November 12, 2011 § 2 Comments
I’m leaving my position as the Director of USD’s Master of Science in Global Leadership program voluntarily, after a bit more than 6 years serving in that position. It has been a great six years, but I think now is a good time for me to leave. I have done most of what I wanted to do,and I am happy with what we’ve done. I have also learned a lot and grown during my time here – not just in the waistline! But all good things must come to an end. It is time for me to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, so it is time to move on. As I leave, I want to provide a brief retrospective on my time in MSGL.
MSGL alumni, current students, prospective students, and friends of the program are invited to celebrate with me on Nov. 30th at 5pm on the USD Campus. Details and RSVP can be found here – and we certainly hope to see many of you that evening.
Below is a list of what I’m most proud that we have accomplished over the last six years. “We” is Stephanie Kiesel, John Ruzicka, Sam Chung, Suzy Wadsworth, the MSGL faculty (USD tenured and adjunct), and the many students and alums who have given us ideas, time, and energy to make things happen. It has truly been an honor and pleasure to work with this team and these students, and I’m proud to have been part of what we’ve done:
- Sam has worked with MSGL the faculty and students, and with USD’s ITS department to create what I believe is one of the top hybrid graduate programs in the country. We exceed most of the criteria I have found for evaluating excellent hybrid and on-line programs for quality and variety of on-line and web-based interactive tools, and the service we provide students.
- John Ruzicka has changed the student ratio in our cohorts from nearly 90% military to somewhat over 50% in our most recent cohorts. When I arrived, the program was almost completely dependent on a government grant and Graduate Education Voucher Scholarships supporting military students. Both the grant and GEV are gone, and our enrollment exceeds what it was in those days. Our cohorts are now approaching the diversity they need to optimize the student learning experience.
- Stephanie has managed the program superbly. I’ve often said she’s the best ‘XO’ I’ve ever had, and I’ve had some very good ones. She keeps all the records and details in order and can quickly find any email she’s ever sent or received. She understands the finances and the numbers well, and knows where all the bodies are buried. She continues to find creative ways to serve our students in negotiating the stipulations of the various scholarship programs that fund their education. In particular, she has made it a personal crusade to help students untangle the confusing and frequently changing regulations associated with the new, Post 9-11 GI Bill. I’ve frequently said that Stephanie has a sixth degree black belt in bureaucratic jiu-jitsu, and has successfully worked ‘the system’ to serve hundreds of our students, as well as students in other programs.
- Suzy is one of the best connected, most widely liked, and versatile people I know at USD. It seems she can coordinate and facilitate anything. As our program has evolved, she organizes more events and additionally has stepped up to working admissions, and alumni outreach, catering, and contacts with local businesses. She is truly a jack of all trades.
- The MSGL Faculty have become proficient in WebCT, Horizon Wimba and a number of other technologies to facilitate learning outside of the classroom. This was not easy (for them or me) and was a real culture shift for many of us. This process was helped when Dean Pyke agreed to a stipend to help further incentivize taking the time and trouble to learn new technologies and teaching methods unique to MSGL in USD. As a group, the faculty continue to get very strong overall marks for their teaching, flexibility, and support to student learning – both in the classroom, and on-line.
- We went from NO overseas study opportunities – an embarrassment for a program in ‘Global Leadership’ - to three. This began with Phil Hwang’s support to our students participating in his Global Leadership Conferences in Shanghai and Beijing, to Denise Dimon and Jaime Gomez creating a special course for our students in Buenos Aires, to our students accompanying MBA and IMBA students in various locations in Europe, and now Cindy Pavett taking MSGL students this past summer to Shanghai. We now offer overseas study opportunities in China, Buenos Aires, and Europe, and last year, 45% of our students took advantage of at least one, and often 2 or more of these.
- We created an MSGL Advisory Council, which started out as a Friends of Bob group, but is now evolving into a significant addition to the MSGL program. Its goal is to help build the bridge between the business theory our students learn in the classroom to the practical realities of the rough and tumble world of competitive business. The Advisory Council is doubling in size, expanding its function, and will rename itself the “MSGL Executive Cohort.”
- We have made significant improvements to the curriculum – largely as a result of feedback we’ve gotten from our students and alumni. While we still have a robust Project Management curriculum, we have reduced it from 8 credits to 5, and have added two courses into the curriculum – Finance for Global Business, and Marketing for Global Business.
- We now bring in lunch time speakers from the San Diego business community twice a semester to our Friday lunches and open these up to all cohorts. We video record all of them to ensure that these sessions are available virtually to our Distant Learners and those students from other cohorts who are unable to get away from work to attend.
- We have created a robust alumni network. With the help of Stephanie and Suzy, John Ruzicka has built a social media network that has put us in touch with a large percentage of our nearly 700 alums, and brought many ‘long lost’ alums back into our community. The work he has done in social media has broken new ground at USD, and has broadened our influence and outreach. This helps us to continue to serve our alums while also encouraging them to continue to serve us, by sending good student candidates our way.
- We worked with the faculty to refine our program goals and objectives to build a common theme into the program: Succeeding in International Business. That was not there before. The MSGL program was initially created as a multi-disciplinary program with bits and pieces from a variety of disciplines that contributed to a degree in ‘global leadership’ without a specific context. “Learning to Succeed in International Business” is what we now offer and is what our students want and expect to get out of our program.
- We have developed one of the most robust student (or ‘customer’) feedback programs in the University. Student course evaluations are tailored to each specific course, and each cohort is debriefed at the conclusion of each semester. Detailed on-line course evaluations and the results of the cohort debrief are provided to each faculty member at the end of the semester. This helps faculty with feedback they can use to improve their courses, while providing a necessary accountability measure for students to grade faculty on their effectiveness in teaching.
- In general, we have sought to create a culture clearly dedicated to serving our students. We do our best to serve their academic needs and ambitions, their administrative needs in dealing with various bureaucratic entities, their social needs for a sense of community with other students and cohorts, and their professional needs for networking and professional development. We have truly tried to make it clear that we are there for our students, and we have done our best to meet all reasonable, and even some unreasonable requests. It is gratifying to me that we continue to get very positive feedback regarding our service to our students. At the students’ request, I am always proud to recognize Stephanie, Suzy, Sam and John for their sincere and uncompromising service to students, ‘above and beyond the call of duty,’ during graduation ceremonies.
I’ve been blessed with a great team, and many great students. In the last year, during our weekly staff meetings, I frequently pointed out how wonderful it has been to work with this great team, noting how well I thought we have worked together. I also pointed out that this would not last forever. I wanted us to appreciate what a good thing we had while it lasted, and I have very much appreciated this special time in my life.
I am proud of the role I played in helping this team and these students make the above improvements to MSGL, and I hope that the upward trend, following the Japanese concept of ‘Kaizin’ – constant improvement – will continue after I step down as Director.
I do plan to continue to teach Ethics for Global Business in the MSGL program and I have been asked to serve as the chair of the new MSGL Executive Cohort for the next year. In that capacity I hope to serve the new director and continue to serve our students and alums. As I move on to other endeavors, I plan to remain engaged with MSGL, as an adjunct faculty member, and as a member of the Executive Cohort. I look forward to staying stay in touch with the many friends I’ve made in the program –current and former students, former colleagues on the staff, and in the faculty, who are now an important part of my network, as I move on.
Thank you all. Bob Schoultz