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Dean’s Networking Session

On November 4th, Dan LeClair, CEO of the Global Business School Network (GBSN), Soumitra Dutta, GBSN Chairman and former Founding Dean of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, and Sangeet Chowfla, President and CEO of the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a sponsor of GBSN Beyond, hosted a deans’ networking session to discuss the global impact of both the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential of a new US presidential administration. 

Opening up the discussion and reflecting on the previous day’s historic US  election, a poll was posed to the group: Will Joe Biden be the next President of the United States? and if so, what are the possible implications?  The majority voted a Biden victory was likely.

Many hopeful insights were revealed during  the ensuing discussion including: 

  • Positive implications on current policy
  • The United States’ increased integration within the United Nations
  • Solidification in understanding the impact of higher education on the success of the economy
  • Hope in the change of narrative around concerns of racism and safety
  • Some cautioned, regardless of the outcome, Trump would continue to be a source of polarization resulting in a continuation of blurred lines between fact and opinion.

With recognition of hope and caution over the events of the past year, the conversation switched gears to some of the key lessons learned over the previous eight months.  A common example discussed was the number of students who would have gone abroad have decided to stay local to continue their education, which has increased students across their business schools.  Looking north, Dean of Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business, Sanjay Gupta, found that faculty as well as students in leadership roles have stepped up to ensure a strong experience through the transition to online learning.  Across  the Atlantic in Malaysia, Leila Triki, Dean of the MSB Mediterranean School of Business, highlighted how the flexibility of online teaching has benefitted students drastically, and collaborative sharing has been made easier through this online learning model.

While benefits and opportunities varied from country to country, the majority of deans agreed on multiple challenges the pandemic has presented, which include:

  • The assessment and evaluation of the success of hybrid and online learning models 
  • Technological capabilities that ease transition to a digitized way of learning
  • Some students from lower income strata do not want to turn their video cameras on for better online engagement for fear of their backgrounds being judged by others.
  • Hybrid learning has been the most difficult to implement successfully
  • Quality of education schools are able to provide online 
  • Continued investment of new buildings and programs – should priorities shift?
  • Students want online education for the flexibility, but in-person social events 
  • Staying relevant through teaching modalities and technology integration

To close the session, Dutta questioned  what type of directional shift was necessary in order to successfully move forward.  Sean Ferguson, Associate Dean of Asia School of Business, noted  the imperative nature of increasing coherence and focus in digital strategy and deliverance, as well as driving emphasis on globalization and building out replacement strategy when international study is not available.  Hanken School of Economics’ Rector Karen Spens mentioned the importance of continuing to enhance research opportunities for both short and long term projects.  

While these discussions are imperative to have now, more than ever, it is equally as important to drive action behind conversation.  GBSN is committed to continuing dialogue and collaboration,two key elements to successfully impacting our world through management and entrepreneurship education