Reflections and Resolutions

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The beginning of a new year is a natural time to reflect on the recent past and prepare for the action yet to come. I have just completed my first six months as dean at Michigan Ross. Currently I am working with my leadership team, as well as Ross faculty, staff, students, alumni, advisory boards, and other key constituents to frame a strategic plan that will shape our school’s future. Timed for release late this summer, the plan will be informed by my early priorities: globalization, executive education, entrepreneurship, and innovation around action-based learning. Of course, that’s just the beginning. I eagerly anticipate the variety of new issues and opportunities that emerge each day.

Global Expansion
Shortly after my arrival in July 2011, I appointed an associate dean for global initiatives. The goal is to coordinate our multifaceted relationships and identify new opportunities to deliver globalization across all business programs. We’ve conducted a complete inventory of our global activities and discovered that, while we are doing more than it might first appear, we can integrate our efforts more effectively and go deeper than before. In 2012, we’ll focus on academic and research activities, as well as alumni and corporate outreach. This includes custom executive education, in-country student projects, and new knowledge creation.

Much of our early attention will be on India, where Ross has a vibrant alumni network and a long history of corporate partnerships. In fact, our students are set to embark on approximately five in-country projects with Indian firms this spring under the auspices of the school’s new C.K. Prahalad Initiative. The Prahalad Initiative is named for the late Ross professor and management guru who was deeply passionate about the role of business in alleviating poverty.

Executive Education
In late 2011, I announced we would debut our top-ranked Executive MBA Program in Los Angeles this fall. For the first time, we will bring the Michigan Ross faculty and top-ranked curriculum to extremely busy executives who would otherwise not travel outside the region for a long-term degree program. As for non-degree executive education, we continue to grow our portfolio of open-enrollment offerings. We also are working toward partnerships that will facilitate degree and non-degree graduate business education in Southeast Asia.

Entrepreneurship
In fall 2012, we’ll debut the Master of Entrepreneurship Program, a unique collaboration between Michigan Ross and the College of Engineering (COE). Our two faculties, along with partners in the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at Ross and the COE’s Center for Entrepreneurship, have created a truly special curriculum that can’t be found in a conventional business or engineering program.

Innovation Around Action-Based Learning
In 1992, Michigan Ross introduced the innovative Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAP) course, an intensive field-study experience in which teams of students spend an entire semester collaborating to resolve high-stakes business challenges inside actual organizations. Since then, Ross students have executed more than 1,500 projects for 750 organizations worldwide. Experiential learning is a true differentiator in our graduate programs, especially in the global context. Our faculty committee is examining ways to further develop exceptional individual and team capabilities in our students to deliver value on business issues. Effective project management and intercultural communication will get increasing attention as more international projects come on line.

It’s an understatement to say my first six months as dean have been incredibly busy and challenging. I’ve created a new leadership team, established some key priorities, and accomplished several goals, both large and small. And whether I am introducing a keynote speaker at a student-run event or managing the complex set of activities required to launch our EMBA Program in Los Angeles, I am motivated by the same thing: to ensure academic and organizational excellence at Michigan Ross.

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