Bridging Business Education With Other Disciplines and Industry

Tanuja Singh, dean and professor at St. Mary's University Greehey School of Business, discusses the benefit of faculty crossover in different areas of study and industry.


Christine Clements: [00:00] From a faculty qualification standpoint, where there are some expectations about the ratios of faculty with different qualifications, is that a particular issue in a small school?

Tanuja Singh: [00:24] Yes and no. It's defined by your strategy. If you develop a faculty management plan that truly capitalizes on faculty strength, and then you develop programs and initiatives that cross collaborate; for example, you have different departments that work together.

[00:42] Our faculty management plan, unlike maybe some other schools, actually encourages people to work together on their papers, on their conference presentations, on all the intellectual endeavors they are engaged in. I think that makes a big difference.

[00:57] We have faculty, for example, in accounting who are co authoring with people in finance, because they are talking about corporate governance issues. It's an issue for finance, also for accounting. At the same time, there might be strategy people who are looking at it from a strategy perspective.

[01:12] The ability to cross pollinate and really work with each other helps small schools, because by nature you see each other much more often. You're not in silos. You are sitting in your offices. Next to you might be somebody in accounting, and you might be a strategy person.

[01:28] I believe that makes a big difference. Again, it has to be focused on your strategies. When you look at your mission, you say, "Where are the natural synergies?" For us, it's been a benefit that we are a small school and we have been able to cross collaborate, and across sometimes schools, as well.

Clements: [01:46] As you know, one of the directions we see many business schools going now is to be more multi disciplinary as to engage in more collaboration. You would be at the cutting edge, or the front of that, with that small school advantage.

Singh: [02:00] That's very true. We also have, for example, a center for innovation and corporate social responsibility. They do a lot of industry specific projects that are sponsored by industry. We have, in fact, the law school, the school of science, engineering and technology, and the humanities school, participate in it.

[02:17] The outcomes are always better when you are cross functionally working. It wasn't the easiest thing to do. When you do across schools, there's a bigger challenge. But for us, we worked on it, and now it's one of our most successful initiatives.

[02:31] We are extremely focused on the outcomes for our students, whether they are getting internships or jobs, so a lot of the activities we engage in are very industry specific. We bring in industry executives, not simply for that occasional guest lecture, but we have them participate in even our curriculum development process.

[02:52] We developed a new program in accounting and data analytics, and the feedback was from industry. The feedback was from students. Collaboratively, we developed an output that is very industry specific.

[03:04] Once you do it with the industry, then they say, "How can we help you?" and they become your resources, whether it's funding that little finance lab that you need money for, or that lecture series that you might be bringing in.

[03:21] I think that is one of our biggest differentiating advantage. That's becoming the norm more than the exception these days.

Filmed September 2016 on site at the Annual Accreditation Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota.