Greetings!

The fall semester is one of new beginnings but also one of evaluation. I want to share with you the college vision we have developed to carry us into the 21st century. Since I became dean three years ago, the college has been engaged in strategic planning for the future. The first round generated a vision and mission statement:

VISION TO BE A WORLD-CLASS BUSINESS SCHOOL renowned for its commitment to learning and the principle of innovation, its academic leadership, the focus and quality of its programs, the impact of its research, its internationalism, and its strong ties to business and community.

MISSION TO EDUCATE a high caliber and diverse set of students from the U.S. and around the world and to equip them as professionals capable of dealing with the challenges of management in the increasingly globalized economy of the next century TO PREPARE the next generation of teachers and researchers to make significant contributions to their fields.

TO ADD TO THE GROWTH of knowledge by producing high quality research directed toward problems of business and society, and toward other areas of inquiry that nurture the development of academic disciplines or otherwise provide meaningful intellectual challenge.

To convert our vision into reality and fulfill our mission, we have developed a series of goals and objectives. Three priorities, the MBA program, the undergraduate program, and development are receiving immediate attention.

Often the reputation of a business school hangs on the public perception of its MBA program. Our program, though excellent, could be defined as "traditional," perhaps a bit old fashioned. Although the program continues to draw strength from the college's excellent faculty, the current curriculum does not respond to the needs of tomorrow's executives. Our challenge, then, is not simply to survive but to excel. To do so we are rebuilding the MBA program from the ground up. Charles M. Linke (finance and graduate studies) and Paul Magelli (MBA) are spearheading the effort. You can read more about it in the MBA section of this issue.

Our undergraduate program, clearly one of the finest in the country, is also under study. Changes in courses and curriculum are, of course, ongoing. But we are now undertaking a review of the entire undergraduate curriculum. The study has two parts: The college's Educational Policy Committee will review the entire current curriculum. And, I have convened a task force to examine individual courses and develop an inventory of best practices. The study will focus on four courses a year, one from each department, starting with the large, high-demand courses. The emphasis will be on integrating the material and skills taught in various courses so that students gain an awareness of the interrelatedness of knowledge and develop the communication, interpersonal, and technical skills needed in tomorrow's business environment. The campus Office of Instructional Resources has agreed to help our instructors find the best way to incorporate the new concepts into their classroom delivery.

Less than one half of the college's budget comes from state appropriated funds. We are no longer a state-supported university, but a state-assisted one. Private support, therefore, is more important than ever. The programs that provide the margin of excellence in the college are supported wholly or in part by gifts from alumni, friends, and corporations! To maintain the tradition of excellence that is synonymous with Illinois, we have made Development one of our major priorities. In the coming months we will be telling you more about this important activity.

The second round of planning, underway this fall, is moving to the departmental level as we strive for continuous improvement in the programs and activities of the college.

In closing, this newsletter contains much information about what is going on in the college. Starting with this issue, Commerce InSight will be published three times a year. We know that you are interested in what is happening at your alma mater. You should know that we also want to hear from you. Send us news for Class Notes. Tell us what you think about the changes we propose. If you hire our students, tell us what kind of employees they make. If you think we could do something better, or just differently, let us know. Your opinions matter. Communication works both ways, and we are counting on your views to help us in our efforts to strengthen our programs.

As a graduate you are an Illini for life. We intend to make the most of that. I hope to hear from you or, better yet, see you on campus during the year.


Warmest regards.

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