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3Qs: a conversation with Dean Courtney

Hugh Courtney, the new dean of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, brings a powerful combination of academic, industry and nonprofit leadership skills to Northeastern. Here, he shares his global vision for the business school’s graduate and undergraduate programs.

What attracted you to Northeastern?

The trajectory that the university and the school have been on would be appealing to any business school leader. More importantly, I believe in Northeastern’s particular strengths and core values: experiential education, the importance of translating management research into management practice and the transformative power of global study and co-op experiences.

How is the economic downturn affecting business schools, and how is our school weathering this?

The downturn and financial sector meltdown that precipitated it have led many to question the rigor, relevance and social value of business education. But at our school, we have implemented curricular changes and new honors programs that challenge and inspire our increasingly gifted students. Through undergraduate co-ops and corporate residencies in our MBA program, our students learn to apply the business concepts and tools they are learning and, as a result, earn a higher return on their educational investment. Our faculty and students also serve society by creating and disseminating knowledge that addresses our economy’s most pressing issues such as new-business creation and strategies for success in today’s global markets.

Do you have in mind any ways to be more innovative with our global and graduate programs?

Our undergraduate international business program, in which our students spend a year abroad studying and working in that country’s native language, is truly unique. But all of our students, regardless of major, must develop global mindsets. If students don’t understand global financial markets, for example, how in the world can they be successful in business? My goal is to ensure that all of our students have at least one global learning experience, and that every course in every major addresses global issues in one form or another.

As for graduate education, we can further leverage our international partnerships to offer innovative dual-degree programs. For example, students could have short residencies at two or more global host universities, where they would complete course work and projects that immerse them in the local economies. In between these residencies, the students would continue to take classes together online. The “hybrid” structure of such programs—in which teams of students spend some time working and studying together and the rest of the time working virtually—better mimics the work so many of them will pursue after graduation. The ability to collaborate with co-workers in China, India, Brazil, Russia and elsewhere, on virtual project teams, will be a key to their career success.

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