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Intellectual CapitalIt has indeed been my privilege to serve on the Dean’s Search Committee for the past several months. During that time I have learned a tremendous amount about the characteristics of an outstanding business school.  Each Dean candidate has provided us with unique perspectives on what it will require for our business school to achieve its strategic vision.

Based upon our face-to-face meetings with eleven different candidates and multiple discussions with colleagues in both the academic and business communities, I make the following observations:

  1. The collective intellectual capital of a business school’s faculty is, for better or worse, the defining factor of an outstanding business school.
  2. Our business school must aggressively recognize and reward scholarship and the development of intellectual capital as a foundation of its success. The currency of the academic marketplace is the development of intellectual capital.
  3. I believe faculty in our business school have a unique opportunity to broaden the traditional definition of ‘outstanding scholarship’ and to find ways to reward faculty for the development of intellectual capital that is highly relevant to members of the business community and that furthers the ideal of ‘service to others’.

In order to take our school to the ‘next level’, the immediate challenge for the new Dean will be to work with vested constituencies (with perhaps an emphasis on our alumni) to create a broad vision that bridges the gap between the research strengths of the faculty and the greater business community.  In my estimation, the entire business school community must build on this new vision to develop our resource base, to build and expand our academic programs, and to energize our classroom teaching (particularly at the graduate level).

The result of not aggressively emphasizing academic scholarship (i.e. not emphasizing the development of intellectual capital, research) is:

  • Inability to effectively attract and retain faculty talent (the marketplace says that the intellectual capital of a faculty member is what most directly determines their value). This will take place in a world with a looming shortage of business PhD’s.
  • MBA Program: forced to compete at the low end of the market. Why? Faculty will continue to be viewed by students merely as instructors (reactive presenters of others’ concepts) rather than being viewed as sages (proactive developers and presenters of original, peer-reviewed concepts).
  • Inability to grow PhD program and attract chaired professors. There is a direct correlation between ‘top flight’ faculty, their PhD students and the academic reputation of the university. This reputation is built largely on academic scholarship.

Please do not take this memo to suggest that teaching and ‘service to others’ should be relegated to a lower status than research. Rather outstanding classroom teaching and service should be the expectation for all faculty members at our university.

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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globalisation-of-rd-and-innovation-four-reports-150x92Our university just completed a search for the Dean of Research.    Following are the interview questions created by the search committee.   Based on my experiences in talking with each candidate is personal commentary associated with each question.   Note: at other universities this would be analogous to job interview questions for the Vice Chancellor of Research or job interview questions for the Vice Provost of Research.
1. Why are you interested in this position at our university and why at this point in your career?

Commentary:   A softball question, but surprisingly not many answer this well.   This is a chance to make a connection to the university through geography (i.e.  I grew up in a location near the university, or my spouse’s family is from the area) or through academic association (i.e.  I was on a review team that visited your campus, I am good friends with Professor X from your university, or  your university is known for X in my academic circles and this has always created a connection for me.)

2. What is your vision for the role and aspirations of research at our university?

Commentary: Here is your chance to demonstrate some knowledge of our university.   Is the university looking for someone to bring in big dollars for research?   Is the university looking for someone with NSF and NIH connections?    Are the aspirations of the university much broader than this?    Suggestion – take a look at the composition of the search committee.   What are their backgrounds?    If the committee is from a broad range of disciplines from across the campus this might suggest that the university is looking for someone who can represent research, scholarship and creative activities to a broad range of constituents.

3. How do you envision engaging the university community and its other stakeholders in developing a broadly accepted position on this vision?

Commentary:   Can you identify key stakeholders?   Can you give examples of how you have engaged stakeholders in previous positions?   Will you listen before ‘charging forward’?

4. How do you define diversity and what role does it play in scholarship at our university?

Commentary:  You should be ready for this one.   Anyone applying for a leadership position in academia should be prepared to answer a question along these lines.   Universally candidates provide a broad definition of diversity – a definition that includes diversity of thought and ideas.    Surprisingly, few can give concrete examples of how they have played a role in embracing diversity on their campuses.

5. What are three leadership competencies you possess?  Please provide an example of when you have used these to provide effective leadership during a difficult time.

Commentary: Wow!  It is clear that not many academic leaders have taken the time to think about their leadership.   Taking the time to reflect on one’s strengths and weaknesses as an academic leader is essential – particularly if we are looking to advance.

6. If people who are supportive of your work and those who are not as supportive of your work were randomly called, what would they be likely to say about your strengths and areas for improvement?

Commentary: See question 5.   This one is perhaps a bit harder to answer, but if you’re ready for it, you can knock the ball out of the park.

7. With the current financial challenges facing higher education and federal agencies, discuss how you can help build our resources to support research and scholarship.   Please provide examples of how these strategies have been effective in your current work.

Commentary: Now we are in the wheelhouse for most candidates for a Dean of Research position.   However, the examples that you provide should align with the university.    If you are interviewing for a position at an engineering-focused university, provide at least one engineering example, even if you are not an engineer.

8. Please provide an example of an ethical decision you have made in your professional life.

Commentary:   Best answer came from a candidate who said ‘All of the decisions that I make have an ethical dimension.’   Give an example of the process you use to reach an answer.   Do you consult others?   Do you consult ethical guidelines for the university?   For the profession?

9. What questions do you have for us?

Commentary:   Two of our candidates dropped out the running by not having questions for us.  Seriously?    Here is another opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the university, but seek additional knowledge.   For example, ‘I see from your strategic plan that your are increasing your scholarship in the biological sciences, how do you envision that impacting the Dean of Research?’   or ‘I see that this is a new position at your university, how do you envision this role effecting the different colleges of the university?’

I hope that you find the questions and commentary to be of interest.

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

p.s.  If you would like to learn from two unsuccessful VP for Research Candidates, please read the following post “Academic Job Search Campus Visit – Mistakes to Avoid”. 

 

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meet the candidatesBased on another visit, here are more faculty questions for the dean candidate:

  1. How can faculty get engaged in development efforts?
  2. How would you reward faculty research?
  3. How would you prioritize faculty scholarship?
  4. What is your management style?
  5. Would you be in favor of large class sizes?
  6. We face three issues related to accreditation: core learning objectives, our capstone learning experience and faculty qualifications.  How would you handle each of these issues?
  7. How would you deal with the ‘good old boy’ network on our campus?
  8. How would our centers and institutes enter into your strategic planning?

I particularly enjoyed the way in which our candidate reflected on these questions before answering and how our candidate typically told a story when answering.  Good job.

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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It appears that the Wake Forest University Schools of Business are emphasizing the importance of faculty who are teacher-scholars.  We consistently hear  how scholarship positively influences teaching, yet it is amazing how few university’s attempt to link the two.    Why are there so few attempts to link scholarship and teaching?  In my opinion it raises some issues that many faculty don’t like to discuss.  Is a peer-reviewed teaching case scholarship?  Is a well-received college textbook considered scholarship?  Are faculty members that lead undergraduate research projects contributing to their teaching?  Their scholarship?   Is a faculty member that focuses their research on theoretical topics not related to the curriculum performing ‘good’ scholarship?

WFU’s School of Businesses web site states:

Faculty members at Wake Forest’s Schools of Business are outstanding teacher-scholars dedicated to delivering a dynamic and rigorous business education. Many are veteran professionals, who have worked and conducted research internationally, so they can give you firsthand insight into their own business and management challenges in class.

Wake Forest professors are also contributing to the development of new business knowledge; they are active researchers who publish in leading scholarly journals. Many develop cases, textbooks and new research–cutting-edge information that they bring into the classroom.

Wake Forest’s scholar-teachers encourage an international outlook, innovation, teamwork and ethical behavior, pushing students to articulate and support their positions in writing and presentations.

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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ScholarshipQ: What is the role of academic research at our institution?

A: This is a question that I have spent the past 20 years giving careful consideration.

In my opinion, the answer begins with the mission & vision of the school. In our case:

The College of Business is committed to preparing students to be active and engaged citizens who are exceptionally well qualified leaders for success in a global competitive marketplace.

and

CoB faculty members believe that a balance between teaching and research is the most effective way to educate their students. Scholarly contributions complement classroom teaching by helping faculty members maintain currency in their discipline. Furthermore, students gain a deeper understanding of subject matter, a greater appreciation of a discipline’s body of knowledge, and added enthusiasm for learning when they are taught by active scholars.

As an administrator I believe that the first step is to develop a culture of scholarship and to actively promote this culture within the college, within the university and with external constituents. It is important to consistently articulate the relationship between scholarship and our stated mission of “preparing students”. As a starting pointing, faculty scholarship complements classroom teaching.

Some of the good things the college now does are:

  1. annual scholarship awards (practice, teaching, theory) done at the college level
  2. summer research grants where faculty are held accountable for results from previous awards
  3. research “colloquium” within some departments
  4. clear AQ standards with clear consequences for not meeting standards

Some things we can do better:

  1. clearly and consistently articulating the importance of scholarship – particularly as it relates to “preparing students” and to “being effective in the classroom”.
  2. increased resources for activities associated with good scholarship: travel to academic conferences, summer research grants, and sabbaticals.
  3. increased promotion of the outstanding scholarship – press releases, “expert” database with connection to reporters (local and national)
  4. college level support for interdepartmental scholarship – workshops (research methods & grants); support for undergraduate research; support for honors program w/senior thesis; faculty engagement with executive advisory council
  5. faculty led effort to examine promotion and tenure standards across departments.

Faculty scholarship is the “currency” of academia. I firmly believe that at an institution like ours, a culture of faculty scholarship is essential for us in order for us to successfully complete our mission. We need faculty members who are actively engaged in their academic community. These faculty members must be engaged in scholarship related to the issues our graduates face in the business world. Only through the activities associated with scholarship (reading, discussion, data collection, analysis, writing) will our faculty be on “top of their game” and be the type of faculty we want in our classrooms.

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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