Exiting Georgetown Dean On His Five Years

A Georgetown McDonough classroom. Courtesy photo

A Georgetown McDonough classroom. Courtesy photo

I’m also proud of the fact that on almost every dimension we have increased the diversity within the school. Our student diversity, the numbers of women have increased, the number of underrepresented U.S. minorities has increased, we have increased our percentage of international students — but more importantly, we have diversified where our international students come from. So while our percentages may not be up hugely — but they’re up — what’s really important is that now there is much more of the world represented in that international diversity at the school. We’ve increased the number of women faculty. The only place where we’ve not made the progress I would have loved to see us make is the representation of underrepresented minority faculty. In that realm, we made several offers and didn’t win on enough of them to change that number significantly. Although we did make some progress, but not as significant as the other domains.

The other thing I think we’ve done successfully, but the school is not finished yet, is we identified three themes that would guide our educational program and investments. This notion of a transformational educational experience, which really just means a focus on continuous improvement and evolution of our programs, expanding the global content and availability of global experiences for our students. And a focus on business and society, which has two components to it: understanding the intersection of business and society, in particular business and public policy and corporate social responsibility; and then this notion of principle leadership, which is about, what are the obligations that a business leader has, how they need to prepare themselves to effectively execute the service of business and society.

On those, we’ve also really deepened that in the experience we give our students, as well as in the research we’re doing at the school and our commitment to continuous improvement in our curriculum at the undergraduate, graduate, and executive levels.

One of those big goals you also had was ranking improvement, yet in the P&Q composite rankings there really haven’t been significant improvements. Was that a point of frustration for you?

It wasn’t as much frustrating as it was nerve-wracking. I would hear from Teresa (Mannix, McDonough’s assistant dean for communications) that some set of rankings were coming out tomorrow or next week and here I’ve set this goal of all of our programs being ranked in the top 10 of at least one major ranking, (that) was the way I’d framed it: at least one significant ranking, whether it be Poets&Quants, Businessweek, U.S. News and World Report, Financial Times.

There are different ways to think about it. When I accepted the job in May of 2011, I think we were 33 in Businessweek. I was lucky because the next ranking came out in October — I can’t take credit for it — I think we moved up into the 24 or 25. We’re 19th in the U.S. in the Financial Times. Our undergraduate program was ranked first for finance by Businessweek. Our executive MBA program is sixth in the U.S. for Financial Times. Our global executive MBA is 19th, I don’t think it was even ranked when I began.

Even though, I know for your composite ranking, which I pay a lot of attention to, we’ve floated up to 22 and now we’re 24. So there is a frustration there because when I look at some of the schools that rank above us in some of the rankings, I sometimes shake my head because a few of them have essentially shrank their full-time MBA programs in order to get a better GMAT and higher job placement.

But, if I look at the momentum of the school, I would say to the next dean of the school, we now have the momentum and are clear about the levers that we need to pull and the investments we need to make to actually move to that next level, much in the way that Yale did. I know Yale only because when the dean before Ted Snyder was there, he asked me to join his board of advisers, I saw the arc of the school and I think we’ve built now that launching pad for the next move of punctuated equilibrium and steepening trajectory into the top ten. At the full-time MBA level, the major challenge for us now is MBA scholarships. We find that the biggest reasons students aren’t coming to us now is essentially — at least what they reported — the financial aid. We lose to schools that are in the top five. But when someone tells us they went to NYU or they went to Darden or Dartmouth over us, the reason they most cite is financial aid. And the difference is substantial. Our discount rate is only 11%. And we’ve made that a major focus of our fundraising efforts. We started two years ago and that will continue to be a focus for Prashant Malaviya. In the not-too-distant future we should have an endowment of at least another $10 million just for financial aid scholarships, as well as we’ve begun directing all annual giving by our MBA alums to scholarships. But that’s got to be a major focus.

We think that there are a number of things under way that will also help us with the undergraduate rankings. Because one of the places that we fall down has to do with things that are actually outside the control of the school, which has to do with students’ experiences of various kinds of services and facilities, and Georgetown is rapidly improving those. So I have not given up on the “big, hairy, audacious goal”.

I think one difference between the Georgetown we are today and the Georgetown we were five years ago is that we’re much less internally focused. What being focused on the rankings has helped us to do is, to look outside ourselves and figure out what our place should be in the landscape of business education. And quite frankly, to raise our game and ambitions at all three levels — undergrad, grad, and executive.

What are some of the biggest challenges that should be at the top of the next dean’s to-do list?

There are a couple of things for the incoming dean. One, the incoming dean will almost have to immediately think about the next capital campaign, and what the priorities should be for the next capital campaign. The only one that I am positive about that needs to be part of that list is technology. And the need for us to significantly increase our ability to use technology in innovative ways, not just to expand to online degree programs — and we have one that’s been very successful, our master’s of science in finance —but to really transform and be really impactful in what we have in our brick-and-mortar offerings that are primarily based on campus. To leverage technology in all kinds of ways to create innovative, flexible, customized offerings for our students.

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