Dr. Hamid Akbari joined Carroll University as the dean of the School of Business in January, after serving as the dean of College of Business and professor of management at Winona State University since 2014. We asked him to discuss his first impressions of Carroll, and his plans for the new school under his leadership.
Why did you choose to come to Carroll?
I was excited about Carroll University because of its excellent reputation, pioneer roots and spirit, and its strong liberal arts tradition. Moreover, I was energized and inspired by the vision of working together with the faculty, staff, students, alumni and community partners for developing a world-class school of business under the leadership, support and guidance of President Gnadinger, Provost Blegen and the Board of Trustees. Moreover, upon further studying Carroll, I found out how passionate and supportive business alumni are about the future success of the School of Business. This was another main factor.
Learn about the Bill Yersin '63 Business Scholarship and Scholar Awards for Incoming First-Year Students >
How have your first few months been?
I certainly expected to be welcomed at Carroll, but I was pleasantly surprised and felt that, as a newcomer, I was truly and warmly embraced. There’s something special about a culture of giving care to each other at Carroll. The kindness given to me by everyone, including students, faculty, staff, fellow deans, administrative leaders and alumni has been incredible.
How has the pandemic affected the School of Business?
Like the entire Carroll community and indeed most of the world, we were quite unexpectedly challenged to adapt to the rapid and sweeping changes brought upon all of us by moving our entire teaching and learning online. Yet even this upheaval has served as one more reason to feel proud about being at Carroll, with such resilient students and faculty and staff colleagues. Everyone has faced the challenges of this pandemic with grace and grit. In my view, what’s been most helpful amid these COVID-19 times, is Carroll community operating via its core values and its focus on showing care and empathy.
Learn more about Carroll's response to the COVID-19 pandemic>
What goals have you set for yourself and for the School of Business?
The ultimate goal is to develop a premier School of Business in this region, nationally and in the world, a school that lives up to the Carroll’s enduring pioneer spirit. To reach this goal, we are guided by the strategic plan of the university and School of Business. Both of these plans emphasize the transformational power of experiential learning. That’s the kind of curriculum and co-curricular set of programming that we aim to further develop and implement over the next few years. In this ongoing work, we are keen on developing data, technological and human literacies in every one of our students. Towards these goals and within the context and content of the strategic plan, we need to discover our own unique answer to the ‘why’ question for the School of Business.
Of those goals, which is the most important, why?
Every goal above is most important. However, in my view and based on my years of experience, finding our own ‘why’ and accentuating it is the most important initial step. In other words, among the School of Business faculty and students and other critical constituencies, we need to discover a common expression for our ‘Why?’ I am not suggesting it doesn’t already exist. I am saying we must answer it in a conscious way in a few words, and be ready to include this answer in everything we do. The answer should become a part of our DNA in all of our decisions and activities.
What kind of experience should students expect?
First, students should know that I’m here to listen to them and learn about their ideas, hopes and dreams, and about how we can facilitate their learning and development in new and innovative ways. I want them to know that as a student-centered dean, I want to get to know students more closely and will interact with them actively and in an ongoing way. I need their help to develop a distinct engaged and vibrant culture in the school to serve as a strong context and springboard for empowering them to lead their lives as Pioneer business leaders in the world. They should expect me to often ask them: What’s your inner Pioneer? How have you or will you put it in action?
What kind of value does the new online MBA add?
Our online MBA will give a platform to the School of Business for serving a rising segment of professionals who are seeking a high-quality online graduate program in business. Online education was already on the rise, and it will only rise higher in terms of demand because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The MBA online also demonstrates and reinforces Carroll University’s School of Business pioneer spirit and drive, and its commitment to adapting to technological advances.
Learn more about Carroll's online MBA program >
What does success look like?
As stated in the strategic plan under the vision statement, we will be successful once we emerge as a leading School of Business known for graduating students with the state-of-the-art data, technological and human literacies and competencies.
Yet we must continue to remain a school known for its finest tradition of having business alumni who underscore their allegiance to ethical and inclusive conduct, care for their communities and humanity. In my short time here, I’ve learned that these are indeed the values that are being taught and upheld at Carroll.
And we will be known and prominent as a truly pioneer School of Business through our innovative and high-quality academic and co-curricular programs.