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Mudd Monthly: October ’23

by Örn Bodvarsson, October 4, 2023

Dear Members of the Atkinson Community,

Greetings from the Dean’s Office! Since I last wrote, our school and campus were in the “hurly burly” of the start-up of the new school year and the heat of the Summer was still upon us. A month later, it’s noticeably cooler and rainy, the usual “post start-up calm” has descended on campus, and everyone seems to be in their grooves. Here in the Dean’s Office, we’re just glad to have everyone back, and to have our classes run smoothly and students’ needs met. Now we can focus on our big priorities for this year.

Our big priorities – what are they and how will we fulfill them? That’s the subject of this month’s letter. Here are the big projects we’re managing in the Dean’s Office this year:

AACSB Re-accreditation. Our school has had the privilege of being accredited by AACSB (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) for decades. AACSB accreditation is the “gold standard” of management/business school accreditation – only 5% of schools in the World get this seal of approval. When AACSB re-accredits a school, it is only for a period of 5 years, and each time we “re-up” with AACSB we have to not only make a strong case for how we’ve done the past 5 years but provide assurance that our future will be strong for the next 5 years. We were last re-accredited on July 1, 2020, so it’s time to get ready to make our pitch to be re-accredited on July 1, 2025. To fulfill this goal, I have put together a 13-person team of faculty and staff, our “CIR Prep Team,” who will work this year on preparing a Continuous Improvement Review (CIR) report. The submission of that report, which will be next Fall, will be followed 60 days later by a visit to campus of a three-person Peer Review Team of experts, appointed by AACSB. The Peer Review Team will carefully review the report, give our people, programs, and a resources a thorough looking over while they’re here, and make a recommendation to AACSB’s Board. The Board makes the final decision.

Implementation of AGSM 2023-27 Strategic Plan. Last year, under the leadership of Management Professor Andrew Kach, a faculty/staff task force, which included colleagues outside of Atkinson, put together a bold and ambitious new strategic plan for our school, a plan centered around the broad priorities of improving our communication infrastructure, developing innovative curriculum, and deepening external relations. The school ratified the plan unanimously and President Thorsett approved it last Spring. Now comes the work of implementation. A Strategic Implementation Task Force led by Senior Associate Dean Alex Subert is kicking off its work this semester. Naturally, our school can’t do everything in the plan this year, so the task force will take a parsimonious approach to turning plans into action. It will be exciting to gauge our traction with the plan this year.

Building back enrollments in the MBA-P Portland Cohort. This is currently our most pressing challenge. Our Portland cohort has experienced lower enrollments in recent years. The time has arrived for us to look critically at what’s been driving those declining enrollments and identifying both short- and long-term solutions for turning things around. Last Friday, I met with our full-time faculty for two hours to discuss this and I am having regular discussions with our recruiters, Alex, and the University’s Graduate Admissions team. A faculty task force is being formed as I write this to that will be charged with making recommendations. There will be announcements soon of plans for trying to reverse enrollments.

Hiring new staff. The search for a new director of the Executive Development Center (EDC) continues and hopefully will conclude very soon. The search committee for the Office Manager & Events Coordinator position has restarted its search after the first attempt did not yield qualified candidates.

Coming soon! New Programming in EDC. This year two new micro-credential programs will be built out in the EDC – a Certificate in Health Care Leadership and a Certificate in Corporate Social Responsibility. A task force co-formed by me and College of Law Dean Brian Gallini is working on design of the former certificate. Jake Hoskins, our Guy F. Atkinson Professor, is leading work on the latter. The EDC is a great place to incubate these programs, let them gain traction, and then explore the feasibility of building them out further into credit-generating semester-length courses or even programs.

Finding new external revenue sources. New programs in the EDC will help bring in new sources of revenue. However, there is much potential for our school when it comes to raising money from donors to fund a number of our projects. We have a great story to tell, very promising students to help financially, great faculty who need professional development support, and a building that could sure use some TLC. Our new Director of Development, Dave Hanna, and I are partnering in this endeavor.

So, as you can see, lots to do! Have a great month and I look forward to updating you same next month. Stay well, thank you as always for your support, and best wishes for a great October.

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.