Game Changers

AACSB’s 2012–2013 board chair Joseph DiAngelo emphasizes that, in an increasingly diverse market, the association must embrace innovation to help business schools worldwide reach the top of their games.
Game Changes

As a former baseball coach, I like to draw this analogy: Putting together a faculty is like putting together a baseball team. Baseball coaches can’t build great teams with 25 pitchers—they also need skilled players in the outfield, in the infield, and behind the plate. Likewise, dean can’t build strong business programs with professors who only conduct research or who only teach undergraduates. They also need faculty who are great at graduate-level instruction, student advising, corporate consulting, and community outreach.

Too often, deans think that everyone on their teams should be good at everything. The problem? Those individuals are incredibly rare. Instead, deans need to look for people with different core skill sets and meld them into a cohesive unit.

We can extend that analogy even further. Just as no single professor can be good at everything, neither can any single business school. No two business schools have the same priorities, combination of talents, cultural contexts, or approaches to education. It takes the contributions of many different business schools to serve the diverse range of students around the world.

That’s what I find so exciting about my upcoming year as the board chair for AACSB International: the potential we have to make a difference by combining our unique strengths. I’m especially passionate about what we can achieve in four areas of concern:

  • building the capacity of business schools in emerging economies.
  • producing more academically qualified faculty.
  • offering more development opportunities for new deans.
  • providing undergraduates with more opportunities to study the liberal arts.

Anyone who knows me knows I try to put a little fun into what we do as business educators. But I also believe that if we ignore these pend-ing issues, we put the quality of our graduates, and the value of busi-ness education, at risk. The good news is that AACSB members can work together to develop innovative approaches and create an environ-ment where the quality of business education keeps getting better.

Inventor and businessman Charles F. Kettering famously said, “The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.” That’s why, every decade, AACSB must step back and analyze the industry to see if its standards are achieving the results that we intend. The world is changing around us—and, like it or not, we have to change right along with it.

Getting Comfortable  With Diversity

As the industry continues to grow, AACSB is reaching schools in every corner of the world—its establishment of its Singapore office in 2009 for example, has allowed the organization to focus more strategically on business education in Asia. Now, the organization is expanding its role in emerging economies in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. As we do so, we’re encountering schools with very different struc-tures, academic philosophies, faculty skill sets, and resource capabilities.

It’s true that many of these schools are on paths of continuous improvement to offer programs of consistent quality. But should the fact that their approaches are different from those we traditionally see in the West automatically disqualify them from membership in the global community of business schools? I don’t think it should. There are many roads to quality, and as an association, we must be more open to evaluating and acknowledging different academic structures.

That was the conclusion of a special AACSB board commit-tee after its latest review of the association’s standards. Its members determined that, while our approaches are sound, they may no longer be enough to meet the world’s needs. That realization drove the association’s recent efforts to draft a second set of standards that would address the needs of business schools in emerging economies. Its objective was not to create a standard that was considered equal to full accredita-tion, but to recognize these schools for satisfying their unique missions and offer them a benchmark on their way to full accreditation.

But over the last year, members have expressed skepticism about expanding AACSB’s offerings to include a second designation. Many saw it as “accreditation lite” and feared it would dilute AACSB’s rigorous standards. While the organization continues to debate the viability of a secondary des-ignation, we’ve looked for other ways to help schools in emerging economies embrace continuous improvement and acknowledge their unique missions.

AACSB recently announced its Emerging Economies Initiative, which focuses on advancing management education in markets such as Latin America, the Middle East, and Central and Eastern Europe. Through the initiative, the asso-ciation will support these schools through a mentoring program, in which accredited schools will guide other schools interested in pursuing accreditation. The association already has organized an event in Abu Dhabi for schools in the region interested in accreditation and AACSB member services. In the future, AACSB also plans to develop seminars on capacity building through its Singapore office. Thes seminars will be tailored to schools in emerging markets such as Indonesia, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

As part of the initiative, AACSB also has established its Latin American and Caribbean Advisory Council, chaired by Fernando D’Alessio, director general of CENTRUM Católica in Peru. The council will guide AACSB’s development strategies for schools throughout that continent.

What happens if we don’t have enough deans with the experience they need to run our business schools well?

Not every school that benefit from this initiative will earn AACSB accreditation. But those that par-ticipate in these activities won’t just better train their faculty and improve their offerings. They’ll also create new job opportunities, strengthen existing industries, and build new industries in their regions.

The Tale of the Vanishing Dean

Like any organization, a business school needs strong leadership. But what happens if we don’t have enough deans with the experi-ence they need to run our business schools well?

If current trends continue, we’ll find out very soon. According to  recent AACSB survey, the average time that sitting deans have been in their positions is only just more than four years. The average term for a dean is only a little more than six. That rate of burnout shows just how difficult the deans job is. That constant churn in the dean’s position endangers the school’s stability and keeps a school in constant “start-up” mode. Four years is not enough time to build well-honed, viable academic programs. Even six years is not enough time to establish a long-term vision, put a plan in place, and see it through to the end.

This situation presents a challenge to AACSB, because it results in a vacuum of experienced deans that the organization can call on as members of peer review teams, committees, and task forces, or as thought leaders who can help insure the stability of our enterprise. When you look at those who are serving on AACSB’s multiple task forces, someone like me, with 25 years’ experience as a dean, is a rarity. But forget that kind of longevity—the real problem is that there aren’t many people who’ve been deans for eight or nine years, let alone 20 or 25.

That’s why we need to spend more time on dean development, whether through more workshops for high-potential educators, mentoring programs, or invitations to serve with the organization. I believe that we must address this problem because a high rate of dean turnover isn’t good for AACSB, and it’s not good for business education.

Doctorates, Where Art Thou?

I know you’ve probably heard the news: We’re running short of academically qualified (AQ) facult, an issue that could have implications for the association for decades to come. Highly ranked schools may be able to hire AQ faculty with relative ease, but the market as a whole is facing a shortage, especially as our baby-boomer faculty continue to retire.

More business schools from emerging markets are entering the AACSB accreditation process—66 in just the last two and a half years. Of these, 46 were from Asia; nine from the Middle East; eight from Latin America, the Caribbean, and South America; two from Eastern Europe; and one from Africa. As more schools seek accreditation, they’re likely to find a dearth of A faculty—or, worse, available faculty they can’t afford to hire.

And, yet, we often make it as difficult as we can for qualified people to pursue their doctorates. In the U.S., we still hold on to the traditional doctoral format that requires candidates to leave their jobs and lives behind to enter full-time programs, where they must teach two courses of several hundred students each while they simultaneously work on research with faculty advisors. That process takes four to six years to finish! It’s what I call the “doctoral slave” model.

There are many experienced clinical faculty who would love to earn their doctorates. At the Haub School at Saint Joseph’s University, we have 84 full-time faculty, of whom 14 are professionally qualified(PQ). Of those 14, 12 would love to enter a doctoral program and earn their PhDs. But they have families and other responsibilities. They can’t afford to give up four or more years of their lives to that cause. But who would we rather have teaching business—someone with years of real-world business experience who made the effort to become academically qualified? Ora 28-year-old PhD with no real-world business experience who wants $150,000 a year?

The question is, why should our PQ faculty have to make that kind of sacrifice? I might not be a dean today if I’d had to make the same choice. Back in 1978, I had been a clinical faculty member at Saint Joseph’s for a while when someone suggested that I come back and earn my doctorate. I was able to attend part-time, while I was still teaching and coaching baseball. Where are all the part-time doctoral programs today? There aren’t any left.

Just imagine—a world where I wasn’t a business school dean, all for lack of a part-time doctoral program! Terrifying to think about, isn’t it?

All kidding aside, we need alter-native roads to the doctorate. This was the conclusion of AACSB’s Committee on Issues in Management Education (CIME), which I chaired last year. AACSB International already offers the Post-Doctoral Bridge Program, which provides a route for doctoral faculty from nonbusiness disciplines to become academically qualified t teach in disciplines such as accounting, management, supply chain management, and entrepreneurship. In addition, there are models out-side the United States that do not require so much personal sacrific on the part of doctoral candidates.

Saint Joseph’s University is among a group of Jesuit schools exploring the idea of designing a collaborative doctoral program. When we discuss the possibility, often the first question out of a dean’s mouth is, “Will this jeopardize our accreditation?” It’s an understandable question, but schools should not refrain from trying new models just because they’re afraid it will jeopardize their accreditation! Instead, we should examine new models that will complement the spirit of innovation that drives accreditation. There are schools around the world that use mentor and consortium models for doctoral pro-grams, with no decrease in effectiveness or quality.

The fact is, doctoral education doesn’t need to be full-time, and we need to be open to different models. AACSB’s Business Doctoral Education Task Force, headed by Robert Sumichrast, has a great responsibility on its shoulders, as it works to support innovation and shape the future of doctoral education. I’m hopeful that its members will be able to recommend a number of creative alternatives to our traditional delivery modes that ultimately will generate the faculty that our students need.

Do We Want Businocrats?  Or Informed Leaders?

At one time, AACSB’s standards required that half of the courses in the undergraduate business curriculum be outside the business disciplines. Years ago, we removed that standard. Today, we’re talking once again about integrating more of the liberal arts into our business programs, as external pressures push our programs toward more vocational education. In my opinion, this effort can’t happen soon enough. I staunchly believe that liberal learning is an integral part of a well-rounded undergraduate business program.

Members of CIME agree that, as a leader in management education, AACSB should engage in heavy external communication to reframe the dialogue about undergraduate business education. We must not lose our focus on the liberal arts—critical thinking, political science, technology, history, and oral and written communication are just as important for our future leaders as the business disciplines.

After all, how much finance or management can we really teach a 21-year-old? We certainly must give our undergraduates a foundation in the core disciplines, but we have to send them out in the world to really get their hands dirty.

At the Haub School, half of our undergraduate curriculum—60 cred-its or more—is devoted to liberal arts subjects such as philosophy, his-tory, and science. Of the 40 courses our students take to graduate, only 16 are required business courses. Employers value the fact that our graduates have a broader view of the world, can think on their feet, write effectively, and understand the nuances of complex topics.

At business schools, our job is not to produce well-oiled “businocrats” who see the world in black-and-white, through the prism of business principles alone. Rather, we should graduate well-rounded professionals who know the world and its contexts, as well as the basic business disciplines.

Practice What We Preach

AACSB’s recent initiatives are an acknowledgement that, to meet the challenges of the increasingly dynamic global environment, its members must practice what they preach when it comes to continuous improvement. We must make the necessary changes to ensure that the association maintains its relevance and supports quality business programs worldwide. As I’ve indicated, that may mean designing more flexible PhD formats, embracing more liberal undergraduate curricula, and creating more paths to achievement for schools in developing nations.

In other words, it may mean something too many of us fear: change. But let’s face it. We need more passion for change in our industry—not change for change’s sake, but change that truly reflectsthe direction of the global market.

When I become too set in my ways, a senior faculty member at my institution likes to remind me of this crucial point: “Academics like to change the world—just not their world.” As we forge ahead, we need to be mindful that we must change our world if we want to change the world. It’s the right thing to do, and the right time to do it!

The fear of change is our biggest threat.

A Coach for All Seasons

For many, September is the height of the American baseball season, a time when Joseph DiAngelo feels right at home. At the Erivan K. Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, DiAngelo isn’t just the dean—he’s a coach and guide to his faculty and students.

These are roles that he has taken on throughout his career. In 1988, he moved from an associate provost position to the dean’s chair at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania, and remained in that position until August 2000. There, he led the school from its initial stages of candidacy through to full AACSB accreditation. This challenge allowed DiAngelo to immerse himself in the new set of standards that AACSB enacted in 1991 and begin his long-term relationship with the association.

DiAngelo views his time at Widener as one of his greatest accomplishments. “We started the process with little funding and little understanding of how to proceed. But we had a dedicated faculty and staff who were focused on attaining accreditation,” he says.

“ Going through the process of accreditation doesn’t just help make your school better—it makes you a better dean because it forces you to look at bench-marks of quality for faculty, curriculum assessment, and strategic planning. It provides metrics to gauge your progress,” says DiAngelo. “I feel that going through that process was the best training I could have had as a new dean.”

He also views his service on a number of AACSB committees as critical to his development as a dean. He began his service to the organization in 1997 as a member of the business accreditation committee. Since then, he has been a member of the association’s accreditation visitation task force and an accreditation reviewer. He has served as chair of the candidacy and accreditation quality committees, as well as on the board of directors as secretary treasurer.

When DiAngelo came to Saint Joseph’s University in the fall of 2000, the Haub School had just achieved its AACSB accreditation the year before, and DiAngelo was charged with leading the school through a different stage of its growth. Under his leadership, the Haub School has added 30 additional faculty, eight new undergraduate majors, and eight new graduate programs. Its enrollment has increased from 1,300 full-time undergraduate students and 600 graduate students to more than 2,400 and 1,200, respectively.

He is especially proud that the school’s Pedro Arrupe Center for Business Ethics was formed under his tenure. Seven years ago, an alumnus asked school administrators how he could help students understand the ethical challenges they would face in the business world—to explore the nuances of “right” and “wrong.” From those early conversations came the Arrupe Center.

The center organizes conferences and competitions on ethics and assists student clubs in exploring issues related to ethics and sustainability. The center subsidizes a six-week summer program for faculty to share their ideas on integrating ethics into their classes. It also has given grants to more than 65 faculty members to conduct research, write case studies, or develop course revisions that include a strong ethical component. Before receiving a grant, all faculty members must participate in a three-week seminar exploring the constructs of ethical decision making.

Joe DiAngelo at a 2009 graduation ceremony. Behind him stand Jamie Moyer, pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team, and Moyer’s wife (left). The Haub School bestowed honorary degrees on them both in honor of their philanthropic work.

“The Arrupe Center has helped us create an environment where we raise awareness of ethical behaviors both inside and outside the classroom,” says DiAngelo. “We aren’t so naïve as to think we can ‘make someone ethical.’ But we can expose students to ethical challenges and encourage them to discuss those challenges openly. We want them to see that there is an ethical dimension to their actions beyond the legal definition and interpretation of the law.”

DiAngelo credits his achievements to the strong teams he has worked on over the 25 years he has been a dean. “I am blessed to work with several of my former students on our team at Saint Joseph’s. It gives me great pride to serve as a mentor and help them become successful administrators,” says DiAngelo. “I guess the coach in you never goes away.”

DiAngelo still has two big goals on his to-do list. He hopes to one day become a university president—and to pitch in the Philadelphia Phillies baseball stadium. Although the second one would be a dream come true for this former athlete, it’s the first one that would take his coaching prowess to a whole new level. It would also be the culmination of a long career dedicated to education.


Joseph DiAngelo is dean of the Erivan K. Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He will chair the AACSB International’s Board of Directors for the 2012–2013 academic year.