Reflections and lessons from change in Business Schools: What is next?
One of the opening sessions of the AACSB Conference for Associate Deans Conference brought together panelists from 4 business schools; Latha Ramchand, Dean at the University of Houston, Lynne Richardson, Dean at the University of Mary Washington, Deborah Spake, Associate Dean at the University of Alabama and Kristie Oglivie, Interim Associate Dean at California State University. The Panel was chaired by Susan McTiernan, Associate Dean at Quinnipiac University and Vice Chair of the Associate Deans Affinity Group.
Here are some of the remarks from the panel.
What have been the big challenges in the past few years?
Most universities have been affected by budget cuts in the past few years. This has presented a number of challenges but has also led to more creativity in providing courses and in more effective resource management. It is no longer possible to replicate the old model of just repeating the same courses each year.
Business schools now have more focus on who the customers are and what are their needs. There is a growth in blended learning to meet the needs of employees who are continuing their studies. For example, the University of Houston now has metrics to decide if each class is profitable. Cancelled classes means a reduction in classes for clinical faculty and their compensation in “adjusted”. This shows the need for a flexible model in the HR system.
Finally, the financial crisis means that business schools are now really having to run themselves like businesses.
How to deal with the status quo in universities?
It is against human nature to like change and so it is understandable that many faculty are resistant to it as well. Surprisingly, it is even the professors of change management that are the most resistant.
There is a strong need to include all the faculty in the process of change and to convince all the stakeholders that the change proposed is in the best interest of the school. If everyone is included in this process change becomes easier to adopt.
It would be nice if the initial proposals for change came from the faculty. This isn’t always the case. There is need in then to engage students, recruiters, advisors and other participants to bring new ideas in this process. When changing procedures it is vital to get everyone involved and communicate often with them.
What are the enrolment challenges?
There has been a fall in MBA numbers in the past few years. However, the schools are not abandoning this market. The enrolment problem also needs to be addressed in the curricula. There have been complaints from some students that there was too much technical knowledge and not enough soft skills. To provide the necessary skills we need to work hard outside the classroom and look at other delivery modes. There is a need to decide if the package is right because at times there has been a disconnect between the curriculum and the skills needed in business.
If business schools have faced cuts, so has corporate America. It is now more important than ever to ensure that the courses are relevant to our students so that they get maximum benefit from them.
What is the panel’s vision for internationalization in their schools?
There is now a greater push for international internships. Technology can also be used for increasing international exposure of students and faculty. Some classes have been created using cross border negotiation through video media. A business school may wish to encourage faculty exchanges as a means to internationalize.
What are the challenges for those Associate Dean that become Deans?
To some extent Deans and Associate Deans are paid to deal with bad behavior and with problems as are all people in senior management. Becoming a Dean means you have no one else to blame except yourself. This requires a new level of courage. It is important to create a reliable team of people that can be trusted to get work done.
Associate Deans bring their technical skills to the job of Dean and are familiar with things such as accreditation. Associate Deans you get a lot of the detailed work to do. This is useful for the job of Dean. As Dean your job is to see the larger picture of the business school. You can be helped in doing this if you have a good Associate Dean that protects you from the more minor problems.
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Higher Education Management: “Digital higher education is now a strategic issue for colleges and universities. Online enrolment continues to experience double-digit growth. Investors are once again lining up to fund new companies in educational technology and media.”
Higher Education Management: “I think universities can move in new directions; they can identify new opportunities and shift resources accordingly. But they don’t have much practice. For last several decades, universities have had the luxury of not needing to make especially tough decisions.”
GlobalEd: “Today, Chinese universities are still in a catch up with regard to their colleagues from the USA and Europe in particular. The Shanghai Jiaotong University Ranking System which ranks the top 500 universities in the world has no Chinese university in the top 100.”
GlobalEd: “The 2012 once again confirmed the supremacy of American universities where more than half of the top 100 being from the USA. 9 years on the winners are….the USA (though with warning signs), China, Australia, New Zealand and Saudi Arabia. And the losers? Japan, Germany and perhaps India.”
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