B-School Deans Share 2018 Resolutions

Not everyone takes the turning of a Gregorian calendar page so seriously. Dean Amy Hillman of Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business says her B-school has so many ways to earn degrees that its plan for the new year revolves around “always thinking of what’s next — so our resolution for 2018 is to become the leading school for intergalactic commerce studies.”

Long-time Duke Fuqua Dean Bill Boulding has more earthbound aspirations: to see the word “phygital” become mainstream. (It’s a resolution, he acknowledges, that’s likely to make the Duke Fuqua marketing team wince, “as they’ve told me repeatedly to stop saying ‘phygital’.”) fWhat does “phygital” mean? Turns out Boulding isn’t being facetious. He explains that phygital is a blend of physical and digital and “an important trend in business education, particularly as we think about ways to blend delivery in the physical classroom and online. Lessening face-to-face requirements provides greater accessibility for lots of folks, in particular (for) working families. It’s also the case that companies are increasingly operating in phygital space and we need to help them learn how to more effectively utilize phygital environments.

“At Duke, we are continually working to finding the best ways to blend online and face-to-face, particularly in our EMBA programs. So despite the advice of my dearly respected colleagues in marketing, I want to hear more people saying ‘phygital’ this year!”


Tuck Dean Matthew Slaughter

On a more sober note, Dartmouth Tuck School of Business Dean Matthew Slaughter vows that his school will spend more time “reflecting inward and looking outward,” which he says is essential to realizing the promise of the Tuck orientation to both do well and do good. Even during their busiest days, Slaughter says, successful business leaders find time to reflect.

“That’s one resolution for the Tuck community: to be intentional in making the time to periodically reflect and recharge,” Slaughter tells Poets&Quants. “Reflection today empowers all of us to take wiser actions tomorrow.”

Equally important, he adds, is the ability to look outward and be attentive to the “dynamism and innovation of the world.” Answers or business solutions companies seek are no longer confined to a specific area — more and more, Slaughter says, they are found in unexpected places. “We see this, for example, with research breakthroughs that first take root in other disciplines and in industry-shaping actions that originate in different and unrelated industries,” he says. “By looking outward, by asking questions, by collaborating across disciplines and industries, we see — and thus learn — more.

“Thus, a second Tuck resolution: to encourage even more looking outward.”


Paul Almeida, dean and William R. Berkley Chair at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, says that like individual vows to lose weight, quit smoking, or eat well, business schools’ vows “are about being better in the future.” The beginning of a new year is a time “to reflect a bit on our past and on the opportunities of the future,” he adds. And he’s come up with three ways schools will have to change.

First, “every business school is going to have to behave more like a business” in the future, Almeida says, which means being financially smart, being organized efficiently, and “making strategic choices that are suitable for a dynamic environment.” Next, B-schools are going to have to embrace technology, but in a way that goes beyond online and blended learning. “We must apply new technologies like machine learning, augmented reality, and big data to the student experience so our students can be prepared to embrace the changes in the real world after they graduate,” Almeida says.

Finally, he says, business schools also must try to create the future, not just prepare themselves for the future. “For instance, we will have an opportunity to both apply artificial intelligence for ourselves, but also to frame and inform the world about the consequences of the rise of artificial intelligence — what it means for employment, organizations, social communities, and the individual. Business schools can contribute even more to society by educating society about the future trends and possibilities.”


Yale SOM Acting Dean Anjani Jain

Mark Nelson, Anne and Elmer Lindseth dean and professor of accounting at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, has a simple resolution: Keep the focus on student success. He points to new facilities (the Breazzano Family Center in Ithaca and the Tata Center for Innovation at the Cornell Tech Campus in NYC) and new faculty hires as evidence that Johnson will keep offering exciting curriculum “like our first-year immersion program and our seven-week intensives it Fintech and Digital Marketing.”

“We’ll continue to emphasize various types of experiential learning that we have seen lead our students to perform extremely well in internships and careers,” Nelson says.

At Yale School of Management, Acting Dean and Professor in the Practice of Management Anjani Jain demurs on the subject of resolutions, saying he doesn’t “put much stock in arbitrary markers of time like the start of the Gregorian calendar.” However, he adds, in observance of “an event of true celestial significance — the winter solstice and the light it propitiously restores to the northern hemisphere,” he offers an ancient pearl of wisdom from Aristotle:

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”


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