Why Madison Presidential LIstening Tour: College of Business Leadership Council

President Alger meets with College of Business faculty on Why Madison tour

President's Journal —
College of Business Leadership Council

CoB300 is the result of a College of Business that dreams bigStudent teamwork obvious in Showker Lobby
Walking through the lobby today on my way to the "Why Madison?" Listening Tour meeting with the leadership council of the College of Business, I was met with a burst of energy --students raising money for causes, socializing with friends and working on group projects. Through the glass I could see a professor leading a class in the Gaglioti Capital Markets Lab, where students are able to analyze the impact of financial events and decisions by plugging into the same data that Wall Street traders use. I have heard so much from employers and alumni on the "Why Madison?" Listening Tour about how our graduates have the ability to work well in teams. I saw firsthand today how our students acquire and practice these skills.

This student energy is indicative of a college that is nationally recognized—in the top 5 percent of undergraduate business schools in the nation. As one participant mentioned, this college is not afraid to dream big—which is a theme I have been emphasizing on the listening tour. The faculty got behind the concept of a hands-on, team-taught course requiring students to work in groups to create business plans that could compete in the business world. The course has become the famously successful CoB300. Students say that the course is grueling to experience, but is also the best preparation for the business world of their academic life. Other business schools have tried and dropped the JMU model because they couldn't make it work, which takes extra time and commitment from the faculty to plan and work together for the benefit of the students. The business alumni with whom I have spoken on the tour identify faculty-student relationships as the key to the college's ranking and to their own personal success.  We can further strengthen and distinguish JMU's business education offerings with additional focus on ethics and civic engagement (in keeping with the Quality Enhancement Plan and the university's mission).

The faculty is critical to university decision-making
There were strong opinions on increasing the role of the faculty in university decision-making, with one suggestion that instructional faculty should form the majority on all university committees. I agree that the efforts and reputation of our faculty will help lead JMU to the next stage of JMU's development, which is one of the reasons I have embarked on this "Why Madison?" Listening Tour. We have arrived at a key moment in the history of JMU, and we must take the time to review together where we have been and what makes us special—and then to chart where we want to go together in the future through the strategic planning process. Faculty are a critical part of these discussions.
I have asked the Compensation Task Force to think creatively
One of the consistent challenges I am hearing about on the listening tour is acquiring the funding to retain our world-class faculty members and recruit new ones. As I have explained in almost all of my meetings with the faculty, last spring, even before I became president, I identified the need for a task force to focus on compensation issues.  I asked Jerry Benson and Charlie King to form the Compensation Task Force, which is looking at the compensation issue now. I have asked that group to think creatively and broadly and to collaborate on developing a range of ideas to address these challenges. I've asked the task force to come up with short-term, medium-term and long-term proposals.
Faculty suggests differential tuition and revisiting tuition/fee priorities
While the university is not a business per se, I am looking forward to some innovative ideas for developing university funding models from the College of Business faculty, because they especially know the value of sound planning, innovating, financing, budgeting and managing. One suggestion was that JMU revisit the concept of differential tuition, which has had broad support in the past, and would allow for JMU to charge tuition on a program-by-program basis, based on the cost of the program and the earning potential of its graduates. Another suggestion was to revisit the balance between tuition and fees.  I would like us to get as many constructive ideas as possible on the table as we begin the next phase of our strategic planning process.
Nov. 8 presentation will offer transparency in the budget process
This CoB leadership council would like to see transparency in the university budgeting process, and we are already making strides on that front. Jerry Benson and J.W. Myers will be making a presentation Nov. 8 on the university budget to faculty, sponsored by the Faculty Senate.
Comprehensive campaign will be high on JMU's list
High on JMU's list in the near future will be a comprehensive campaign to augment tuition and state support with substantial private support. The College of Business has enjoyed a strong start in fundraising, not least of all because our business alumni understand better than most the necessity of investing back in the enterprise—so to speak. The CoB can help teach the rest of the university as we focus on dramatically increasing our endowment and, specifically, ways to increase private giving that can offer the faculty and curriculum support we need at JMU. One business faculty member specifically requested the resources to hire an experienced fundraiser as the college's next dean.
Space is at premium for the College of Business
Also on the resource front, I could tell from my walk through Showker Hall lobby that space is at a premium for this college. Purposeful student activity took up every square inch. Showker remains a fine facility today, but it was built 20 years ago, before the college's core emphasis on collaboration and group projects took hold. Today, not only has the CoB outgrown Showker, but it is in special need of spaces that allow for the group projects that are the centerpiece of courses like CoB300—which students and employers say is one of the prime reasons for the success of JMU alums. Today professors say they witness a literal stampede of students to claim a room where they can work together. This is something that we must and will address. We can't have multiple students squeezing together into a faculty member's office to participate in JMU's hallmark mentoring relationships with professors. The space crunch, along with a good hard look at student-faculty relationships and resources, are examples of how we must take this collective moment in our history to see where we stand as an institution in delivering on our core values and describing our brand.
It will take a large, diverse and inclusive family to help create economic opportunity
On the "Why Madison?" Listening Tour, I have been consistently hearing JMU described by alumni, faculty, students and parents as a university with a warm family feel. I have been underscoring the need for us to make that family diverse and inclusive. We will have to work intentionally to find ways to identify and develop underrepresented students with academic potential to access the College of Business—e.g., perhaps by building on the CyberCity program and looking into our own very diverse public school system (among other strategies). It is key that we educate future business leaders who can in turn create economic opportunity for a broader population.

Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Last Updated: Wednesday, May 24, 2017

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