Dean Balaji Rajagopalan

Dean’s update

We are excited about the promise of this year’s new additions to the Huskie alumni family who crossed boundaries of various kinds to transform their lives.

Recent graduate Sergio Perez (2019 M.A.S. ACCY) is studying for the CPA and starting a position as an assurance associate at PwC. Spring graduate Mackenzie Whitlock (2019 B.S. Marketing) will trek through Europe before starting a job at Hollister Incorporated. And Cordnei Gibson (2019 B.S. Management) who crossed the boundaries of a classroom to co-found Barsema’s Closet —  to help her peers have access to affordable business clothing —  moved to Salt Lake City to start a position at Qualtrics.

Plunging our alumni into new projects, experiences and activities while they were students allowed them to interact with a variety of people, cultures, and ideas — increasing their exposure to a diverse mix of perspectives. They are primed to be inclusive, global individuals as they move into “graduate” status.

Firstly, we are educating our students about other cultures through an initiative called “Global Thursdays.” These mini-seminars, hosted in Barsema Hall, are open to any student on campus and intended to expose them to different cultures, food, language, business customs and currency. International students share insights from their homeland to peers while providing a community of inclusivity and connection. The seminars also allow the presenter to practice their networking and presentation skills in a safe environment. Global Thursdays have been so popular, we are finding new ways to meet demand for this prevalent event.

Secondly, students who have been lucky enough to travel abroad have seen first-hand different cultures, ideas, food and perceptions. Traveling outside the U.S. adds immense value to our students’ character by allowing them to immerse themselves into another country and personally learn different principles. Students come back more mature, with a better understanding of the world, and actually earn higher grades back home. Every student in the Chicago, Executive and One-Year MBA cohort travels to Europe. Over the last year, we have increased the number of students studying abroad. Every student who applied for a study abroad COB scholarship received one.

In addition, global MBA students can elect to earn a Master’s in International Management from our European partner institution. Global opportunities are also offered to undergraduates through International Business Seminars and long-term study abroad programs. Students learn about various cultures and customs, international trade practices and logistics, international marketing, international law, and international management. Over the past four years, over 400 students had the opportunity to study in a foreign country or engage as leaders in global activities.

Recently, the College of Business launched an MBA Program in Nanjing, China, representing NIU’s first graduate degree offered in that country. We expect 20 students in the inaugural class. Additionally, we are expecting other international degreed programs in Europe, South America and Asia.

In DeKalb, we are working towards increasing diversity in the classroom by creating more international teaching and research opportunities for our faculty. Four faculty members traveled internationally to enrich their own experiences and increase creative, relevant concepts in the classroom. In addition, visiting faculty member Yan Huan spent the last academic year teaching, advising, and working with COB students. “Encouraging, open and energetic,” are the words that come to Yan’s mind when talking about the enriched learning environment provided to students. Also, we have created a new course for MBA students that will allow groups to navigate their way through complex and global issues through meaningful exchange, planning and research. Topics include: expanding products into a new country, planning for technology disruption, addressing growth stall and implementing design thinking.

Our international students bring a different light to our building while enriching ideas and insight in the classrooms. We are proud of the 58 international undergraduates and 179 graduate students who have come here from all over the world to pursue their dream of a U.S. education.

Finally, the Passport Program encourages students to gain experiences outside the classroom in an effort to broaden their business perspective, enhance their marketability and help them define their personal brand. Completion of the Business Passport Program is a requirement for all undergraduate business students, including participation in at least one approved event or activity from each of the seven continents, one being Global Awareness. Last academic year, Passport hosted 87 different global opportunities, translating to 1,122 student experiences: Southeast Asian studies, anthropology, art history, LGBTQ politics, and the impact of the Thai military’s on civil affairs, among others.

We continue to encourage students to cross boundaries mentally, physically, and philosophically. A famous person once said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” As we continue to increase enrollment, we will translate our material, brochures and websites for international students. Our commitment is to provide these global opportunities to help shape our future leaders with diverse thoughts.

If you wish to discuss future opportunities for engagement or help create international impact, please contact me.

Balaji Rajagopalan, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Business

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