Collaboration Brightens Our Future

Stanford Business, Spring 2019: The school’s relationship to the broader Stanford University

April 01, 2019

Last month, I spoke to Stanford’s Faculty Senate, a group of 56 elected representatives of the Academic Council, and the provost. It was the first time since 2011 that a Stanford GSB dean had presented to the senate, the body dedicated to academic governance at Stanford. I discussed Stanford GSB’s history and priorities and the school’s relationship to the broader university.

I would like to share some thoughts on this last topic, because strengthening our ties across Stanford is an area of emphasis for those of us at the business school today.

Stanford GSB’s trajectory has paralleled Stanford’s in many ways. When the business school was founded in 1925, it had a regional orientation: The intention was to encourage local business talent to stay on the West Coast rather than travel East. Within a few decades, Stanford GSB became a national school. Today, we are global in our efforts to bring students, faculty, and ideas to the school and in the impact we make through our alumni, research, and educational programs. Embracing Stanford’s commitment to give back to society, we have benefited from the strengths and values of the university to help us reinforce and enhance them across our community.

When Arjay Miller served as dean in the 1970s, he realized that to launch the GSB’s Public Management Program, it would be important for the school to seek a degree of financial independence. Arjay convinced the university to allow Stanford GSB to become a formula school, managing its own budget and raising money for its endowment while contributing each year to Stanford’s finances. This model continues to serve us well, allowing us a valuable degree of autonomy in hiring faculty, developing curriculum, and managing our business education priorities.

Becoming more independent also may have helped Stanford GSB to develop its distinctive culture, where small class sizes permit an immersive learning experience and enable close relationships between students and faculty. With this independence, Stanford GSB arguably had a less immediate need to engage with Stanford’s other schools. When I joined the Stanford faculty in 2000, there was a perception that the business school had established a “force field” around it, protecting it from outside interference but also limiting collaboration. The last two decades, however, have seen a remarkable shift in this regard. Today, we actively seek to collaborate with Stanford’s other schools and institutes.

In my remarks to the senate, I highlighted the growing number of students going back and forth “across the street.” Last year, over 70% of our MBA and MSx students took courses throughout the university. We made more than 100 class sections available to non-GSB students and enrolled over 450 of them. We offer degree programs with each of Stanford’s six other schools, and around 20% of our MBA students pursue a joint or a dual degree. The connections with the broader university also carry through to our alumni: More than 4,700 have earned a Stanford degree apart from their GSB degree.

I also talked about the engagement of Stanford GSB faculty across the university. More than a quarter of our tenure-line faculty hold courtesy appointments or teach courses at other Stanford schools, while 21 faculty from across Stanford hold appointments at the business school. A number of our faculty teach undergraduate courses. One example is professor Darrell Duffie’s seminar on financial markets. Faculty from Stanford GSB also play important roles in many of Stanford’s institutes, including the Woods Institute for the Environment, the Precourt Institute for Energy, and the Hoover Institution.

We have built a small suite of collaborative executive education programs, including several new ones this year. With the Graduate School of Education, we launched the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative, which includes an innovative program for school district supervisors. We will introduce an artificial intelligence executive program this summer, together with Stanford’s new Human Centered AI Institute. These build on our existing partnerships, such as our Innovative Health Care Leader program, directed by Stanford GSB professor Sarah Soule and School of Medicine professor Abraham Verghese.

One of our recent successes has been a close collaboration between Stanford Seed and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. Last year, we established the Stanford Center on Global Poverty and Development, which involves over 100 faculty from across Stanford, including 22 from the GSB. The center’s recent initiative on conflict and polarization is led by Stanford GSB faculty Lindred Greer, Nir Halevy, and Saumitra Jha and two Stanford political science professors. Together with the center and SIEPR, we cohosted the first Stanford China Economic Forum last fall in Beijing. It was a great show of Stanford’s global reach and impact and involved around 200 Stanford alumni, including 100 from the GSB.

As Stanford GSB builds relationships across the university through teaching, research, and program development, what has emerged is the recognition that we can accomplish much more working together than working alongside each other. I am confident these partnerships will enhance and accelerate our ability to change lives, change organizations, and change the world.

This letter from the dean was published in Stanford Business magazine in Spring 2019.

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