Dean's Discourse - September 2023
Department(s):The Business School
The Dean’s Discourse
In the May 2023 Dean’s Discourse, I quoted the Dr. Seuss book, Oh, the places you’ll go in reference to our students who would travel the world post-graduation. But I could have quoted the book in reference to my summer. June, for me, was a month of travel.
I started in San Jose, California at the Women in Business Education conference. What a joy to be connected with colleagues who are blazing trails as senior leaders at some of the top colleges and universities in the country.
Then, by way of a short detour to Tokyo to visit my airman niece, I traveled to Seoul where I had the privilege of serving on the AACSB Peer Review Team for Chung-Ang University as they underwent re-accreditation. The review process is tightly scripted and intense, but it was interesting and informative to understand the priorities of another business school, meet their faculty, students, and staff, and hear of their accomplishments. A proverb says that iron sharpens iron and that was the experience I had in Korea. While I reviewed Chung-Ang University’s programs, I was considering how we might improve what we do. Although the schedule was packed, our hosts also ensured that the review team had the opportunity to experience the rich Korean culture. I will not soon forget dining on the 108th floor of the Lotte World Tower. Neither will I forget an evening with WPI alumni in Seoul. What a privilege to meet Ken Choi, Wayne Lee, Ashton Kim, Won Kook Kim, Dongsuk Kim, and current student Chris Lee! It was a first gathering but promises not to be the last.
From Seoul, I traveled to Mumbai, a trip made more enjoyable with co-traveling colleagues Assistant Dean Dr. Sandhya Balasubramanian, recruitment specialist Deepika Phukan, and recruitment partner Banit Sawhney. We immediately set out for Pune where we visited our partners at FLAME University. A highlight was meeting with WPI alumnus Krutarth Shah. But we also met with Vice Chancelor Dishan Kamdar, Dean Dinesh Shenoy, and many members of their faculty and staff, where we discussed opportunities for further collaboration beyond the FinTech Lab that our institutions partnered to launch. We look forward to faculty and student exchanges, and joint research opportunities. While in Pune, we also met with Dr. Ramakrishnan Raman and Dr. Anita Patankar of Symbiosis International University. We again discussed opportunities for collaboration between our universities and the potential that we could achieve together. The hospitality was amazing, and we walked away nearly overwhelmed with the many possibilities for collaborative exchange.
On our way back to Mumbai, we stopped in Navi Mumbai to visit Jio Institute and Provost Dr. Guruswami Ravichandran. This new university is getting started with a focus on AI, Machine Learning, and Digital Marketing. Clearly, our areas of expertise align, and we found ourselves considering another possible collaboration. We stopped at the home of alumnus Nirmal Thakkar to enjoy his hospitality and meet with members of Plastindia and Reliance Industries Limited. It was lovely to hear of Nirmal’s experiences as he studied at WPI in the 1960s. Once in Mumbai, we visited Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) where Director Meena Saxena talked about how our universities could offer joint degree programs at both graduate and undergraduate levels. And because we could, we visited one more university: Somaiya Vidyavihar University where we met with Dr. Satyendra Upadhyay and Dr. Raman Ramachandran. Here we were so excited by the potential of collaboration in entrepreneurship. In all we visited five universities: one partner and four new potential partners. What a testament to our value proposition that all who spoke with us were open to partnerships.
My travels to India would not have been complete without an opportunity to meet prospective students and potential corporate partners. We hosted an accepted students’ reception in Mumbai and had an opportunity to greet 25 students preparing to travel to WPI for the fall. And thanks to alumnus Hemant Ajbani, I had the opportunity to meet entrepreneur Raj Orke and consultant Sanjay Chougule while in Mumbai. The connections abounded.
After a quick stop home in Massachusetts, I traveled to San Juan for a conference that also afforded the opportunity to meet alumnus Tracy Coifman and WPI parents Adrian and Jessica Bazzini. I could not help but reflect with pride that everywhere I went I was able to celebrate WPI whether it was with alumni, prospective students, or parents. Our reach is global and that is tremendous.
Now that the school year has started, we are bringing these opportunities to full potential. We are in the process of signing memorandum of understanding agreements with each of the university partners with whom we met. We are developing agreements with the corporate partners we met for collaborative efforts. Given successful recruiting efforts especially in India, we welcomed the largest class of new graduate students that we have had in five years. And we are remaining connected to the alumni that we met so that we continue to fan the flames of affinity for our beloved WPI. We’re off to a great start for a successful academic year and the success for me was aided by the places that I went.
Dean Debora Jackson