Fall 2014, Winter 2015 Newsletter
Message from Dean Asghar Sabbaghi (continued)
Vision and Mentorship
My first course of action was to create a task force to work with faculty/staff in
developing a draft of a vision statement for the Graham School of Management. This
vision statement, known as Vision 2020, will serve as the foundation of our strategic
direction and goals. The task force has developed a working draft of the Vision 2020
for the School, and has shared it with faculty, departmental advisory boards and the
GSM Business Advisory Board, and has received valuable feedback that will be incorporated
in the final document. We will review, and possibly approve, the revised document
with the faculty in the upcoming faculty meeting.
Studies have clearly shown that students who have the benefit of a mentorship experience perform better academically. Accordingly, mentorship has been, and will continue to be, a critical component of my key initiatives. On October 9, we kicked off our Faculty Mentorship Program for freshman/sophomore business students with a reflective and inspiring keynote presentation by Billy Dexter, a partner with Heidrick & Struggles and member of the Global Diversity Advisory Services Practice. This program is based on the notion that faculty-student interaction is foremost among the well-known "Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education”. Over 175 students attended and met with our faculty for mentoring, career exploration and development. I intend to further promote such programs, as I believe that such events will positively affect the retention of students, particularly during the freshman years.
Experiential education is another critical component to student success. Early in
fall 2014, we created a Center for Experiential Education (CEE) to integrate internships,
service learning and field projects into our business curriculum. One of our visiting
faculty members, Frank Recchia, was appointed as Interim Director of the CEE. The
CEE, based on "learning by doing”, seeks to actively engage students in authentic
experiences that permit them to discover and experiment with knowledge themselves
as a complement to traditional reliance on hearing or reading about the experiences
of others. This center aims to build and enhance relationships with a variety of large,
medium, and small businesses in and around the Chicagoland area to secure and maintain
experiential learning opportunities for GSM students, guide students in preparation
for their research, networking and professional communication, and to match the right
students to the right experiential opportunity, building a win-win relationship between
the university and the business community. Currently, we have student internships
in the following firms: Deloitte, KPMG, True Partners, Morton Salt, the Federal Reserve,
State Farm, Friedman & Huey, Menards, J.P. Morgan, Merrill Lynch, Limited Liability
Corporation, Devo Options, Scottrade, Shoaibi Financial, Archer Bank, TCF Bank, Hometown
National Bank, and William Blair & Company. Our finance students were recently placed
at William Blair & Company, Scottrade, Northern Trust, Fifth Third Bank, Discover,
among others. More detailed information is provided in a later section.
In addition, we initiated a Business Experiential Learning Lab (BELL). A well-known financial database and market trading software, FactSet, was installed this past fall semester to support experiential learning for finance students. We are currently in the process of securing Bloomberg terminals and other specialized financial databases (i.e., Compustat, CRSP) and application software to support the BELL for functional areas such as marketing and business analytics.
Alumni Advisory Board
Alumni outreach and promotion is crucial to the future growth and success of the Graham
School of Management. The main advance this semester has been the inauguration of
the GSM Alumni Advisory Board on November 24, 2014, with Inaugural President Laura
Shallow, vice president of Standard Bank in Chicago. The Board has approved its bylaws
and created five committees in different directions: Business Executives for Students
Transformation (BEST) Mentoring Committee, Curriculum and Speakers Program, Student
Recruitment Committee, Marketing and Alumni Dinner/Recognition Committee and Executive
Committee. We are particularly excited about the BEST Mentoring Program, and hope
to provide students with opportunities to not only learn from highly successful and
experienced executives in the short-term, but also forge long-lasting, professional
relationships. In addition to their vital classroom studies, students who participate
in this program will enjoy one-on-one interactions with business executive mentors
and directly learn how to prepare for the next phase of their professional life.
In late November 2014, we also installed the Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS) Chapter for Saint Xavier University. Membership in Beta Gamma Sigma, an international honor society serving business programs accredited by AACSB International, is the highest recognition a business student anywhere in the world can receive in an AACSB International-accredited business program.
New Graduate Studies
Last, but certainly not least, of my key initiatives has been the creation of new
graduate programs in key emerging areas. In collaboration with the Departments of
Computer Science and Mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences, we developed
a new M.S. degree program in Business Analytics. This program has been approved by
the GSM faculty, College of Arts and Sciences Curriculum Committee, the Deans Council
and the Faculty Senate. We plan to promote the program during the spring 2015 semester
and offer it in the fall 2015 semester. A new Master of Science in Finance Program
has also been developed and implemented this year. The Accounting Department has developed
a Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) degree option, which will most likely be offered
in fall 2015. This program is to meet the 150 hour needs of accounting majors who
are interested in pursuing the CPA. This program has been approved by the curriculum
committee and by the GSM faculty in the December meeting. Also, a committee is busily
working on reviving the undergraduate major in Hospitality Management with a focus
on experiential education in various areas like hotel, airline and sport management.
In addition to my work at our main campus in Chicago, I recently traveled to our newly approved and forthcoming educational site in Gilbert, Ariz., to meet with community leaders and economic development advisory boards and committees, and to develop a number of collaborative initiatives in pursuit of an advisory board for the GSM at Saint Xavier University in Gilbert. As you may know, the Arizona Board of Education has recently given approval to Saint Xavier University to offer graduate and undergraduate business programs, among others, in Gilbert that will begin in fall 2015.
My initiatives during the past semester are just the beginning of the contributions I hope to make in building the Graham School of Management as a world-class business school in a strong liberal-arts environment. Ultimately, in going forward with these initiatives, we can hope to transform students through academic excellence, "thought leadership,” and experiential education opportunities. The initiatives highlighted here have been taken in support of such vision. These are exciting times for the Graham School, and I encourage all our alumni and friends to follow our progress and help us take the Graham School into new ventures and greater success.
I wish you all a joyous and prosperous New Year, and look forward to more exciting opportunities and success in 2015!
Asghar Sabbaghi, Ph.D.
Dean and Professor
Billy Dexter has been a leader in talent acquisition and diversity/inclusion related efforts for more than 20 years. Today, Billy is a partner with Heidrick & Struggles and is a member of the global Diversity Advisory Services Practice that assists clients in creating diverse leadership teams.
On October 8, 2014, I felt a change within myself after hearing Billy Dexter's story. Coming into the Butler Hall I was not expecting such encouraging words from someone who shares the same hometown as myself. While I reflect on his words they would bring tears to not just my eyes, but anyone's eyes and I am referring to tears of joy and accomplishment. Mr. Dexter has honestly made a journey from the day his mom told him and his brother that after they have turned 18, they have a decision to become something or not. She had just lost her job at that point. Billy Dexter took his moms' words very seriously and set out on his journey to turn his life around because he was a troubled young boy.
The miracles that Billy spoke of on how he got to college, became first in his family to graduate, brought his GPA up drastically, landed several job opportunities, and so much more, really touched me because it showed his dedication and how he developed as a leader. He could have chosen "the streets" or a less hard-working route but instead he chose a route worth fighting for and for that he has encouraged me in more ways than one.
He has encouraged me to try a new route if I didn't get to my goal the first time. And to continue until I've done everything possible. Billy has influenced me to become a better leader, student and gain more patience. Most of all, I portray Mr. Dexter as an honest, hard-working independent and humble young adult which is the kind of person I aspire to be. Hearing stories like his will touch one in every five students' lives I believe and I was definitely one.
Reflecting on Billy's words I want to point out that you can tell when a man is not being sincere in his words, but just by paying attention to Billy Dexter's facial expressions, posture and tone you can tell there was truth behind every word he said. All you can do is admire and support him because through all his successes he is a humble man that helps others and puts no one below him.
By: Ciara Grantham, SXU Student
Photos from the Mentoring Event