Dean’s Notes: Dayle Smith – Making Your Mission Count

Dean’s Notes is a periodic feature of LMU This Week where the university’s academic leaders share their perspectives with the community. The deans of LMU’s seven schools and colleges will provide updates on priorities, policies, events, challenges, and areas of interest.

Dayle M. Smith, dean of LMU College of Business Administration, writes:

In the summer of 2018, when I became dean of LMU’s College of Business Administration (CBA), the college had just completed its AACSB peer review team visit for its maintenance of accreditation. As we were laying out our five-year strategic plan, I worried: How will we stay relevant? How will we create a distinctive mission that sustains us as a business college?

The CBA historically has been well-grounded in ethics and a commitment to educating the whole person. But even so, we lacked a way of talking about who we were and why it mattered. During my dean’s listening tour, I met with each faculty and staff member individually, and connected with alumni, students and employers to learn what they believed were our greatest challenges, opportunities and aspirations.

I learned that our mission didn’t capture what made us unique. To distinguish ourselves from our competitors, we would need to think differently.

The aggregated data I gathered during my listening tour provided a foundation for what would be a yearlong soul-searching process for our faculty and staff.

The results of this process were twofold. First, we now have a five-year strategic plan that is collectively owned by our stakeholders. Second, we have a clear and concise new mission statement:

We advance knowledge and develop business leaders with moral courage and creative confidence to be a force for good in the global community.

Once the mission statement was finalized, we worked with faculty to integrate the mission into a bold new core curriculum. We asked each department to elucidate how its major might reinforce the mission. The Marketing Department, for example, developed the Applied Learning in Societal Transformation— or the A-LIST Pathway. Marketing faculty created new courses in which students worked with community-based organizations, explored nonprofit marketing, and analyzed advertising strategies for making a social impact.

We knew that an even bigger challenge would be to engage students in living the mission. For that reason, we developed a co-curricular component to the CBA experience that would cross disciplines and divisions. We call this component The CBA Advantage.

As part of this initiative, students complete curricular, extracurricular and co-curricular activities that will help them develop knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) related to five core competencies inherent to our mission: 1) business knowledge; 2) leadership; 3) moral courage (and business ethics); 4) creative confidence; and 5) global citizenship.

The next question we faced: How will we track students’ progress toward achieving these competencies? For this, we asked a team of recent graduates from our entrepreneurship program to work with faculty and the dean’s office to develop a mobile app students can use to track their own progress. In addition to promoting relevant activities, the app will gamify the tracking process by enabling our undergraduates to earn points throughout their four-year programs for their participation in eligible activities, as well as track their KSAs — especially those required for degree completion. We are currently piloting the CBA Advantage app with a planned launch for fall 2020.

Next on our agenda? We plan to challenge our first-year students in a required course called “Business as a Force for Good,” where they will explore the impact of business on sustainable development in the global community.

Early results have been promising, but we must continue to live the mission every day. We’ve worked hard to capture our mission in one bold sentence that is not just memorable, but meaningful enough to inspire our community to be a force for good in the world.

Click here to read Dean Smith’s full article featured in the Jan/Feb 2020 issue of BizEd magazine, published by AACSB International.