Before becoming D'Amore-McKim's Interim Dean in June 2021, I had served the school in many ways since 1988. I started as a finance professor, and I've helped students at all levels navigate academia since. Through it all, I've participated in and witnessed the school's unprecedented upward trajectory.
I recently answered some questions as part of the D'Amore-McKim 100th-Anniversary Dean Perspectives series that I thought would also provide an ideal Dean's Corner post. Following are my unedited answers to questions about the current and future state of business education and our achievements during my time as Interim Dean.
Q: Tell us about the state of the world and business now and how these things affect the college, its programs, and its students.
A: In the 35 years I have been at Northeastern, both the world of business and Northeastern have changed dramatically. Northeastern has transformed from a primarily local/regional and commuter school to a truly global research university that has retained and evolved its strengths in providing the very best in experiential education to our students. We have always strived to grow and improve, and that has led us to realize substantial growth in our students, our faculty, our staff, and our campus. We continue to strive to evolve and improve, but our now-named D'Amore-McKim School of Business is truly a world-class business school in a world-class university.
The world of business moves much much faster today than it did 30 years ago. The faster pace is driven by technology, information flows, the astounding volume of data and information available, and the increasing interconnectedness of a global economy. The university has responded to address the world of the future with its new academic plan. The plan recognizes the need for change in higher education and focuses Northeastern on being experiential, driving impactful research that solves problems in the world, and being in the world via a global network of campuses and programs. Infused throughout is the importance of diversity and technology. D'Amore-McKim is very much aligned with the university plan through our strategic plan that emphasizes digital convergence. We strive to develop knowledge and prepare our students for the future by focusing on the need for increased data, technology, and people skills (Humanics). We also strive to create an inclusive economy where everyone is empowered to achieve their full potential and seize upon opportunities.
The world is moving faster and continues to evolve at an accelerating pace. We have been proactive in anticipating these changes and adapting our programs to serve our current and future students.
Q: What have been some of your greatest accomplishments as interim dean? Why do you think those things have been or will be impactful?
A: The great things we have done are not so much my accomplishments but rather stem from my having the good fortune to manage a talented and dedicated team of faculty and staff. My current work as Interim Dean follows seven years of working as Senior Associate Dean of Faculty and Research, where I worked under two very talented deans to continue our evolution to a world-class research and teaching faculty. We upped our game in the hiring of tenure-track, non-tenure-track, and part-time faculty and saw tremendous gains in both our top-tier research output, our curriculum, and the quality of our teaching. These achievements are attributable to both our new faculty and the experience and ongoing contributions of faculty who have been here longer.
In my time as Interim Dean, we have weathered the COVID storm and set an example for the rest of the world. Our faculty and staff did an unbelievable job of stepping up to adapt to the challenges of changing teaching, research, and service modalities in order to continue providing world-class educational experiences. This was a tremendous amount of work on top of already heavy workloads and the personal challenges that many faced related to COVID. I could not be prouder and more appreciative of this great team for that work and the work they continue to do as we serve an unprecedented number of undergraduate and graduate students.
During my time as Interim Dean, we have also forged ahead with the implementation of new academic programs and the development of programs for the future. These include programs on the Boston campus, innovative digital scalable programs, and significant new programs that will be taught in the network, including in Oakland and London. These programs in our global network provide us with the opportunity to extend the benefits of a Northeastern education to more people in the world.
Like all business schools, we face many challenges. We are, however, fortunate that our challenges are about how we continue to innovate and implement future growth opportunities. This comes at a time when many universities are struggling to bring in students and maintain programs. I am proud of the work we have done and continue to do to become a business school for the future.
Q: What surprises you most about business education and research today? How has it changed since you first started in academia? Where do you think it's going?
A: Following what is going on in the business world, business education and research are moving at a faster pace than in the past. If there is a surprise here, it is that business schools have not moved faster. I think D'Amore-McKim has moved faster than the average, but we need to strive to keep innovating. COVID has accelerated the need to develop more flexible and efficient modalities for delivering higher education to meet the needs of a more demanding and diverse clientele. The business schools that succeed in the future are going to need to address these needs by providing programs that keep up with the needs of a rapidly changing business world, co-creating programs with industry partners to bring together the talents of the academy and industry, and delivering these programs effectively to learners, including life-long learners, who are located across the globe.
Q: What's your greatest wish for D'Amore-McKim now and in the future?
A: One of the main things that attracted me to Northeastern many years ago was the attitude that it wanted to get better and the recognition that in order to get better, you had to be willing to bring in people better (more talented) than yourself. The business school has implemented this, attracting better and better faculty, staff, and students. We have done this while also maintaining our heart and soul as a place that is entrepreneurial and attracts students, faculty, and staff who want to innovate and have impact in the world. It is very important to note that we have also maintained a culture of mutual respect, where the old and new come together, and there are opportunities for everyone to bring their unique strengths and talents to the table to move us ahead. My greatest wish is that this culture of always striving to get better, of not being afraid to change and take risks, will persist at D'Amore-McKim and Northeastern.
I also wish for much-needed investment in our facilities and infrastructure. We need more space that is not little boxes inside of big boxes. We need space that is open, collaborative, multi-purpose, and flexible. The future requires greater collaboration among students, faculty, and staff, and we need space that facilitates this collaboration and showcases the beehive of activity that is D'Amore-McKim and our interactions with the rest of the university.
Q: What keeps you busy now (besides being dean)?
A: For me, serving as (Interim) Dean is a full-time job that is both my job and my hobby these days. I do enjoy spending time with my family, spending time at our place in New Hampshire (which is a nice change of venue even when I am working there), and continuing to do some research aided by very patient co-authors. I must admit that I do spend some time daydreaming about life post-dean, where I can spend more time thinking and living the faculty life of teaching and research.
D'Amore-McKim School of Business