It is now almost six months into my term as dean, a natural point for reflection on this most exciting period.
I wasn’t looking for a job when the search firm hired by Tulane contacted me last fall about the possibility of becoming dean, but as I researched the position and learned more about Tulane and the Freeman School, I began to realize that this wasn’t just another job. It was a very special, even unique opportunity, a chance to work with an outstanding group of people in an extraordinary city to help transform a very good business school into a truly great one. It was, as they say, an offer I couldn’t refuse.
Since my arrival on campus, I have been meeting with faculty and the Business School Council to develop in collaboration a new strategic plan for the school, one that leverages our existing strengths while addressing the rapidly evolving landscape of management education. While this plan will comprise initiatives spanning virtually every facet of the school, our ultimate goal can be summed up rather simply: to make Freeman a “school of choice.”
By school of choice, we mean a school students choose to attend not because they can’t get into their first choice but because we offer one of the nation’s very best programs in their particular area of interest. As dean, my challenge will be to work closely with our faculty to pick those areas where we have a legitimate chance to become a nationally or even globally recognized center of excellence. That process is already underway in the form of several task forces and committees, and I look forward to sharing our findings with you in the coming months.
While developing a comprehensive strategic plan is our long-term goal, a more immediate need had to be addressed. The Freeman School lost a number of tenured and tenure-track faculty members following Hurricane Katrina, but now, with enrollments surpassing pre-Katrina levels across our programs, it’s essential for us to grow the faculty. I am pleased to report that President Scott Cowen recently approved our plan to hire 15 additional tenured and tenure-track faculty members over the next two years. In addition to expanding the size of our faculty by almost 40 percent, these new faculty members will provide a tremendous infusion of intellectual capital with the potential to shape the business school for many years to come. This is truly exciting news for the entire Freeman community.
In the almost six months I’ve served as dean, one of the activities I’ve enjoyed most is meeting alumni. In all my years in academia, I’ve never seen an alumni population with such strong ties to an institution. It’s one of the things that attracted me to Tulane, and it’s one of the greatest assets that a business school can have. So, in closing, I’d like to offer my sincerest thanks to you, our friends and alumni, for your continued support and encouragement. If I have not already done so, I look forward to meeting you at a future Freeman School event, and I look forward to working with you to make Freeman a school of choice.