“The Mentoring Continues”: DITE Program Concludes Spring 2024 Conference

The spring gathering of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity's Diversity Initiative for Tenure in Economics (DITE) program wrapped up its 3-day program in Washington, D.C., Thursday, April 4.

The program, which provides mentorship and workshops to aid the transition from junior faculty status to associate professor for economists from underrepresented groups (most notably, Black, Latinx, and Native American economists) and is currently on its 15th cohort, continued Wednesday with a strong lineup of seven presentations of in-progress research and one keynote speaker.

In the morning session, Eduardo Guimaraes Minuci, assistant professor of economics at the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, kicked things off with his presentation “Does Uniqueness Matter for Community Banks?” He explored the degree to which these local banks serve different customer needs, as well as the interplay between the market concentration of financial institutions in these geographies, profitability, and the defining characteristics of these banks. Kenneth Ford, assistant professor of finance at Wake Forest University, then took the podium to discuss his work on “How Do PE Firms Influence and Respond to Loan Withdrawals?” centered on trying to determine whether private equity firms can predict syndicated loan withdrawals with any precision, and, in turn, mediate the negative effects of these setbacks.

The series of DITE fellow presentations was broken up by guest speaker Bradley Hardy, professor in the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. Hardy’s presentation, “A View from the Other Side: Advice for the Tenure-Track and Beyond,” shared “one perspective” on his path to full professor and encouraged a human connection between the audience members. The main point, Hardy said, is “you have an opportunity in a room [like this]...to build community.”

Three presentations from DITE fellows followed a keynote lunch address in a busy afternoon session. Luis Baldomero-Quintana, assistant professor of economics at William and Mary, discussed his research into how commodity booms in Colombia affected the neighboring regions, in terms of manufacturing output.

Elisa Taveras Peña, assistant professor of economics at University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, then shared her working paper that explored how differences in worker skills across countries is a reflection of different demands for particular skills. Salama S. Freed, assistant professor of health policy and management at George Washington University, concluded the set of DITE presentations with her analysis of how the COVID-19 pandemic affected people with chronic conditions, particularly with regards to their medication use and outpatient care.

The final three speakers of the conference, spanning from Wednesday afternoon to Thursday morning, were all Cook Center postdoctoral associates. Xiongfei Li discussed how China’s one-child policy affected childbirth and female labor market outcomes in the country, to close out Wednesday; on Thursday morning,  Pak Hung Lam presented on the effects of a locust swarm invasion in Burkina Faso and the long-lasting effects on human capital accumulation via school outcomes, and Aten Zaandam shared his findings on the CEO behavior of S&P 1500 companies were affected by their class upbringings, in terms of their proclivity for greed or corporate social responsibility. 

The rest of Thursday morning spilled into working sessions between DITE fellows and mentors. Dr. Gwendolyn Wright, the director of strategic initiatives at the Cook Center, concluded the conference by noting that, even as the conference was ending, the work with the DITE fellows wasn’t done. “The mentoring continues,” Wright said.

DITE will next convene in August, likely in Durham, North Carolina.