Top B-School Deans Share Resolutions For 2020

Duke Dean William Boulding: In 2020, “we must continue to recruit business school students from different backgrounds, functions, industries, genders and geographies.” Courtesy photo

Duke Fuqua School of Business Dean William Boulding’s resolution for 2020: to continue his work, as dean and as chair of the board of the Graduate Management Admission Council, to “help make sure all talent has an opportunity to be in the game.” That, he says, means fostering two things: access and inclusion.

“In terms of access, we must continue to recruit business school students from different backgrounds, functions, industries, genders and geographies. It is essential we create environments in which students learn from each other – such learning thrives on diversity.

“For international students in particular, we need to continue to find ways to make sure they can work in the U.S., if they so desire, post-graduation. STEM-designated programs, including ours, are providing a pathway to stay longer on a student visa, which is a positive development. However, it is in the long-term national economic interest that we reform immigration policy to allow badly needed talent to work in the U.S.

“Therefore, I resolve in 2020, to continue to work on the mobility initiative we started through GMAC in 2019.  I’m so proud of the 55 deans who came together to sign a letter to U.S. lawmakers explaining the urgency of immigration reform for the good of our economy. In 2020, I see this group of deans doubling down on those efforts to educate lawmakers and constituents about the need for immigration reform for high-skilled talent. I resolve to encourage deans to join me on the Hill to make this case. From our advocacy so far, the feedback has been receptive to a non-partisan, research-based message coming from business schools on this issue.

“However, we can’t stop there. We must also make sure once people gain access, they also feel they are part of the team. I resolve in 2020 that we will continue to evolve our curriculum at Fuqua about how to create a common purpose in a divided world. In many ways the deans who came together to sign the immigration initiative are a model of the power of common purpose. Although we compete for students, faculty, staff and philanthropic support — we also share the belief that mobility of talent is critical to our economy. I’m proud to see the deans’ group modeling behavior of how to come together to try and make the world a better place.”


Kenan-Flagler’s Doug Shackelford. Courtesy photo

Dean Doug Shackelford of UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School notes that 2020 is the start of a new centennial at the school, imbuing the new year with more meaning, perhaps, than at any other B-school. “We just finished celebrating the centennial of business education at Carolina,” Shackelford points out, “and while we honored the people who built our great business school, our focus has been on what’s next for UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. As we start our next centennial, business education in the midst of seismic change. We are resolved to be an even more student-centric business school — providing greater flexibility and customization in terms of what we teach, how we teach it (including using technology to improve learning), and the MBA formats we offer to meet the changing wants and needs of students.

“Healthcare is an increasingly critical issue for society and an area that continues to grow in interest for our students. We have made great strides with our Center for the Business of Health, which leads the curriculum, collaborates with the amazing healthcare units across UNC’s campus, and taps the expertise of industry leaders to prepare our students to work and lead in this field. Together our collective powerhouse of talent will distinguish UNC as leading national voices in the business of healthcare.”

Shackelford joins a couple of other deans in remarking on the divisiveness of U.S. politics and society in 2020 — and in the importance of graduate business education in building bridges that ease, not exacerbate, societal tensions.

“In an increasingly divisive and turbulent society, we are working on strengthening community and teamwork, two of our core values,” he says. “Technological, demographic, economic, and geopolitical changes have dramatically transformed the workforce, workplaces and consumer markets — making a diverse and inclusive culture more important business success than ever before.

“We want to increase inclusivity and belonging, which are essential to our graduates’ success in business as well as to our success as a school. To lead our efforts, I named Sherry Wallace (MBA ’87) as the new role of executive director of engagement and inclusion for the school. She is advising and collaborating with me, other leaders, and key committees to develop strategies, processes, plans, curricula, and support systems to attract, retain and promote diversity in our students, faculty and administration. As a double Tar Heel and someone who has made significant contributions in our MBA admissions and alumni programs, Sherry is the ideal person to take on this important leadership role.

“Because corporate America is at the forefront of addressing diversity and inclusion in their organizations, we created a new Corporate Advisory Board on Diversity and Inclusion to help us equip students with the understanding and skills to lead in this turbulent era.”


Shackelford says 2020 will be about finding ways to grow community — and for an example, he offers something that happened in 2019.

“Our students play a critical role in our journey,” he says. “Country flags representing the nationalities of all UNC Kenan-Flagler students have greeted everyone entering our McColl Building for many years. But they are just one way to celebrate our diversity. When Graeme Strickland (BSBA ’20) advocated for the display of the LGBTQ+ Pride flag, he practiced our core values by reaching out to MBA and MAC students, faculty and staff, and now the LGBTQ+ Pride flag along with a whole new group of flags hang in a prominent location to better reflect the full diversity our community — the identities and perspectives that form who we are and make us better and stronger.

“What makes UNC Kenan-Flagler special 100 years ago is ingrained in our extraordinarily collaborative culture as we welcome a new decade. Today — and every day — we strive to fulfill our mission of providing world-class teaching, research and service to business and society and living our core values.”


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