How would you describe the future of business and engineering education?

The future of business and engineering education in the country is the same: both are linked to innovation, to developing leaders who understand innovation and how to create a culture that promotes creative thinking. One thing the U.S. has always been good at — the best at — is thinking outside the box.

This is why the convergence of business and engineering in education is so crucial. Engineers need to learn about business and managers need to have a strong technical foundation. We knew that 50 years ago when we created the iE&M program. 

We are taking it further. The Shipley Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurship has been transformed into the Shipley Center for Innovation to serve as an engine of economic development. It is designed to draw on our expertise in management and in engineering.

Given changes in our global economy, how is the School of Business positioned to respond to the marketplace?

We are very well suited to succeed in a fast-changing, global marketplace. Necessity is the mother of invention. We are smaller than most research institutions so we are hungrier and more flexible. The larger state institutions have more resources — money and faculty — but they have the complacency of a football team with a 31-point lead. We are the team with a three-point lead, who has to keep driving forward, moving down the field. We can’t be complacent. We can’t be cautious. We have to marshal our resources and be on the offensive.

Globalization is also a reality. You either embrace it or perish. We have embraced it. We know our students must develop a global awareness. That’s why the new global studies requirement is invaluable. Students entering the business world must see this country through the eyes of another and must understand how other cultures “do” business. In that sense, studying abroad is no longer an “elective.” It’s a requirement for the future. 

A Perfect StormFor the last six years, Clarkson’s Supply Chain Management Program has been nationally ranked. What other business programs are similarly designed for future success?

All of them.

We’ve moved well beyond traditional majors, such as accounting or marketing, to develop programs that produce graduates with a broader, more integrated skill set. This is absolutely vital if we are to keep our competitive edge in the global economy.

The narrow skill sets that many business schools still engage in are too commoditized to prevent them from being offshored. Accounting is an obvious example. As it has become more standardized it has been offshored. Any time you commoditize something, or standardize it, you make it more exportable.

Our Financial Information & Analysis major is not being trained to be an accountant —  he/she is being trained to become a corporate CFO.

Our Information Systems and Business Practices program develops skilled professionals who can identify the information needs of an organization and then design and implement hardware and software solutions. Software writing can be offshored. Customer interfacing and complex problem-solving skills cannot.

Our Innovation and Entrepreneurship students learn how to develop and transform ideas into valuable new products and services — that’s the key to the future.

The University is embarking on an ambitious fundraising campaign. What are some of the critical investments to be made in the School of Business in order to enhance excellence?

Investments in talent are crucial of course. Seventy percent of our faculty have joined over the last eight years and we are hiring out of the best Ph.D. programs in the country. We have a young, ambitious faculty. Now we need to retrofit it, bring in a few senior people to round out the faculty.  Investments in endowed professorships and chairs are crucial for us to make the leap from national to international recognition.

You must be personally pleased with recent significant commitments made by alumni to
the School of Business.

I am very gratified by the people who have stepped up, who have really been visionaries. They have an eye on the future.

We have all the ingredients for a perfect storm. Our engineering program has a national reputation. The School of Business is hitting its stride and the sciences keep getting stronger. We have a president who is a visionary. The state universities are about to fall on hard times. Timing is everything. The time is now.