|New Dean Mary Ellen Zuckerman Builds on a Community of Collaboration|
|The new dean of the School of Business shares her vision and builds on a community of collaboration.|
New Dean Mary Ellen Zuckerman describes the School of Business at Ithaca College as a community of collaboration. The enthusiasm of everyone in the community, she says, drew her to Ithaca.
“What made me believe that Ithaca College was the place I wanted to be was the people I met throughout the interviewing process,” said Zuckerman, whose tenure began July 1. “At each step of the way, I’d come home and tell my family, ‘I really like the people.’ ”
Students, faculty, and alumni all displayed what she calls “a strength of community feeling and loyalty to the school.”
In the spring, after she had been appointed, she met with graduating seniors who wanted to provide feedback about improving the school for the students who follow them. The faculty has developed a strong curriculum, and “the questions faculty asked me, focusing on what I had accomplished for students in my previous job (dean at SUNY Geneseo’s School of Business for nine years), highlighted this strong commitment to the students.”
And the Business Advisory Council – composed of alumni and friends of the school – saw a need for a greater presence in the New York City area and is establishing an alumni and corporate relations coordinator’s position there.
Last year, in the reaffirmation of accreditation, the review team of AACSB International, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, noted four key strengths for the school:
- The mission-driven curriculum design
- The depth of student involvement in the life of the school
- A culture of faculty involvement in continuous improvement of the school
- Class sizes that allow for significant engagement between students and faculty
To this list, Zuckerman adds the cocurricular components “that help students practice and integrate what they’ve learned in the classroom.” Examples include the required internship component and leadership certificate, active student clubs, and the newly established Professions Program – all of which display the collaborative community in action.
“The Professions Program, which grew out of feedback from students to the Business Advisory Council, is an example of the good communication between various groups involved with the school and the strength of their commitment to continuous improvement and change,’’ says Zuckerman.
All these strengths are housed in the building that symbolizes the School of Business’s future, the two-year-old Dorothy D. and Roy H. Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise, the first business school in the world to earn platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. “It provides a daily example and reminder about living and working in a sustainable environment,’’ said Zuckerman.
And sustainability leads the list of five initiatives she says will feed the school’s growth. She summarizes them:
- Use the Park Center as a focus for sustainability efforts on and beyond campus.
“Sustainability-related initiatives are on the cutting edge for business schools. We will move forward with using our building to the fullest extent with respect to sustainability, enhancing our current activities in this realm and developing new initiatives. We’ll do this by building on ideas and strengths of the faculty and students, developing partnerships with other units in the College and in the larger community, and drawing on the information resources of AACSB’s Sustainability Initiative.”
- Expand extracurricular opportunities.
“I want to provide additional opportunities for students to put into practice skills learned in the classroom, in an integrative, creative, and independent fashion. Such experiences provide measurable ways that students can demonstrate what they have learned. These integrative activities include study overseas, internships and other experiential activities, research with faculty, participation in student organization leadership, and meetings.’’
- Create more partnerships.
“I want to develop more external partnerships so our students and faculty have access to a variety of organizations in which to work, learn, and develop connections. These can be in the local Ithaca community as well as in other locales where our alumni and other friends are established. One specific thing I’d like to do is to create an advisory group of recent alumni to get their feedback and thoughts and keep them connected to the school.”
- Strengthen the master’s programs.
“We need to assess, focus, and develop our master’s programs to meet the needs of our current students and potential students.”
- Pursue collaboration across campus.
“Finally, I’d like to identify and develop potential partnerships internally with other programs here at Ithaca College. As an individual with a liberal arts background, I have a keen awareness of the exciting opportunities that exist for cross-fertilization between diverse arenas as well as the skills and willingness to build partnerships between these areas.”
Alumni, said Zuckerman, are crucial to keeping the school “current in business education. They can tell us what skills and knowledge are necessary for outstanding business education. Alumni and other professionals also provide pathways for our students to gain entry in the workplace, through job shadowing, internships, and job placement.”
The faculty “is the key component to excellence in business education. We need to continue to provide them with support for development, opportunities for classroom innovation, and recognition for excellent teaching.”
Business education faces challenges in recruiting and retaining highly qualified faculty and in meeting the pace of change in the world.
“We have to keep current both with what students will need to know when they first enter the workplace and in preparing them for the changes that will inevitably transpire throughout their working careers,’’ said Zuckerman. “We need to encourage students to be lifelong learners as well as flexible thinkers.”
Ideas from students are always welcome, often implemented. Last spring, a class offered suggestions for a redesign of the school’s cafe. Those recommendations played a key part in the renovations being completed for this school year, said Zuckerman. It’s another example of the community of collaboration.