Albers is accredited by AACSB International - The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. As of July 2014, less than five percent of the world’s business schools and less than one third of U.S. business schools have achieved business accreditation from AACSB.
The week of spring break, March 25 to 29, I made a trip to visit Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) in Shanghai. For several years, we have had a 3+2 program with SISU in which their students do an undergraduate business program for three years at SISU and come to SU for two years to complete our Master of Professional Accounting (MPAC) degree. The student ends up with an SISU undergraduate degree and SU's MPAC degree.
Each year, we go to interview and meet with the interested SISU students. Since SISU is focused on language training, we find the English language skills of the students to be very strong, but we still want to test that out by meeting with them. This year there are four SISU students in our MPAC program.
SISU was founded in 1949 as the Shanghai Russian College! It is one of the Chinese schools included in the government's Project 211, which means it is one of the more prestigious universities in China. It has about 7000 undergraduate students, 3000 graduate students, and 4000 international students! It has 37 different undergraduate programs, 33 master's programs, and 12 PhD. Programs. There are actually two business schools, the College of International Finance and Commerce and the College of International Business. We currently work with the former but would certainly be happy to collaborate with both!
For the past several years, Bruce Koch, chair of our Department of Accounting, has gone to Shanghai to do the interviews. In the process, Bruce has become a rock star at SUSI, known for his enthusiasm, sense of humor, fondness for spicy food, and love of cold temperatures. That is a tough act to follow.
SISU has two campuses, one in the city (HongKou) and one out in the suburbs (Songjiang). In 2008, David Reid and I visited the HongKou campus and our visit led to the creation of the 3+2 program. The undergraduate business program is at the Songjiang campus, so I had to travel out there to meet with the students, visiting that location for the first time. The campuses are night and day. The HongKou is small and contained like the SU campus, but the buildings are packed more tightly and generally taller. The Sonqjiang campus is spread out with stately buildings and wide grassy lawns, what you would associate with a large Midwestern university campus! The HongKou campus is in a noisy, traffic filled neighborhood. Songiang is in a quiet district of wide boulevards and manicured landscaping. It is about 60-90 minutes by car between the two campuses, depending on traffic.
First, I spoke to about 40 SISU students about the MPAC program and our new Bridge MBA program. Some SISU students may be interested in the latter. Then, I interviewed 16 students who were interested in the MPAC program to test their English skills and their interest in accounting. Of course, it was very interesting to talk to these students and learn about their lives and aspirations as well as their interest in SU! The interviews took place over two days, and in addition to our conversation I also gave them a short essay to write so we would know something about their writing skills.
After the interviews, in consultation with SISU staff, we ranked the students for purposes of awarding several partial scholarships we offer to SISU students. It was a difficult process since there were so many talented students, but we finally came up with a list we were happy with.
Throughout the process, SISU was a very gracious host. If the shoe were on the other foot, I doubt that we would do as good a job of hosting them to our campus! In particular, Ms. Xiaolin Yan, who serves as Foreign Affairs Secretary for the college, was always there to get me where I needed to go, answer questions, and do anything else needed. Thank you, Xiaolin!
During my visit to SISU, I also talked to several campus officials about strengthening the ties between SU and SISU, which they are anxious to see happen. Suggestions include a student exchange program, hosting visiting faculty at the two institutions, and creating a 3+2 program around the Bridge MBA.
During the visit I also visited with our alum, Diane Jurgens, who earned her MBA at SU and serves as Managing Director for Shanghai OnStar, a joint venture between GM and the Shanghai Automotive Industrial Company. It was fascinating to meet her and learn about her accomplishments, as it goes without saying that she is one of the few American women leading an automotive business unit in China or elsewhere, for that matter. I hope we will be able to get her to speak on campus over the next year or so!
I am now sitting in the Tokyo airport on my way back to Seattle. I did not notice much different about Shanghai in 2013 compared to what I saw in 2008. If you have been to Shanghai, you know it an impressive city with its miles and miles of high rise buildings and high rise freeways. All this has been created in just a few decades. It is interesting to see, but once you see it, it is not something you go out of your way to see again. That means that both this trip and my next trip to Shanghai will be about visiting SISU, maybe to begin collaboration with their College of International Business! :}
March Madness is upon us, and by that I mean the NCAA Division I basketball playoffs. I travelled to Salt Lake City to watch men's second and third round action, which I try to do each year. What can be better than watching six D1 games live over three days while spending the rest of the time watching games on TV?? Not all six games are exciting contests, but this year, four of the six were.
That included Wichita State grinding out a win over Pitt, Southern nearly upsetting Gonzaga, Harvard upsetting New Mexico, and the Shockers of WSU bouncing Gonzaga in the third round. Not a bad regional, and it far exceeded my expectations looking at the lineup going in. That just shows you one more time that you never know with college hoops.
Salt Lake City was not the only place for upsets. My alma mater, LaSalle, found a way to make it to the Sweet 16 as a play-in team, having not been to the tournament since 1992. On the other hand, my other alma mater, Notre Dame, was upset in the first round. And my team for 19 years, Creighton, won a close second round victory, only to fall to Duke in the third round. Thus far, my affiliated institutions have a record of 4-2! One of these days, maybe the SU men's team can make it to the dance. The SU women nearly did this year, and they will be right in the thick of it next year, I am sure!
Speaking of women's hoops, they are in the middle of their tournament, as well. Normally, it is equally exciting, but this year is there any chance that someone can beat Baylor? It just does not seem likely, which makes it less intriguing. That is the interesting thing about the men's side this year - it seems like so many teams have a legitimate shot at the title.
The Albers March Madness pool is back - I am so glad Madhu Rao has ramped it back up! There is a lot of abuse unleashed every time the results are updated, and I get more than my fair share. But that is OK, as it would be unseemly for the Dean to win. It is important to have a respectable finish, however! That Harvard win busted my bracket some, by the way!
I have been going to Regionals since 1998, when Creighton qualified for the Big Dance for the first time under Dana Altman, and played in Orlando. It was there that Creighton upset Louisville in the first round. A few changes I have noticed since then is that (1) TV coverage of games is so much more available, (2) tickets are easier to get and there are more and more empty seats, and (3) the commemorative t-shirts are so much easier to buy - they always used to run out of them. (1) and (2) are no doubt related.
There is one thing that sometimes becomes a problem, and that is fans (and announcers) sometimes forget how YOUNG these players are. That goes a long way in explaining a missed layup or free throw at a critical point, losing one's temper and drawing a technical foul, or making a bad decision on an impossible angle shot or pass. Then, sometimes an occasional fan will think it is humorous to get on a player like one would witness at a pro game - not very funny at all. That is the advantage of working in higher education every day - you know how young the players are!
I know that there are many critics of March Madness, saying that it exploits the students and makes millions of dollars for others. On the first point, a scholarship athlete is getting over $50k in benefits assuming he or she is making progress toward a degree, and that does not factor in what a degree will do for lifetime earnings (on average). Plus, you know those students just love the experience of being in the tournament!
On the second point, that is no doubt true, but schools are negotiating more favorable contracts with networks and more of that can be used to pay the costs of athletics (including the other sports for men and women!). Plus, schools reap intangible benefits from the exposure in terms of alumni relations and boosting the brand of the school - just check with Florida Gulf Coast on that!