Deanspeak | Mays Impacts - Part 4

Today marks the end of my tenure as interim dean of Mays Business School. As you may recall, in June 2007 Jerry Strawser, dean of Mays Business School, was asked to serve Texas A&M University as interim executive vice president and provost. Jerry, in turn, asked me to serve as interim dean.

The last 15 months have been both challenging and exciting. Our primary accrediting agency, the AACSB, strongly reaffirmed our accreditation (this review is done every five years). We laid the framework for launching an executive MBA program in Dubai (with a planned start date of September 2009). We also received approval from the board of regents to assess a differential tuition charge for upper division business majors. While this was a painful step, it will allow us to substantially increase the number of sections we provide for our business majors, thereby lowering their average class sizes. Our Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Disabled Veterans also got off to a rousing start. And external rankings of our various programs continue to reflect our progress and our reputation for academic excellence.

I’d like to thank Jerry Strawser for having the confidence to entrust me with this important position. I’d also like to express my sincere appreciation to the faculty, staff, and students of Mays Business School for the dedication and enthusiasm they bring to Mays each and every day. Our former students, individual donors, and corporate supporters also provide valuable support in many different ways.

As for me, Monday I’ll walk into Wehner for the first time in 12 twelve years as a full-time faculty member with no administrative responsibilities. I look forward to getting back to full-time teaching and research. After all, it was these activities that first attracted me to this profession. Again, thinks to everyone for their support and encouragement throughout my administrative tenure, and especially the last 15 months.

I know that with Jerry’s return to the Office of the Dean, and with the top-notch leadership team that we have in Mays, the best is yet to come!

Ricky Griffin
Distinguished Professor of Management and Blocker Chair in Business

Categories: Deanspeak

I am proud of Mays Business School. I love to tell people that I am associated with this great school, with its top-notch students, faculty, and programs. I was privileged recently to take a trip to New York City to represent our fine school and while I was there, I was able to spend some time with Mays students participating in the Aggies on Wall Street program. If our success as educators can be gauged by the students on this trip, then I’d say we are certainly doing something right. I was so impressed with the maturity level of our students as I saw them holding their own, interacting with executives from the world’s most prestigious banking and investment firms.

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The Aggies on Wall Street program takes 20 top finance students on a two-week trip to New York’s financial district each year.

The Aggies on Wall Street program takes 20 top finance students on a two-week trip to New York’s financial district each year at the conclusion of the spring semester. This is an opportunity for our students to be exposed to careers available to them in that exciting city. It’s also an opportunity for them to network, as many former students that live in New York City are delighted to show the current students around their places of business in the financial and investment communities. And it’s an opportunity for us to showcase the high quality of our students and increase awareness about Mays. This trip has a ripple effect back to our campus, as businesses are more interested in recruiting our students once they’ve met this advance guard of our elite.

The wonderful thing about this program is seeing the Aggie network in action. Former students are very involved in the coordination of this program, and are willing to do what they can for younger members of the Aggie family. It’s encouraging to see them giving back in such a meaningful way.

While in New York, I was also very pleased to sit down with a reporter from BusinessWeek to talk about the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans program. I am so pleased that Mays is partnering this year with other schools to offer this valuable program to our servicemen and women who have sacrificed so willingly for the cause of freedom. This program will truly change lives, and I was glad that such a well-known publication wanted to feature our involvement.

Programs like Aggies on Wall Street and the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans are what makes Mays so special. People care about success here; not just their own success, but the success of those around them as well. That teamwork and sense of family are very unique. I couldn’t be prouder to call Mays my school.

Thank you for partnering with me in this exciting work!

Ricky Griffin
Interim Dean, Mays Business School

Categories: Deanspeak

It’s May, and that means another season of beginnings and endings at Mays Business School. As the academic year draws to a close, it’s the beginning of new careers and adventures for so many Mays students who will soon graduate with much more than just a diploma. When they turn their Aggie rings around to face the world, each of our students should be equipped with the knowledge to succeed, and the integrity and passion to impact their world.

These students have received the very best education available, from top-notch instructors who are celebrated for their research and teaching capabilities. However, I think more important than their classroom experiences has been their opportunities for personal growth. I was so impressed last month when the Business Student Council organized a school supply drive for economically disadvantaged elementary school students in our community. Let me tell you friends, it was amazing to see the outpouring of service these college students gave, with no leadership or prompting from Mays faculty and staff. They did it all on their own. They saw a need and worked to meet it, providing 601 students with backpacks full of supplies, and hundreds of other students with basic school necessities. (Click here for more information and a short video about Project Mays.)

Stories like that are not out of the ordinary at Mays Business School. That’s not surprising when you consider the high caliber of our faculty. Last week, much loved marketing Professor Leonard Berry was recognized by A&M President Dr. Elsa Murano with the Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence award. This prestigious honor is given to just two faculty members within the university each year, and is among the highest recognitions achievable. The accolade is just the latest in a LONG list of awards for Dr. Berry, who has been recognized again and again for the superiority of his teaching and research. His passion and enthusiasm for his subject matter and genuine, heartfelt affection for his students is legendary at A&M. (Click here for more about Dr. Berry’s recognition.)

I feel so fortunate to represent this great school. I could not ask for better coworkers, better students, or better facilities. Thank you for your continued partnership with our school.

Ricky W. Griffin
Interim Dean, Mays Business School

Categories: Deanspeak

Mays Business School is one step away from final approval of differential tuition for our undergraduate students. This proposal will be considered by the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents at its March meeting. The issue of differential tuition has been mentioned in the media several times of late, and will no doubt be the subject of further media attention. So, I thought it would be useful to let everyone know the specifics.

Differential tuition is a model under which students majoring in a particular college will be charged additional tuition above and beyond the tuition charged by the state and the university. If approved, our upper division students will start paying an additional $610 per semester in fall 2008. While this figure may seem high, I can assure you that even if differential tuition is passed our students will still be paying substantially less than students at comparable business schools across the state, including the University of Texas at Austin.

The funds generated by differential tuition will go directly toward improving the education of those students paying the differential—Mays undergraduate majors. Among other priorities, we intend to offer many more sections, smaller sections, and more electives. These enhancements, in turn, will improve the quality of our program, better prepare our students for their careers, and enhance our national rankings.

The proposal for differential tuition received the support of two different University Tuition Policy Advisory Committees (with strong student representation). Moreover, when we first started exploring this option a couple of years ago a majority of our own students who responded to a survey about differential tuition indicated that the benefits outweighed the costs. The executive committee of the Business Student Council has also endorsed our proposal.

If our board of regents approves the proposal for the Mays differential tuition, students will see an immediate benefit through the addition of almost 50 new sections of regular classes plus 30 special break-out sections of one of our large classes.

For our part, we will accept custodial responsibility for these funds with great seriousness of purpose. We pledge that the differential tuition will directly benefit the students who will pay it. Further, we will insure complete transparency as to how we allocate the differential tuition funds. And we accept full accountability as to the disposition of the differential tuition funds.

Ricky W. Griffin
Interim Dean, Mays Business School

Categories: Deanspeak

The beginning of a new year always seems to bring with it a sense of excitement and optimism. After all, it’s the time people vow to read more, lose weight, get more exercise, or drop some bad habits. At Mays Business School, we also have reason to be excited.

For one thing, the leadership of the university is at last starting to come into focus. After a search that lasted about a year, Dr. Elsa Murano has assumed the position of president of Texas A&M University. I have had the pleasure and good fortune to work with Dr. Murano on numerous occasions when she was dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. I am confident that Dr. Murano will be an outstanding president. Moreover, with this appointment now resolved, other leadership issues for both the university and Mays Business School can be settled as well.

During this period of transition we have continued to move forward. In the fall semester, for example, we went through a rigorous accreditation review by the AACSB (more about that next time!), we took major steps toward resolving some space issues in our building, we solidified the rankings of our major programs, and we developed meaningful strategies for further enhancing the quality of our programs at all levels.

Going forward, we will be addressing a number of other areas as well. For one thing, we are looking carefully at the possibility of offering our MBA degree at an overseas location. For another, we are developing plans that will help us reduce the class sizes of most of our undergraduate course offerings. We are also working diligently to build our scholarship program so that more deserving students can benefit.

When I talk to deans at other business schools, they often express concerns that their students don’t work as hard as they used to, that their faculty are selfish, that their budgets are shrinking, or that their buildings are in disrepair. When I hear complaints such as these, I try to not grin too much. Instead, I do my best to nod politely and offer words of encouragement. And I try to not gloat over how great things are at Mays Business School. But inside, I’m thankful that our students, faculty, and staff are second-to-none, our budgets are healthy, and our facilities are a campus highlight.

As we enter 2008, I wish each and every one of you a happy new year.

Ricky W. Griffin
Interim Dean, Mays Business School

Categories: Deanspeak

One of the greatest moments any educator can have is when you learn that something you did truly affected a student’s life in a positive way. I experienced one such moment while having dinner recently at a great new restaurant. While my wife and I were enjoying our meal, the restaurant’s co-owner and executive chef stopped by to visit. As we talked, I learned that he had just earned a degree in finance—from Mays Business School!

Click to view videoObviously, I wanted to know more—specifically, what had led him from a business degree to a love of culinary excellence. He told me that he had originally thought he would need to get a corporate job for several years but had hoped to eventually go into the restaurant business. As it turns out, though, the professor of one of his business classes had prompted him to look at things in a different way. Essentially, a class assignment had led him to realize that he could combine his business expertise and his passion for cooking into a wonderful business opportunity. Most importantly, he didn’t have to wait several years; he could step out with a new venture right away.

Having the capability to touch lives is a major responsibility. At Mays Business School, we know that we have this capability. We also understand the responsibility that comes along with it. We strive to make sure that everything we do is targeted to touch lives in a positive way. We stay at the forefront of knowledge, we invest heavily in our ability to teach and mentor students, and we work to be positive role models. After all, you never know when an entrepreneur or business leader will introduce a new product that will save lives or a service that will change society in profound new ways. And you never know if the idea for that new product or service will have come from an experience in a class at Mays Business School.

Ricky W. Griffin
Interim Dean, Mays Business School

Related Stories:
Video: Mays grad cooking up a tasty new venture

Categories: Deanspeak

One of the “scorecards” by which business schools are evaluated is a handful of key national and international ranking services. Some of these rankings look at MBA programs, some look at undergraduate programs, and still others focus on faculty research. Regardless of the metric being used, however, Mays Business School continues to shine.

Some of our more notable recent rankings include:

  • Top 8 public MBA program (Forbes)
  • Top 15 public MBA programs (U.S. News & World Report)
  • Top 20 public undergraduate business program, with special distinctions for Management (9th best public) and Accounting (14th best public) (U.S. News & World Report)
  • Top 15 EMBA program (Financial Times)
  • Top 9 Ph.D. program (Financial Times)
  • Top 13 in faculty research (Financial Times)

I think by any measure these rankings demonstrate excellence across the board. Of course, let me hasten to add that these rankings are not perfect, nor are they the only indicators we monitor to assess the quality of our programs. But it does make a compelling case for excellence when our accomplishments are recognized across so many programs and by multiple ranking services.

So, where do we go from here? Well, we still have room for improvement. We want to be a consensus top 10 public business school across all programs and all ranking services. Our faculty, our staff, and our students will continue to strive for excellence so long as there is room for improvement. To paraphrase an old adage, if it were easy to be top 10, everyone would do it. But it’s not easy—it’s a constant challenge. We’re narrowing the gap, and we’ll get there soon. And we’re having fun doing it!

Ricky W. Griffin
Interim Dean, Mays Business School

Categories: Deanspeak

As you may recall from the last issue, Dean Jerry Strawser has been asked to serve the university in the role of interim executive vice president and provost. This is a critical position, and the university is fortunate to have someone of Jerry’s caliber who is willing to step and perform this vital role on an interim basis while we continue our search for a new university president.

I have agreed, in turn, to serve as interim dean of Mays Business School. I joined the faculty at Texas A&M University in 1981 (there may even be a few of you who took one of my classes!). In more recent years I have served as director of the Center for Human Resource Management and as head of the Department of Management. For the past seven years I have served as executive associate dean of Mays Business School.

Jerry and I have worked closely over the past several years, and that has helped make this transition smooth and seamless. As we go forward, we will continue to follow the strategies and plans we have in place in our quest to become an acknowledged top 10 public business school. We cannot afford to stand still, nor is this a time for us to “wait and see what happens.”

These are exciting times for both Texas A&M University and for Mays Business School. We have strong academic programs that continue to grow in stature. We have a top-notch faculty that is recognized both nationally and internationally for its excellence. Our staff is second-to-none. And we have an amazing network of former students and friends who support in ways far too numerous to list here.

I truly look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead.

Ricky W. Griffin
Interim Dean

Categories: Deanspeak

It is with both excitement and sadness that I speak to you in this issue of “Deanspeak.” The excitement is that Texas A&M University Interim President Ed Davis has asked me to serve as interim executive vice president and provost. This position will provide me with a unique opportunity to work with an outstanding group of deans as we capitalize on the investments our university has made in faculty and facilities during the past five years. The sadness is that I will be leaving the best job I’ve ever held, the position of dean at Mays Business School, and the opportunity it has afforded me to work with a dedicated group of faculty, staff, students, and former students.

The good news is that our leadership team at Mays is deep and strong. Professor Ricky Griffin, executive associate dean, will assume the role of interim dean while I serve as interim provost. I have had a unique opportunity to observe, benefit, and learn from his leadership abilities and expertise during my tenure as dean. While he will formally assume his responsibilities on June 18, we will immediately begin our transition. Given our very close working relationship during the past six years, we will have a smooth and seamless transition that will allow our trajectory and progress to continue.

Ricky and I have agreed to serve in our interim positions while the search for Texas A&M University’s next president continues.

Thank you for the kindness and support you give to Mays Business School. Our remarkable progress would not have been possible without your support.

Jerry R. Strawser ’83

Dean

Categories: Deanspeak

As we near the end of our recruiting season for the Class of ’11, prospective students and parents often ask me how we are different from other business schools. After all, we offer similar majors and our students get similar jobs. And, on paper, it looks like our students have similar experiences. But, if you step outside the classrooms in the Wehner Building and Cox Hall, you’ll see the difference…and it is striking.

Our students have embraced the notion of using their business skills to improve our community. Here are just a few examples of some of the ways our young people are giving back to the community:

  • More than a dozen teams of students in our freshman leadership course have created and formed service teams to conduct community service projects. One notable student team, working with the Down Syndrome Support Group, is teaching basic handwriting skills to local youth with Down syndrome. Our Fellows students are similarly engaged in projects whose goal is to generate $5,000 of value for a worthy cause.
  • A week before finals, 20 MBA students gathered to discuss business plans and life skills with inmates set to be released on parole from the Hamilton Unit in Bryan, Texas. I joined the MBAs as part of the pioneering Prison Entrepreneurship Program at the end of April, sitting in on one-on-one advising sessions that centered around how to get business and life up and running after prison.
  • Our Business Student Council developed Project Mays, a full-scale effort to beautify a local park and recreational area. Their goal is to provide 1,000 hours of volunteer efforts during this spring.

As dean, I take great pride in our students’ abilities and work ethic. However, as I review the significant effort our students exert to make their community a better place, I admire them more for their hearts.

Sincerely,

Jerry Strawser ’83
Dean

Categories: Deanspeak