Educate. Innovate. Create.

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As we say goodbye to summer, we say hello to a whole new group of amazing students entering our programs. Fall 2011 brings us an NCAA pole vaulting champion, an experimental test flight engineer, a former professional race car driver, a counterterrorism officer (who plays the harp), a few FBI agents, and a Clinton Foundation adviser to name just a few. I look forward to working with our entire community, from undergraduates to executives to doctoral candidates.

One of the questions I’ve been asked quite a bit since accepting the role of dean at Ross is “How do we motivate graduates to remain in the region and contribute to our surrounding economy?” This question raises the broader topic regarding any university’s relationship to the communities that support the education of its students. I believe we have a responsibility to create three things:

Human capital. The most effective business school faculty spend a great deal of time in the field, consulting with executives, developing new research, and tracking emerging trends. They bring that intellectual capital right into the classroom, and if we do our jobs well, we will produce the kinds of business leaders who utilize that cutting-edge knowledge to innovate inside top-tier multinationals, mid-sized firms, and startups far and wide.

Firms and jobs. The most successful business leaders today are able to identify opportunities, assess risk, and act decisively to net positive outcomes. This requires an entrepreneurial mindset – an essential element in business – whether one launches a new venture or drives change inside an established organization. As educators it is incumbent on us to deliver the kinds of courses, activities, and collaborations that produce graduates with the confidence, connections, and know-how to build companies that create jobs in the most receptive markets.

Community engagement. I also believe it is critical for business students to engage with local partners, and Ross students do – through intense, in-company consulting projects, volunteerism, and other activities sponsored by the school. Since 1992, our students have executed more than 1500 projects for startups, nonprofits, and multinationals, opening new revenue streams, saving millions through supply chain improvements, and more.

Peruse the news any time of day or night and you are sure to come across the words “job creation.” It’s top of mind in our country, and rightly so. But it is our job as educators to ensure value creation – so business students of all ages and expertise emerge with the knowledge and skills to see the whole picture, inspire and lead their teams, participate as engaged citizens in their communities, and drive the kind of change and innovation that fuels the economy.

If we do that right, the rest takes care of itself. Locally, nationally, and globally.

Connect with Michigan Ross        
Alison Davis-Blake

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