By Lee Davidson
Senior Associate, Copywriter/Editor
Last month, philanthropists Pam and Les Muma donated 25 million USD to the AACSB-accredited University of South Florida’s College of Business, now named the Muma College of Business in their honor. College dean Moez Limayem reported to USF News that the donation from the two alumni “will bolster faculty engagement in the business community . . . and help students become even better prepared for the workplace.” More specifically, the gift—a historic donation for the university—is intended to support expansion of the college’s corporate mentorship program, ensure that all business students have a chance to partake in an internship program, and create opportunities for faculty externships, which “will give faculty the ability to work in business and industry for six months at a time, giving them business knowledge and skills to take back to the classroom.”
This push to help students and faculty engage with the business world exemplifies one of the three pillars that bolster AACSB’s 2013 accreditation standards: innovation, engagement, and impact. While many b-schools already dedicate small attributes of their programs to linking students and faculty with industry—through internships and consulting projects—some schools are taking this particular element of engagement further by prioritizing it in their curriculum as well as infusing it across a broad range of program-related activities.
Indeed, one of the priorities of a newly appointed dean across the globe is to promote engagement between academia and industry. According to MBAUniverse, incoming dean of Singapore Management University’s Lee Kong Chian School of Business (LKCSB), Gerard George, already has ideas “to build an entrepreneurial eco-system, as well as strengthen the business school’s integration with the community.” George’s long-time experience as a practitioner and teacher of entrepreneurship, as well as a business and community partner, places him in a prime position to build and fortify LKCSB’s relationships with “businesses, the government, and community-at-large,” reports SMU News. George, who has the distinction of being the youngest new dean at LKCSB, begins his post—and his exciting, ambitious plans—in January.
In another instance that demonstrates schools dedicating resources to engagement, the U.S. Department of Education awarded the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business a 1 million USD grant to fund the school’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) program—which is one of only 17 CIBER programs selected for funding nationally. In its grant proposal, the Smith School presented initiatives for students that would enable them to engage with the global business world. The Smith School’s CIBER director, Prof. Kislaya Prasad, noted in the university’s student newspaper that the program will use the funding to “create opportunities for business students to work on consulting assignments in businesses located around the world.” The funds will also support faculty development through overseas projects, which will enhance their teaching in the classroom.
At a time of constant change in the business education environment, schools are honing in on the need to connect classroom learning with the broader world outside of academia. Members from AACSB’s Business Practices Council—a group comprised of six business school deans and 12 to 16 members from private, public, and social sectors of the business community—will address this very topic at its upcoming Deans Conference in a session titled “Focus on Engagement.” As we consider the shape that business schools might take in the future, AACSB impels schools to increase efforts toward engagement between business programs and industry practice.
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We are looking for additional examples of ways that management education programs engage with their business stakeholders. In what ways is your institution taking on this challenge? Do you have programs in place that encourage, or even emphasize, the important relationship between education and industry? Send your feedback to us at BPCmailbox@aacsb.edu. We look forward to hearing from you!