This past June marked the beginning of my fifth year as dean of the School of Business Administration at the University of Houston-Victoria. My experiences here, and the organizational and individual achievements Ive had the great privilege to witness since I arrived, have far surpassed my expectations.
Ron Sardessai Endowed Professorship – Dr. Ron Sardessai was a valued colleague and friend in the SBA for 25 years, and we were deeply saddened by his loss in 2011. In the months following his death, the enormous generosity of his family and colleagues resulted in the creation of an endowed professorship in his memory–the first such endowment in the SBA. Dr. Massoud Metghalchi, an accomplished professor of finance who joined the SBA in 1991, has been appointed as the first Ron Sardessai Endowed Professor.
Executive in Residence – This spring, Dr. Steve Ferguson became our first Executive in Residence, working to make Greater Houston businesses more aware of our programs, helping to create internship opportunities, and coordinating our Willis Group Distinguished Speaker Series. Dr. Ferguson is the former president and CEO of River Oaks Trust Company, and has served as a member of the Board of Directors and Management Committee for Compass Bank. Currently, he is managing director of Endeavor Management. We are excited about what Dr. Ferguson will bring to both the classroom and the community in his new role.
Partnership Professors – Just over a year ago, through the generosity of SBAs sponsors we were able to recognize five of our faculty as our first Partnership Professors; this year we recognized five additional faculty. Selected based on their professional accomplishments and contributions, these ten faculty receive a stipend which supports their ongoing faculty development or research. I encourage you to visit our Faculty page to learn more about these outstanding professionals.
Real-World Insight – The Willis Group Distinguished Speaker Series accounts for many of the highlights of our academic year. Presented as both stand-alone events and keynote addresses at the BBA and MBA conferences, the series brings in successful leaders from multiple industries to speak to students about the world of business today and in days to come. Over the last two years, speakers have included Mr. Heber Lacerda, president of Regency Nursing & Rehabilitation Centers; Mr. Farouk Shami, founder of Farouk Systems; Dr. Jim Duncan, chief analyst for ConocoPhillips Gas and Power; Mr. John Ragan, vice president of NRG; Mr. Ron Ledbetter, vice president of INTECSEA; Mr. Mike Willis, chairman of The Willis Group; Mr. Ravi Kathuria, president of Cohegic Corporation and author; Mr. Jerry Moreno, manager of human capital performance for Spectra Energy; and Mr. Steven Kaufman, president of Zeus Mortgage.
Service Learning – Understanding the value of real-world experience in a business education, SBA has been focused in recent months on expanding our internship program to include opportunities that award academic credit. Thus far, our students have put their academics to work in internships at MD Anderson, US Financials, Fort Bend Habitat for Humanity, the Katy Economic Development Council, and Post Oak Bank.
Faculty Achievement – SBA is home to 45 outstanding faculty in business, up from 26 in 2009. Last fall, three of our faculty received Bloomberg BusinessWeek Awards–Rajan Selvarajan and Jun Yang for excellence in teaching, and Massomeh Hajilee for exceptional productivity in scholarly research. For the last two years, SBA faculty have captured the universitys Research and Scholarly Activity Excellence Award—Jie Yang in 2012 and Rupak Rauniar in 2013. SBA continues to support faculty achievement through a variety of professional development opportunities, as well as summer grants which provide both established and junior faculty with funding to explore new fields of research—research that, in turn, informs classroom instruction. In total, full-time faculty in the SBA have published more than 125 articles over the last two years.
Alumni Engagement – In March 2013 we hosted our second annual SBA Alumni Week, welcoming back a dozen of our successful graduates to share the benefit of their experiences with current business students. Through this event, as well as the BBA and MBA conferences at which alumni serve as panelists, we continue to build on a relationship which yields internships and career placement opportunities for our students, and offers our alumni opportunities to recruit from an uninterrupted stream of talented graduates for their organizations.
Market Awareness – SBA monitors both the regional and global economy continuously to determine not just where jobs are available, but where highly-qualified business graduates might do the most good. As a result, we recently launched new programs in supply chain management and logistics, energy management, and healthcare management to prepare students for the important tasks awaiting them after graduation. The employers who help us identify needs in the marketplace come to campus at our invitation–often in conjunction with our BBA and MBA conferences—to recruit graduates from the programs theyve helped us develop.
Student Focus – SBA recognizes that undergraduates have many priorities competing for their attention, and we constantly strive to provide a quality education that fits among them. This goal has led to our offering the BBA program at three physical locations as well as online. It has led to our asking students what time of day works best for face-to-face classes. It has led to our developing partnerships with community colleges which allow students to make the transition from a cost-effective associates degree program to completion of the BBA as smoothly as possible. It has led to our hiring additional faculty in attractive specialties, and reorganizing into departments to promote better class scheduling. And it is why our undergraduate enrollment has doubled over the last five years.
Global Experience – In July 2012, a group of SBA students spent two weeks in Taiwan, where National Chin-Yi University and Ming-Chi University assisted in coordinating both business and cultural outings. This summer, China played host to SBA students, who attended classes at the Central University of Finance and Economics and visited cultural and historical landmarks in Beijing, and traveled to Jinan in Shandong Province for lectures and field trips. Exposure to other cultures and business practices gives our graduates a distinct advantage in the marketplace, where their firsthand experience serves as a foundation for relationships with other global business professionals. For this reason, I am excited about the educational partnerships we are exploring not only in China and Taiwan, but also in Turkey and Latin America.
Specialized Accreditation – In February 2015, SBA will once again welcome a peer review team to campus to maintain our business accreditation by AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. AACSB is the hallmark of excellence in management programs worldwide. The AACSB standards promote the quality of faculty, as well as the achievement of student learning objectives. Our AACSB accreditation assures our students and their potential employers that we are engaged in continuous improvement. We look forward to our efforts in the next 18 months to prepare for this process, as it affords us another opportunity to ensure that we are doing our best for our stakeholders.
Rankings and Recognitions – Our efforts to enhance the quality of our programs have not gone unnoticed. The SBA has been recognized repeatedly by U.S. News and World Report, the Princeton Review, GetEducated.com, and Fortune Small Business Magazine for our high-quality, flexible, diverse, and affordable programs.
The years ahead promise us new challenges, new opportunities, and new horizons. As we move forward, the SBA remains dedicated to a continuing vision of excellence through teamwork and to remembering always our responsibility to our primary constituents: our students.
I hope youll take some time to look around our website, or contact us at email@example.com or at 1-800-687-4293 to learn more about our programs.
Farhang Niroomand, Ph.D.