Letter from the Dean
Dear friends and Saluki family,
I have begun my second year as dean of the College of Business at SIU. In many ways, it’s been a tough year. I affectionately refer to our Illinois budget crisis as the “tunnel,” and to our approach to dealing with the losses and setbacks we have endured as the “Duct tape and bailing wire” strategy! However, we are coming out of the tunnel! Campus leadership has stabilized, and resources look likely to improve. The sun is starting to come out! The energy level in Carbondale is palpably on the rise.
Yet, while in the “tunnel,” we certainly weren’t hunkered down and cowering. In this brief note, I’d like to tell you about a few of the forward-looking initiatives we’ve been working on.
First, we reinvented the Pontikes Center, turning it from 1980s-style “Information Management” focus, to a 21st century Analytics focus. Reflecting this, the center has been officially renamed the Pontikes Center for Advanced Analytics and Artificial Intelligence. With Professor Jim Nelson at the helm, the Center has begun assembling a world-class advisory board, including the top analytics people from Nike (Al Perez), Edward Jones (Andy Greenberg) and Presence Health (Ian Stewart). We hope to have the inaugural board fully in place by the end of October. The first of its kind on campus, the center makes it possible for our college to pioneer cross-campus alliances, corporate partnerships and innovative curriculum development to prepare our students to compete in the job market against graduates from any university. Hand-in-hand with this analytics initiative, we will soon begin planning on a logistics/supply chain initiative (of which, more to come). We have begun a college-wide pivot into the 21st century!
The “butcher’s bill” paid by the college while in the tunnel has seen permanent budget cuts, losses of faculty lines (retirements and resignations), and a promise to reduce administrative costs through a college-wide reorganization. During normal times, such losses would be an unmitigated disaster. However, we see it as a unique, once in a lifetime opportunity. Our faculty vacancies make it possible for us to achieve a clean-sweep analytics, logistics/supply chain pivot more effectively than what could ever have been possible had no one left. Once our faculty lines begin to return to us, we will be able to go to market to hire faculty specifically trained to help us achieve that pivot.
We are also ramping up on career preparation opportunities for our students. Our third Etiquette Dinner is scheduled for October. We use this event to help build professional confidence in our students as they pursue their career dreams. This event is sponsored by our alumni, many of whom remember their own halting steps into confident professionalism. You know who you are! We can’t thank you enough. Because of this event, our students can interview and enter internships with more conviction and confidence.
In the past, we took students on career trips to St. Louis. Thanks to the generous gift of an alum, we are planning our first ever student career trip to Chicago! Career trips help bring students face-to-face with the realities of corporate life. They get to meet decision makers and recruiters and gain a far better understanding of what professional life looks like, from the most helpful side—the inside.
A few years ago, I started SIU’s own internal advertising agency, Barking Dawg Productions, in an effort to tell our university’s wonderful story in a variety of compelling ways. In that endeavor, I employed a crew of wonderfully creative cinematographers, sound designers, after-affects specialists, as well as project managers from our own college. I am in the early stages of reproducing that effort specifically for the College of Business. We live in a dazzling media-rich world, and I want to find compelling and resonant ways to tell our college’s story to a variety of audiences. Watch this space for updates on this project!
I am a Saluki, and I am the first dean of the College of Business at SIU to be able to say that. My pride in my roots is deepened every day I walk into Rehn Hall. So, whether you are thinking about our College of Business as your future home, or, you are one of my fellow alumni, let me invite you to come to visit us. If you can’t visit us on campus, join us on social media. We want to talk to you and learn what SIU means to you.
Thank you for your continued support and interest in the College of Business.