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News & Events

Intensive ‘mini MBA’ program offers new Kellogg faculty tools to excel

Two-day course features cross-disciplinary collaboration and insights from senior professors; initiative one of many that supports incoming faculty

By Matt Golosinski

9/12/2008 - Each year, talented new faculty members join the Kellogg School, bringing a variety of discipline-based knowledge with them. For decades, Kellogg has attracted top young scholars from fields as diverse as economics, mathematics, psychology and political science. But putting these academic strengths to work within the context of the MBA classroom is also a key priority for the school’s administration.

“Kellogg attracts incredibly talented faculty,” said David Besanko ’82, senior associate dean for strategy and planning. “We also work hard to make sure that our professors can translate their theoretical scholarly insights and experiences into valuable practical frameworks that will enable our students to lead successful and significant careers.”

To fully harness that intellectual power, Besanko said that Kellogg employs a “comprehensive process” to orient new professors to the Kellogg culture, including the school’s rigorous standards of performance for teaching and research. Historically known for its collaborative culture, Kellogg offers many resources for new professors. For instance, senior faculty routinely mentor their junior counterparts, sharing insights, best practices and even classroom notes.

This year has brought an additional resource for incoming faculty, courtesy of Sunil Chopra, senior associate dean for curriculum and teaching. He designed what he terms a “mini MBA” program to introduce new teachers to the academic environment at Kellogg. The program, which ran all day Sept. 8 and 9 and also included a Sept. 10 module, featured veteran Kellogg professors, such as Robert Magee, Artur Raviv, Jan Van Mieghem, Victoria Medvec, Kent Grayson, Michael Mazzeo and Chopra, who taught versions of their own courses to illustrate classroom strategies that have proven effective in delivering the MBA curriculum.

The two-day program included various case studies and lectures that ranged from finance and accounting to marketing and strategy. Indeed, the program’s goal, said Chopra, was providing new faculty with content from different functional areas before they started teaching, while also imparting a sense of what is covered in other areas of the school’s core curriculum.

“New faculty got to observe senior Kellogg professors teach content from different core functional areas using different pedagogical elements, like large cases, mini cases, quantitative lectures and lectures that employed multiple pedagogical elements,” Chopra said.

The program impressed Anup Srivastava, incoming senior lecturer of accounting information and management. “I was amazed by the vast array of teaching techniques and styles that were employed by different faculty, which shows that there is no single ‘best’ style,” said Srivastava, who earned his doctorate in accounting from Texas A&M University and who holds an MBA from Delhi University. “I was amazed by the instructors’ abilities to present complex and esoteric topics in a language that an MBA student can easily understand.”

Jennifer Brown, incoming senior lecturer of management and strategy, concurred, noting that the program offered her insight into “the diversity of pedagogical tools being used at Kellogg.” In addition, she said, the course provided a glimpse into what it is like to be a Kellogg student — “lots of preparation that is rewarded with a stimulating and engaging classroom experience.” Brown, who earned her doctorate in agricultural and resource economics at the University of California (Berkeley), said that the best practices offered by senior Kellogg faculty were “invaluable.”

The veteran professors also found the experience rewarding. Magee, the Keith I. DeLashmutt Professor of Accounting Information and Management, said: “It was quite valuable to share outlooks and expertise across the school’s departments. It helps to communicate with each other about what we do — in the classroom and in our research.”

What’s more, Magee said the collaboration would go well beyond the mini MBA program. He is already working with some new colleagues to emphasize the importance of cross-disciplinary discussions.

“I will be meeting with one of the new, non-accounting faculty members to discuss how accounting measures relates to his research, and I’ve linked him up with another colleague to explore issues relating to the course that the new faculty member will be teaching,” Magee said.