As students depart for the summer, it’s appropriate to reflect on this past year and how significant it has been for Brandeis International Business School (IBS) on so many levels. We have worked diligently to integrate ourselves more deeply with the greater Brandeis community. Our undergraduate business major has tripled in enrollment to nearly 100 students. International leaders in government such as Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Honduran President Porfirio Lobo visited campus to engage students on issues surrounding the global economy. And the school’s academic excellence has continued to be recognized, with our MBA, Lemberg MAief and PhD degrees all being ranked among the best in the world.
Brandeis IBS continues to be a thought leader in the international community, convening sessions with government, academic and business leaders, building relationships around the globe and moving forward with innovative programs. It is with this in mind I would like to share some of this year's highlights.
Never before has our school seen such an impressive array of student-run events and programming. At the first annual “Three-Day Startup” competition – the first event of its kind in New England – 40 undergraduate and graduate students with a wide range of backgrounds comingled with leading entrepreneurs and investors to brainstorm, research and pitch business ideas from scratch over the course of one caffeine-fueled, sleep-deprived weekend.
Students also spearheaded competitions such as the Groupon Case Competition, the Stock Pitch Challenge and the inaugural Bunson Impact Investment Challenge, the first U.S. business-school event to focus exclusively on green-minded portfolios. Archana KC MBA ’13 proposed a cardamom business in her native Nepal. “It was a perfect match for my desire to start a business and create opportunities for people in rural parts of my country,” she said. “Events like this are important for giving students a chance to test their ideas.”
Socio-economic discoveries in Cuba
In February, 30 students went to Cuba for a first-person look at the country’s evolving economy. It was the second trip as part of the new Hassenfeld Fellow Overseas Immersion Program, funded by retired Hasbro Chairman and CEO Alan Hassenfeld.
The trip was organized and led by professor Alfonso Canella, a Cuba native who had not returned to his homeland in more than 40 years. Alan and I were among the participants, and, along with students, exchanged ideas with economics students at the University of Havana, and connected with the first private MBA program in Cuba. It was a unique chance for students to peek under the hood and see a global economy begin to emerge before their very eyes.
Thought leadership: GTS 2012 and faculty accolades
At our second-annual Global Trade Summit, we welcomed some of the world’s top leaders to discuss ideas and identify opportunities in emerging economies, with a focus on Brazil, India, Israel and Turkey. Having been part of Gov. Deval Patrick’s trade mission to Brazil in December, I can proudly attest to the success of our outreach efforts: in his summit keynote address, Gov. Patrick revealed that he and our team would be meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff the following week—a direct result of his trade mission. At the meeting, President Rousseff revealed a plan to fund Brazilian students to study abroad, and we are hard at work to participate in this effort.
Our faculty has continued to be recognized for their leadership and research. Two papers were recently selected out of 640 submissions to be given Outstanding Research Awards at the Eastern Finance Association conference. Our professors have offered their insights on the global economy to The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist and other major media outlets. This month, three professors – Daniel Bergstresser, Jens Hilscher and Brad Morrison – were offered tenure for their outstanding teaching and scholarship.
Encouraging cross-cultural fluency
In today’s global climate, it’s important to understand and celebrate one another’s cultural traditions. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the many fun and enlightening student-organized events this year, such as La Latinada, Celebrate Africa, The Lunar New Year and Diwali (the Hindu “Festival of Lights”). Our students come from a wide array of backgrounds and more than 70 countries, and celebrations like these bring a richness to our school that encourages life-long interaction and collaboration across cultures.
From the home-front to the world stage
As we continue to grow our global visibility and impact, Brandeis IBS remains true to its mission to educate and enrich students’ lives. I am reminded of a story involving Chiengkuach Majok MA ’12, who this past summer returned to his native South Sudan to work at the Central Bank during the newly-independent country’s economic transition. Members of the Ministry of Finance gave him the nickname of “The Little Guy with Big Answers.”
Chiengkuach and approximately 200 classmates were recognized this past month at commencement. They enter a complex international economy and competitive job market possessing an enviable array of financial, economic and management skills that will serve them well as community leaders and global citizens.
I thank you for all of your contributions to Brandeis IBS, for it is with your help and support we are able to build upon our academic excellence and provide a first-class education for our students. I wish for you and your family a wonderful summer.