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Mudd Monthly: September ’23

by Örn Bodvarsson, September 1, 2023

Dear Members of the Atkinson Community,

Welcome back to a new school year, Atkinson’s 50th anniversary year! The last time I wrote to you in this publication, we were still in the quietude of Summer but starting to see the lights of the new school year ahead. I, along with my wife Mary, was on our way to Iceland, my homeland, to host the Willamette alumni tour and many of you were enjoying time away for recharging, scholarship, professional development, or vacations. Academic Year 2023-24 is now here and the campus is abuzz again. It’s especially nice to see all the new undergraduate and graduate Bearcats exploring campus and settling in.

One of the joys I experience every Fall is welcoming our new and returning students and our new and returning faculty and staff members. A special welcome to our new faculty colleagues Anusha Ramesh, Jane Machin, Pritha Dutta, and Foong Soon Cheong, who have come from places far and wide to join the Atkinson family. And, welcome to our new staff team partners Katrina Garcia, Anne Lapour, and Dave Hanna, who will help out in career development services (Katrina and Anne) and fundraising (Dave).

On August 21, we kicked off Compass Week, the annual orientation for our new full-time MBA students, and I had the pleasure of welcoming 48 of them that morning. The campus’s New Student Convocation was held on August 23 on the spacious lawn in front of Waller Hall. Looking out into the audience of our new undergraduate Bearcats I thought about how nice it will be to soon welcome some of them into our BS for Business Administration (BSBA) program. That program is one of the most inquired-about programs by prospective new Bearcats and their families. We have a group of new students matriculating in the program this Fall and we will graduate our first crop of undergraduates next May! Orientation for our new MBA for Professionals students was held on August 26, where I had the pleasure of welcoming 28 new students to our Fall cohorts – 11 in Portland and 17 in Salem. All four groups of new students are very impressive. On August 25, we had our annual Fall Semester reception to welcome all our students and employees back.

On August 25 our school held its Fall Semester retreat at Chemeketa Eola. The morning program was devoted to discussing plans for starting up our work to secure AACSB re-accreditation in mid-2025 and implementation of our 2023-27 strategic plan. The afternoon session featured visits by our new campus CIO Jeremy Lovato, Interim Executive Director for Career Initiatives Anne Lapour, and Dean of Graduate Studies Leah Straley, who led discussions about the futures of technology, career advising and development services, and recruiting and admissions work, respectively, in Atkinson. Some of these services have been centralized and it was very valuable to hear from Anne and Leah on how the centralized work in their offices is going and what to expect for Atkinson students in the year ahead. Technology in higher education is a fast-changing world and it was helpful to hear from Jeremy about what we can expect from the campus’s technology arm this coming school year.

As we move into our new school year, we continue to face the kinds of challenges so many other schools like ours are facing these days. We must continue work to rebuild our MBA enrollments, build back our staff structure, expand our programming to take advantage of emerging needs in the regional labor market, and prepare the Mudd Building for the school’s next generations of students and employees. Our new strategic plan provides a solid and innovative roadmap for doing this work. I am blessed to have a great team of faculty, staff, and campus partners to work with on rebuilding our MBA market share, grow our new undergraduate program, and raise resources to help fulfill our other new strategic priorities. We have our work cut out for us, but I am confident we’ll gain really good traction this year. I look forward to updating you on our progress in future issues of the Mudd Monthly.

All the best,

Örn Bodvarsson Signature

Örn B. Bodvarsson, Ph.D,
Dean, Atkinson Graduate School of Management

Willamette University

Atkinson Graduate School of Management

Salem Campus

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

Portland Center

200 SW Market Street, Suite 101
Portland Oregon 97201 U.S.A.