University of Tennessee

Randy Bradley Recognized for Paying it Forward to Underrepresented Students

June 2, 2015

Randy Bradley, assistant professor of information systems and supply chain management at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business, has been featured in a book entitled “Paying it Forward.” The book outlines the growth and success of The PhD Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the number of doctoral candidates from underrepresented ethnicities.

Since The PhD Project’s founding in 1994, the number of African-, Hispanic- and Native American business professors with doctorate qualifications has quadrupled. Randy Bradley joined the organization while he was a doctoral student at Auburn University in 2001 and still participates as a speaker and faculty advisor.

“I haven’t missed their annual conference for 14 years,” Bradley said. “When students come to me struggling and having challenges, I can relate because that is the life I once lived. When I share my story with them, they recognize that if I did it, so can they.”

“Paying it Forward” describes one instance in 2005 when Bradley’s story inspired Martin Dias, a successful information technology professional, to pursue his inclination to become a professor. Dias recalls that hearing Bradley speak at The PhD Project conference is what gave him the courage to give up his six-figure salary and enroll in a doctoral program at Bentley University.

“Here I see someone who looks like me,” Dias, one of more than 400 potential students that Bradley spoke to that day, remembered thinking. “He has a family like me. He is active in the ministry like me. He is focused and determined like me. He’s acknowledging this will be a challenge, but he’s saying the end result will be worth it. He basically took all my excuses away.”

Bradley has spoken at The PhD Project’s conference several times since. He also mentors African-American undergraduates students at Haslam and is involved with the Business Education for Talented Students program, which gives high school youth a taste of life at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville each summer.

“Paying it Forward” was written by Ned Steele and published by The PhD Project. Visit for more information about The PhD Project and “Paying it Forward.”