Fuqua’s Dean Discusses Biz Ed. Today

Blair Sheppard, dean of the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, discusses the state of graduate management education today in the latest issue of GMAC’s Deans Digest.

Here are edited excerpts from the Q&A; this link will take you to the full interview.

Q: You have spoken of a fundamental shift in B-school classrooms toward considering the larger context and a desire by students for a broader range of tools and perspectives. Please elaborate”¦

A: The nature of the challenges that students were thinking about when they left undergraduate school are different from what they are thinking about now. They are interscholastic in nature…particularly for those who are interested in energy, the environment, social entrepreneurship, and health.

Second, there are a whole series of factors in doing your day-to-day job that weren’t part of considerations before, but now need to be. If you’re a banker, how important is it for you to know policy? If you are in finance, how important is it for you to understand behavior? The context in which business is occurring is different.

Q. What kind of realignment is necessary within business schools to accommodate the changes that you see in the environment for graduate management education?

A: You still have to teach a darn good basic business degree. At the same time, you have to allow students to develop greater depth in other areas…Another implication is that you have to have better relationships with other schools and more forms of joint appointments.

We will probably find far more joint degrees or variants of multiple degree offerings. It’s going to become de rigueur that students will graduate with two degrees instead of just one.

Q. The Fuqua School has been aggressive in developing a global presence. What have you learned from that experience that surprised you?

A: One of the surprises is just how fast it’s happening. As one example, India wants to build 20 new universities over the next few years. That will have a one-percent effect on their university-level population. The size and scale is scary-fast, in a way.

When you start asking questions such as “What’s needed?” in different parts of the world, it naturally gets you to more integrative degree offers…Building relationships outside the United States is going to help our job opportunities for students. And we’re more appealing to American firms because we have a better awareness of what’s going on in the rest of the world.
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