In the business school we focus on strategic planning to guide future and continuous improvement as we implement our plan. The central theme is excellent education that allows our students to become their best selves. We design and implement a learning process that ensures that they emerge as well-prepared citizens and employees who advance their communities and drive the economics of the state. As academics, we explore important questions, convene important discussions, and enhance the practice and understanding of management.
In assessing progress toward our goals, we look outside for input. I will share three recent examples of external assessments of UConn and the School of Business: the Deshpande Symposium 2021 Award for Excellence in Curriculum Innovation in Entrepreneurship; a scholarly assessment of worldwide real estate programs; and our renewed accreditation by the international Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
Multiple external assessments, by many organizations, help us recognize our progress. These three are timely and illustrate the breadth of approaches.
School of Business Reaccredited by AACSB International
Starting with the most general: UConn is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, but, as a business school, we are also accredited by AACSB International. This 100-year-old, voluntary body in its most recent (2020) standards emphasizes strategic planning, continuous improvement, the highest quality of faculty and staff engagement, and business as a key contributor to global prosperity.
We embrace these priorities.
Every five years, each participating university prepares a continuous-improvement report documenting its current status. A team of volunteer deans from peer institutions reviews the report, questions the details, visits and interviews the faculty, staff, and students at the school. This culminates in an exit meeting with the president and provost, and the delivery of consultative comments and advice along with either reaffirmation of accreditation, targeted delay, or denial over specific issues. Our peer review team’s recommendation of continued reaccreditation was affirmed just days ago by the AACSB Board of Directors.
Think of our voluntary engagement with the AACSB as quality assurance and alignment with best practices. Our AACSB engagement ensures that we measure and evaluate what is strategically important for a quality business school and, that we do so with someone looking over our shoulder and holding us accountable.
Real Estate Program Ranks #3 in the World
Our students have broad business interests and pursue degrees in many specialized areas, including real estate. In pursuing a real-estate major, our students must meet “general education” requirements for about half of their 120-credit hours of coursework, drawn from a mix of liberal arts and sciences. They must then study broadly in the business core that includes accounting, finance, marketing, management, and operations and information systems. Finally, their real estate study is concentrated on specific courses in finance and real estate.
Students, families and employers assessing the quality of our real-estate education look at rankings. Some rankings rely on surveys of knowledgeable people who give their opinion on various real-estate departments. A recent Journal of Real Estate Literature article used an objective measure of the success of the faculty in publishing articles to assess this quality question. They ranked programs based on the number of articles that faculty published in top journals. It allowed an unbiased, global assessment.
Our program came in third in the world on this ranking, behind only Florida Atlantic University and the National University of Singapore. Two UConn faculty were listed individually among the most productive scholars over the recent five-year period. Our faculty are leaders in understanding and illuminating key real estate principles and developments.
Prestigious Deshpande Foundation Recognizes UConn’s Commitment to Entrepreneurship
The third area that I want to illuminate is entrepreneurship. This is a university-wide initiative long championed by the School of Business. UConn built significant strength over the years, beginning in the 1990s with the leadership of the Wolff family, and enhanced significantly by alumnus Keith Fox, through creating the Innovation Quest (iQ) competition. These extensive efforts culminated in the founding and funding of the Werth Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation almost four years ago.
Increased focus across all the schools and colleges, and careful measurement and reporting of initiatives in entrepreneurship, led to recent recognition in the high-impact ranking by The Princeton Review, where graduate entrepreneurship at UConn is ranked in the Top 30, and undergraduate in the Top 50.
Today, I am pleased to share the very recent news that the Werth Institute was recognized by the Deshpande Symposium with the 2021 Award for Excellence in Curriculum Innovation in Entrepreneurship. The executive director of the Deshpande Foundation noted that Werth “…best exemplified the commitment to building innovative educational courses and programs that foster entrepreneurship education across the institution.”
This award, established a decade ago, is judged by a diverse panel from business and education. Their reference to building and innovating is suggestive not only of where we are, but also foretells a bright and dynamic future.
I share these vignettes and anecdotes to emphasize the importance we place on having a strategic plan, knowing where we want to go, and constantly assessing our progress, not by looking in the mirror and liking what we see, but by measuring and assessing information and progress. We often rely on third parties to independently assess our performance and hold us accountable. We are receiving significant, very welcome, affirmation.