Sunday, January 20, 2013

Newest MBA Cohort

Last Thursday, I welcomed 30 new students to our Health Care Leadership MBA joint degree program. These students are high achievers and are pursuing an MBA in addition to either their physician's program at KCUMB or their Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Rockhurst University.  As we took a bit of time to get to know each other and learned about their backgrounds and goals, one of the questions I asked was why they were wanting to pursue an MBA as well as their DO or DPT degrees. Their responses were quite interesting and inspiring.

The room was filled with students who have wonderful undergraduate degrees from some of the best schools in the country.  Most of the degrees were filled with bio-, chem-, -physio type of prefixes which (besides making my head spin) means that they have had a heavy dose of science courses in preparation for their doctoral path. What everyone articulated though was the understanding and desire to figure out the business, economic, and public policy models in health care today.  Almost everyone spoke about the need to understand these issues because of how it will impact their lives and careers and their ability to effectively serve and lead in their profession.

At their young age, I was impressed that they already understood that if they didn't get the education and information necessary to deeply understand how their field works and functions, that they would never be able to manage and take charge of their own career.  And as I've told hundreds of students over the years, if you're not in charge of your career, someone else is doing it for you.

It's very inspiring to see 30 new student leaders who already understand that concept and are ready to do the work necessary to prepare themselves for a powerful, impactful life.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Dedication to the students

I love the academic cycle in our world.  At least three times a year, there is a feeling of accomplishment, closure, and a look to the future.  That's a difficult feeling to get in most careers, and I think it is what keeps all of us tied to higher education.

What I'm most impressed with though is the dedication we see in our faculty as they prepare for the next wave of students and courses.  Often, academics are painted with a negative brush in that there is the assumption that there's a lot of free time and that we all just dust off last semester's lecture notes as we enter the classroom.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Just before Christmas we had a fairly large snow event that hit Kansas City in the morning commute, and it continued for much of the day.  The university was closed until 10:00 a.m., and since the semester was finished, most faculty members were done until after the holiday break.  But not our accounting faculty.  Below you will find Tony Tocco, our chair of accounting and finance discipline, Jeff Wright, our wonderful newest faculty addition, and Bruce Moore, a retired accounting partner who teaches tax for us.  Now that's dedication -- working to improve the educational experiences for the upcoming classes on the last, very snowy and stormy day before holiday break!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Community Conversations

Hardly had time to breathe this week, much less blog!

I've spent a lot of time this week in the community, and I always use the opportunity to talk with business and community members about the skills, knowledge, and abilities they need to see in our college graduates. Although the answers vary a bit based on whether we're talking about business undergraduate or graduate education, there are some interesting emerging trends.

For years we've heard about the need for improved writing skills.  Currently, I'm hearing more about the need to work with students on their ability to communicate with confidence, and to be able to use and master workplace remote communication technologies. Interesting shift.

Additionally, I'm hearing a compelling tension between leadership and management abilities (which we have heard for years) and the ability to analyze and use data for decision making.  We've always understood the importance of each area in the curriculum, but many of the conversations are now focusing on the exponential increase in the quantity of data now available and the necessary skill to determine what information is needed for the particular question being asked.   Employers want graduates who are better at finding and analyzing the relevant information for the decision, and who are able to present and communicate the analysis in an honest, clear, and meaningful way.

So here's a clear message back to the business and community members -- We hear you, and we'll make it happen.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Student Athletes

On Thursday, I was walking down the corridor in Conway Hall toward my office when two young men caught my eye.  It was a class change time so the hallway was crowded, but they were celebrating something that looked just short of the best thing that had ever happened in their lives.  As I looked at them quizzically, one of them gleefully explained that they had just killed an exam (that must be a good thing…) and they were able to keep playing with their athletic team.  After giving them my sincere congratulations and watching a bit more of the happy celebration, I thought what a great place to work where the ‘student’ part of ‘student athlete’ is taken seriously.

In May, Rockhurst University was recognized for the NCAA Division II Presidents’ Award for Academic Excellence which honors athletic programs with four-year Academic Success Rates of 90 percent or more.  Rockhurst had the highest rate in our conference, and we ranked 10th nationally. 

Oh, and by the way, our athletic teams perform well too. J On Friday and Sunday, it was fantastic to watch the men’s soccer team win the conference tournament against some very good competition.  The volleyball team was also in action this weekend and continued their winning ways. 

Students.  And athletes.  Nice.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Jim Wanserski visits

At Rockhurst University, we pride ourselves on providing a high quality learning experiences that add significant value to a student’s education.  At the Helzberg School, a specific example is how we use practicing business executives as classroom and/or event speakers. 

 Last week, it was a pleasure to host Jim Wanserski, a Rockhurst University alumnus and fraud consultant who has worked across many industries and discovered fraud multiple times.  He visited an International Finance course, and he spoke at our Helzberg School Center for Leadership and Ethics event series.

It was fascinating to listen to his experiences, and I was struck with his central message to the undergraduate students in the classroom discussion.  He emphasized how important it is for each and every student to have an excellent knowledge base and education in their field, but how it is also equally important that they have a deep understanding about how the business works – from top to bottom.  Both of those elements are essential to being successful and to adding value to an organization.

Applying his words to our own Helzberg School, it was with such a sense of pride that I was able to connect what he said to what we try to achieve every day.  Our faculty members are truly experts in their field, but they also are deeply committed to student learning and understanding how the learning process works.  They are constantly trying to learn more about ways that will make the learning more practical, more experiential, more successful.  I’m so proud of them -- how much they know, how much they care, and how much they help students bridge that gap between knowledge and practice.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

An Occupational Hazard

Being a business professor and now a dean means that I am constantly thinking about how businesses manage their products, services, and people.  I don't know if that's true for every business dean, but it sure is for me.

For example, I'll check in at a hotel and most people are thinking about their vacation, their conference, or what wonderful thing they will be doing soon.  Me?  I'm thinking about how they keep and retain employees, what their promotion pattern is, and how they train for consistant customer service.

The newest business I'm fascinated with is DogPawz in Leawood.  Before my daughter left for college this year, she bought me a puppy.  Of course, puppies need attention during the day, and my job requires early morning breakfasts and often requires evening events.  Puppy needs and dean's hours don't exactly match.  Solution?  Doggie day care.  And of course, every time I drop my puppy at daycare in the morning, I'm fascinated by the operations.  Because I see the business every day, I get a front row seat to how it is growing, changing, and steadily progressing.

Each day, I get a dog report on my puppy's day.  Really.  I know it sounds excessive, but I read it when I get to my car and get a small thrill nonetheless.  Below is a picture of my puppy Bear, and my favorite dog report. 

Now I really don't exactly know what the dog report means, but who really cares?  It's good customer service, it makes me feel connected to the employee Brad, and I like the personal touch.  So far, I've watched the owners and managers make great business decisions -- and that's not an easy thing to do.  And they don't even know that a business school dean is watching and evaluating their every move.