection committee,” says scholarship committee co-founder Andy Earnest, MBA '04. “This is a great opportunity for the group to reconnect and continue their ties with MIT Sloan.”

“Generally, we are looking for a student that will improve and bring a different perspective to his or her core team and overall MIT Sloan class,” says Earnest.

And the scholarship goes to ...

In this, its fourth year, the scholarship was awarded to Dan Barcan, a member of the MBA Class of 2010. Barcan is the principal of the McAuliffe Regional Charter Public School in Framingham, Massachusetts, which is based on the principles of Expeditionary Learning and Outward Bound.

Before becoming principal of McAuliffe, Barcan helped to develop charter schools in St. Louis, Kansas City, Detroit, and New York. After graduating from Brown University in 1996 with a BA in history, Barcan began his career as a social studies and English teacher at the Murdoch Middle School, another Massachusetts charter school. As part of its mission, Murdoch teaches the tenets of systems thinking and system dynamics to kids in grades five through eight; Barcan developed this curriculum and trained other teachers to use it.

The scholarship committee believes Barcan's experience as a school principal and other involvement in education brings a unique perspective to MIT Sloan's Management Education. He has successfully appealed to basic values to rally support for a charter school in dire straits and to negotiate a non-unionized but equitable teacher-manager relationship. His eloquence and maturity have established him as an effective influencer.

Simultaneously, Barcan has augmented these softer skills with a thirst for MIT staples, such as System Dynamics. The committee believes that having Barcan as part of the student body would provide diverse input which broaden the MIT Sloan experience.

“The fellowship has been extremely helpful to recruiting outstanding diverse candidates,” says Rod Garcia, director of MBA Admissions. “The first recipient of the fellowship, Heather Tow Yick, MBA '07, who is a Teach for America (TFA) alumna, introduced me to TFA. This eventually led to TFA establishing two $25,000 scholarships for TFA alumni this year.”

Says Earnest, “We know the competition among schools is tough for the best candidates. What could possibly show to an applicant MIT Sloan's commitment to a diverse student population than its own students funding a scholarship.”