Growing with Style and Distinction

by Barbara Elmore

The decades-old Hankamer School of Business, which has given wings to scores of successful entrepreneurs, is bustling – perhaps bursting – with new programs tucked into offices and squeezed into hallways and down stairwells. With fixed seating in its classrooms and little room for student meetings, the school is all filled up with no place to grow.

“The building supports what we have been doing, but I’m not sure it supports what we need to be doing,” Dean Terry Maness says. “We need a facility that meets the current state of education, and where education is moving.” That means classrooms that encourage interactive learning and the development of programs that both anticipate the needs of business and that are aligned with Baylor’s Christian mission.

The main components of the business school are the three-story Hankamer building, erected in the 1960s, and the five-story Cashion Academic Center, a 1980s-era structure. They house classrooms as well as a 256-seat auditorium, the Southwest Securities Financial Markets Center, a graduate center, an advanced technology lab, the KPMG Tax Library, and a large banquet room. Space carved out for new programs chews up existing classroom space, Maness says. Planners are looking at schematics now, trying to figure out the best way to build.

One area which needs more space is the three-year-old healthcare program that is currently operated out of an office. “We saw the opportunities for students and looked at it from the perspective of what better brand can you have in health care than Baylor University?” says James Henderson, the academic director of the Healthcare Administration Program. “There seemed to be a real void in that area, given where students could go.” Many Baylor students who were interested in such a program went somewhere else to get graduate degrees, and did well in ranked programs, Henderson says. So three years ago the program began as part of the business school’s MBA.

Those classes developed from health economics courses Henderson offered at the undergraduate level in the late 1980s. “That began a process of creating an undergraduate degree program, a B.S. in economics, focused primarily on the large number of pre-med students on campus that major in biology and chemistry,” he says. “We wanted to offer them an alternative which would show a varied interest and provide a technical undergraduate major, one that had some practical application as far as understanding how to think.”

The program needs an office suite, Henderson says. With everything in place, it would have space requirements for six faculty members, both teaching and research scholars, that would be make up the healthcare core. Eventually, the Healthcare Administration Program would become an integrated program in health care, health services, health economics and health policy, he says, and would include a Ph.D. in economics.

“We need a showcase facility which would include classrooms, conference rooms and a computer/research lab where students are able to have access to computers and other research materials.”

Other program needs include:

• Accounting

Charles Davis, department chair and the Walter Plumoff Professor of Accounting, sees a school of accounting that will include dedicated classrooms as well as meeting space and faculty offices. Classrooms would be remodeled to fit with today’s technology, Davis says. “We need a technology teaching lab, a computer laboratory that we could use for teaching,” he says. Right now, technology-based courses that faculty members demonstrate have no meeting or laboratory space. Students must seek space elsewhere on campus.

Meeting space is also hard to schedule, he says. “We have advisory board meetings, student orientation, simulations, and career day for our students, that require larger space than what the classroom provides.” Large meetings or luncheons that can accommodate 150 people must be scheduled six to eight months in advance in the only room with space for that many people on the fifth floor of Cashion.

Davis also wants space for faculty and support staff that is connected to classrooms. “That is conducive to doing what we need to do. Our current offices are too small. If you’re meeting with a group of students, there’s really no place to do that. There needs to be a little more faculty space that can be used to meet with students and other faculty members on collaborative projects. That’s my dream.”

The accounting department is already recognized for its excellence, and Davis wants to see continued recognition. “Our graduate program was ranked for first time this year [ in Public Accounting Report’s Top 25], and our undergraduate program for two years in a row. I want us to go up and stay up.”

Hand-in-hand with that goal is growing the program to graduate more accounting students to accommodate all the firms that want them. “We have 30 firms that come to recruit accounting majors,” Davis says. “In a good year, we have 150 graduates. Competition for those students is high. I’d like to have a lot more students that can go to work for those firms.”

• Ethics

“We already integrate ethics into our curriculum because of the Christian character of our faculty,” says Mitchell Neubert, the H.R. Gibson Chair in Management Development and the Chavanne Chair of Christian Ethics in Business. Still, Baylor wants to become the national center for ethics in business, and that will require ramping up of course offerings that may lead to a minor in Ethical Leadership, or a certificate for people who want to concentrate on ethics. The Hankamer School of Business undergraduate program is currently ranked third in the nation by BusinessWeek in its Ethics rankings.

Ethics study fits well with Baylor’s Christian perspective, says Neubert, who notes that Baylor’s ethical studies are not new. “I did a check of faculty and found that we have more than 20 people doing ethics research in their disciplines. That’s much stronger than a lot of schools. We want to leverage the strengths we have and build on them and be in the national conversation about ethical leadership. Many people are talking about it but have no strong foundation for teaching it. We can point to our Christian heritage as a resource for understanding why we do what we do and a reason for emphasizing ethics. At some schools, ethics is reactionary or a fad. But I think people are realizing that as management gets more complex, the ethical issues get more complex. The need is never going to go away.”

Neubert envisions a Baylor Leadership Institute to coordinate the interaction of Christian scholars and practitioners and promote initiatives directed toward practicing ethical leadership in the marketplace and integrating Christian theology and vocation. “This institute also could build on and leverage the foundation of Christian values that define Baylor to amplify the unique voice of Baylor in scholarly activity among its peer and aspirant institutions,” Neubert says. He is working on a proposal for an Institute of Leadership that includes three pillars: ethics, servant leadership, and faith at work issues. “We hope to be a place physically and informally where people can come together to research and encourage the practice of these important ideas.”

• Professional development program

A focal point of the undergraduate program is the undergraduate programs office, where every student in the business school goes every semester for advising after finishing 30 hours, says Blaine McCormick, associate dean for undergraduate programs. Right now that office fits snugly on the first floor of Hankamer School of Business. “We’d like to take that office and rename it the Center for Undergraduate Excellence,” McCormick says. “We’d want to grow that office from advising only to professional development and career services, and also have it be our welcome center. We can’t do that in its current location.”

“The Center,” as McCormick refers to it, would move to a central location within the business school, and allow for advising offices, career services, and an area for professional development. Planners envision a place where students can learn how to interview for jobs, for example. “Interviewing is a learnable skill and you get better at it the more you do it. We need a place for mock interviews on a regular basis,” McCormick says.

It would also be a place for companies that recruit on campus to schedule information sessions so that students know who they are and what they do. The Center would partner with Baylor’s Career Services and leverage training that is now an informal part of business education. “We need to have a platform, not reinvent the wheel. We need to shout as loud as possible about what’s available.” Once students are informed, the rest is culture-building, McCormick adds. “Space matters,” he says, referring to the new basketball practice facility at Ferrell Center. “We need a space for our students to practice their skills on game day. We need something we can point to so they can see immediately that career services are a big part of this. It’s a visual cue that we currently do not have.”

• Technology and entrepreneurship

As director of University Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Greg Leman’s role is to teach students how to commercialize technology for use in business. “That process is done not only by startup companies. Existing companies live and die by their ability to innovate. While even service companies must innovate — like a high-end restaurant keeping its menu “edgy” and new — I focus on companies that depend on creating value with new inventions.”

He teaches two courses that address the necessity of connecting technology and business. The first was Technology Entrepreneurship, which focuses on innovation and was offered beginning spring 2006. The second, Corporate Entrepreneurship, is an introduction into how technology works, how it is managed, and how to keep innovation in a corporation on track. Students in this class get the information they need to keep up with their counterparts on campus. “I am trying to demystify a whole realm of technology,” Leman says.

To demonstrate how to combine technology and business in the best way, Baylor needs to build a team of clinical professors that span the technology circle, Leman says. He envisions a wheel with different spokes all pointed toward the hub. “Business kids are on one spoke, and engineering on another,” he says. “The vision is to have lots of spokes.” To that end, he is in the planning stages of making a new spoke with the chemistry department for chemistry students who may go into industry and need the business side. He wants to build another spoke for environmental science. “The idea is to make a multi-spoke wheel.” That’s where the team of professors comes in. They will find the projects in their areas of industry and will turn out graduates to work in those industries.

With lots of students needing to work together as a team, the program has a need for bigger team space, like conference rooms. And with each team working with a company outside Baylor, they need good collaborative tools such as a top-end telepresence, which brings students and a communicating video presence together in a classroom. “You look at a screen and the person on the screen is life-size in real time,” Leman says. “A conference room that has that in it is a relatively near-term need for the program.”

“I see a lot of mixtures of technology and business,” Leman adds. “You get business that’s international and technology that’s international. We put it all into one experience.”

By Barbara Elmore

Dean Maness notes that all of the needs are a matter of both developing and creating new programs, and developing the environment in which to showcase them. “It’s not just a matter of taking things that are nailed down and subbing,” he says.

Although planners have talked about building out instead of up, Cashion’s foundation would support two more stories. No firm answers are in place on which way to expand, but Maness hopes to have a design in place in the fall and to see an expanded business school within three to five years.

“We have a solid foundation laid for an academic program,” he says. “It’s time to really focus on becoming a distinctive school of business.”
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Baylor Business Review, Spring 2007

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