In early 2007, I visited Belmont’s campus to interview for what was described as a newly-created leadership position—associate dean of The Jack C. Massey Graduate School of Business. The fact that it was something new was intriguing in and of itself, but what I observed here as I met with the faculty, staff, and other members of the Massey community, was nothing short of inspirational. There were already so many good things that were a part of this program, and I felt that with the alumni network already in place, the reputation for quality that the School enjoyed within the regional business community, and the commitment of the already talented faculty, a lot of “good things” could be accomplished over the next few years if managed properly. I was hooked. Dean Raines asked that I provide leadership in continuing to build a nationally-known graduate business school and to use the skills I had honed as dean at my previous institution where we had become the first-ever business school to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. I believed in the Baldrige recipe for driving performance excellence and believed The Massey School was well-positioned for its own good to great journey.
My family and I moved to Nashville that June, and it was time to go to work. I only knew one recipe for business success, and it was based on proven principles of performance excellence where leadership, strategic planning, and a customer focus are combined into a system that ultimately leads to top-end results. Within The Massey School, the performance areas deemed most important to our internal and external stakeholders, including students and alumni, were: (1) growing enrollments, (2) high student satisfaction, (3) national reputation, and (4) relevant programming, and (5) demonstrated learning.
Well, as of this week, that’s now been exactly 10 years. And after a lot of contributions from so many of you, it’s time to reflect on how we’ve done.
- Over the last 10 years, we have graduated over 1,100 MBAs and MACCs that collectively account for almost 50% of the total Massey alumni population since the school was created in 1986;
- We achieved a record new student enrollment in 2016 for the combined summer/fall cycle with 121 new graduate business students; and
- We were able to reduce annual term-over-term student attrition (i.e., the number of students who began the program but were not finishing) by 56%.
- We have improved part-time MBA graduating student satisfaction to a rank of #1 in the U.S. for the most recent year. I never have to worry about connecting a prospective student to one of our past graduates. Our alumni are our best ambassadors and living evidence of what we teach.
- We achieved nationally-ranked status in each Bloomberg BusinessWeek part-time MBA rankings project since 2009—finishing at #28 in the U.S. in the most recent rankings, right between the University of Florida and the University of Maryland.
- We’ve now been included in the Princeton Review Best Business Schools list for 11 straight years; and
- We reached our first-ever national ranking for the Masters of Accountancy program at #60 in The Financial Engineer for 2015.
- Launched Belmont’s first-ever full-time MBA program, the Accelerated MBA, which recently enrolled its eighth cohort of 28 students and is already full for 2017-18;
- Launched an innovative part-time Healthcare MBA program, which just enrolled its fifth cohort of 13 students;
- Designed and launched an innovative fast-track MBA prerequisite prep program, the Summer Business Institute, which recently began its fifth cohort of 26 students;
- Developed and launched creative inter-professional joint programming, including the PharmD/MBA, DNP/MBA, and JD/MBA programs with campus colleagues;
- Created and launched new MBA concentrations in business negotiation and mediation, entrepreneurship, international business, marketing and business intelligence;
- Rolled out three new industry certification programs for graduate business students, including Rule 31 Mediation, Lean Healthcare Management, and a first-of-its-kind Six Sigma Green Belt and Black Belt program; and
- Expanded a set of international study-abroad programming that now includes six or more distinct trip programs annually across four continents.
- Built an assurance of learning system for the assessment of MBA instructional effectiveness that has produced national role-model results. Our MBA performance on the ETS Major Field Test improved from the 70th percentile in the U.S. when we first began tracking things in 2007-08 to the 93rd percentile for last year (2015-16). Put another way, our graduates are now performing routinely in the top 10% in the U.S.
And so, it is time—time for new leadership. I know that those of you who have been in your careers for many years will better understand my rationale than those of you are on the front end of your work lives, but after 24 straight years of serving as a business dean, I am ready to try something new again. And in this case, that something new will be spent doing what initially drew me to higher education (and Belmont) in the first place. This university is graciously allowing me to spend this fall semester on a sabbatical leave, focusing on some scholarly research I have already begun. Just as importantly, I will also be preparing for life as a full-time faculty member, effective January 2018—when I will be teaching courses in marketing management and consumer behavior at the graduate and undergraduate levels.
The Massey Graduate School of Business is in a good place and will be in good hands, regardless of who is ultimately selected to replace me on the leadership team. I feel very good about the progress we have made over this past decade and am just as excited about what can be accomplished over the next several years as we continue to move forward.
I’ve been fortunate to serve as your associate dean, but even more than that, I am blessed to now be able to count so many of you as personal friends and colleagues based on my time here. Let’s keep this train moving forward!