Risa Mish Honored with the 2024 Earl Hill Jr. Faculty Achievement and Diversity Leadership Award

by Donna Talarico

By: Staff
Professor Risa Mish teaches in a classroom with tiered seating.

Risa Mish teaches Critical Thinking for Business Leaders for the EMBA program in 2019.

Risa Mish, professor of practice at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, received the 2024 Earl Hill Jr. Faculty Achievement and Diversity Leadership Award.

Established in 2019 by The Consortium, this annual award recognizes outstanding academic and professional leadership on campus and in the community, including a strong commitment to advocating for diversity and inclusion.

Surprised and humbled by this honor, Mish said she’s simply leading by example with her teaching, mentoring, and service to the college. She said diversity and inclusion holistically work their way into her MBA courses in management, which focus on critical and strategic thinking.

“Diversity and inclusion is a driver of critical thinking because critical thinking is so much about identifying, acknowledging, and questioning your own assumptions,” she said.

Mish’s case studies have included diversity elements for many years, and she continually updates her content. However, she said a commitment to diversity and inclusion takes more than representation in course materials.

“It has to come from personal commitment in terms of how we conduct class, how we conduct ourselves as we move through the community, what kind of an effort we make to connect with people whose experiences are different from ours and to help people whose experiences are different from ours have a platform to increase comfort in sharing those with the rest of us,” she said.

Mish added that leading by example also requires vulnerability, something she tries to bring into her teaching and her interactions with students, colleagues, and alumni.

Building an inclusive community beyond the classroom is important for Mish. Active on the student organization front since she arrived at Cornell in 2007, she is currently a faculty advisor to the Black Graduate Business Association, Out for Business, Women’s Management Council, and Access Johnson, among others.

“Professor Risa Mish is the epitome of outstanding academic and professional leadership,” said Vishal Gaur, the Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean of the Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management. “A highly awarded faculty member, she teaches students the art of critical thinking, where students learn to evaluate managerial decisions in context and without bias. She carries this lesson outside the classroom and to Johnson alumni, maintaining deep relationships with students and guiding them in the subsequent years. Her impact sets the standard for the Cornell SC Johnson College and the Johnson School.”

The Hill award is the latest in a variety of teaching honors for Mish; she’s also received peer- and student-nominated awards including the Apple Award for Teaching Excellence, the MBA Core Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, and the inaugural Cornell University Provost’s Award for Graduate and Professional Teaching Excellence.

Mish, who began her career in litigation and employment law, said teaching has been the greatest professional privilege of her life.

“I learn so much from the students, many of whom have backgrounds that are very different from mine, and I mean that in lots of different respects, and so you get this opportunity to continue to learn and evolve,” she said.

This is especially true with Mish’s case-based courses, which allow students to bring their own experiences, expertise, perspectives, and values to the discussion.

“No two people are going to have an identical background,” Mish said. “This allows all of us to experience over and over again how you can have a group of people encountering an identical set of facts, but they’re going to filter those facts and draw very different inferences based on who they are, where they’ve been, how they think, and what matters to them.

“That’s just an extraordinary thing to experience year after year. It never gets old for me.”

Watch Risa Mish’s Video Acceptance

Risa Mish prepared a statement for the award ceremony; view it here:

About The Consortium: Founded in 1966, The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing diversity in top MBA programs and within industry. Cornell has been a member institution since 2009.