I read Mark Twain’s classic novels, Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, when I was a teenager in Iran. Ever since, I held the images of life on the Mississippi, its community goodness, and its exciting adventures as depicted in the novels, as an integral part of my lifelong dreaming. Little could I foresee that my dreaming would someday become a reality when in April of 2014 I was fortunate to assume the Deanship of Winona State University’s AACSB accredited College of Business.
During the past four years, I have engaged in an ongoing dialogue with our students, faculty, alumni, business partners and community members in Winona, Rochester and beyond for taking the educational experience of our graduates to a more distinct level of excellence. Together, with the faculty, students and staff, we, at the WSU College of Business, have come to the agreement that “innovative engaged teaching and learning” in partnership with businesses and communities in Winona, Minnesota and beyond will create a more enriched brand of educational experience for our business graduates.
Thus, for nearly three years now we have adopted the tagline of Create Your More, which captures the strong commitment of our faculty and students to go beyond the ordinary by engaging in relevant, meaningful, and ongoing experiential interaction with our business partners. Since then, What’s Your More has become my favorite question to ask.
Students have answered it through increasing club membership, greater participation in events, and initiating projects and professional development academies, such as Dean’s Advisory Board, Walkabout Winona, Beta Gamma Sigma, and the John Latsch Leadership Academy. Faculty have answered it by co-teaching class sessions and organizing expansive company days in close collaboration with our business partners.
Recent alumni have answered it by stating a higher satisfaction with their engaged experience and by reporting a larger number of job offers from employers both locally and nationally. Long-term alumni have answered it by visiting our campus more often and initiating major projects as exemplified by the landmark Women’s symposium, or their generous donations as exemplified by Strauss Center for Sales Excellence.
Business partners have answered it by becoming our sponsors and by generously giving of their time, talents, and resources to engage with and support our students and faculty. Most recently, Winona National Bank has named Financial Markets Lab in our Engagement Center.
That’s why I’m very excited about the launching of our furtherMORE blog & newsletter. It gives us a regular platform for answers to my favorite question as we begin to share our Create Your More experiences, one story at a time, with the world. So, let’s start our furtherMore stories by asking, What’s Your More?
Hamid Akbari, PhD Dean and Professor of Management College of Business HAkbari@winona.edu