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Avijit Ghosh on the new College of Business

Each semester, the Office of the Associate Chancellor for Public Affairs mails a publication to parents of undergraduate students. Called Postmarks, the newsletter highlights campus news makers, programs, and research.College of Business Dean Avijit Ghosh was interviewed by News Bureau business and law editor Mark Reutter for the spring issue of Postmarks.

The issue was printed and mailed before the University of Illinois Board of Trustees voted on the proposed name change for the College. The Board approved the name change on February 13, 2003. The Illinois Board of Higher Education is the final step in the approval process. The IBHE evaluation and their decision is expected later this semester.

February 2003

New emphasis on teamwork and entrepreneurship at business school

By Mark Reutter

Avijit Ghosh, Dean of College of Business.As the world of business changes, so does the UI College of Commerce and Business Administration. The college has developed a blueprint for a new model of business school where teamwork, entrepreneurship, technology and diversity will be emphasized in an ongoing program of self-improvement.

"Our goal is that our students, when they enter an organization, are able to hit the ground running, not just in academic and analytic skills, but in interpersonal and practical business skills," Avijit Ghosh says.

Ghosh became the dean of the CBA in August 2001 after 20 years at New York University, the last six as vice dean and deputy dean of the Stern School of Business. Ghosh served as the director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Stern and seeks a similar emphasis in course work and research here.

Undergraduate curriculum should reflect the fact that navigating rapid economic change has become critical in business life. Ghosh also believes learning to work together in a business environment that is "inherently global and diverse" is crucial for future leaders.

"Business leaders need to have interpersonal skills along with analytic skills. Our students need to learn how to interact with each other and do successful group projects, which includes learning shared accountability and responsibility as a way of working with diverse groups of people."

Ghosh said Illinois will develop vigorous student internship programs, not only in the summer, but also during the academic year, by working with Champaign area businesses. In "An Agenda for Excellence," a paper outlining the college's goals, Ghosh wrote of the need to expand or create programs in private equity, new venture creation and the digital economy.

The business school hopes to marry its traditional strengths in finance, accounting and marketing with the university's strengths in technology and science. This means not only working with the engineering and agriculture colleges, but also helping students participate in incubator companies at the university's research park.

Ghosh emphasized that changes in undergraduate and MBA (master of business administration) curricula will be gradual, taking the proven course work of the present and directing it to new horizons. He cites, for example, a marketing course that will teach not only the fundamentals of selling retail goods, but also new technology products.

"Our overall vision is to emphasize professional business education," he said. There are "tremendous possibilities" to organize symposia and seminars to promote interaction among students, faculty and industry professionals.

The impetus for greater technology training comes in part from feedback by corporate recruiters and in part by observing changes in the marketplace. "We have a philosophy of continuous improvement. This is how business organizations work, and this is how we need to work."

To better reflect its mission, the school has proposed changing its name to the College of Business. "We teach about business. Commerce is not a word in common parlance today," Ghosh explained. Under the proposal, the word "administration" will be dropped because "it does not give the sense of entrepreneurship we want to create."

The name change has been approved by the Faculty Senate. It awaits approval from the provost's office, which has endorsed the move, and is expected to be acted upon soon by the board of trustees.

New initiatives under way to improve education and research include developing accounting methods for better measuring business "value drivers" such as technology, processes and other intangible assets. This research is being funded by a $2.8 million pledge from the accounting firm KPMG.

In addition, the college has opened the Center for Enterprise Development at the Illinois Research Park and Incubator and the Office for the Study of Private Equity and Entrepreneurial Finance.

The technology and management minor for undergraduates in business will be expanded in future years, said Ghosh, as will international business education conducted through course work. The college's blueprint paper noted that "today's business leaders must make all their decisions with a global perspective. To prepare such business leaders, the college needs to ensure a global perspective in all its academic programs."

This article used with the permission of the University of Illinois News Bureau.