People and Places: February 16, 2021 | AACSB

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Tuesday, February 16, 2021
By AACSB Staff
Mahidol University names a new business dean, Northwestern receives a transformative gift, and European universities lay out a plan for the future.


Vichita (Vathanophas) Ractham  Vichita (Vathanophas) Ractham has become the new dean of the College of Management at Mahidol University (CMMU) in Salaya, Thailand. She most recently was an associate professor in knowledge management at CMMU, where she previously served as the deputy dean for academic services from 2010 to 2020. Earlier, she taught at the School of Computing in the department of information systems at National University of Singapore.

Honors and Awards

  Mats Urde has won the 2021 Outstanding Case Teacher competition sponsored by the Case Centre. Urde is an associate professor of strategic brand management at Lund University School of Economics and Management in Sweden. In his class, Urde requires teams of students to write cases of their own. Students also describe the management decisions they made in each case and provide teaching notes and supporting material. At the end of the course, three cases are chosen for a case competition, where they are judged by peers, faculty, and business representatives so that students can experience what Urde calls “the full case cycle.” 

New Programs

MIP Politecnico di Milano Business School in Italy has created five new international master’s degree programs devoted to sustainability. The 12-month programs, which will start this fall and be delivered in English, will focus on sustainable industrial management, sustainable finances, environmental sustainability and the circular economy, social innovation and entrepreneurship, and sustainability management and corporate social responsibility. The programs will include project work, company visits, and networking opportunities within the sustainability sector.

The University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business has opened a new Flex MBA program that students can attend online or in person at the school’s locations in Baltimore; Rockville, Maryland; or Washington, D.C. The curriculum, which can be completed within 24 months, is aimed at students with five to eight years of professional experience. In addition to taking core and elective courses, students will participate in Business Decoded Saturday Seminars, in which Maryland Smith professors explore timely developments in relevant topics.

The Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto in Canada is planning two new offerings geared toward minority students and business leaders. A course on Black entrepreneurship and leadership in Canada has been developed in partnership with the BlackNorth Initiative, which was created by the Canadian Council of Business Leaders Against Anti-Black Systemic Racism. MBA students who take the course will be joined by emerging Black leaders across Canada as well as other members of the business community. The school also is planning to host its inaugural Future Black Business Leaders Conference in partnership with the Rotman African Caribbean Business Club, a student organization. The daylong event will feature keynotes from business leaders, a sample class, a panel discussion with current students and alumni, and interactive professional development breakouts with representatives from major corporations.

The Ahlers Center for International Business at the University of San Diego School of Business has launched its Global Readiness Program, a no-cost fellowship for small businesses in San Diego that seek to expand sales to international markets. Twenty companies, chosen through an application process, joined the first cohort of the program this spring. They will receive personalized guidance from international trade professionals, attend trade-focused workshops, use a diagnostic tool to assess their firms’ global readiness, and develop action plans to reach new international markets.

The Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin–Madison has added three online BBA degrees to its UW–Madison Online program, in management, human resources, and marketing. The degrees, which will launch in fall 2021, are intended to be accessible to nontraditional students who require flexible learning options.


University of the People (UoPeople), a nonprofit, tuition-free online university, has joined the Collaborating Colleges & Universities program. Collaborating Colleges is part of Harvard Business School Online (HBS Online), a program originally launched in 2014 as HBX. As part of the program, UoPeople students will be able to enroll in and receive need-based scholarships for HBS Online’s flagship program, the Credential of Readiness (CORe). A primer in the fundamentals of business, CORe incorporates three courses: Economics for Managers, Financial Accounting, and Business Analytics. Upon successful completion of these courses, participants will receive HBS Online Credentials of Readiness; they also receive academic credits that can be applied toward their UoPeople degrees. UoPeople joins 42 other schools participating in the program, such as Delaware State University, Loyola Marymount University, Spelman College, the University of Auckland, and the University of Western Australia.

Johns Hopkins University’s Carey Business School and School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) have partnered to launch a dual program that combines a master of arts degree in international relations (MAIR) with an MBA. The new program, which holds its first classes in the fall, will provide graduates with international relations expertise while equipping them with leadership and analytic skills. Courses will cover leadership, international markets, regional studies, decision making, data analytics, economics, geopolitics, and research methods. Students in the MAIR/MBA program will spend one year studying full-time at SAIS, one year studying full-time at Carey, and one year splitting their time between schools. The program is available to students studying at the SAIS campuses in Washington, D.C., and Bologna, Italy, as well as students enrolled in Carey’s full-time MBA program in Baltimore.

The Centurion Sales Program at Stetson University School of Business in DeLand, Florida, has become a collegiate sales partner of auto racing company NASCAR through a new initiative called NASCAR University. The program allows students to receive sales training and spend time with the NASCAR Group Sales Team in the days leading up to the Daytona 500 race. Students who perform well will be guaranteed interviews for internships and jobs.

Virbela, a virtual online collaboration platform, has partnered with The Douglas Stewart Company, a distributor for academic products and services, to deliver Virbela’s immersive learning environments to a network of 5,000 colleges and universities and 132,000 K-12 schools across the United States. Using the Virbela platform, schools can build their own virtual campuses, learning environments, and faculty office spaces that are closer to those found in face-to-face settings. The technology features personalized avatars, familiar presentation tools, and spatialized voices that mimic how voices sound when dispersed throughout a physical room. By providing technology that improves the remote learning experience, the partners aim to help schools encourage student participation and learning, enable students to build relationships with peers and faculty, and improve retention rates.

Grants and Donations

 The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, has received what school officials are calling a transformative gift from businesswoman Ann Drake. The gift, the largest ever from a Kellogg alumna, will be used to accelerate the school’s efforts to advance women in business. The money will fund the Drake Scholars Network, which is projected to reach more than 5,000 women as it creates intergenerational connections between women students, faculty, and alumnae. The gift also will support a biannual women’s summit, fund 30 to 35 student scholarships, and enable the school to recruit five to seven new faculty and two full-time staff members. Drake, the former CEO of DSC Logistics, has taken other opportunities to advance the careers of women. She founded AWESOME (Achieving Women’s Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management, and Education), which helps women excel in the supply chain industry; she also started Lincoln Road Enterprises, which seeks to advance the influence and contributions of women in business, supply chain management, engineering and technology, infrastructure, and design.

The University of Michigan Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor has received a gift of 5 million USD to fund need-based student scholarships. The new True Grit Scholarship Fund will award partial and full scholarships to incoming full-time MBA and BBA students who have demonstrated a determination to succeed, including veterans and first-generation college students. The first scholarships, which will not require an application process, will be awarded in the fall of 2021. The donor, who also named the fund, is an alumnus who wishes to remain anonymous.

The University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School has received a 5 million GBP gift (approximately 6.9 million USD) from the Pershing Square Foundation, established in 2006 to support leaders and organizations that tackle social issues and design scalable and sustainable solutions to global problems. The donation completes a 60 million GBP fundraising campaign to create the Global Leadership Centre, a physical and digital hub for leaders in Oxford, due to be completed in 2024. The center, which will be housed in Oxford’s first power station by the river Thames, will train business leaders to tackle systemic challenges ranging from adopting emerging technologies to tackling climate change.

Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in Bloomington has received a 1 million USD gift from alumni Derica Rice and Robin Nelson-Rice. The money supports students who are MBA students at Kelley and fellows of the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, which provides funding and mentoring for African American, Hispanic, and Native American students. The Rice Consortium Fellows program will offer annual fellowships to two first-year and two second-year minority students. Rice has spent 30 years as a healthcare executive with companies such as Eli Lilly and CVS Health; Nelson-Rice has held executive positions at Eli Lilly and AT&T.

Other News

The Case Centre has announced a program in which it will offer five scholarships every year for new teachers of the case study method. Eligible applicants will be faculty and PhD students who plan to begin using cases in their teaching or who have been teaching with cases for no more than 18 months. Scholarship recipients will secure a place in one of the Case Centre’s online case teaching workshops; have one of their teaching sessions reviewed by a workshop tutor; gain access to an exclusive online session with an expert case teacher; and receive a copy of Teaching & Writing Cases: A Practical Guide. Applications for the 2021 scholarships opened in February and will close on July 2.

BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo is partnering with consulting firm Kearney and global food platform EAT to host a virtual case competition aimed at finding solutions to the world’s food challenges. Held in support of the United Nations’ Food Systems Summit 2021 and Sustainable Development Goals, the competition addresses concerns such as the environmental degradation caused by food production and waste, and the health issues caused by unhealthy food.

The competition opens in the first week of March with a virtual weekend hackathon. Student teams will receive cases related to the Food Summit’s Action Tracks, which are organized to address specific issues such as safe access to food, sustainable consumption, and community resilience. In the second round, the top 10 to 12 teams will compete against the top groups from the Public Jam track, which is open to anyone in the world with an idea for solving food issues. All winning teams from the first round will develop their respective solutions in cooperation with a consultant from Kearney. Representatives from the U.N.’s Action Tracks will incorporate the best solutions into further discussions. Five teams will split 20,000 USD in prize money, with 10,000 USD going to the first-place finisher.

To explore the potential future of Europe’s institutions of higher learning, the European University Association has released “Universities Without Walls—A Vision for 2030,” which sets out a plan for creating a system of open, engaged, and resilient universities. The document posits that European universities should prioritize reforming academic careers, promoting interdisciplinarity, and strengthening the civic role that universities play. It also suggests that the future structure of universities will encompass a hybrid of physical and digital learning, as well as research environments designed to accommodate a diverse community. The document will be extensively discussed at the EUA’s Annual Conference in April.

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