Last week, Mary Kelly, a third and final candidate for dean of the College of Business interviewed at Western New Mexico University.
She has worked in the financial sector, as well as most recently being a professor at Texas A&M-Central Texas.
Texas A&M-Central Texas is a start-up campus. "I relocated from Michigan, because I was attracted to a start-up," Kelly said. "It has accelerated my knowledge. I am unique, after my 12 years industry experience, I took time off to be a relocating mom and got my Ph.D. I wanted to merge my background in higher education and my business experience."
Although she had at first wanted to get into corporate lending, she soon found out the field was shrinking. "I realized I had to embrace change."
"What is my goal as dean?" she asked. "I want to focus on students as clients. Clients are relationships you want to keep." She said her overall goals include enrollment plus retention plus matriculation plus career skills plus knowledge for life for the students.
"We teach things in classrooms that are meant to be skills and to make the students productive members of society," Kelly said. "But career skills and knowledge for life are not the same."
Her vision for dean of the College of Business would be a desire to shape the college in a way that transcends any one department, program or faculty position.
"I bring confidence," Kelly said, "and experience that can made a positive contribution to dual objectives. I have formed partnerships, not only in banking, but also in academia. I have a comfort level with forming partnerships. I suggest that I could write a column for the local newspaper. I bring a desire for particular challenges. I like new challenges."
Policies and procedures are in place because of long tradition, but "I have the desire to change. I think it is realistic to grow enrollment in the College of Business. My academic strengths include key leadership positions for accreditation; program coordination, serving as department chair and co-interim director/dean of the school of business. I was holding three full-time jobs at the same time."
She said she was able to take action on interdisciplinary courses. "I think it already works here. I was able to turn around a new course, the global history of finance offered in an online format."
"I know the value of technical schools and interpersonal skills," Kelly said.
She pointed out that although only 7,500 companies are publicly traded, there are 15 million to 20 million businesses in this country. "Business majors must have knowledge for life."
Her strengths are that she has seen every avenue of education and "I have a sense of skills needed for success. I would like to do careers and curriculum. I would communicate with the community and I would have shared governance in the college." She advocates for advisory committees for specific periods of time to lead the college. "I can't do my job without other people offering communication. I would actively solicit ideas from students. I propose regularly holding pizza get-togethers with the dean and I would use technology to have guest speakers. I would initiate a five-year BBA-MBA program and allow early admission to seniors to go into the graduate program. I would bring Career Services into the College of Business. I would offer opportunities for faculty to provide service to the community. I would perhaps target Mexico for students. I would evaluate class formats versus industry trends. Maybe we would have no Friday classes, and we would have hybrid classes with a combination of online and face-to-face. I would propose an accelerated program for one-week of intense learning in the summer. I would offer classes at the sites of employers, with online needed for additional support."
She talked about accreditation and suggested the process could begin to go for the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, which is more stringent, but "could happen here. It would be good for the faculty and the students. Especially international students are more aware of the AACSB accreditation. It takes finding time and would likely be a five- to 10-year goal.
"I have noticed you have seasoned faculty," Kelly said. "I would like to showcase them."
An audience member asked what her ideas were for recruiting students.
"I would go into the high schools and expose students to careers and whether they should choose a major or minor or just a few classes," Kelly replied. "I would increase exposure about the College of Business, perhaps in newspapers."
A faculty member asked how she would deal with veterans on campus. "They come with skills, and I think they would be good for the business school. I can see coupling a business course with leadership, perhaps as a minor. "
Kelly said veterans are motivated and have skills. "I would like it known that I would be responsive, open, accessible and would take action."
Another audience member asked Kelly to elaborate on international business content and how she would recruit international students.
"I can't think of a specific program for the recruitment of students," Kelly said. "I would focus on the AACSB accreditation, because that would make us very visible. It is an area for growth of enrollment."
"What about the content of an international program?" the same person asked.
"I like the five-year program from the BBA to the MBA," Kelly said. "My observation, especially with foreign students, is they expect to go on and get another degree."
She was asked her strategy for raising resources.
"I would form partnerships and I would be out there and ask," Kelly said. "I have found people like to be part of an issue, and they might want to underwrite a program. An endowed chair that gives support to content or a program is another option. Developing internships and working in concert with institutional development can help. I enjoy fundraising. We have to teach asking for a job. Sometimes it hard to go for the close."
A professor asked about the fact the university is a Hispanic-serving institution. "There is a huge magazine list of 500 Hispanic businesses. I think it is an opportunity."
"We should seize it," Kelly said.
The professor said he liked the idea of advisory boards. "We have a cultural divide. We can't ignore the other side of the cultural divide. Maybe the College of Business can be a way to cross the divide."
Kelly pointed out more women are going into the colleges of business. "We must address the appropriate target market. I'm here by choice. It's a time in my life to take on a challenge and a demanding job. It's an easy commute, and I am able and ready to get to work. I want to stay here and grow with you. I like to look at it as a long-term commitment."