This fall will be marked as a period of exploration and stock-taking for the Department of Business Administration. Professor Kent Monroe, who assumed the headship this fall, arranged a faculty retreat in August to set the agenda and direction for the department.
Professor Kent Monroe, a major figure in the field of marketing, accepted the post of department head after a two-year search for a permanent head to replace Rick Winter, who stepped down from the headship to become dean of the business school at SUNY Buffalo. Monroe accepted the position somewhat reluctantly because he had joined the Illinois faculty to rebuild the marketing faculty and that mission was not yet accomplished. When the search failed to find an acceptable outside candidate he stepped into the breach. Against the advice he would have given a colleague in a similar position, Monroe agreed to try to rebuild the department with limited resources.
Many reasons went into Monroe's decision - The challenge is strong and therefore attractive. He hopes to leave the department stronger than he found it. Then there is loyalty - Monroe earned his doctorate in business administration from the University of Illinois in 1968. So his loyalty is twofold: as an alumnus and as a faculty member. It is a special pleasure to return home to serve your institution.
Monroe joined the Department of Business Administration in 1991 as the J.M. Jones professor of marketing. The chair supports periodic marketing conferences, for example the marketing and high technology conference being planned for the spring of 1995. Another, in pricing, is planned for the future. Monroe is also taking an active role in the planning of the next Converse Symposium- Paul Converse, who taught at the Ul for many years, was one of the founders of the marketing discipline. Every four years the American Marketing Association, the Central Illinois AMA chapter, and the UI marketing faculty bring together leading marketing faculty to recognize those marketing researchers whose work has been of lasting importance to the discipline.
Some initiatives already underway in the department will continue, for example, reducing the size of the Ph.D. program, and the focus on integrating areas of study. The incoming Ph.D. class this fall is small - six students - a dramatic reduction. There are solid reasons for following this course. (Finance and Accy have already made similar reductions.)
This initiative is in line with college plans to have smaller, tighter, better Ph.D. programs in all departments. A committee will be formed to study the doctoral program and formulate revisions that will then be presented to the faculty for consideration.
A major challenge for the department, according to Monroe, will be its ability to respond to the planned MBA revisions. Except for a some finance and accounting courses, most of the MBA offerings are staffed by faculty from business administration.
One way to approach this challenge is to take this as an opportunity to integrate some course offerings both within the department and across departments. Business firms already operate across functions, and this is an opportunity for us to follow their lead. Scarce resources may provide the impetus to make the changes we will need to excel in the 21st century. Courses that will lend themselves particularly to integration are those in the seven-course modulized track. For example, information technology can be teamed with marketing, which can in turn be teamed with strategy, and so forth.
The undergraduate core curriculum is undergoing review in the college. The department also plans to look over its own requirements. Courses need to be more responsive to industry if we are to graduate students who can step into their first jobs fully prepared. Industry is ahead of education at this point. We can and will do more.