The Evolution of the Hankamer School of Business
Century-old business school harks back on genesis, growth; Progresses into a new era
By Eleanor Hunt
Origins of the American Business School
From penmanship to investment management courses, from apprenticeships to internships and from trade centers to academic institutions, business schools have evolved since the founding of America’s first, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, in 1881. Before business schools, men prepared for the trades or public service through apprenticeship programs. The Wharton School taught mainly a Social Science curriculum and, later, Finance and Management.
Utah State University, a land-grant institution founded in 1888 through the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act, prepared male students to work in agricultural business. In the Utah State’s Commercial Department, they acquired core skills in math, penmanship, bookkeeping and typing.
Caryn Beck-Dudley, Utah State’s first woman business dean, noted the practicality of the early curriculum.
“It included penmanship because businessmen wrote deeds by hand,” she said. “One of the problems in business was failing to keep good records, so students needed math and bookkeeping. Business law was important in setting up businesses and contracts. Many contracts were focused around political economy, so they were attached to politics and public administration.”
Early business schools conferred two-year degrees. Some faculty had a bachelor’s degree, which was rare at the time; however, most professors were industry practitioners.
“The programs were small, so they didn’t have that many faculty,” Beck-Dudley said.
Beck-Dudley is president of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), the world’s largest business education alliance. The organization started in 1916 to support elite business schools, like Harvard and Wharton, and promote the adoption of a common business curriculum.
A long list of prominent business graduates of Harvard, Utah State, Wharton, Baylor University and other schools have attained pinnacle places in finance, corporations, government and entrepreneurship.
“Business schools grew larger and diversified in both gender and race,” Beck-Dudley said. “Every school that I have ever been to has an illustrious group of alums who graduated and did spectacular things. The impact of business schools is amazing.”
The Conception Years
The story of Baylor’s Business School started four years before it was officially established. As America was picking up after World War I, Baylor’s enrollment was down. President Samuel Palmer Brooks believed a business school would elevate the University academically. Brooks gained approval from the board of directors in 1923 to create a Business Administration Department.
Supported by a small staff of four full-time professors and housed on the ground floor of Carroll Library, the department offered its first bachelor’s degree in Business Administration to the inaugural Class of 1925. By 1941, the Business School had graduated 567 students. Aldon Lang was dean when the Business School resided in Old Main in 1948, but later relocated to classrooms in the Student Union Building. Lang was instrumental in helping the Business School achieve provisional associate membership in the AACSB in 1950 and full accreditation in 1959. Today, Baylor’s Business School is among only 5 percent of business schools worldwide with an AACSB International accreditation.
The Foundation Years
AACSB accreditation and space restraints drove the Business School’s board to raise funds for new quarters. Board member Earl Hankamer provided a gift of $500,000 in 1959. Hankamer’s vision of an architectural-style, mid-century bank building was completed in 1960. The school became the Hankamer School of Business.
In the late 1970s, students gravitated to HSB such that it grew faster in comparison to the University’s overall enrollment. When Richard Scott started as HSB dean in 1977, the drive was to bring in effective professors who were also effective researchers. One of the professors joining the faculty in 1977 as assistant professor of Finance was Terry Maness.
“It was important for our faculty to engage not only with businesses, but also with their academic peers in terms of providing new knowledge,” Maness said. “There was an expectation that the faculty would be more than teachers. They would be engaged to the extent that they could either bring the research or their consulting experiences with companies into the classroom to make a richer learning environment for the students.”
By then, HSB offered nine study majors and 16 years later, 20 majors were on the roster. Complementing HSB’s reputation for providing quality education was the caliber of its faculty, which expanded to 127 faculty in 1991.
The progress of signature programs, such as the Center for Private Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in 1977, a vision of Dean Scott, necessitated more expansion. Consequently, the Hankamers funded another wing for faculty offices. Three floors of classrooms, offices and computer labs were created in 1983. Accounting firm Arthur Andersen and Company funded a student center connected to the Hankamer Building. In 1986, Roy and Virginia Cashion donated money to add two more floors to the Academic Center.
The Retrenchment Years
HSB was financially autonomous and operating on student tuition, so Scott played a major role in raising significant funds for endowed chairs and professorships.
“Dean Scott was very good at developing relationships with alums and selling the vision of what he was trying to accomplish by moving the Business School forward,” Maness said.
Scott also managed admirably during the mid-1980s when U.S. economic retrenchment affected HSB’s resources and lowered student enrollment. For about ten years, as the nation got back on its feet, Scott implemented strict cost-containment measures to keep HSB financially viable.
The Distinction Years
HSB began making a name for itself, first appearing in national rankings in 1992 when a Public Accounting Report survey placed its Accounting Program 16th. By the late 1990s and into the early aughts, HSB had transformed into an internationally recognized research and teaching facility.
Several signature programs gave HSB notoriety, including Entrepreneurship, Baylor Angel Network’s Intern Program, Professional Selling, Sports Strategy and Sales, Portfolio Management Practicums and Business Fellows.
When Scott was tapped to be Baylor’s vice president of Development, Maness stepped in as HSB’s interim dean. After a national search, Maness landed the job permanently as Business School deanin April 1997.
The Explosive Growth Years
Circa 2005, the Business School was bursting at the seams with 2,700 undergraduates and 350 graduate students. Approximately 25 percent of the University’s total enrollment wanted to pursue business degrees, which prompted the establishment of higher admission requirements to manage HSB’s growth. Yet, space in the Hankamer Building felt unyielding, even with restrictions on the number of students who could enter HSB programs.
Since it was unfeasible to add on to the Hankamer building, Dean Maness began looking at alternatives. When he introduced a construction project around 2008 to Paul Foster, founder and executive chairman of Western Refining, Inc., Foster was willing, supportive and encouraging. His commitment to the dean was, “I’m with you. I’m going to do something.”
When the time was right, Foster tendered a $35 million gift of Western Refining stock, which represented the largest gift from a living alumnus or alumna in Baylor’s history. Baylor Regents officially endorsed construction of the new facility on Oct. 18, 2013.
“I’m very proud to have had the opportunity to attend Baylor and to be part of the Business School,” Foster said. “It was a real privilege for me to be in a position to do all of those things.”
Several other benefactors rallied early and unequivocally to the cause, cementing their legacies on places they chose to make a lasting impression. A number of donors gave large gifts, including Jay and Jenny Allison, Pat and Bill Carlton, Ed and Denise Crenshaw, Paul and Carol McClinton, Randy and Stacy Mays, and Paul and Jane Meyer. Additional pledges came in over multiple years. At least 550 people caught hold of Dean Maness’ educational vision for HSB and became financial supporters.
During this time, the Business School also saw growth in educational programs. In May 2011, the Baylor Board of Regents established the Robbins Institute for Health Policy and Leadership, thanks to a generous gift from Bill and Mary Jo Robbins. The Robbins Institute allowed the Business School to contribute significantly to health services research and education.
The Transition Years
Baylor started construction of a stately new Business School building at the end of 2013. The design concept of the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation promoted community and collaboration, eliminating previous barriers between students and faculty in learning and teaching.
At the commemoration of the Foster Campus on Sept. 25, 2015, Foster said, “I believe strongly in two words that dominate this campus, and it is not Paul Foster. It is business and innovation. I am hopeful that Baylor students are touched by this campus, they will be innovators in business, and they will be prepared to leave this campus and go out and do amazing things in the world.”
By 2017, HSB had 3,500 undergraduate and 600 graduate students, plus seven academic programs. Maness presided over periods of remarkable growth and recognition for HSB during his tenure. After 44 years on faculty and four years as a first-generation college student at Baylor, he retired on July 31, 2021.
The New Legacy Years
Appointed as the William E. Crenshaw Endowed Dean in 2021, Sandeep Mazumder has set forth three priorities for HSB: purposeful research, experimental and innovative learning, and Christ-centered diversity.
“When I arrived in 2021, Baylor already had been on this journey of attaining Research 1 status. That was attractive to me,” he said. Mazumder is a prolific researcher who has published more than 30 articles and co-authored a textbook in 2022. “I will continue emphasizing Christian research, which is our faculty and students producing scholarship that has a real impact on people’s lives.”
HSB professors have researched myriad issues with the aim of intervention, including food insecurity, suicide risk, pregnancy discrimination in the workplace and employee adoption assistance.
“We also want to improve opportunities for our undergraduate and graduate students to work alongside our professors in conducting project, archival and data analysis research,” Mazumder said.
In the area of experimental and innovative learning, Mazumder is forming more business partnerships and opportunities for first-semester freshmen to work on data, projects and business cases.
The third priority, Christ-centered diversity, is logical when considering Baylor’s Christian mission. Mazumder references Revelations 7:9, which mentions a multitude of people from every nation, tribe and language in God’s Kingdom. He believes HSB can improve diversity and inclusion regarding faculty and students by becoming a more international business school.
An outgrowth of Christ-centered diversity is the Peer Leader Program launched this year to facilitate supportive relationships for first-year students. An advanced business student mentors a group of eight freshmen to ensure they assimilate into the Baylor Business community during their academic career and beyond.
According to Mazumder, another differentiator of HSB is the unity of faith among faculty and staff, who are active, professing Christians. Faculty are free to discuss Christianity and academics together in their classes.
“Who you are as a person informs the work you do,” he said. “There is such a thing as being a Christian accountant, marketer, entrepreneur or economist.”
The Future Bar-Setting Years
How will business schools look over the next decade and beyond? According to Beck-Dudley, they will become “entirely interactive.” Modeling business environments rather than classrooms will enable students to practice using the information they learn. Business schools will be more integrated into the entire university at large, allowing students in other programs to benefit from business curriculum and vice versa. Plus, they will offer a fluid way for students to move through the university to obtain expertise they need.
“The universities of the future that enable this are going to be very successful,” Beck-Dudley said.
Mazumder agrees with the need for business schools to be less siloed and more collaborative. To this end, he mentioned HSB’s partnership with the Department of Statistical Science at the College of Arts and Sciences to provide an interdisciplinary Master of Science in Business Analytics degree. The STEM-designated program prepares students for business analyst careers.
As HSB builds its core priorities, Mazumder envisions the undergraduate business programs inching closer to the top-tier ranking. It jumped ten spots on the U.S. News & World Report “Best Business Schools” this year.