Exiting Georgetown Dean On His Five Years

Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business

Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business

The other issue in the capital campaign has to do with, even though we’ve got this new building that’s only seven years old, we’ve already outgrown it. So the next capital campaign will have some capital elements to it, which also requires thinking about what should be the physical presence of the school.

Another priority for the next dean needs to be a review of our undergraduate program from a curricular standpoint, to begin to ask the question, “What are the ways in which we want to imprint all of the students who come through the McDonough School of Business, and how do we weave that throughout the program?”

Today I would say at least two things are global and this notion of principle leadership. Part of global is giving our students the opportunity to go abroad and experience other cultures, and we’re doing many things in that domain. But another part of global is what happens in every course. Is every course being designed through the prism of global, so that whether I’m teaching finance, leadership, or strategy, I’m designing it in a way that makes it globally relevant? And I think for us, another theme needs to be the notion of “global at home”. By that I mean, how are we using our location in the most global city in the world, Washington D.C., to actually enhance the global nature of the education we give our students? Not to mention the global diversity that is within our student body.

And then principle leadership and how do we make the idea of service part of the experiential nature of the education that we provide at the school. I don’t know whether that means required-service kinds of projects. But I think we need to deepen that and make sure it’s not just a matter of giving our students an ethics course or a course in corporate social responsibility — but again, that it weaves throughout the curriculum of the school.

The last thing I think the next dean needs to focus on is continuing our success at energizing our alumni, parent, and corporate communities in support of the school. And I think we’ve done that by having them actively engaged in how to shape and define the vision, and also being very conscious in how we connect them to each other so that we really create a community as opposed to a network of donors.

We’ve spoken about the accomplishments and positive things that have happened under your leadership. What are some things you’d do differently or wish you could change?

Georgetown grew up as an undergraduate college. That’s its roots. And then it had a distinguished law school and I think as part of delivering on its mission of service, a med school evolved. And then at the turn of the last century, the School of Foreign Service. Georgetown wasn’t known for business. And I think if I were to look back on it and say what would I do different, I think I would’ve been much more deliberate about creating the Georgetown narrative for the business school at Georgetown, so that our Georgetown community at large becomes increasingly aware of why having a great business school enhances a great university.

We’ve now started to do many more collaborative kinds of things with the other schools at Georgetown, like the law school, the School of Foreign Service. Just in the past two years, we’ve started two new programs jointly with the School of Foreign Service — one at the undergraduate level and one at the graduate level. But the business school has been around for a while. Our 60th birthday will be later this year and this is the first time there’s been a business school-School of Foreign Service joint program. We’re working to design a program with our law school. So I think I would have been much more deliberate and speeded up that work at the university.

There are always personnel decisions you go back and revisit and might have done different, but it’s probably not good to be explicit about those in print, so I think I’ll pass. But of course, if I think about them in hindsight — like if I would have had the relationship with the school I have now and the faculty — there are things I could do that I was probably right not to tackle in my first few years.

I think another is really getting the faculty engaged in answering the question, “Are we organized in the most effective way to deliver the kind of education we need to deliver to our students in the 21st century, and the kind of research and engagement with the world that we need to pursue if we are really going to be one of the preeminent universities in the country?” If you look at our school today — and I think most business schools — we’re all organized by departments. Those departments are basically defined by the courses you teach. So everyone has a finance department. Everybody has a marketing department. And then every school has a department of everything else. When I started to look across our faculty, you see very clearly that strategy is a course that faculty from four of six departments could teach. If I look at it from a research standpoint, behavioral decision theory and behavioral experiment is an intellectual methodology that people in five of our six departments all use. We’re organized around these curriculum-defined departments, and I think it’s not the best way that a business school could be organized that creates alignment with what we need to do from a curricular standpoint.

It’s just this notion of, “Do we need to rethink how business school faculties are organized and thought of,” and redesigning the incentive structures for faculty in a way that recognizes those differences, such that how we reward and incentivize faculty who we deem to be doing more disciplinary-based research is different than what we might expect of our teaching professors and different from our professors of the practice. We need to recognize that all three of those groups can produce intellectual capital for the school. All three of those groups can play a role in the design of our educational experience. All three of those groups can be involved in developing co-curricular types of things. If you look at the McDonough School of Business, all of that is evident, but I don’t think we’ve been explicit about it and done it in a way that has everyone feel equally appreciated. I think we need to re-examine it.

What’s next?

In the immediate future, I will return to teaching and research. I am also open to considering leadership roles — either in academia or in a realm that speaks to some of the areas of particular interest that I’d like to be relevant to, like urban and public education, addressing income inequality, and the promotion of diversity at the highest levels of corporations and governments. There, the question is, can I identify an activity in which my leadership can make a difference and to which I can make a decade-long commitment.


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