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25: Matt Slaughter on Responding to Secular Decline in the Traditional MBA.

A peer-to-peer discussion with the Paul Danos Dean of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

Deans Counsel Podcast

Listen as Dr. Slaughter shares his perspective as a three-term dean and economist on the declining demand for traditional MBA programs and the need for reevaluation of mission and strategy in business schools. 


“If anything, a lot of American schools, the top schools, have seen a noticeable and unprecedented decline in the number of people applying to their programs by about give or take quarter,” said Slaughter.


Slaughter also shares how Tuck has taken these challenges and used them to differentiate their MBA programs and leverage their strengths despite disadvantages around scale - all while rebranding and creating a shift in their culture during his three terms.


“You can envision articulating a fresh mission and strategy, but it's the implementation in the culture that I think is so critical and getting to a great team and the right people in the right roles,” said Slaughter.

Insights for current and future academic leaders. Listen to Episode 25 to find out more.

About Dr. Matthew J. Slaughter Matthew J. Slaughter is the Paul Danos Dean of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, where in addition he is the Earl C. Daum 1924 Professor of International Business. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a member of the academic advisory board of the International Tax Policy Forum, and an academic advisor to the McKinsey Global Institute.

Show Transcript

Dave 0:13

Welcome to Dean's Council, a podcast aimed at supporting university leaders holding one of the more critical jobs on a university campus. Your panelists can Kring gemellus and Dave Ikenberry engage in conversation with highly accomplished Dean's and other academic leaders regarding the ever complex array of challenges that Dean's face and one of the loneliest and most unique jobs in the academy. For many decades, business schools were defined by their traditional MBA two year degree programs, none more so than the tuck business school at Dartmouth College. Yet we all know that the era of wonderful secular growth in this traditional MBA experience is behind us, at least for now. As an economist, Matt slaughter saw the tremendous threat that this had for tuck, particularly given the constraints that tuck had and its remote location. In this episode of deemed counsel, we hear how Matt brought clarity to not only sharing the need for change, but the process for how that chain could successfully occur. CO creating with all the stakeholders at Tuck, Matt to find a tangible mission that all stakeholders could embrace one which has thoroughly transformed the learning experience at that school, to the point where it is in fact, the defining element of the school's brand. It's why people come to tuck today. Despite the unique challenges and traditions that Tuck is endowed with, there are takeaways in Matt's story for Dean's from all stripes, the circumstances we face surely differ. But the approach and process we need to lead our schools through strategic change, without a doubt, share common elements. We hope you enjoy this episode of Dean's Council. Matt, it's great to have you on the show today. You've been at Tuck for eight years going on your third term. Now. You come to this job as an economist and I know you've had, you know, you bring some perspective as to what we're trying to do as so use the word traditional business schools. What's your perspective of the past? And and but where do you see it going? And some of the challenges you see in that and how it's tuck? How have you and your team and talking more generally responded to that. Thanks,

Matt Slaughter 2:33

Dave. It's great to be with you all and great opening question. Most of us in business education. And you're right I've been I've been dean at tucked out finish on my eighth year, with another term coming about it took about 20 years as a faculty member originally and then associate dean in different roles before serving as dean, if you go back, I mean, gosh, we could go back decades, a few generations really, there was pretty secular growth in all aspects of business education. So if I think about supply and demand, that was the case for when most of us who are in leadership roles in business schools, when we came into the academy in our time, and B schools, as faculty and Dean's in different roles, especially in the heart of it most of our schools, the heart of what we have done and continue to be, at least in the eyes of the world, that full time two year MBA degree and demand growth for that has ceased in recent years. And if anything, a lot of American schools, the top schools have seen a noticeable and unprecedented decline in the number of people applying to their programs by about give or take quarter. So any industry, we've got a set of organizations that were a lot of strategy, envisioning and articulation and implementation and the culture around that was in growth, it's been a pretty dramatic change to suddenly be in an environment of absence of growth, if not declined to some extent. So all of our business schools have had to really, I think, adjust to that pretty quickly for us a tuck. It's a bit of a canard, but the world thinks the only thing we do is the full time two year MBA. We've long had many other lovely programs, I can come back to that conversation. And yet we relative to other schools, we're pretty long in the two year full time MBA. And so for us in particular, I think this shift has a bet a great nudge to really among the Dean's team and all the great colleagues and stakeholders to talk to really think more clearly about what we think is our mission and strategy in terms of what we offer this distinctive value. And then making sure that we're articulating and measuring and delivering that with even greater intentionality. That's how I broadly think about that opening question. Happy to kind of take it in whatever direction you like. So

Jim 4:51

if you take that, just what you said there. One of the things that we really always struggle with all of us is how do we differentiates our MBA program from the other MBA programs offered around the country. We all teach debits and credits and net present value and discounted cash flow or piece of marketing. But how do you how do you look at tux? You know, like you say, the distinct offerings that you have the distinction of, you know, a school, that is an ivy school that's got a great reputation. But how do you how do you do that in such a way that that people think of tuck in a different manner than they think of any other school because, as we all know, some of these lesser schools are going to struggle and close their doors or close their programs. And some have already started to do that, as you alluded to. And yet the good schools can differentiate in some form or another, or ride on the coattails of their university. How do you look at that in terms of marketing your way into success, as opposed to just growing your way into success?

Matt Slaughter 6:02

Oh, great question, Jim. What what is triggering me is some memories when I, when I transferred, had the honor to kind of step in and be Dean after being Associate Dean of our students and MBA program and faculty. Some of our stakeholders said, Hey, Matt, the biggest thing we need to do is get clear to the world talk is the best at x. And I said, got it. Tell me more. And what I would often hear is people say, well, there's this well known school that's known for leadership. There's a well known school, it's known for finance. There's a well known school that's known for marketing, the kind of go down the kind of discipline based answer, as I got it. My faculty colleagues at Tucker awesome. And yet, I've always known, we have compared to pure schools, somewhere between, you know, half to a sixth the size of their faculty. So from we create and teach and, and help apply knowledge, but from that knowledge creation perspective of the research mission of all of our schools, as amazing as tuck faculty are that put myself in that category as one of the faculty, we were never going to be the predominant knowledge creator in discipline acts, in part because of our scale. Now we have a little over 50 tenure track FTE, is it a tuck these days? I would have, I'd have to go look, but I'm guessing that's about the size of the finance faculty at Wharton, for example, you know, so it's, we've got amazing scholars that talk across disciplines. But but when I hear that, I would always be like, Huh, what does he just talk is not a depth and breadth of the scholarly domain. That's how most people have thought about it. And then there's even before the pandemic, but I think we ran a really nice process for a couple of years at Tuck to say, Well, what let's, let's refresh our mission statement. And let's get it clear what we think is our strategic value proposition. And I love language, I write a lot. And I've done that with my outreach and policy work over the years. And there wasn't clarity in our community about what I'd say, but what's the mission of talk, and that's 10 people that they get 13 answers. And so it just became clear to me that we needed to run an exercise with faculty and other stakeholders and staff and students. And so and we did two iterations actually. So we let our current 11 word mission statement is tucked develops wise decisive leaders who better the world through business. And then the our strategic value proposition in all of our programs is we offer a personal, connected and therefore transformative experience to our to our students, but ideally, to the staff and faculty involved as well. And so you'll notice in those words, what we think that's distinct and valued, is building a trust based data informed learning community where people can build trust, human trust, and pedagogical trust and pedagogical capabilities that enabled them to take risks and fail, that will enable them to build sort of lifelong relationships with students, faculty and staff. None of what I just said had was about a specific scholarly area research is integral to that. But that was a process that we ran, even before really this drug that we all realize there's a there's a trend break demand is falling for the heart of what we do. And before the pandemic and we can talk about the value of that pandemic, perhaps, but without in any way Sunny, boastful. You ask someone today you walk the halls to talk and say what's our mission and people know it and across all of our programs, the heart of what we do is the MBA the full time two year MBA, but we've got amazing other programs, degree granting programs, we got a partnership, great partnership with Geisel School of Medicine, and some called the Master of Healthcare Delivery Science. We've got some great certificate programs, they all aspire to create that personal connected therefore transformative value proposition and just last thought, no pause. Personally, I often forget to bring your whole self I at some point I don't care why you on admission to tuck, I care about the gaps and capabilities and challenges. And then we're going to connect you with great classmates, amazing faculty, alums ideas. And if you really co invest with us in that way, you're going to have the chance to transform Yes, your professional opportunities and human capital, but transform who you are as a person more generally what you do in life. That's our value proposition that I think we do in ways that's pretty distinct, frankly, our location, which people have often wondered about, because Hannah was lovely, but this is not a major global metropolis where the vast majority of our peers are, our location is really an advantage to that CO investment that I just spoke about. So I hope that speaks to kind of what you're asking. Yeah, yeah.

Jim 10:40

Good. Yeah.

Dave 10:42

Matt, Could you could you take a little bit deeper on the process, you have these 11 words that you referred to which when I reflect on that, what I kind of hear you saying is, we're kind of reshaping the culture of talk, we're reshaping the way we want people to feel and the way we want people to think it's one thing to do focus groups. I'm being facetious here, of course, it's one thing to do focus groups and come up with your love and words, but how do you go from 11 words to getting the faculty to authentically embrace that getting the staff to feel energized? You know, the more important piece? In other words, how do you walk the walk? After you have that talk in place?

Matt Slaughter 11:27

Yeah, great question. So this speaks to a lot to all of us that are Dean's. We've got, we're not for profit with key stakeholders. So we're different from firms, you're not the CEO. It's not like, Hey, I'm the firm and I'm coming in, if you don't like it, here's the door. And you know, a central stakeholder are awesome faculty colleagues. And the nature of the labor contract is very different than it is in any other organization, even though not for profits. Again, if I put my faculty member hat, I'm a labor relationship with the trustees of Dartmouth College, that grants me academic freedom and to pursue the scholarship and the research and the teaching that I would like, that's, that's amazingly powerful for the advancement of human knowledge. And it's a key asset of American higher education. So faculty got to be involved. You got to have students involved, you got to have alums involved and to meet staff, and then the clarification. Too often, staff is an afterthought. So I realized, I'm the dean, I got to hold the master pen. But what we did was the process, we ran a talk because we have the demons team at the time, we have a faculty Strategy Committee, who helps us think through strategy, implementation issues and envisioning issues. So the process that I ran was focused on the Dean's team in the strategy committee. But with focus groups in different ways working with the student board here and leadership and Alumni Advisory entities that we have, like most peer schools, we've got to talk board of advisors was the main advisor entity we have my president of Paul Daniels, who did a lot of great stuff we created, He created the MBA Council, which is the younger alumni version. And we have three global councils that help us think about our presence around the world. So it was a lot of conversations, and I wanted everybody to feel they had some input rights and deliberation rights, and they could hold the pen if they wanted to. But at the end of the day, I went away and held the pen, mainly with the DNS team and our first iteration by the end of my first year, I think it was we had a first version tuck educates wise leaders to better the world of business. And then we socialized that in like our awesome branding and communications faults. We put out collateral, you know, folders that had those words on it. And then we listened. And the biggest thing I heard actually was from a lot of our lungs who said, hey, you know what, wise leaders that just sounds a little too ivory towers, like the owl with the glasses, and we get mad and that's great. And we think that you know, tell us what was demeaned? We started develop related clatter language. These were were just kind of platitudes are sort of like eating cotton candy. We're like, wow, that's really tasty. And 10 minutes later, you're still hungry. So that was a big thing. People didn't like why's alone and like, yeah, I get it because business like we got to be we're forced for good and humanity ideally. And the other things that didn't land well or quite as intended was people were a beggars about educate, they're like, Well, did it come wise? Or do you make them wise and I done afterwards, so that I was like, Okay, this may be due to identification. And people didn't have a sense of agency when it was to better the world and it was better the world of business, and a lot of alums and faculty, others said, but some of our alums are thriving in the in the in civil society and sovereign governments, you know, what are the most successful leaders at Tuck Tina Smith took 84 She's the senator from Minnesota, my home state. So then we did another iteration Dave. And so we listen and that's where we hit upon the current allowing the words tuck develops, wise leaders who better the world through business, and then it really important we've got then map to the rest of similar thing around our value proposition to get that clear, like your colleagues in admissions, where all of our programs are saying, hey, and then especially as the world we realize applications aren't growing like they used to do, we realize we need to get CRISPR to prospective students in the NBA and our other programs about what we thought was the value proposition strategically that followed from that mission statement. And so in parallel, that's where we've came along with personal connecting transformative experience and a stress experience because we really stress there's the classroom learning the co curricular learning and application and career journey, that thicket of the overall journey. So it's a lot of conversations, little messiness, a lot of it's still like pen and paper writing down words, right? That doesn't quite right. So I

Dave 15:43

think of faculty. I totally agree with your statement about the staff, by the way, but faculty have this huge point of engagement, particularly in the larger numbers, classroom environment. How did you get how did you get their buy in on this? Or was there a little bit of a yawn? Or did they feel like they had an equity position here and needed to lend? And how did that all fit on the faculty side? Yeah,

Matt Slaughter 16:09

great, great question. It was a sort of a trifecta of our faculty Strategy Committee, which is what I'm most important ones here. So continual conversation with them, right? In our periodic faculty meetings, I'd socialize it and talk about it, we just kind of have some open conversations, I was a second dimension. And the third was what I'll just call the open door or on campus here. There's a little pond, Ahkam pond and uncle for strolls with colleagues, and alarms. And so the third was, I was like, Hey, you just got some ideas, let me know, right? Let the Dean's team know or let me know. So everyone, I, my goal was for every faculty colleague, be a tenure track or clinical right. And we know this is another dimension, it's important, really important for me, we've got awesome clinical faculty colleagues here. So who's they've got amazing current jobs in the world that come teach a little bit, we got full time teachers here that their contribution is to the amazing enriching the learning environment. So everybody had knew what was going on. And they knew they could weigh in if they wanted to. And some colleagues were very engaged, some were like, hey, great, don't care, I care, I care, I don't care, I don't care where we get to I care, we're doing it. You know, and at some point, it just you take that input and learning, all of us teams got to learn that anybody in a leadership role, people may have strong views, and you can say, I got it unbalanced, here's why I'm going in this direction or that direction, right. But part of my goal was for no one to think or feel, hey, is we're really trying to lay this down in a fresh way for talk, I didn't know I didn't have the chance to be heard.

Jim 17:41

I think first of all, I have to congratulate you on getting it down to 11 words, because the academy is not very good at shrinking those visions and statements down to 11 words, as we well know, you know, they tend to look at a horse by committee, and all of a sudden, you've got a 50 word vision statement and mission statement, etc. So, you know, congratulations on that. That's hard to do. You know, one of the benefits that I see you guys having is small and intimate. And and by that I mean not only the 5050 tenured tenure track faculty, because, yeah, there's the size of the finance department award. And so you're not going to win in terms of the number of publications, you may win in terms of the number of publications per capita exactly, which I wish that the rankings guys would look at that instead of total numbers. That's just something I tried. Because I looked at our at our faculty, which was about two thirds the size of Wharton, but I was never going to get there because now Enough, enough guys publishing, but if I, if they were really productive, they were beating them on a per capita basis. Yeah, but but still size, size becomes an issue. And in your case, it's a plus, from what I've heard from alums, students of yours, very positive about what you talked about. And that's the relationship between the faculty and the student that goes on well beyond the two years that they're in the MBA program. And I think that's a huge plus, the question that comes to my mind is, Hanover is a difficult place to get to what's it like from a recruiting standpoint? What's it like getting, getting the companies to come to the campus to recruit? Or do you have to kind of move students into Boston, for example, and say, You're gonna go into recruiting day and Boss, how do you how do you deal with the fact that you are so isolated geographically? Yeah,

Matt Slaughter 19:34

great question, Jim. So there might have been a time where the message that talking to some extent Dartmouth communicated to the world was Hannover Coling, only two hours from Boston and four to five hours from New York. And by that, I mean, we, we implicitly were saying to the world, like any strategic asset is He's got some pluses and minuses. And then plus, we're focusing a bit on the minuses. I think we have embraced more confidently in recent years. Again, all this is a total team effort, come back to recruiting faculty, it's about students, staff and faculty, I think we have part of this process of re articulating, what makes tuck distinctive valued, has been owning our location a bit more. And knowing it's not going to be for everyone. And I think getting comfortable with that, to me strategy implementation and the culture around that is getting comfortable with saying, here's our strengths, and we really focus on this, we're not by definition, gonna be able to focus on these other things. And that's okay. And if you really value that other things, then maybe we're not the best match for you, whether you're a faculty member, a staff member, or a prospective student across all of our programs. So, tuck has never been able to fall below global minimum scale. I'll call it again, The Economist. So if you look at the the we have a photo with pictures coming to talk Hall, we have an array of pictures when you come into the foyer of every graduating class, and the first MBA of MBA students of the MBA cohort. first cohort 1900 was for men. And now it's the class of 2023. We just put up a picture. I think, this year, we overdid it a little bit, I think we're at like 298 for that class. So our location and scale are kind of CO CO in there interacting in terms of assets. Handover is a lovely picture postcard to England town, if you've ever been here, like the central business district is three blocks. So this is not Manhattan. This is not Boston, this is not Chicago, this is not London. And so if I answer your question, well, more specifically than for each of the three stakeholders, for faculty, we will say, Look, if in your heart to heart, you are so immersed in your peer reviewed research, and you and you are going to value almost that entirely, and you mentally value PhD teaching and mentoring and cooperative those students that in terms of your research and teaching happiness, you just won't be happy here at talk, you may be amazing, and you may go on to win Nobel prizes and other things, but this isn't gonna be the right match for you. So we offer an amazing array of research supports and teaching sports, but for faculty, that it got to really value the blend of what it means to be a teacher scholar here, and that the research got to be rigorous and relevant. For students, I only half jokingly will say to prospective students, man, if you're not ready to kill, invest in a community where our location means your pre existing professional personal networks, you're largely you can you'll stay connected them through social media and stuff, but day to day, you'll have no contact with them. Because the expectation almost no student comes here, unless they grew up in the upper valley, as we call it with any pre existing networks here. So that it's a real asset. If students choose that, then they can amazingly co invest with the rest of their classmates and faculty and staff. But if that's not what they want, that's okay. They're still learning debits and credits, he said earlier, and a lot of other great schools that were probably not the match for you. And for staff, it's the same value proposition on firms that have shade in Florida. But one of the silver linings in the tragedy pandemic was, we were able to greatly expand the number and nature of recruiting relationships, because as a lot of us know, pre pandemic, especially in MBA programs, the sentiment and culture was if you want to demonstrate a recruiter commitment, you got to be physically present on these campuses. And there's a lot of great organizations who said to us, Look, we get it, but coming for one day in January, may end up being three or four days, if Mother Nature delivers a snowstorm, to be honest, it's lovely to get four seasons here. And so. But in the pandemic, as we now know, most almost all leading global recruiters now, much of that initial and first round interview has done virtually. So that's been an asset for us. So I hope that speaks your question. One footnote is one of the challenges is it's always been present, but it's rising is partners, to people actively in the labor market, the household because we're not a large, thick labor market. And escalating housing costs is another challenge that we face in childcare. That's true in a lot of places in our country, but we're really feeling it in here in the Hanover

Dave 24:12

mat. So you this this focus and clarity you brought to your mission and and sharpening the value proposition. Do you have any metrics of you know, can you see and it's some kind of a tangible way, what the progress on that has been since you rolled this out several years ago? Or is it just kind of an intuition from talking to your various constituency groups in what have been some of those success stories? Yeah,

Matt Slaughter 24:41

thanks, Dave. I'm an empirical economist. I value data a lot. So we think about measuring whether we're delivering this distinct value proposition and a couple in two ways. One is kind of data and external outside in perspectives and this links to something both you alluded to, which is rankings And then also just to call it bottom up inside out data and anecdotes in the sense of, are we articulating and giving the quality of the map to the people. By that I mean, I think Tuck is not for everybody, you know, if you do not want to really have this deep trust based co investment, we aspire to transform who you are, it's okay. But this probably isn't the right place for you as a student or as a staff or faculty colleague. So the outside in measures, we we've, we think what we do very well, is the rigor and relevance of our learning environment, like second thing is I would really deliver that labor market success in terms of getting a job and high and rising initial income. And third is because we really have stressed this transformation is lifelong. Is our alumni network really thriving. And so we know these rankings are noisy and but but the world rightly is gonna expect all higher ed institutions to have some sense of are you delivering on your value proposition. And so we when we focus on the rankings, and a particular components of rankings that measure the quality of the learning experience, because again, that's part of the transformation is going to be you're here to build your human capital, and your human capital for work. So the second one on job success, and is it lifelong. The rankings are components of rankings that assess quality of learning, labor, market success, alumni engagement, we really outperform. And if anything, we've ticked up a bit in those in recent years in those rankings, without sounding like a commercial, you know, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, asks recent alums to deal with the quality of learning lots of different dimensions. And our point of view here is the student better say I, well, I was challenged, I learned a lot. And it's, well bracing. When you look at schools where they fall in that we focus on that one a lot. Labor market success, our students do extremely well, in terms of gaining employment. And initially high and rising incomes and alumni engagement, are outside in matches of those, I can't prove this to you, but I will assert it, you take it on faith, the quality of our learning in terms of student evaluations has never been higher in the NBA in a lot of other programs. We've just got faculty really, and the amount of innovation that we're doing in terms of new courses and things is remarkable. So that's really rolling along. The students sense of satisfaction, our awesome career services team, it's not just Do you have a job of compensation, we measure and track internally, do students feel the process worked well, for them that that is, is quite strong. And then Alumni Engagement remains high. One of the metrics we really value here is, when we look at our annual fund, what we call Tag tuck annual giving, a benchmark that we really value is our alumni giving back to the tech school and we still haven't received is north of 60% of all living tuck alums give at least $1 back to the school and tag every year. And that is that is we know of no other institution, undergraduate or graduate school or entire college or university in higher education, that that's above that. And it's pretty big gap between what we see in anybody else.

Jim 28:08

I agree with that so much. It's funny, because my last question to you was going to be, how do you instill that in those alumni, because you are lightyears ahead of any other institution in terms of percentage of undergrad percentage of grads? I've watched that number for years. And I go How the hell did they do that? Because it's, it's an outlier, you're not even just a little bit better. You're way better. In that situation? I mean, way better. And I go, why didn't I figure out how to do that early on, because it's spectacular.

Matt Slaughter 28:40

That's kind of total team effort. I'm just so much what I get to do is just building on the legacy of predecessors and others. And yet, we're really intentional about measuring and nurture that listening, you know, we've just closed a capital campaign now, where our goal is to two 50 million in cash and commitments. And I think as of closing, today, our guesstimate is we're going to come in at about 14 $15 million. And I think about 81% of all living alums will participate in this campaign. So it comes back to our students conversational, but articulating what's distinctive value about talk and then really trying to communicate to all the stakeholders. Here's what, here's what we're trying to do. Here's how we're doing it. We're open to improvement. And let us know in different ways. There's, there is a bit of momentum here. And part of it is the other thing I'll say is the economist may, in the background, I'll stress and this has been, I think, invigorating, we're a lot more productive with general even more productivity growth at Tuck than we used to my first four years as dean was decelerating the growth of tuition and in the NBA in our program, and now we've got four years running. We won't be able to do this forever, but four years running where we have not increased MBA tuition or mandatory fees by a penny. We've had a flat it's $77,520. And I'm not I don't think there's any other school has done that and in the 20% cumulative CPI environment That speaks in part to the generosity of our amazing alums the success of our other complimentary programs or certificate and executive programs. So it but I'll stress to for the Dean's listening it. The other thing is, you can you can envision articulate a fresh mission and strategy, but it's the implementation in the culture that I think is so critical and getting to a great team and the right people in the right roles, like you don't get as dean, you don't get more time. So unless you've got colleagues that really help they share the vision and kind of where you're going, like, it's just gonna knock yourself out, can't get do it. So, Matt,

Dave 30:42

this has just been a wonderful conversation. I want to thank you for taking the time and sharing your perspective on this. It's just what a great experience.

Jim 30:52

Thank thanks again, man, we really, really appreciate it.

Matt Slaughter 30:55

No, thank you. I will not be doing forever. But we got there's a lot. We're still doing it talk, which is great. And I'll just stress I thank you for having me in this conversation. And I'm here on behalf of all my great faculty, staff, colleagues, students, alums, it's a it's a pretty special committee to be part of, I think that's it's so fun. So thank you, you've done a great job. Great. Thank you guys. Keep while everybody.

Dave 31:24

interesting conversation, Jim, what did you think?

Jim 31:27

Well, Dave, I really, it was a very interesting conversation, I'm really focused on a couple of things. Number one, his inclusion of all the shareholders that he has, he's got a lot of people that are very involved, from alumni, to faculty, to staff, to students, and to bring all of them in as he did his strategic planning. And his thought process was terrific. But then to distill everything down to 11 words is magical. That's how people remember. It's like he says, walking through the halls, people remember? Well, because it's not a, an entire chapter is 11 words. And he's really made that happen. And I know that, that the development side, the alumni engagement, really is I think, based on that. I think it's right, right back that there is longevity in the Dean's office. And continuity of leadership is really important. The fact he's going into the third term, his predecessor, was there a long time. That's really an important thing as well, there's not a churn at the top. So I got a lot out of it. I thought it was superbly done. Yeah.

Dave 32:34

I totally agree. I also, there's so many things about talk that seem to be firing well, even in the face of the challenges they have, you know, in a strategic sense, the remote location, difficulty formerly in getting recruiters to come on site. But what I was really struck with is, and this is kind of piggybacking on your observation, Jim, because of that strength with, with his with Paul, Dan, us and, and, and other, you know, great leaders prior to them, they have such strong systems, their systems work, you know, to various degrees, but it's a matter. So what that does is it allows Matt to work at a higher level, and, and really bring efficacy and efficiency to this Strategic Outreach. I was just, you know, obviously, that this alumni network that he has the seeds of that were some decades ago or generations ago, but because that had happened, he's able to really leverage that today, and take it to even new heights. And I, for us, Dean's who, if we can have that perspective of where are we in our I'll use the word maturity, how how well developed and mature are various systems that lend some insight into practical next steps. So anyway, I was just fascinated by that, that whole thing. And I was I was also really intrigued about how by, by using these 11 words of mission and purpose, how that was able to really shape each function, whether it was new student, recruiting, faculty recruiting all of those issues, just and to some extent, how COVID actually helped them not hurt them. I just found that really, really interesting.

Jim 34:33

It did help them a lot. I agree. It leveled the playing field for them. Yeah. Where they could have been playing from a position of weakness. They, right there were a very level playing field so that you're absolutely right. It was really good for him.

Dave 34:44

Yeah. And maybe it's restating the obvious but this notion of differentiating on some disciplinary area, I've always disagreed with this. This idea, you know, Wharton is finance Kellogg is is marketing if you if you dig inside those institutions, what you find is they Got strength all around the corners. It's just those historically, momentum has swung the pendulum to focus on that area and it hasn't really swung away very far. But that this notion of an experiential distinction, and if you remember, you know, our very first podcast with it Kesner out of Kelly, she kind of did the same thing, you know, where she was, it was an experiential feeling that was pre existing at Kelly, she just happened to bring language and articulation to what that pre existing feeling was. But, you know, I actually think that great business schools are going to be challenged, if they define themselves on a narrow disciplinary focus, a because we don't live in it. For the most part. We don't live in a disciplinary environment, it's cross disciplinary, but be you know, if we, you know, if we're going to focus on entrepreneurship, that's a that's a buzzword, you know, buzz, buzz focus right now. What's the accounting faculty going? If I'm an accounting faculty member, how do I contribute to the grand strategy? If I'm teaching debits and credits, and I can I've actually lost faculty over this problem is I think it's great to have a vision that is actually inclusive and doesn't tell people hey, you're on the junior varsity, the varsity people are, we're going to be in the middle here. But the rest of us players are going to be on the edge. I just I don't know how you win with that kind of a focus. Yeah,

Jim 36:45

you're right. I think you're absolutely right, Ken, because there are changes to Yeah, yeah. So yeah, no, that was it was very well, I really enjoyed it was great. You did a great job. Excellent.

Dave 36:55

Thank you for listening to this episode of Dean's Council. This show is supported in part by Korn Ferry leaders in executive search. Dean's Council was produced in Boulder, Colorado by Joel Davis of analog digital arts. For a catalogue of previous shows, please visit our website at Dean's If you have any feedback for us, please let us know by sending an email to feedback at Dean's And finally, please hit follow or subscribe on your favorite podcast player so you can automatically receive our latest show.


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