The KU business dean believes a curriculum that serves the needs of business also benefits students destined for the job market.
Joe Bauman wants Kansas University's business faculty to do more than teach the theory of team strategies as a way to run a more efficient, cohesive organization.
In his four years as dean of KU's School of Business, Bauman has borrowed a page from the management curriculum by bringing faculty together on teams studying specialized programs.
This, Bauman said, is a departure from a more fragmented past, when faculty members taught individual courses and less heed was paid to how overall programs evolved to meet the needs of students and a changing business environment.
``I think we have to be more than 52 scholars working independently,'' Bauman said of his faculty. ``I think we have to work together to understand what's needed to run businesses effectively and to teach that to our students.''
Bauman says he can see progress in all the areas on which teams focused:
- Undergraduate curriculum. ``We've increased the percentage of full-time faculty and the percentage of courses taught by full-time faculty quite dramatically,'' he said.
Improvement also is evident in the prebusiness program, Bauman said, noting that a distinguished professor even taught Introduction to Accounting last year.
``Enrollment in that course is way up, which could be an indicator of enrollment in the future,'' he said.
Bauman said the school's undergraduate enrollment has declined over the past two years to under 700 but he expects the number to move back toward the 800 level, which he believes is optimum.
- Accounting program. That team has continued to develop the master's program to meet the needs of graduates who will sit for the certified public accountant's examination beginning in 1997. That's when the education requirement jumps to 150 hours of college credit, the equivalent of a master's degree.
In this area the school also draws on expertise from professionals outside of the school, Bauman said. ``We're working with our accounting advisory group and designing this so that students have a strong career foundation.''
- Masters of business administration program. Bauman said one of the thrusts of this growing program has been to improve the program's cohesiveness and practicality.
For example, students are admitted to the Lawrence campus' MBA program only in the fall. Also, all MBA students take a two-semester basic skills course that includes instruction in networking and is designed to help students be successful in the job market and workplace.
This effort also draws on alumni and other professionals who have agreed to give students a point of contact in the business world.
Bauman said the MBA team also is constantly re-evaluating curriculum against the needs of an evolving business environment. In so doing, Bauman said, the faculty hope to avoid becoming insulated and provincial, and to fashion courses for students, not faculty.
``Business schools, by their very nature, will start looking inward at what the expertise is on their own faculty,'' he explained. ``Sometimes you need to step outward and ask whether this is what students really need.''
- Doctoral program. Funding for the program is up and enrollments are down -- from 46 to about 30 this fall -- and that will improve the program, Bauman said.
``We're getting very strong students,'' Bauman said. ``We're getting students with over 700 GMAT scores, which means were getting students in the top 1 percent on GMAT scores.''
The school is working hard to find high-quality placements for its doctoral students, and has had success, Bauman said, noting that graduates have landed teaching jobs at such universities as Duke and Texas A&M.;
But Bauman says the teams aren't the only success story in the business school. The dean said he also likes how the 2-year-old Minority Business Scholars program, started by Renate Mai-Dalton, associate professor, is shaping up.
Twelve students currently are participating in the program, which is designed to draw minority students into the business program and give them the best chance for success. Bauman said the school would like to have 20 students involved.
Under terms of the program, students agree to attend all classes, share their homework and test results and meet with Mai-Dalton every two weeks.
Bauman said the school also is trying to optimize its relevance through academic centers started last summer to study the environment of business, specifically the areas of international business, management of technology and work force management.
Those centers are designed to complement KU's academic center on ethics and a new center on market-based management and value creation.
The dean also noted the school's growing reputation for expertise in the area of artificial intelligence and noted that Prakash Shenoy, who has been director of the doctoral program, is the new Ronald G. Harper Distinguished Professor, a chair reserved for a faculty member who specializes in the application of artificial intelligence in business.