Washburn Shops, 207
McRae C. Banks
I joined WPI in 1995 as professor and head of the Department of Management, predecessor to the School of Business. Along with my team of faculty, staff, and students, I led the department through a string of accomplishments from 1995 to 2010 as it transitioned from a teaching focus to a strong research and teaching balance, from unaccredited to AACSB- and ABET-accredited, and from unranked to being the #1 part-time MBA program in the U.S. (BusinessWeek, 2009-2011). Other important accomplishments include retaining the importance of high-quality teaching, increasing enrollments and starting salaries of students, making the undergraduate and graduate curricula more relevant, launching innovative domestic and global programs and partnerships, securing numerous transformative gifts, and building strong advisory boards. What I am most proud of, however, is the collegial and collaborative culture achieved that makes the School of Business an exciting place to work or study.
There are many things about my job now that keep me excited. I’m convinced that despite all its accomplishments to date, the School of Business has only begun to scratch the surface of its potential. I derive tremendous joy from that moment when the light bulbs light the minds of my students because they are excited that they made a deeper connection to the material or their project (i.e., they “get it”). And I relish the contacts I have with the business community—locally, nationally, and globally—as they serve as guest speakers or project sponsors, or as they seek help with their own entrepreneurial endeavors or strategic problems.
I’ve told many stories over the years about why students have selected to study in the School of Business at WPI, or why WPI is so well positioned to be successful as an institution and for its students. Here’s a favorite:
The mother of a prospective student spoke up following an open house presentation to high school students and their parents. She walked to the front of the room, pulling her mortified daughter along, and apologized for dominating the Q&A session, but went on to say that her two older sons studied engineering at another university, but had both returned to school to earn MBAs. When she asked why, they both responded that within a few years they had moved from their engineering jobs into management, but they didn't know anything about it. Then she introduced her daughter and said, "We want our baby to get the best of both engineering and business, and your management engineering major is perfect." The daughter enrolled at WPI as an MGE major, did well in her studies, and got a great job with a premium salary when she graduated. Today, WPI remains the leader in educating students to understand both the technical domain and the business domain, and how to blend the two.
- Multiple opportunity analysis by entrepreneurs
- How to educate scientists and engineers to be innovators and entrepreneurs
- Leading edge models for business education
- Entrepreneurship as economic development
- BA Virginia Tech, 1972
- MA Northwestern University, 1973
- PhD Virginia Tech, 1987
- President of the Society for Advancement of Management, 1993-1994.
- Chair, Entrepreneurship Division, Academy of Management, 1997-1998.
- Chair, Entrepreneurship Division, American Society for Engineering Education, 2008-2009.
- Founder, WPI Collaborative for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, 1999; Director, 1999-2009.
- Recipient of the first WPI Venture Forum Leadership Award, 2010.
- Emeritus Board Member (and Life Member), WPI Venture Forum.
- Life Member, The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.
- Life Member, Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society.
- Recipient of the Outstanding Service Award, College of Business & Industry, Mississippi State University, 1992, 1994.
- Elected Fellow of the Society for Advancement of Management, 1994.
- Inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame, 1991.
- Recipient of the William Jerome Arnold Meritorious Paper Award from the Managerial Consultation Division of the Academy of Management and the Association of Management Consulting Firms, 1991.
- Elected Gold Member, Society for Advancement of Management Service Award Honor Society, 1990; Silver Member, 1988.
- Recipient of The President's Award of Merit from the Society for Advancement of Management, 1989.