The Year in Review

Dear Friends,

As fiscal year 1997 drew to an end, so did my first term as dean of the college. In the beginning of my new term, I reviewed our goals for the first five years and found we had made significant progress. There is still work to be done. And there are new goals on the horizon. I am pleased to bring you this Annual Report, which chronicles the past year and anticipates the future.

You may recall from my earlier letters that priorities for the last five years were the revitalization of the MBA program, the institution of long-term changes to the undergraduate program, and fund-raising goals to improve the college's facilities and increase its endowments.

I'm delighted to report that we have made significant progress in all these areas. The revised MBA program graduated its first cohort under the new curriculum structure in spring '97. Our underlying philosophy and strategy is, as it has always been, to build on existing strengths. At this time that means concentrating on the areas of technology, finance, marketing, and accounting. Our plan for the future is to attract the highest-quality students who want to concentrate in these areas.

The undergraduate program, which continues to be extremely strong, is continually changing. What remains constant is the quality of our students across all disciplines. This past fall, our number one-rated accounting program fully implemented its new curriculum, Project Discovery.
We have also seen the successful implementation of a joint undergraduate effort with Engineering, the Technology and Management Program. Now in its third year, this invitational program attracts a full complement of students.

In fund raising, we have already surpassed the college's campaign goal of $61 million and are on target to build new facilities and renovate old. With the Spring '97 announcement of the Andersen campaign to raise $7 million for the new Commerce facility, and the Wohlers' gift of $6 million to refurbish Commerce West, announced in Spring '98, we are well on our way toward reaching our goal — to have facilities for the twenty-first century that truly reflect and enhance the depth and quality of our programs.

Looking ahead to the next five years, we expect to follow through on existing priorities, develop new opportunities, and establish heightened goals. I have identified six distinctive capabilities and program priorities that will occupy our attention during my second term of office. They are:

  • Acting on the recommendations of our Committee for Technology Initiatives. We see technology enhancements as a source of competitive advantage in educational programs. Appointed last fall, the committee has made an assessment of the technology we need to keep us current in both curriculum and research. This will be used to formulate our plan of action next year.
  • Continuing our emphasis on international education in the college. With the global economy here to stay, our task is to train students to operate comfortably in this environment. So we emphasize international business in courses throughout the curriculum. We encourage students to study abroad. And we look for ways to do more.
  • Continuing the revision of our undergraduate curriculum. Despite the fact that we were voted the fifth best undergraduate business program in the nation, we must keep pace with the changing marketplace. We are giving the undergraduate program the same focused attention that the MBA program received in my first term as dean. In this fast-changing business environment, to stand still is to fall behind. Watch for reports in future issues of InSight.
  • Continuing to re-engineer the MBA program. This year we strengthened the management structure of the program. The revised first-year core appears to be a success by most measures. Now we will turn our attention to the second-year tracks.
  • Continuing our efforts to raise private funds, especially for facility expansion and improvement and endowments to support faculty, students, and programs. Fund raising remains a perpetual concern. As state funds diminish as a percent of our total budget, support from outside sources is becoming increasingly significant. We are blessed at the university with successful and loyal alumni and friends who are pleased to share their success with us.
  • Focusing on research excellence. The role of doctoral education and strong research must remain a priority if we are to preserve our reputation as a world-class institution of higher learning. It is our mission. It is also an integral part of our vision. Resources, in the form of time and money, are needed to provide continuing support to this vital commitment. The development and transfer of knowledge are our primary responsibilities.

These goals provide an even more daring challenge than we faced in the last five years. I am persuaded that, with the commitment of our faculty and students and the support of our alumni and friends, these are achievable.

With warmest regards,


Howard Thomas, Dean and James F. Towey
Distinguished Professor of Strategic Management