General Electric’s former chairman and CEO Jack Welch is known for this quote: “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”
These words are illustrative of what I’m hoping to do during my one-year appointment as interim dean of the Merrick School of Business. Over my career I’ve taken great pleasure in helping others, and for me, UB is a particularly exciting stop on the journey.
No matter who is at the helm, every dean encounters similar experiences: meetings with faculty, administrators, donors, alumni, and, best of all—students. Each of these encounters has a clearly stated purpose: to bring out the best in each person and continue on that track that moves like Merrick School forward.
Some of my early encounters with people here at the University have been remarkable. First and foremost, it’s clear that we have an amazing group of dedicated faculty members who take their roles seriously as both teachers and researchers. They have a passion for what they do, which is evident in their actions to bring significant change to the UB/Towson M.B.A. program and transform it into one of the most innovative programs in the marketplace when it launches in the fall of 2014.
And our students—Wow! In my first week here, I attended a program that showcased our Business Honors program. What a phenomenal representation of talented and engaged students—a group that is certainly maximizing their college experience through challenging coursework and experiential learning opportunities. At the end of September, I witnessed the power of UB’s entrepreneurial spirit during the Startup Maryland Pitch Competition. The creative business ideas being exchanged by students, faculty and business leaders were electric. What a testament to our entrepreneurship faculty, the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and UB’s culture of encouraging innovation and new venture development!
Of course, faculty and students aren’t the only folks that make the business school great. I’ve met with nearly all of the School’s advisory boards. These are made up of dedicated business leaders—many of them are also UB alumni—who provide the bedrock on which the Merrick School proudly stands. They are our active partners and advisers, championing the school’s goals and helping us keep our focus as an essential institution for business education. These boards’ participation will be very important over the next two years as the School prepares for the process associated with maintaining its AACSB International accreditation.
As a dean and a former Board director of AACSB, I’m looking forward to helping the School navigate the complexities associated with this maintenance of accreditation process. I can assure you that the Merrick’s management team is strong and has been vigilant in operating the School in accordance with AACSB standards. The steps ahead are fairly straightforward: This academic year is considered our “self-evaluation year” and we’ll be documenting much of what we do in terms of the Merrick School’s mission, the role of participants such as faculty members, students and our extended community, including our various advisory boards and other partners throughout Maryland. In addition, AACSB standards emphasize the educational processes within a school, including its curriculum, and processes that insure that successful students achieve the learning goals established by our faculty, and adjustments to the curriculum to keep it both fresh and relevant for today’s business world. Assurance of learning, faculty teaching and research, alongside our mission of providing exceptional educational experiences that transform and empower students to become knowledgeable, responsive business professionals and leaders. All of this hard work will ensure that we are meeting the needs of our core stakeholders—students and employers.
The last two months have gone by fast. Over the next few months, I look forward to becoming more a part of the fabric of the Merrick School and the Baltimore community. While my tenure at the Merrick School of Business will be short, my dedication to its positive momentum and success will continue in perpetuity.
Allow me to leave you with one last important thought: Now more than ever, the support we receive from our alumni and the business community validates that this great school is on an incredible upward trajectory. Together, let’s inspire others to get involved and invest in the School. We can do what Jack Welch suggested, and position the Merrick School so that it can grow others into leadership roles.
Frank J. Navratil, Ph.D.
Merrick School of Business