Dean's Discourse


The Business School

Borrowing from gospel artist Yolanda Adams, these are the words I sang to the graduates during the 153rd Commencement Exercises at WPI. It was part of the playful Dean rivalry where each Dean tries to outdo the other in their remarks to their graduates and we have a great deal of fun spurring each other on. Yet, there is something incredibly personal for me as I address the graduates and their families. The Business School represents only five percent of the WPI student body. The Business School students are not always revered. Our discipline is not often recognized as rigorous, especially in comparison to engineering or the sciences. But as a two-time WPI alum with both a management and engineering degree, I recognize how truly rigorous business can be.

Were the calculations in engineering controls or advanced mathematics difficult? Yes. But given a formula, doing calculations becomes a technical challenge as Ronald Heifetz would say. Technical challenges can be difficult, but with know-how, they can be solved. Adaptive challenges are those for which there are no easy answers. So much of what we deal with in business pertains to such adaptive challenges. How do we capture an audience and create compelling messaging that will move them to value our products over those of the competition? How do we motivate and galvanize a team so that they can be productive? How do we take what might be failing or in decline and revive it to give new life and possibility? These are business challenges and while there are theoretical learnings that can be applied, adaptation requires innovation and that is what business students learn.

We have something special in The Business School. Our students are amazing. They are the leaders who have been given wings to fly by faculty who are scholars and practitioners and staff who care. Congratulations to the Class of 2022. Our students have earned Masters degrees in Business Administration, Business Analytics, Information Technology, Innovation with User Experience, and Operations and Supply Chain Analytics. They have earned Bachelors degrees in Business, Management Engineering, Management Information Systems and Industrial Engineering. Whatever degree earned; we are incredibly proud. “Wherever you go, you will rise.”

Rev. Debora Jackson