Message From the Dean: 2015-16 Key Accomplishments and Challenges Ahead

As we approach the end of the 2015-2016 Academic Year, now is the time to look back to see what we as a team have accomplished during the year and what challenges lie ahead in the next academic year.

Dean Zhan Li The 2015-2016 year has been the best year so far for our School and academic programs as we continue to be recognized and ranked by national and global media and organizations, particularly in the areas of return-on-education, our hybrid programs, and the diversity of our students. Our MBA program was ranked #2 in the nation for return-on-education by Social Finance Inc., CEO Magazine ranked our EMBA-Hybrid #16 in the world, while U.S. News & World Report ranked our non-MBA graduate hybrid programs #37 in the nation.

 Our undergraduate and graduate programs were among the top 50 in the nation for graduating the most diverse students, according to Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. SEBA's Digital Driver's License program, which certifies faculty members to teach online, was among 30 initiatives chosen for AACSB's International's list of Innovations That Inspire, which showcases educational innovations of business schools from around the world.

 Also in 2015-16, we were successful in our efforts to continue raising the profile and reputation of our school in the Bay Area. For instance, we partnered once again with the San Francisco Chronicle to present the Second Annual Visionary of the Year Award, recognizing Bay Area leaders who have not only advanced their industry practices, but also made positive impact to society. In addition, a number of top leaders, including the Chief Information Officer of Tesla Motors, Chief Data Officer of Wells Fargo, and Chief Economist of Bank of the West, have engaged our students, faculty, and alumni on campus via the Executive Speaker Series. The Elfenworks Center for Responsible Business hosted a high-caliber conference on healthcare issues in the U.S., featuring a high-ranking government official as the conference’s keynote speaker. 

 We have been proactive and successful in launching new innovative academic programs. For example, our Master of Science in Business Analytics was launched in this academic year, with an actual enrollment doubling the targeted number. And we are in the process of launching the second cohort of this degree program in Silicon Valley in the coming Autumn. Our newly revised and highly engaging Trans-Global EMBA Program has attracted more attention and enrollment in the marketplace. Our new Master of Science in Management program, creatively designed to aid students of liberal arts, science, engineering and other non-business majors in their professional and career development, has also been approved to start in July. We have also designed and received approval to leverage the big data phenomenon by adding a Business Analytics Concentration to our Undergraduate Business and Professional MBA Programs. Our Innovative Interfaith Leadership minor has been implemented as well. 

 Most importantly, our students continue to excel. The student-run Responsible Investment Fund is outperforming other funds in the same category. It was also featured in a recent San Francisco Chronicle article for its emphasis on responsible investment. SEBA's chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma, an honors society serving AACSB-accredited business programs, was recently recognized as an Honors Chapter. SEBA’s Saint Mary’s Net Impact chapter, promoting positive social impacts of business, has received Gold Standing designation.  Our student teams impressed judges and won awards at the Business Idea Competition and the Hult Prize Competition. The Guyette Leadership Fellow Program has graduated its first cohort of students with impressive career and professional outcomes. Employers in the Bay Area—such  as Chevron, PG&E, Kaiser Permanente, and Oracle—continue  to hire our students. For example, at Firm Night, 30 Bay Area accounting firms came to campus to recruit SMC students. Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers have each hired about 10 SEBA undergraduate and graduate students for internships and jobs in the past year. 

Our faculty continue to shine. They have had papers published in leading academic journals, such as Academy of Management Review, Journal of Retailing, and Journal of Business Research. Some have had new books recently published. We have had a faculty member selected for the Fulbright Scholarship for the next academic year. Others have been interviewed by Forbes, the U.S. News & World Report, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Rewards faculty have received include the Outstanding Research Award of Saint Mary’s, and the Outstanding Teaching, Research, and Service Awards of SEBA. Our faculty have also recently been appointed for roles including Chevron Professor, TransAmerica Professor, Stull Professor in Entrepreneurship, and Guyette Professor in Leadership.

Looking ahead, the national trend of pursuing an MBA degree will continue: We are well positioned for the dynamic market of specialized master’s degree programs. The AACSB re-accreditation is coming up in 2018-19. We will need to continue our momentum and success in enhancing retention rate, graduation rate, employment rate, and other return-on-education performance aspects.

I am looking forward to working with you all to continue our innovative and impactful work in the coming year.

Zhan Li
Dean, School of Economics and Business Administration