CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Observations of a new Dean
Article Type: Dean’s forum From: American Journal of Business, Volume 29, Issue 3/4
I have just completed my first year as Dean of the College of Business Administration at Bowling Green State University. As a nontraditional Dean, having most recently served as CEO of a public company, my first year involved considerable learning. But, I also had the opportunity to evaluate the competitive environment for public undergraduate educational services with a fresh set of eyes. In this note, I’d like to share with you some of those observations and discuss some challenges and opportunities for public undergraduate education.
In the USA, the number of high school graduates, the traditional students for undergraduate business degrees, is decreasing. Assuming a constant penetration rate for classroom-based undergraduate educational services, this results in reduced demand. As demand is decreasing, the supply of degree granting institutions is increasing. For-profit institutions, with more favorable cost structures, are increasing market penetration. Online degree programs are providing an alternative for classroom education. Massive open online courses continue to evolve and new credentialing mechanisms are being evaluated.
Increases in college tuition continue to exceed overall inflation. States have reduced support for higher education. Student debt is rising. As costs and debts rise, parents and students are more carefully considering the return on investment for a college diploma. Universities are under pressure to be more accountable, and transparent, for learning outcomes.
These realities of the operating environment suggest transformational changes are needed for traditional business colleges to remain viable. Business as usual is not a promising option. Given the changes in supply and demand, business colleges must either adopt a growth strategy or shrink and become more focussed. Growth strategies may be built around nontraditional student populations, new programs, and alternative delivery models. Focussed strategies can center on program strengths.
Business colleges will need to deliver a proven value proposition. Graduation rates, placement rates, starting salaries, and lifetime earnings by major will become increasingly important data for prospective students and their parents. Business schools will need to invest in data collection, analysis, and reporting to substantiate their value propositions.
In addition to placement data, business colleges must be accountable for learning outcomes to demonstrate intellectual development. Creating a culture of assessment will be important for success. In fact, President Obama may soon require transparency on learning outcomes to access federal loan programs.
The role of research in business colleges will evolve. Revenue generating research will become more prominent. Business colleges will compete for grant funds and applied corporate research. There will be added emphasis on external engagement that can generate support for the college. This will also help build stronger relationships with regional businesses.
Developing regional businesses as alternative funding sources will help alleviate the pressure from reduced public funding. Alumni and foundations will also be increasingly important in supporting business colleges. To garner support, business colleges will need to focus on value delivery to these constituents through educational programming and networking opportunities.
New technology may be a game changer for business schools willing to reexamine pedagogy. Salman Khan has demonstrated the opportunity technology presents to develop knowledge maps and content mastery in the educational process. By incorporating technology into the pedagogy, business schools will be able to demonstrate improved learning outcomes.
In a world of shared governance, achieving faculty support for these changes is critical. College administrators will need to carefully lead and manage the change management process to be positioned for success. Performance reviews, tenure and promotion policies, and financial incentives will need to be aligned with new priorities.
Fortunately for me, the faculty in the College of Business Administration at Bowling Green State University is dedicated to excellence. We have task forces examining best practices in managing student expectations, using technology to improve learning outcomes, and assessing learning outcomes. Our Board of Advocates is supporting these efforts through faculty recognition and financial awards for excellence in teaching, engagement with industry, and using technology in the classroom to improve learning outcomes. I am looking forward to the outcomes produced by these task forces and will report back to you in my next note!
Professor Ray W. Braun, College of Business, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, USA