Dean's Letter: WHAT NEVER CHANGES

Spring 2018

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Everything has an expiration date. And after a decade serving as part of the Mendoza leadership, mine is long past. I will step down as the Martin J. Gillen Dean of Mendoza College of Business as of June 30.

I feel truly blessed to have been associate dean, interim dean and then dean of this great institution. I plan to take a sabbatical year — my first in 38 years — before returning to my endowed professorship in finance

It’s a common saying that people overestimate what can be accomplished in a year and underestimate what can be done in a decade. As I reflect on the last decade, I am struck by how much we have indeed achieved.

When I first became dean, we were ranked as the No. 1 undergraduate business school by Bloomberg Businessweek, an honor we continued to claim for five consecutive years from 2010 to 2014. In response, BBW suspended the ranking, reconfigured the methodology, issued one more year (we ranked No. 2), then quit the undergraduate rankings business altogether.

I like to think that we broke the ranking, especially since the one criteria that consistently put us over the top was student satisfaction. Our undergraduates commented about the passion of the faculty, the incredible efforts of our Undergraduate Advising and Career Services teams, the importance of our mission, the innovative coursework and the support of our amazing alumni network. More than any number, those words define success.

Perhaps the most significant changes in the educational landscape have occurred in graduate programs. Globalization and rapid advances in technology necessitated changes in the way we educate, especially in the demand for one-year specialty programs.

For many years, Mendoza has offered master’s degrees in accountancy and nonprofit management — both notable in their own right. Yet we had some catching up to do compared to our peers. Our pioneering Master of Science in Management for non-business majors launched in 2013 and remains an unqualified success. Two Chicago-based master’s programs in finance and business analytics followed in 2015 bringing our graduate offerings to seven.

The MSBA program was just the beginning of our efforts to strengthen our core in data analytics. In 2017, we introduced a new undergraduate major in business analytics, which immediately saw a high level of enrollment. We also created the dual MBA/MSBA, where students earn two master’s degrees in two years. In 2020, we plan to introduce a residential MSBA.

There have been many organizational changes to support these programs, which are perhaps too esoteric to go into in this limited space. But as dean, I’m proud of the thought leadership of our people and the constant focus on innovation.

Mostly, I’m humbled. There is another saying that it is easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements in comparison with what we owe others. Being a dean means above all owing many people a huge debt of gratitude for devoting their time, experience, intelligence and talents to making these accomplishments possible.

It is also true that regardless of what changes, we must always hearken to what does not: our mission. Programs will come and go. People — even the dean — will come and go. But we all must continue to uphold the ideals of our faith and of business as a force for good in this world.

Therein lies our confidence for Mendoza’s bright future.

Roger D. Huang
Martin J. Gillen Dean and Kenneth R. Meyer
Professor of Global Investment Management

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