With over three decades of experience in sports business and a passion for teaching, professor Deborah Stroman has made it a priority to empower marginalized students.
Stroman has served as the Director of the UNC Kenan-Flagler Center of Sport Business since its opening in 2016. Kenan-Flagler announced this past summer that the Center of Sports Business will close by December, also terminating her position at the business school.
To many of Stroman’s students at Kenan-Flagler, this was a huge loss. Not only had they lost a resource at UNC, but said they had also lost a beloved professor. Stroman has assured them that she will continue to support them outside of the classroom by advising students and staying involved in the Carolina Sport Business Club. Yet, Stroman said it will be hard to fill in the missing void of the Center of Sports Business, which supplements students' education with talks, networking events and workshops.
“Students are resourceful. I know they’ll find other ways to get the book-knowledge and gain experiences out in the field,” Stroman said. “But there’s no doubt that the things I’ve been able to put together in a creative way is hard to duplicate. And I’m not doing this from egotistical perspective. I am bringing in people who will care about the students just as much as I care about them.”
The Center of Sports Business has run proudly to the finish line with a final Impact Symposium covering the topic of women in sports business. The event, officially called “From High Tops to Pumps: The Evolution of Women in Sport Business,” was held on Friday at the business school.
MBA student Chi Nwogu helped Stroman market the event. After listening to the powerful stories from the speakers at the event, Nwogu said the topic was fitting as the final event in the center.
“There are all kinds of things that we need to question about how we consume entertainment,” Nwogu said. “For example, of the 10 Big East women’s basketball teams, nine are coached by men. There is a pipeline of women who want to coach college sports, but that’s not happening. So these are issues that we need to talk about, but also we need to take action.”
Nwogu has known Stroman for several years and considers her to be his mentor. He credits her for bringing him to Chapel Hill to get his MBA degree and has benefited greatly from her advice.
“She cares about a lot of people,” Nwogu said. “On and off campus she is doing stuff for women, people who are black, people who are homosexual. She cares so much that her schedule is non-stop.”
Like many of Stroman’s students, Nwogu was shocked to hear that the Center of Sports Business was closing and Stroman was being let go.
“What we were told was that she was fired by Business Dean (Douglas) Shackelford, and his rationale was that the business school was trying to focus more on different areas such as health care and, because of that, they’re shifting focus,” Nwogu said.
Mohammed Hedadji is another former student of Stroman. He works at Red Ventures, where he does data analysis and digital marketing. He attributes Stroman for teaching him life skills that made him the professional he is today.
“Her legacy at UNC is nothing but positive,” Hedadji said. “It’s obviously a tragedy when you lose anyone of the quality of Dr. Stroman and frankly it’s one that I am going to have a hard time forgiving the business school for.”
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