From The Dean: Looking Back on Five Years

Angelo DeNisi

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been meeting with the candidates to take over the dean’s job when I step down in June, and in the course of these discussions, I’ve had the chance to reflect on what we’ve accomplished over the last five years. As noted elsewhere in the magazine, we were recently ranked 35th in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek. This is a jump of at least 10 places—probably more—and is one of the highest rankings the Freeman School has ever received. Our EMBA program in Houston was also highly ranked by Businessweek, and our graduate entrepreneurship program continues to be ranked among the very best at 13th in the U.S. These rankings are the highest we’ve received since Katrina and among the best we’ve ever received.

The news wasn’t as good in January’s Financial Times ranking. One year after our MBA program was ranked 61st in the world and 35th in the U.S., we were omitted from this year’s ranking due to an insufficient alumni response rate. While we were hopeful for a good showing, we knew going into this year’s ranking that the circumstances would make it difficult for us. Financial Times each year surveys alumni who graduated from the program three years ago, and in our case, the class of 2007 was the first class in the immediate wake of Hurricane Katrina. While Freeman achieved an alumni response rate of 31 percent—well over Financial Times’ minimum threshold of 20 percent—the actual number of responses was just 17 due to the small size of the post-Katrina class, and Financial Times requires an absolute minimum of 20 responses. While it was disappointing to not be included in this year’s ranking, it serves as an important reminder for alumni to be attentive in responding to requests from ranking organizations.

As you’ve read about in previous issues of this magazine, in recent years we’ve expanded our international programs and rolled out a new master’s program in risk management, and this summer we will launch a new master’s program in energy finance and trading. We are also in the process of partnering with Rotary International to allow us to have MBA students work with local businesses and nonprofits during their international trips, making us the first school at Tulane to require service learning for graduate students. We’ve begun discussions with institutions in Korea, Singapore, Cambodia and Vietnam, and in the future these new connections—together with our existing relationships with schools in India, China and Taiwan—will add a very strong Asian flavor to our offerings.

So when candidates for the dean’s job ask me what’s good about the Freeman School, I tell them how we achieved all these things during difficult times with limited resources and fewer faculty and staff than we had prior to Katrina. From not knowing if the university would even reopen in the wake of the storm to where we are today, we’ve come a long way, and this is entirely due to the extraordinary efforts of our faculty, staff and students. I continue to be impressed and humbled by how hard everyone here is willing to work to accomplish our goals. It is for this reason that I start the new year—and my last six months as dean of the Freeman School—with amazing optimism about what the future will bring.

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