At Augusta University’s Hull College of Business, we are fortunate to be accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the gold standard of accreditation for business school accreditation worldwide. Every five years, a team of three deans from AACSB-accredited schools arrive on campus for a Continuous Improvement Review visit to ensure that we continue to meet the standards for accreditation and provide our students an excellent business education.
Our next visit is rapidly approaching at the end of February 2018. In anticipation of that visit, we drafted our CIR report and invited the team’s chairman — Dr. Henry Venta of Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas — to our campus to meet with our administration and faculty for feedback. Overall, Dr. Venta’s visit went well, but he suggested we do a better job of “telling our story” in the report.
After much consideration, our assistant dean, Melissa Furman, came up with a great theme that not only fits Hull College, Augusta University and our region in many ways, but also provides a sentiment that can be beneficial locally, regionally, and nationally: “Better Together.”
First and foremost, for Hull College, “Better Together” best describes our post-consolidation situation as a part of Augusta University. Unfortunately, things did not start out the way. The combination of two very different institutions with two very different cultures resulted in some fits and starts in its initial incarnation as Georgia Regents University. However, since the name change to Augusta University and under the leadership of President Brooks Keel, AU clearly is becoming a “better together” institution.
This has been particularly true for Hull College. Development of dual-degree programs combining a M.B.A. degree with M.D., D.M.D. and Ph.D. programs, respectively, will provide a stronger medical and research workforce that can combine clinical and business expertise to more effectively and efficiently provide care and manage research.
Leveraging the brand of AU, Hull College is developing a Bachelors of Business Administration degree program with a series of concentrations that likely involve collaborations between Hull College, the College of Allied Health and the Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
“Better Together” not only describes the consolidated AU, but also the close interaction between Hull College and the region’s business community.
Hull College is being known as “The Business School for Business” through its interactions. The significant roles being played by the business community on the Hull College’s Advisory Board, Strategic Planning Committee and the everyday life of the college through classroom visits and co-curricular events, such as our recent “Accounting Night,” demonstrate the synergistic effects that occur when the business community and business school work together. The business community is able to see its prospective employees up close through these interactions and internships and in return, the students are better prepared for business careers — wins for everyone involved!
“Better Together” reverberates throughout the region and the state of Georgia. Just a few examples include the cities of Augusta and North Augusta collaborating on the future home of the Augusta GreenJackets and the chambers of commerce and economic development authorities of Augusta and Columbia County working together to bring more growing companies to the area.
In addition, the commitment from the state of Georgia to construct the new Hull McKnight Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center will create a collaborative hub consisting of multiple educational institutions, state agencies and private companies to provide a synergistic platform of cybersecurity development. This center will facilitate the intersection of business and technology together, which will be key to growth of cybersecurity in Augusta, the region, the state and the nation! These are great examples, but there is still more opportunity for exhibiting “Better Together” locally and beyond.
Collaborations are not always easy, but the payoffs are significant — both in terms of cost savings and better results. I would like to see more collaboration between the institutions within the University System of Georgia. While the consolidations have reduced the number of institutions, USG institutions often spend more time competing than collaborating.
While I have seen evidence of more collaboration recently among the member institutions, there still is a long way to go. More collaboration would lead to better stewardship of our taxpayer funds. Cybersecurity is another area where collaboration is moving in the right direction, but more is needed to protect our country.
To avoid being political, I think we could all agree that our federal government would function better if our political parties took on the mantle of “Better Together.” Our politicians are more concerned with being right (and someone else being wrong) than doing right. So rather than reaching solutions that benefit our country, the sides grow further apart, when we would all be better served through collaboration.
So, Hull College, Augusta University and the region’s business community will continue to set the example for collaboration, and hopefully others will follow. If so, we will all be Better Together!
The writer is dean of Augusta University’s James M. Hull College of Business. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.