In July, Raquel Alexander became the first Kenneth W. Freeman Professor & Dean of the new College of Management. We asked Alexander, who was previously an associate dean at Washington & Lee University, what lies in store for management education at Bucknell.
By Matt Hughes
Q: Why is now the right time for the University to expand its management programs as an independent college?
A: Bucknell has offered excellent management education for more than 100 years. When we think about how to best serve our students, a College of Management is the next step in that tradition. With dedicated resources, we can provide students transformative experiences such as study-abroad opportunities that allow them to pursue their major in another culture. We can also build programming and curriculum for students in the College of Engineering and College of Arts & Sciences in a way that was not possible before.
Q: You’ve come to Bucknell from another liberal arts school. How does a liberal arts core inform a business education?
A: The most important problems we face as a society are not solved by any single discipline. How do you power the planet and sustain the world? How do you build community? How do you address inequity? The answer is not found in any one major. Having a business degree coupled with the liberal arts allows students to have a broader understanding of these problems and look at them through the lenses of different disciplines. Students who aspire to be leaders in organizations must develop the skills to work with others who have different professional training and personal backgrounds. Bucknell’s College of Management takes an interdisciplinary approach to education that will serve its graduates well throughout their lives.
Q: What will your first actions be as dean of the college?
A: This summer, I will be working with the faculty and staff on plans to welcome students to the College of Management in the fall. I will also be meeting the faculty around campus, visiting alumni and learning more about Bucknell’s histories and traditions — but as a University of Kansas graduate, I am already familiar with the 2005 March Madness story, so alumni don’t need to bring that up when we meet.
Q: When the college’s first class graduates in four years’ time, how do you think the college will be different?
A: We will have developed more experiential programs that build upon the strengths across the University in the humanities, engineering and the arts. There’s already a lot of magic that happens in the classroom and on campus. We have an opportunity to enhance cocurricular activities off campus and foster important professional connections between the students and alumni, parents and friends of Bucknell. The College of Management will also have a stronger partnership with the arts. With an arts entrepreneurship minor and a growing number of faculty collaborations across arts and management, we are exploring spaces to support and foster connections between these disciplines. The arts inform who we are as humans — our history, our culture, our values — and strengthening the connection between management and the arts would bring further distinction to Bucknell. But what won’t change is our commitment to small class sizes, personal connections between students and their faculty advisers, and emphasis on the liberal arts.
Q: How else is the college positioning itself to aid graduates in meeting the challenges of today’s economy?
A: Students should engage in meaningful, high-impact activities before they go on the job market, and we need to provide opportunities for all students to have these experiences. Whether it is working with faculty on research, studying abroad or interning during the summer, students learn about their interests, aptitudes and abilities while developing professional skills that will serve them over a lifetime.
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