I'm not a gambling man but there are a few numbers I'd consider 'lucky.' There's nine, the number I wore while playing baseball, joining the ranks of sports heroes like Ted Williams, Roger Maris, and Bobby Hull, and the number 18, the day I was married (sure hope that number is on my wife's list too!) Since I've been involved with AACSB, a few more numbers have found their way to the list—but I'm not the only one who's lucky.
In my 26 years as dean, I've been fortunate enough to bear witness to the evolution of management education as it becomes increasingly agile in answering corporate America's call to be responsive and relevant. When I was elected chair of the AACSB Board of Directors last year, there were some fairly significant challenges facing management education, and many in our industry began to cast a critical eye on the inherent value of higher education. I've been lucky enough to see, through over 35 peer review team visits and consulting with another 40 schools on the design and development of the 2013 accreditation standards, how schools around the world actively engaged with our charge and designed new initiatives to meet those challenges. Despite those challenges, I was also excited about the fact that AACSB was on the cusp of completing two of the most significant efforts it has undertaken, one of which has been two years in the making and hadn't occurred since 2002.
The development and subsequent unanimous passing of the 2013 accreditation standards was a journey that surprised and inspired me every step of the way. AACSB and the Blue Ribbon Committee on Accreditation Quality created numerous opportunities for member feedback, and invested countless hours listening to the ideas brought forth. As with any significant initiative, there were questions—but thanks to the perseverance, patience, and commitment of all involved, the end result yielded concise, streamlined standards that will invariably impact the course of management education.
For me, personally, the work of the Doctoral Education Task Force is one of the most important 'thought pieces' produced by AACSB in recent years. It will dramatically alter the future of management education worldwide, particularly the way doctoral education is delivered. At its core, it will enable schools to create unique models of advanced education, and is the clearest example of us practicing what we preach—empowering business schools to evolve to meet the world's increasingly complex demands. As the discussion of the doctoral education shortage continues, we are each called to do what we can to increase the number of terminally qualified faculty while maintaining the highest level of quality to remain relevant and on the cutting edge of education. A seemingly tall order, I agree. But the stakes are high and we all must take an active role in ensuring its success.
Over the course of my time as chair of the board with AACSB, I've said a lot of things. Some insightful, some inspiring, some entertaining. But the most important thing I've learned—the most important thing that all of us should learn and embrace no matter what our task—is to listen. The one thing you can bet on is that change is constant and people want to be heard—to know that their voice is a valuable part of any improvement process. We, an organization built by members, for members, have earned the respect of those truly dedicated to impacting the quality of management education worldwide. As we've seen with the deconstruction, design, and development of the 2013 standards, there's no greater force behind initiating change than the power of listening. We all did this—together.