As a College of Business, we have the privilege to train the next generation of managers, leaders and wealth creators. This is a solemn stewardship entrusted to us by the state of Texas. I firmly believe that by transforming our students from curious and hopeful learners to confident and career-ready professionals we will forever alter the course of their lives, the fortunes and economic opportunities of their families and the socioeconomic prosperity of San Antonio and South Texas.
Our goal during this past year has been to develop a strategy that effectively utilizes the strengths of the College of Business and UTSA in ways that allow us to prosper in current and future marketplace conditions and provides increased opportunities for our students. To this end, the college has engaged in internal and external analyses to help us determine the relative strength of our various capabilities and programs and the school’s existing strategy.
Last fall we recruited and commissioned six small teams of faculty (affectionately referred to as our Seal Teams) to address critical areas of our operation. Through their work we have discovered a number of enlightening facts. For instance, although we are the most efficient college at UTSA in terms of faculty utilization (e.g., we teach more students per faculty member than any other college), and one of the most efficient colleges of business in the state of Texas, we discovered many opportunities to deliver programs and classes in ways that even better utilize our resources.
In addition, we found that we are spread a bit thin in some areas. We have perhaps tried to do too many things. What we choose to do, we must do exceptionally well. We also realized that we could improve at telling our story; many people simply do not realize how good we are.
These and other findings provide us with great opportunities to practice what we preach. For instance, in management science classes we teach students how excellent operations can run lean. We have uncovered areas where we can be more efficient. Furthermore, we teach students how to market products and ideas in order to build brand equity and value for shareholders. We must engage in similar practices so that the quality of a UTSA business degree results in even greater value in our students’ careers.
As we have engaged in this strategic analysis, we have also analyzed voluminous amounts of data on our business school competitors. The external analysis helped us understand how our current programs and activities stack up with what is happening elsewhere. However, as we compare ourselves to others, there can be a tendency to move toward the average profile of the competition. In most cases, we want to studiously avoid doing this because it is exceedingly hard to win in this type of competition. Rather, we will focus on being excellent in ways that deliver unparalleled value and in ways that are not easily imitated.
As we develop this strategic road map, we will focus on programs that are very applied (as opposed to theoretical) in nature. Our programs will be designed to prepare students with skills that they can implement immediately in the workplace.
In the future, we will increasingly be known as a college of business where industry and organizations come for graduates with state-of-the-art skills in areas of high demand. Illustratively, in the areas of accounting and cyber security, we already have an excellent reputation for delivering job-ready professionals as evidenced by our exceedingly high placement rates in these majors.
We also have the opportunity to significantly improve the careers of our students by putting increased emphasis on some key “soft skills.” Research reveals that the three most important skills corporations seek in new graduates are (1) written and oral communications; (2) the ability to manage multiple priorities; and (3) decision making and problem solving.
Activities offered through the college’s Center for Student Professional Development represent an excellent start in this regard. However, we must find the resources to address this need.
In the coming years, we will sharpen this focus across all of our programs. As we succeed in doing this, opportunities for our students will increase, and we will better fulfill our vision of transforming our students into the next generation of managers, business owners and leaders.
Wm. Gerard Sanders
Dean, Bodenstedt Chair and Professor of Management