MBA alumna becomes president of Shaw University

Thursday, September 10, 2015

No one has ever doubted Tashni-Ann Dubroy’s ability to get things done.

The Rutgers Business School alumna, MBA ’11, is a research scientist turned procurement manager and a chemistry professor with a passion for entrepreneurism. As a Rutgers MBA student, she was one of two women behind the launch of Tea & Honey Blends, a hair products company.

After completing her MBA, Dubroy returned to Shaw University where she attended classes as an undergraduate. She began working as a chemistry professor and quickly took a leadership position as chair of the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Her role at Shaw got much bigger when she was named university president in June.

"When I went to school here, I always knew I wanted to give back,” she said during an interview last month. "Taking on the position of president gives me the latitude to make change.”

Tashni-Ann Dubroy, Rutgers MBA 2011

Dubroy’s academic accomplishments – she also has a doctoral degree – as well as her business knowledge and experience helped catapult her into the president’s office.

"Shaw needed a president with a fresh vision to take us in a new direction,” Joseph Ball, the chairman of Shaw’s board of trustees said when Dubroy’s appointment was announced in June.

"At different points in history, different types of leaders are needed,” he said, "and for Shaw, this is the time for someone with a solid business background.”

Her business background includes more than Tea & Honey Blends, which won the 2011 Rutgers Business Plan Competition and is slated to be sold. Dubroy also started a hair salon in downtown Raleigh and a non-profit organization, the Brilliant and Beautiful Foundation, which is dedicated to providing female science students with mentors.

In 2014, Dubroy was asked to join Shaw’s administration as special assistant to the president. She said the position was considered interim, allowing her to perform the work of a process optimization specialist. It turned out to be a chance for her to prove herself.

When she met with the university’s Board of Trustees months later to present the result of her work, her presentation included a plan to reduce annual costs by $2 million. "It gave the board insight into what I was capable of achieving,” she said. 

Shaw University was founded in 1865 in Raleigh, N.C. and is one of the oldest historically black universities in the Southern U.S. It has more than 2,100 students. The university’s alumni include major recording artists, executives, college presidents, school principals and pastors.

Dubroy, who attended Shaw on a presidential scholarship and graduated summa cum laude in 2002 with a degree in chemistry, credits university administrators with "taking a chance” on her. Her gratitude to Shaw only fuels her natural drive to succeed. "I’m ready to show up every day and work passionately to accomplish things,” she said.  

There are plenty of challenges for Dubroy to tackle: declining enrollment, the need to boost fund-raising for scholarships, forging global corporate partnerships and executing on her plan to cut costs and operate the university more efficiently. In early August, she also was in the process of building her executive cabinet.

Dubroy said her understanding of the university’s culture, its faculty and students will be advantages as she focuses on innovating and promoting Shaw. And so will her MBA, which Dubroy considers her "most practical degree.”

"I’m drawing on my MBA experience all the time,” she said.

TAGS: Alumni Entrepreneurship MBA