The Western Association of Collegiate Schools of Business (WACSB) annual meeting was in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho October 9 to 11th. Forty-five AACSB accredited schools from the western US were in attendance, with schools from Arizona to Alaska and Montana to Hawaii represented. These meetings are always very valuable for networking with deans from other business schools in the region. Some deans find this to be the most valuable meeting that they attend.
I had never been to Coeur D’Alene except to drive through on I-90. I recommend getting off the highway! Coeur D’Alene is a pleasant, manageable town with a great, big lake and plenty of scenery. Our meeting was at the Coeur D’Alene Resort, which is right on the lake.
Idaho, Idaho State, and Boise State were the host schools and they did a nice job or organizing the conference. Unfortunately, they did not get much cooperation from Mother Nature, as it was cloudy and rainy most of the time.
These meetings always feature presentations and panel discussion on emerging issues for business schools. The problem that frequently happens is that the program is not designed to appeal to the wide variety of schools in the audience. For example, this meeting ranged between Research I schools such as Arizona and Oregon, to small privates such as California Lutheran and PLU, to medium sized publics such as Cal-Northridge and Eastern Washington.
One panel featured a discussion on commercialization of technology. Unfortunately, it was addressed from the perspective of very large public schools, so it had almost no relevance for most schools in the audience, including SU. The discussion would have been much more meaningful if the panelists represented the variety of schools in attendance.
Another panel discussion focused on financial strategies to address current budget problems. While the panel was more representative, no private schools were in the group. Granted, public institutions face more stress than privates, normally, but everyone is dealing with budget pressures.
A final panel focused on how schools support faculty research. It did have a private school in the mix, but the schools were on the large size. A more representative mix could have been developed for this discussion.
One of the questions that came up in this final session was how to measure the quality and impact of faculty research. It is an issue we are currently wrestling with in the Albers School. There are no easy answers and I didn’t come across any at this session that could be used by Albers, even though I explicitly asked the panel and audience to share what they were doing. The Research I schools have addressed this issue by coming up with a limited list of journals for their faculty to publish in. The rest of us are not interested in that approach.
In our case, we are now looking at classifying journals into four classes, but ideally we would come up with something which factors in other considerations. The quality of a journal is not always easy to identify, and just because an article gets published does not mean it has impact or influence on practice or the discipline. The ideal system would be multifaceted, but no one seems to know what that would actually look like.
What I did learn from this panel is that Albers does a reasonably good job of supporting faculty research, at least when compared to the four schools presenting. Well, one was a Ph.D. granting school, so we don’t provide that level of support, but we don’t tell faculty there are only four journals they should publish in, either.
The final session was devoted to Beta Gamma Sigma, the academic honor society for AACSB accredited schools. Once again, Seattle University was recognized as a premier school by BGS. This is a credit to Fred DeKay, who serves as faculty advisor for BGS and managed to pull this off while on a leave of absence! Way to go Fred!
Next year’s WASCB meeting will be at Lake Tahoe. I am planning accordingly!