Archive for the ‘AACSB’ Category

Every university administrator understands the importance of setting goals for your school and developing a plan to achieve those goals.  Most accreditation standards require developing a strategic plan that provides a roadmap for mission achievement and that establishes the foundation for continuous improvement with an overarching goal of the plan to serve as an effective guide for decisions and practice.

Over the past 15 years I have been directly involved in strategic planning as a professor, department head, associate dean and dean.   In addition, I have been involved in developing strategic plans at the department, college and university level.

University-level and college-level strategic plans are often grand productions necessarily involving hundreds of stakeholders (faculty, staff, alumni, strategic partners, students, donors, administration).    These strategic plans will often take 12 months or more to complete.    Yet, in many cases these strategic plans focus more on planning and much less on strategy.

If your university, college or department is truly looking to achieve a bold vision it is imperative to develop a sound strategy and corresponding strategic plan.   If you are willing to get outside of your comfort zone of conforming your strategic planning to traditional academic norms, I highly recommend that you read the following book:   Scaling Up:  How a Few Companies Make It … and Why the Rest Don’t by Verne Harnish, Gazelles Inc., Asburn, VA (2014).  

In this book you will find some straight forward thinking on how to compete and grow in a competitive market.  If you are unwilling to examine your university through the lens of business, this book is not for you.   However, if you are willing to examine the business principles in this book and adapt them to your school’s situation, you will find this a very helpful book.

A great place to begin is the one-page strategic plan.   I recommend that you go the the “Social Sector Growth Tools” page at the book’s website.  Here you will find free strategic resources, including the One Page Strategic Plan, adapted for the non-profit sector.

In one page you will be asked to answer difficult questions about your core customers, the ‘product’ that you are selling them, your brand promises and your kept promise indicators (KPI’s).   Only after answering these questions will you have a foundation necessary to build a strategic plan that enables a bold vision.    Do you have the courage?

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe


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rigor-cientc3adfico1Several years ago the Provost at our university asked all department heads to report on what we were doing to ensure academic rigor in our programs.   After several rounds of discussion with department faculty, I drafted a memo for the Provost.  Following is that memo – I hope that you find it instructive.

TO: Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
FROM: Dr. Percy Trappe,  Department Head
RE: Memo on Academic Rigor
DATE: April 2012

The faculty members in our department believe that the following five core principles form the foundation of academic rigor:

Principle #1 – Rigor is a Commitment that should be Articulated in a Program’s Mission & Values
Our faculty have collectively developed a Mission and Values statement that clearly articulates a commitment to an active, experiential learning environment that prepares students to apply their knowledge.  The department emphasizes the high value placed on continuous improvement, collaboration, the promotion of individual strengths, and stakeholder relationships.

Principle #2 – Rigor is Defined within a Program’s Learning Outcomes
Program-level learning outcomes that traverse individual courses promote a culture of academic rigor.  Integrated coursework where prerequisite courses enable higher level learning in subsequent courses promotes faculty collaboration and the development of consistent, systematic and measurable standards.   Courses in our department contribute to two different sets of Program Learning Outcomes: (1) College Core, and (2) our degree programs.   The accreditation of our program provides external validation of these learning outcomes.

Principle #3 – Rigor is Refined through Continuous Improvement and Assessment
Faculty members utilize feedback from systematic assessment in order to continuously improve the curriculum content and meet the needs of our stakeholders.   Employers, alumni and the department’s advisory board are actively engaged in a formal process of feedback and improvement.

Principle #4 – Rigor is a Collective Faculty Value
Ultimately individual faculty members are responsible for the rigor within their classroom.   In our department each course has a faculty leader.  This faculty member is responsible for working with other faculty members to ensure that learning objectives are met and a reasonable level of consistency in academic rigor exists across sections.

Principle #5 – Rigor is Refined through Faculty Evaluation
As part of the faculty evaluation process, the department head and members of the faculty advisory committee give faculty members feedback regarding how well they are meeting expectations of academic rigor and, if needed, offer suggestions on how to increase academic rigor in their classroom.

from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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NSSE_LogoFollowing are some of my thoughts about engagement and what it means for a college of business.   I presented these thoughts a couple of years ago at a conference.   Here is a summary:

“Engagement” in a college of business is an often misunderstood term.   This stems from the fact that there are three dominant perspectives on how engagement is conceptualized and viewed within the business school – (1) community engagement (Carnegie Foundation), (2) student engagement (National Survey of Student Engagement), and (3) faculty engagement (AACSB).

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching awards a community engagement classification to qualifying institutions of higher learning.   As of 2012, three hundred and eleven (311) U.S. colleges and universities were designated  with the Community Engagement Classification.   Carnegie defines community engagement as

“ … the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.”

In order to be selected, institutions must provide descriptions and examples of established practices of community engagement that show alignment among mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices.   The notion of a mutually beneficial partnership is at the heart of the Carnegie Foundation’s concept of engagement.

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) assesses collegiate quality by estimating how undergraduate students spend their time inside and outside the classroom.   Through an annual survey of hundreds of colleges and universities, the NSSE estimates how undergraduates spend their time and what they gain from attending college.   The NSSE ultimately measures student engagement through five Benchmarks of Effective Educational Practice:

  1. level of academic challenge
  2. active and collaborative learning
  3. student-faculty interaction
  4. enriching educational experiences
  5. supportive campus environment

Institutions use their data to identify aspects of the undergraduate experience inside and outside the classroom that can be improved through changes in policies and practices more consistent with good practices in undergraduate education.

AACSB International, the organization best known for overseeing accreditation for undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral programs in business and accounting, strives to identify challenges and trends that are facing the business education industry through its research and initiatives.   In 2011, the Blue Ribbon Committee (BRC) on AASCB Accreditation Quality was charged to conduct a review of AACSB accreditation standards and processes.  The BRC identified “encourage an appropriate balance of academic and professional engagement consistent with quality in the context of a school’s mission” as one of five critical issues is business school accreditation.  The BRC stated that AACSB standards have consistently promoted an academic focus, but have not adequately addressed engagement with practice and also suggested placing a stronger emphasis on interaction among students and faculty in an academic setting.     Engagement, as specified by the AACSB, is ultimately assessed through faculty engagement whereby

“Engagement should be addressed as a portfolio, and is embedded in the interaction between participants, including academic and professionally qualified faculty, who are engaged in scholarship and teaching. Furthermore, engagement should be addressed across multiple dimensions of quality—students, faculty, curriculum, pedagogy, etc.—and consistent with the mission of the school.”

I hope that my thoughts help.

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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triple bottom line BM-thumb-380x271-thumb-380x271Our most recent Dean candidate offered some interesting insights.  I thought that I would share a few.

  1. What do we mean by ‘engaged learning’  and ‘student focused learning’?   At Cornell University this means to advance academic service-learning, community-based research, and public scholarship across a wide spectrum of academic disciplines and programs.  At Lawrence University it means to create and sustain connections between the academic curriculum and community service.  At SMU is means a capstone-level, student driven research, civic engagement, professional internship or creative work that has clear project and clear personal learning goals.
  2. How would our decisions be different if we considered student success as our top priority?
  3. Do we agree on our ‘tagline’?  We must be on the same page as we move forward.
  4. Fundraising and stewardship of existing gifts.    Stewardship of existing gifts is extremely important.
  5. Must be an advocate for the college.  Internally within the university.  Externally with alumni and friends.   Don’t forget the students!
  6. Globalization.   Who will be your partners?
  7. Triple bottom line ( people, planet, profit) – the new buzz words related to sustainability and the environment.
  8. Thought leadership – how do we leverage this?
  9. Finale – How Do We Create the Future?  Put a proposal together and match it with the right donor.   Build relationships.

Overall I was impressed with this candidate’s ability to articulate their thoughts around academic leadership.   I am always pleased when I can learn a few things.  This candidate was able to ‘bundle’ their accomplishments into four categories: (1) strategic planning, (2) reputation building, (3) development, and (4) accreditation.  Good thinking!

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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NCCPEIn the United Kingdom there is a movement for research universities to better engage the public. The “Manifesto for Public Engagement”, as defined by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement [NCCPE], is listed below:

We believe that universities and research institutes have a major responsibility to contribute to society through their public engagement, and that they have much to gain in return.

We are committed to sharing our knowledge, resources and skills with the public, and to listening to and learning from the expertise and insight of the different communities with which we engage.

We are committed to developing our approach to managing, supporting and delivering public engagement for the benefit of staff, students and the public, and to sharing what we learn about effective practice.

A study by the UK Innovation Research Centre defines Four Modes of Interactions between Academics and External Organizations. (See: ‘Knowledge Exchange between Academics and Business, Public and Third Sectors,’Maria Abreu, Vadim Grinevich, Alan Hughes and Michael Kitson, uk-irc, (PDF))

People Based Activities

  1. attend conference
  2. participate in networks
  3. give invited lecture
  4. sit on advisory board
  5. assist with student placements
  6. employee training
  7. standard setting forums
  8. curriculum development

Community Based Activities

  1. give lecture for community
  2. school projects
  3. community exhibitions
  4. community-based supports

Problem Solving Activities

  1. informal advice
  2. joint research
  3. joint publication
  4. consultancy
  5. contract research
  6. research consortia
  7. hosting of personnel
  8. protyping and testing

Commercialization Activities

  1. formed consultancy
  2. patent
  3. licensed research
  4. company startup

Public engagement describes the myriad of ways in which the activity and benefits of higher education and research can be shared with the public. Engagement is by definition a two-way process, involving interaction and listening, with the goal of generating mutual benefit.  (See: http://www.publicengagement.ac.uk/what)

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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1901-600x324Dean Harlow Person served in the deanship of Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Administration and Finance from 1906 to 1919 (Khurana, R., From Higher Aims to Hired Hands, Princeton University Press, 2007, p. 152).    Person was also influential in the establishment of the AACSB.

Person was clear in articulating a mission for his school.   Following are several quotes from Person about the Tuck School’s mission and vision.

Our judgment is that our primary obligation is to the student, and the first and largest draft which the instructor should make on his store of time and energy should be on behalf of the individual student.  We attempt to develop in our instructing staff the feeling that instruction is not something formal but is a personal responsibility for the personal success of every individual student.  That, we conceive, as also our largest public service.

Person argued:

The essential public service that the school could provide was to teach students to ‘develop the power to apply principles to the solutions of business problems …. which will some day be of service to us all.’

In regard to the teaching of ethics, Person stated

We do not attempt any formal instruction in business ethics.  We believe that formality and artificiality of a formal course in business ethics would defeat its very purpose.  But in every course it is the aim of every instructor, I know, to inspire in his students a conception of the nobility of the profession of the business man and of his responsibility to his fellow-man and to society.

Finally, in order to assist young men in the pursuit of a career

Every possible method is employed to enable students to meet business men -(guest) lecturers – personally, and the lectures of such men are followed by a simple luncheon intended to enable second-year men to meet lecturers informally.

The ideals espoused by Person are as relevant today as ever.   Have many of the “top” business faculty strayed from this ideal?

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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aacsb-logoA colleague of mine served on a search committee for the Dean of their AACSB-accredited business school.   He told me that their university used eight screening criteria when reviewing CV’s.  I hope that this helps any dean seekers!

1) Academic credentials: Did the candidate have a decent list of pubs, with at least one good solid A pub? Basically, did the candidate have the gravitas needed to fight it out with the other deans and senior faculty? Ideally, the candidate should be qualified for the professor rank.

2) Management experience: Has the candidate worked in a dean’s office or perhaps served as chair of a large department? Was there some sort of strategic initiative on the record to talk about? Any experience with a non-trivial budget?

3) Knowledge of Academic Programs: Would the candidate understand the programs at our school? For example, would he/she get the difference between an MBA programs and an MSA program?

4) Cultural Fit: Can the candidate fit in to our culture/way of doing things? This one had a big impact because many candidates scored low. When somebody was a good fit, they really stood out!

5) Resource development: Has the person done hiring, firing, and retention? Founded a center, department, program?

6) External relationships: Fundraising experience? Board experience? etc.

7) AACSB: This one was big! Did the candidate ever take a leadership role in the AACSB accreditation process.

8) Commitment to faculty development: Is there a record of mentoring? Did the candidate work with junior faculty? (This one was almost impossible to judge from a CV, so most people got a default, middling score.)

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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