I hope your summer is going well and that you’ve been able to take some time to rest and recharge following a very busy 2021/2022 academic year. On July 1, I stepped into the role of senior associate dean for academic programs here at Mendoza. This new role is part of the associated structural and personnel changes within the College announced in June. As part of my transition, I’ve been fortunate to have conversations with a wide range of people inside and outside of Mendoza about all of our outstanding programs, so I appreciate the invitation to contribute a guest column with some thoughts on what my role entails and what my approach will be.
First, I want to begin by thanking Dean Martijn Cremers for giving me this opportunity to serve in this new role and to work with such an outstanding group of staff, faculty and students. I’m excited to collaborate with you all to continue to enact Dean Martijn’s bold and innovative vision for our College.
I also extend my deep, abiding thanks to those who served as associate deans for our academic programs during the previous three academic years: Walt Clements (EMBA), Kristen Collett-Schmitt (Specialized Masters), Jim Leady (Undergraduate) and Mike Mannor (MBA). Finally, I want to thank in advance those members of the College with whom I will be working closely, including the staff functional leaders, academic leaders of Mendoza programs, academic leaders of department programs, Mendoza department representatives, Dean’s Office representatives and many others.
In terms of my aims and agenda for the new role, frankly, I’m still wondering about that myself to some degree. It’s going to take me more than a few weeks’ transition to determine this fully. That said, I think I’m now in a position to be able to offer some specific thoughts.
Structurally, I’ll be responsible for overseeing the Mendoza’s undergraduate and professional programs, both degree and non-degree. Thus, I see my core focus as ensuring that our programs continue to fulfill our core mission via the College’s “Three C’s” strategic framework. As Dean Martijn notes, “We are committed to our mission to Grow the Good in Business by developing leaders who contribute to human flourishing, cooperate with others in solidarity and compete toward becoming the best version of themselves through serving others.”
Our programs serve as one of the most critical engines driving this mission, manifested in the thousands of myriad individual interactions with our students that, in total, add up to a set of life-changing experiences that shape students’ personal identities for years and decades after they leave our campus. Our students place great faith in us when they entrust us with their time, energy and financial resources, and I’m honored to be working within a college and a university that are so deeply committed to repaying that faith by helping students develop into the scholars and leaders they’re capable of becoming.
In more concrete terms, my own two watchwords for the next year will be “community” and “efficiency.” In other words: 1) How can we build and further strengthen the interpersonal and inter-program connections that link all of us? and 2) How can we more effectively implement the many exciting new initiatives and changes that we’ve witnessed within College programs during the past two years?
As you all know, we’ve been dealing with a great deal of change lately. Let me be clear that I don’t think change is always, or even usually, bad; in fact, I strongly believe that many of the changes we’re all grappling with at the moment will form the bedrock of our competitive advantage as a college for decades to come.
That said, we have been dealing with a *lot* of upheaval. To take just a few examples, in the Undergraduate Studies program, we now have a completely revised the core curriculum for the first time in decades and launched an entirely new undergraduate Business Honors Program. The MBA program has been restructured around a new “pathways” approach, including novel, off-campus opportunities such as Mods-Away.
Further, we’re in the process of revamping the entire basis of leadership training for our professional students; we’re looking to substantially enhance our offerings in the area of experiential learning; we’re dealing with ongoing personnel changes and new hiring; and we’re still figuring out the best way to implement the new matrix structure within the College.
We’ve seen the introduction of several new master’s programs, and the College is experimenting with new non-degree offerings as well. Moving beyond graduate and professional programs, Mendoza is about to welcome to campus its first crop of Ph.D. students in its 100-plus-year history, and we’ve started a new Business Ethics and Society program that is designed to attract the best and brightest minds to our campus.
And, by the way, we’re doing all of this in the context of having just emerged from a generation-defining pandemic, which was amplified by our University’s courageous stance on maximizing in-person instruction to the greatest extent possible throughout. I’ve seen everyone in Mendoza perform heroic feats during the past couple of years to make all of this happen.
Is any of this inherently problematic? Certainly not. But it does mean that we now have an opportunity and an obligation to ensure that these changes in College programs are integrated as thoroughly and seamlessly as possible. Therefore, my goal for this time next year is for all of our programs to be characterized by stronger interpersonal links and for us to have moved closer to implementing many of our current changes, becoming a well-oiled machine again, and thereby providing the exceptional level of operational excellence that our students and other stakeholders have always valued at Notre Dame.
Thank you in advance for your support as I transition into this new job. Please consider this an open invitation to reach out to me at any point if you’d like to discuss anything related to my role or College programs in general.
Senior Associate Dean for Academic Programs
Senior Associate Dean for Academic Programs