Tag: Building Olin

Dean Mark Taylor offers a token of appreciation—a miniature Bear pub sign—to Bob and Kathleen O

With help from an emeritus member of WashU’s Board of Trustees and our dean’s eye for British culture, the Knight Center has opened a new watering hole for members of the entire campus community—at least, those of drinking age.

The Bear Public House, off the Knight Center lobby, was officially dedicated on October 2, 2019, with a toast to Bob and Kathleen O’Loughlin, whose financial contribution made the project possible. Former trustee Bob O’Loughlin, CEO of Lodging Hospitality Management Corp., also collaborated with Dean Mark P. Taylor on the design.

Visitors, welcomed by Dean Mark P. Taylor, break in the new Bear Public House at the dedication on October 2, 2019.
Visitors, welcomed by Dean Mark P. Taylor, break in the new Bear Public House at the dedication on October 2, 2019.

The Bear becomes another community meeting place in the building in addition to the EMBA Pub, long the scene for late-evening study groups and decompression time after class for executive MBAs. That space, tucked on the building’s fourth floor, is on tap for a makeover as an American sports bar commemorating the 1904 Olympic Games at Francis Field.

Meanwhile, The Bear is modeled after a pub Dean Taylor recalls in Warwickshire, England, the county of his birth—and that of William Shakespeare.

Roots in the UK

Sign outside the new Knight Center pub for The Bear Public House.
Sign in the Knight Center lobby for The Bear Public House.

That UK pub gets its name—The Bear and Ragged Staff—from the iconography of the county’s official flag and coat of arms. The Knight Center’s new pub incorporates similar imagery into its sign.

Here at Olin’s new pub, overstuffed chairs and leather sofas divide the room into cozy nooks for conversation, with high-topped tables tucked into corners and along the walls. The gray marble of the bar contrasts with the dark wood-plank floors while an antique clock ticks in the corner and busts of Shakespeare and his contemporaries adorn the window sills. Copies of the only known oil paintings of the Bard taken in his lifetime hang on the walls.

The crest of Warwickshire, England

“We wanted to make it more of a cross-campus draw. We want people to come to the Knight Center from outside the business school, too,” Taylor said, describing the concept for the new pub. “We wanted a warm environment.”

The idea began when Taylor had a conversation with Bob O’Loughlin, emeritus member of the university’s Board of Trustees and CEO of Lodging Hospitality Management Corp., a hotel and attraction builder and operator. His firm is involved in building the new aquarium at St. Louis’ Union Station.

Vision for two pubs

Taylor and O’Loughlin shared a vision for a state-of-the-art, welcoming and warm space in the Knight Center. O’Loughlin agreed to fund the construction and consult on the project. They both agreed on the English pub theme “partly because I’m English and partly because Bob owns one,” Taylor said, referring to the Cheshire Hotel’s Fox and Hounds pub.

Before proceeding, however, Taylor had to be convinced the new pub would be self-sustaining. “One of the things we like to do is practice what we teach,” he said. “It’s a business and we want it to support the university and support itself. It spills over into our identity. We want it to be international, world class.”

Between the idea’s conception in April 2017 and the pub’s recent opening, construction has moved in fits-and-starts to minimize disruption while students and visitors were using the Knight Center. Now that The Bear is open, Taylor said, WashU Olin will invest in a facelift for the EMBA Pub.

“We need it for private events or, when the EMBA class is here, we want to have it for them,” he said. The American sports bar theme would complement the first-floor English pub and “it celebrates something for which the university should be known for.”

The Bear Public House is open from 4-10 p.m. Monday through Friday and features new menus with curated drink and food choices that reflect both traditional and contemporary creations by the Knight Center’s culinary teams.

Pictured above: Dean Mark P. Taylor, right, offers a token of appreciation—a miniature Bear pub sign—to Bob and Kathleen O’Loughlin, benefactors of the new space.

William F. Gephardt

When we unveiled the new brand strategy for WashU Olin Business School a year ago today, Dean Mark Taylor made a point of saying we weren’t changing who we are as a school. The notion of a business education that is values-based and data-driven—a key pillar of Olin’s strategic plan and our brand identity—has been there since Olin’s beginning.

“Values-based and data-driven is not something we just dreamed up. It’s imprinted in our DNA,” said Stuart Bunderson, director of Olin’s Bauer Leadership Center. “We don’t do enough here to clarify and take pride in our heritage.”

Actually, the notion predates the existence of the business school itself.

William F. Gephart, who would become the first dean of the WashU “School of Commerce and Finance” in 1917, drafted a lengthy memo to Frederic Aldin Hall, the sixth chancellor of WashU, three years earlier to argue the case for the business school he envisioned.

Only a page into the typewritten document—and in the gender-exclusive language of the era—he writes that “the vision of the business man must be both far and wide. He must not only see the numerous and seemingly conflicting facts, but he must be able to analyze them.”

Sounds a lot like data-driven decision-making, no?

On the very next page of the 15-page document, Gephart writes a bit more expansively:

“Many men in business rightly view with alarm some of the governmental tendencies in regulating business. This threatened and actually experienced undesirable restriction on business enterprise has resulted from two causes:

“(a) The excesses of a minor number of business men who in their zeal to secure private profits have needlessly sacrificed public interests.

“(b) The demagogue in office or desiring office, who would sacrifice public interests to further his political success.

“The properly trained business man will act as a restraining influence on each class. He will set an example of good private business that is also good public business…”

Does anyone else hear “values-based” in that description?

Bunderson, the George & Carol Bauer Professor of Organizational Ethics & Governance, uses these quotes in a class he co-teaches with Seethu Seetharaman. The course is called Values-Based, Data-Driven Decision-Making.

Gephart drafted those remarks on February 19, 1914. A little more than three years later, on March 30, 1917, the School of Commerce and Finance—the precursor to Olin Business School—was established.

Pictured above: William F. Gephart with screenshots from his 1914 memo.

Ray Irving has grim memories of his earliest days as a distance learning specialist in higher education. Those memories include 45-pound boxes stuffed with books, massive postage bills—and disappointing drop-out rates as students struggled to engage with dense material and connect with remote faculty.

Those drawbacks have given way to high-speed, two-way video, collaborative software platforms, digital learning materials and a wide assortment of communication tools to connect students and teachers. In the years since starting in higher ed, Irving has leveraged those tools to build world-class e-learning platforms. He joined WashU Olin in April to repeat his success here.

Mockup of the entrance to the Center for Digital Education on the first floor of Knight Hall. Rendering by Katie Wools.

Irving is partnered with Nina Kim, who comes to Olin from the University of Iowa with nine years of digital experience in instructional design, and together the pair is overseeing the construction and launch of Olin’s Center for Digital Education. Work is underway in the space behind Frick Forum on the first floor of Knight Hall and Bauer Hall. It’s expected to open in October.

Irving’s team is also building a new web-based digital learning platform called learn.WashU (“learn WashU”), which debuted already as a tool for the new class of first-year MBA students who started June 24. Read the Desk of the Dean from December 5, 2018, for more on that.

“The way the world’s changing, you have to keep increasing your knowledge and skills,” said Irving, director of the new center. “Universities have a real place to place in this because faculty are at the cutting edge of research and should be able to transfer the latest thinking.”

Clear goals

That philosophy is at the heart of the three goals for the new center: enhancing the Olin learning experience, extending the reach of the school and engaging learners for life—long after they’ve left Olin as alums.

“I was really excited about being a part of creating something,” said Kim, associate director. “This is truly an opportunity to figure out what online learning is at Olin—and all of WashU—and have the ability to create a team that was not already established.”

Another view of the planned entrance to the Center for Digital Education. Rendering by Katie Wools.

The pair envisions a center complete with green-screen studios that can put faculty on camera in authentic environments as they address classes. Banks of high-powered computers will support the creation of video-driven learning. And through it all, faculty members will partner with e-learning experts to help them structure their materials for a new audience.

In addition to physical construction, the Center for Digital Education is hiring up to 11 team members by year’s end with titles such as multimedia developer, video production specialist and media production manager. They’ll work hand-in-hand with faculty to produce instructional materials.

“Faculty are subject matter experts, but generally, they have never taken any education courses—or how to teach online in particular,” Kim said. “Once people talk with us and they learn what we do and how we can help them, they have been very open to working on their courses with us.”

Based on past success

Irving knows he and Kim can do it because he’s done it before—at the University of Warwick in the UK, working with Dean Mark Taylor when he led the business school there. The school won accolades for its online learning. “The reason Warwick was ranked No. 1 in the world in 2018 and 2019 by the Financial Times was because of the investment he made back in 2011,” he said. “It’s about dealing with faculty and investing in support, facilities and technology. That all comes back to leadership.”

In his public addresses on the subject, Dean Taylor has acknowledged Olin isn’t an early mover in this area, but he has expressed confidence that the school can benefit from the experience of those who have come before. “The early bird catches the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese,” he said.

In addition to the MBAs on their global immersion, PMBA students will start using the learn.WashU platform in January, EMBAs will follow in April and some executive education courses will start appearing on the platform in the interim. Irving and Kim expect everyone at Olin to be on the platform by fall 2020—including alumni, who will be granted access as needed for continuing education opportunities.

There are no plans yet to put the MBA program online, but plans are underway to create online versions of the specialized master’s in business analytics.

As Irving notes, we’ve come a long way from shipping books.

“In history, the biggest challenges would be technology, but that’s gone,” he said. “We never have a technical barrier. It comes back to people—persuading people that online can be as good if not better.”

“To unpathed waters, undreamed shores.” Shakespeare’s phrase, from The Winter’s Tale, sums up the challenge that faces tomorrow’s business leaders. To compete in a global marketplace, one must cultivate a global perspective. Tourism won’t cut it. Deeper global experience is required.

Last week, the 2021 cohort of full-time MBA students arrived at WashU Olin. Today, they’re more than halfway through their orientation, four days from embarking on a journey of “disorientation” across three continents, immersed in a rigorous, hands-on curriculum as global business leaders additionally address real-world business problems.

It is a bold step for the students and—as a number of other schools are choosing to end their full-time MBA programmes—a bold step for Olin. But as a key character notes in Henry IV, Part I, “the blood more stirs to rouse a lion than to start a hare.”

The programme has come a long way since I first introduced it in this space back in September. A long list of Olin team members have contributed to bringing this vision to life, starting with Ohad Kadan, Patrick Moreton, Ashley Macrander, Hayley Huffman and Rachel Tolliver, have spent untold hours planning down the smallest detail.

We’ve learned from a spring break pilot to Barcelona and Shanghai with nearly 100 students. And now it’s underway for the newest class of first-year students.

Around the world in 38 days

On Sunday, the entire cohort arrives at WashU Olin’s headquarters in Washington, DC. Their agenda includes courses with business and government policy experts at the world-renowned Brookings Institution, with whom we enjoy a unique partnership. They’ll begin courses with Andrew Knight focused on impactful teamwork and with Cathy Dunkin on effective communications—courses that carry through the entire trip.

A week later, the cohort moves to Barcelona for a two-week dive into European business and an immersion into Iberian culture. They’ll take courses with Sam Chun and Peter Boumgarden in general management, working with regional vineyards on an analysis of go-to-market strategies.

The students finish with 17 days in China. After a couple of days for sightseeing in Beijing, the cohort spends the next two weeks on two courses. Daniel Elfenbein and Anne Marie Knott work with students on a market-entry problem with St. Louis’s Strange Donuts, which has considered opening in the Chinese market. Then, Fuqiang Zhang and Lingxiu Dong teach an international business operations course as students examine the distribution and manufacturing practices of local and global brands.

Through it all, WashU students will gain a foundational understanding of effective teamwork and values-based, data-driven decision-making. Combining ethical decision making with highly analytic empirical analysis—key hallmarks of business education at WashU Olin.

With more than a month abroad from the outset, these students have embarked on arguably the most global full-time MBA programme in the world. But that’s not the only enhancement we made as we overhauled the full-time MBA.

Flexibility—with rigor

For career-switchers, the traditional two-year MBA may continue to be the right choice. They are turning their careers in a new direction and they value the foundational education, the time to engage with our career services professionals and the chance to test themselves in a summer internship.

But career enhancers—looking for a leap forward in a career they already love—want the content in less time and for as little opportunity cost as possible. They need an accelerated programme that skips the internship. They don’t want “MBA lite.” They want “MBA intensive,” in an abbreviated timeframe, and that’s what WashU Olin has created with the new accelerated full-time MBA.

The new 14-month programme skips the internship and provides the same rigor, the same credit-hours, the same classroom and peer-to-peer experiences as the full-time, two-year programme. Yet students will emerge eight months earlier, prepared to take a giant leap forward in their careers.

Or, if they wish, they can build additional expertise by pairing a specialized master’s degree in business analytics —”big data” — with their full-time MBA. They’ll work on both programmes concurrently and earn two complementary business school degrees in 26 months.

At a time of change and introspection across the business-education spectrum, we are not done innovating in our full-time MBA programme. The Olin Business School team is working to add alternative destinations to the global immersion that will benefit more students, for example.

For our newest class of WashU Olin global MBA students, you might say the programme makes their “blood more stir.”

In research and in practice, the results are unambiguous and incontrovertible: Organizations perform better when they welcome, embrace and foster diverse points of view. For this and myriad other reasons, creating an environment which includes and supports a diversity of voices and perspectives is the right thing to do.

Yet at the end of this millennium’s second decade, our society still falls short. We need not look far to find examples of corporate missteps in marketing or product development because planners failed to include a diverse set of voices.

This issue is near and dear to my heart. I’m gratified to be at a school that long ago recognized the importance of racial equity in business education by founding the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management.

And I believe we’ve made strides here at WashU Olin by improving the gender balance among students, attracting an increasing number of top women to the faculty, increasing the number of female full professors and advocating for additional endowed teaching chairs for women.

I recognize, however, that as a top business school, there is much more we can do. Building diversity, equity and inclusion is work we should be leading. We cannot assume we’re doing the right thing. We must address issues of inclusion, unconscious bias and institutional inequity with deliberation and forethought.

Jacqueline Slack Carter

That is why I recently created two new positions at Olin dedicated to this work. Several months ago, I appointed Judi McLean Parks, the Reuben C. and Anne Carpenter Taylor Professor of Organizational Behavior, into the new role of associate dean for diversity and inclusion.

And on April 1, Olin’s former registrar, Jacqueline Slack Carter, started her new role as diversity and inclusion officer based in the dean’s office and supporting Judi.

Judi’s role formalizes and expands work she has already done at Olin and dovetails thoroughly with her research interests. Jackie has a demonstrated commitment to this work through numerous on- and off-campus activities including her advocacy for Consortium students, service on numerous university committees and membership in the St. Louis Business Initiative and the Diversity Awareness Partnership.

“I realize this will be a lot of work to change mindset and institutional culture, but it will be transformative work that will have an impact,” Jackie said. “I want to be a part of creating a new story—that we are intentional about providing access and equity for all and where all voices are heard and all are seen.”

Judi is already hard at work again on an initiative she’s pioneered at Olin, a biennial faculty development workshop that brings young, junior faculty from various institutions to our campus for workshops in research presentation, salary negotiation and networking. The June workshop helps develop young faculty and builds the hiring pipeline for research institutions such as WashU Olin.

She’s been meeting with and gathering information from the leaders of various race-, nationality- and gender-based affinity groups and she plans to host—along with Jackie—a series of broader listening sessions.

“My hope is that we can do more to level the playing field at Olin and make it a more welcoming culture for everyone,” Judi said. “It’s not that it’s not. It’s just there are things we can do to continue moving in that direction.” How well do faculty case studies reflect diverse viewpoints, for example? What more can we do to expand and diversify the voices we have on our faculty?

“There’s often a lot of resistance to diversity training,” Judi said. “You often feel like you’re preaching to the choir. But you can do the training in ways that help the person who is being underrepresented to help level the playing field.” I am grateful for the work Judi and Jackie have already put forth. They are both committed to taking a proactive approach toward driving growth in diversity and equity at WashU Olin. Consider this to be the first word on the subject—certainly not the last.

Pictured above: Judi McLean Parks, newly appointed associate dean for diversity and inclusion, presents at a recent “lunch-and-learn” for Olin staff and faculty.