top of page

News / Article

Professor Sonya Grier Installed as Eminent Scholar Chair in Marketing

Feb 1, 2024

Endowed Chair Installation Ceremony Celebrates Professor Sonya Grier’s Achievements in Marketing Scholarship

“Who here loves Sonya?” asked Kogod School of Business dean David Marchick, addressing a crowd in the Katzen Arts Center’s Abramson Recital Hall. The room filled with cheers; after all, the audience had gathered to celebrate the career and achievements of marketing professor Sonya Grier. In front of family, friends, students, and colleagues, Grier was formally installed as the Arlene R. and Robert P. Kogod Eminent Scholar Chair in Marketing, a distinction that both honors her contributions to the field and provides funding for her continued research.

The endowed chair was made possible by a sizeable gift from the Kogod family, establishing three new chairs for the school’s faculty. Professor Valentina Bruno was named the Eminent Scholar Chair in finance and will be honored with an event next semester, while the search for an Eminent Scholar Chair in sustainability remains ongoing.

An endowed chair is considered one of the highest academic honors a faculty member can achieve; it signifies the chairholder’s achievements to date and establishes financial support for them to pursue future goals.

With this new set of resources, Grier will continue her critical work studying the relationship between race and the marketplace—research she’s been spearheading since she was a student herself. When she pursued her master’s degree and PhD at Northwestern University, the notion of researching race in marketing was still considered radical, and Grier recalled being advised not to conduct such research. She ignored that advice, instead writing about race in every paper, studying it in every assignment, and focusing on it in her dissertation. Even before she began her scholarly research, Grier had seen firsthand how Black consumers face unique issues, from increased surveillance to higher prices and discrimination. Grier believed that to avoid properly discussing those issues is to tell an incomplete story of the marketing world.

Grier’s determination to conduct this research led her to become one of the foremost—if not the foremost—experts on race in the marketplace worldwide. As of this year, she has won the Thomas C. Kinnear Award for significant contributions to marketing and public policy five times, more than any other marketing scholar since the award was established in 1993. As fellow marketing professor Khalia Jenkins said in the event’s introductory video, Grier quite literally wrote the book on race in the marketplace—which is available in open access and covers sociopolitical issues in global marketing. Grier cofounded the Race in the Marketplace network for like-minded researchers to collaborate, opening even more doors for those looking to study these issues.

In his opening remarks at the recent installation, Dean Marchick said that when he announced the event, he received fifty personal notes about Grier’s impact from her colleagues and students, both past and present.

Throughout her career, Sonya Grier has built a path for people who think like her and for people who look like her."

In academic tradition, a faculty member marks their establishment as an endowed chair with an inaugural lecture. Grier’s lecture, titled “Back to the Future: Research for Marketplace Equity,” reviewed her research over the years and how the discussion around race in marketing has changed. Though her work has been wide-ranging—from studying topics like how social status impacts the response to targeted marketing in South Africa, to working with the FTC to determine if mature content is marketed to younger audiences—equity has consistently remained at the heart of all she does. Race in the marketplace became her primary research focus in 2016, but it has always played a role in her life and career—and she’s grateful for the Kogods’ support in ensuring that she has the tools to keep making strides in the field.

“I’m grateful not only for myself but for the lives that will be touched by this research,” Grier said of the endowed chair installation.

In reflecting on her previous research, Grier noted the importance of understanding how the discussion of equity in marketing has changed over the years. She began her lecture by invoking the concept of sankofa, a word used by the Akan people of Ghana to represent the need to look to the past to build a better future. Though the context of her research is different now, changed by the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing discussions surrounding DEI in higher education, her past work is just as pertinent and crucial to ensuring that students in all disciplines understand the part race plays in marketing.

These discussions that we have now didn’t just happen. They were made."

Professor and Eminent Scholar Chair in Marketing, Kogod School of Business

In closing, Grier encouraged the audience to take something they learned at the lecture and share it with somebody they know. The more people are informed about how race factors into marketing issues and social sustainability, the more everybody can contribute to creating a more equitable world.

As an Eminent Scholar Chair, Grier will continue doing her part.

When Dean Marchick took the stage again to close the event, he asked, “Who here is inspired by Sonya?” Once again, the audience cheered.

bottom of page