European Junket

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on Friday, July 27, 2012 at 10:11 AM PDT

One reason my blogging has been neglected of late is because I was in Europe for several weeks.  The first stop was in London, serving as part of a team visiting Imperial College to do its AACSB accreditation.  Imperial has a strong reputation in science, medicine, and engineering, and about a decade ago acquired a business school.  They have been working on getting the business school to the same level of excellence as the rest of campus, and securing AACSB accreditation is part of their plan.


I had never been to London before, and it was interesting to be there before the Olympics and witness some of the preparations taking place.  Everyone was sure that traffic would be a disaster during the games.  As for the sights of the city, I found the British Museum, the British Library, the Courtauld Gallery, and Churchill's Underground Bunker to be the most interesting spots! 


Next I flew to Barcelona, for the 18th annual meeting of the International Association of Jesuit Business Schools (IAJBS).  But before that, my wife and I took a cruise out of Barcelona, with stops near Toulon, Nice, Florence, Rome, and Naples.  This was our first cruise, and it worked out well.  Every stop allowed for a new adventure.  At Toulon, we took a train to Cassis, a picturesque coastal town known for its white cliffs (calanques).   Near Nice, we disembarked in the town of Villefranche-sur-Mer and hiked around the high priced Cap Ferrat peninsula, including a visit to the Rothschild mansion and gardens.  At Florence, we took a bus into town and saw the Uffizi Museum and the Medici Chapel.  At Rome, we took the train into the city and retraced our March visit for a day, seeing the Pantheon and seven different churches, including the Jesú Church.  In Naples, we took the tour to Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii.


Back in Barcelona, IQS was the host school for the conference and we started with the IAJBS board meeting on Sunday, July 22nd.  The issue that took up the most time - should we start charging annual membership dues?  The answer was - yes!!  Fr. Michael Garanzini, President of Loyola of Chicago and Secretary for Higher Education for the Jesuits worldwide, joined our meeting and updated us on the order's plans for Africa.


The conference opened with a mass in the early evening.  Formal sessions started Monday morning, the 23rd.  The most interesting for me was the update on plans to establish Jesuit business programs in Africa.  I first discussed this topic in a blog last summer (see IAJBS on 7/26/11).  Progress is being made, but not at warp speed.  There are now four initiatives in Ivory Coast, the Congo, Kenya, and Burundi.  The Ivory Coast initiative is the only one with programming up and running.  The others are hoping to begin programs in 2014.  Fr. François Kabore, SJ is heading up the West Africa Project which is located in the Ivory Coast.  While I don't see us playing a major role in this initiative (they seem to have several other Jesuit schools already supporting them), I did talk to him about the possibility of faculty teaching there (either in the summer or on sabbatical) and doing internship placement for our International Economic Development and/or International Development Internship Program.  He was very positive about both.


We continue to be in touch with the organizers of the Great Lakes Region initiative, which is designed to serve students from Burundi, Rwanda, and the Congo in a bilingual (English and French) program.  The plan is to begin with an undergraduate business program in 2014.  Dean Alain Decrop from Namur University in Belgium is heading this up and is looking to Albers to be a supporting institution.  That would entail assisting with the development of the undergraduate curriculum as well as having some of our faculty teach in the program.  How much teaching still needs to be determined.  Dean Decrop is likely to visit SU in early October for further discussions.


Fr. Fidelis Udahemuka, SJ is heading up the East Africa project in Kenya.  (Interestingly, Fr. Fidelis almost ended up enrolling in our MBA program, opting at the last minute to attend Santa Clara because he knew the Jesuit community there.)  There, the plan is to start with an EMBA program in 2014.  I suggested to him that he consider using our assistance to develop the curriculum, drawing upon our highly successful and highly ranked Leadership EMBA program.  He was very open to that offer.


Late Monday afternoon Carl Obermiller and April Atwood presented their paper, "Sustainable Literacy Scale Development," which detailed their work to develop a scale to measure student knowledge about sustainability issues.  April did the presentation and did a nice job with it.  I made sure not to tell her that the head of Jesuit higher education worldwide, Fr. Garanzini, was in the audience - I did not want to make her nervous! :}


The next day, Meena Rishi was delivering her paper on sustainable development in India, but I missed it because we flew back to Seattle that morning!  I am sure it went well, though.


As for Barcelona, it is a very interesting city.  The most amazing site is the Sagrada Familia Cathedral, the Gaudi inspired basilica that has been under construction since 1882 and is only 65% completed.  There are many streets and alley ways to wonder in the downtown section near the Ramblas and a few other churches to see, but they don't compare to the churches to be seen in Rome.


There you have it - a quick summary of my junket to Europe.  Now it time to get back to work!