Message From the Dean

Message From the Dean

 

Richard Semenik, Ph.D.
Just over a year ago, I wrote to you in our College of Business 2002 Annual Report that: "I strongly believe that the College of Business at MSU-Bozeman is at this very point in time experiencing the academic version of an inflection point."

What I meant by the comment is that in modern business parlance, an "inflection point" marks a point in time when a good company starts a transition from being a good company to being a great company. Last year, I felt that the College of Business had indeed begun to approach that inflection point.

Well, in my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined the extra-ordinary events that would occur in the College over this past year to confirm that indeed, we have experienced an inflection point, and are on our way to becoming a great College. That may sound grandiose or even pie in the sky. But, I am not one who is prone to hyperbole, so let me share with you why I feel we have begun this journey to greatness.

In September of 2002, six new faculty joined the College. Three chose to leave other universities, and three chose to start their careers with us after their Ph.D. programs. These new faculty, Scott Bryant, Anne Christiansen, Steve Crowley, Laura Black, Jake Rose and Ania Rose, have their Ph.Ds from the University of Oregon, University of Utah, MIT, and Texas A &M - each a top 50 Ph.D. program. These faculty, in their first year, have already distinguished themselves as outstanding teachers and researchers. Four of them ranked in the top 10 teachers in the College; two co-authored an article that received a prestigious award for outstanding contribution to the literature; and one published in one of the most prestigious journals in his area - all in their first year! This a fantastically talented group that ANY College of Business would be thrilled to have.

Later in the fall of 2002, we learned that one of our students, Erin Mohr, would receive one of only 14 Association of Certified Fraud Examiner scholarships awarded nationwide. We are very proud that one of our students, based on her performance and the quality of accounting fraud curriculum, would receive one of these prestigious awards.

Next, in October of 2002, we learned that the College's Center for Entrepreneurship for the New West would be receiving a grant of $116,000 from the National Science Foundation for students who are studying entrepreneurship in the College. The money is being used to support scholarships and to fund the student internship process at TechRanch where our students work directly with entrepreneurs. To our knowledge, this is the first time this prestigious scientific organization has ever awarded a grant to a college of business - anywhere.

Then, in December of 2002, we experienced one of the most important events in the College's history. The College was honored with a gift of $3 million to found the Gary K. Bracken Center for Excellence in Undergraduate Business Education. While colleges of business across the country are investing in MBA and Ph.D. graduate programs, we are devoting the proceeds from this gift entirely to the benefit of our undergraduate students and undergraduate programs. We will be able to provide scholarships, study abroad fellowships, classroom technology, curriculum innovation and faculty development programs to pursue excellence.

In April of 2003, we learned that we had successfully recruited a new Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Founding Director of the Bracken Center for Excellence. Dr. Renee Wachter (Ph.D., Indiana University) interviewed for six jobs last spring, had six job offers including ours and two of those offers were to be a dean at other universities. She wanted to join us because she shared our vision for excellence in undergraduate business education and she shared our excitement for the future of this College.

In May of 2002, two of our faculty, Susan Dana and Clark Maxam were awarded prestigious campus-wide awards for excellence in teaching and research. They follow management professor Bill Brown who won a similar award last year. Until this era, the College of Business rarely won these sorts of campus-wide awards. Now, our faculty are regularly honored for their performance and achievement.

This fall, we had another outstanding new faculty member join our ranks. Greg Durham finished his Ph.D. at Arizona State University another top 50 Ph.D. program. There were approximately three finance job openings for every new finance Ph.D graduate last year and we were once again successful in this national competition. Greg won numerous teaching awards while he was at ASU and just after joining us, he learned that one of the articles will be published in the most prestigious journal in the finance discipline.

And just this fall, we learned that the Accounting graduate class of 2002 scored an astounding 85.2 percent in first time CPA pass rate. This incredible performance earned these students #1 in the nation-ahead of Wake Forest University and the University of Wisconsin at two and three. This is the fifth time in 20 years that the accounting students have lead the nation and the 16th year out of twenty that they have been in the top ten. This is a legacy unmatched nationally.

Finally, this fall, the College has once again shown strong growth in student enrollment. Over the last four years, the College has lead the campus in growth and we now represent about ten percent of the student body at MSU.

You can see why I am so certain that we have begun our journey to greatness. I don't believe it would be an exaggeration to say that many colleges of business would be pleased with highlights like these over 5 years not in just one year. But, yes, we have accomplished all of this in just one year. And, take note that many of these achievements are in national arenas against national competition.

The College of Business is truly an exciting and dynamic organization. While we are proud of all of these achievements, we will enjoy, but not dwell, on this success. In the next few years, you will read about new and innovative curriculum changes, more donor and alumni investments in the College, and outstanding achievements by our students and faculty. So, join with me in celebrating this extra-ordinary success of the inflection point and the beginning of our journey to greatness.

Richard Semenik, Ph.D. is beginning his fourth year as Dean of the MSU-Bozeman College of Business.