Student/Faculty Interactions Expand with New Initiatives at Michigan Ross

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Michigan Ross is known for having an inclusive, thoughtful, and active learning community.  Ross students often say engaging with the faculty is something they look forward to -- but with incoming Full-Time MBA classes of roughly 450 students, it can be a struggle to connect outside the classroom.

Therefore, the FTMBA Program has launched several initiatives to encourage informal student/faculty interactions -- and they are proving to be extremely popular.  Here’s more on how MBA students are getting 1:1 time with our dean, faculty, and each other:

“Mix ’N’ Mingle With Faculty” is a series of informal receptions open to all MBA students. Faculty members from two academic areas are invited on a rotating basis. Three events have taken place so far, each drawing several dozen students.

The next Mix ’N’ Mingle is set for 4:30-5:30 p.m. Feb. 17 in the Blau Lobby.

Full-Time MBA Program Managing Director Heather Byrne says the events help the students get to know the faculty members on a different level, and the faculty see the students in a new light as well.

“Students want more time with faculty in a more casual kind of setting,” Byrne says. “You just never know what’s going to come up in conversation.”

Also this year, a popular series of faculty lunches is creating even closer interactions between the two groups. Section leaders organize these informal outings, inviting one faculty member and up to five students.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to get to know one of my favorite professors in a casual environment,” says MBA2 Tom Gildersleeve. “Most of our discussion was spent sharing our experiences with and perceptions of various aspects of the Ross program, and we laughed a lot in the process. Before we knew it we had spent two full hours sharing stories.”

The lunches, which returned this year after a long absence, started for MBA2s in the fall; this term, the program expands to MBA1s. Each section may host up to four paid lunches per semester.

So far this year, 16 lunches have taken place involving 74 students and nine different faculty members -- Ryan Ball, Damian Beil, Paul Clyde, Bill Hall, Gautam Kaul, Linda Lim, Greg Miller, Yesim Orhun, and Maxim Sytch.

Faculty members as well as students find the experience rewarding. Sytch notes, “I find these lunches illuminating in that they allow us to have a discussion of how students used certain skills and insights from our course in their summer internships and MAP. It is also exciting for me to see how their ambition and professional aspirations materialize in career opportunities, and have a conversation about their new roles.”

MBA2 Jennifer Suh says, “Having lunch with Professor Lim and a few classmates was like talking about current events with friends, but one of them happens to be an expert in world economy. The simultaneous richness and candor of the conversation was a true pleasure.”

Finally, although Afternoons with Alison” (pictured above) events have brought students together with Dean Alison Davis-Blake for the last couple of years, faculty members started joining the event last fall. These invitation-only events take place about six times a year for 20-25 students.

“I'm so glad that Ross has programs like this in place to provide opportunities for casual, unstructured and light-hearted interactions with faculty,” Gildersleeve says.