St. Thomas Newsroom

Lenway Promises Rigor and Relevance in the Opus College of Business

Remarks by Stefanie Ann Lenway, Dean and Opus Distinguished Chair at a reception welcoming her to the University of St. Thomas, September 24, 2014

Thank you President Sullivan for your generous introduction.

I arrived in Minneapolis exactly 30 years a go.  But who is counting?

I was a not quite rookie assistant professor in SMO–I had come from Wash U. in St. Louis, where I had spent  almost 3 years and learned a lot about academic research.

Together with my colleagues, I built a great department at the Carlson School and helped recruit some of their stars including their current Dean, Sri Zaheer.

And then in 2005 I left to build my career in academic leadership.

I went first I went to UIC  and then to MSU. I learned a lot.

What did I learn?

I learned about how an urban university can provide tremendous opportunities to under-served minorities and can contribute directly to regional economic development through technology commercialization and workforce Training and preparedness.

I learned how key corporate partnerships can help build amazing experiences for students and create wonderful research opportunities and classroom innovations to support faculty.

At UIC, Motorola funded the creation of the UIC Innovation Center.  In partnership with the Chicago Mercantile  exchange, the UIC Finance Department created the International Center for Futures and Derivatives.

I also learned about the devastating impact of unexpected declines in public support and about furloughs and hiring freezes.

So in the middle of the great recession I headed off for MSU and East Lansing. I did notice  there were many fewer cars on 94 east to Detroit than on 94 west to Chicago. I should have thought about what that really meant.

But, I dug in, learned a lot about integrated supply chain management and about basketball. I also worked hard to create a set of global partnerships for my college and entrepreneurial opportunities for our students. (During the NCAA tournament, thanks to UPS, logistics and basketball became one phenomenon.)

Now I am back occasionally wondering what compelled me to set off on this Odyssey. I don’t think about this much as there is so much to be done.

What is to be done? President Sullivan has set out a clear road map that will inform the faculty’s strategic planning process for the college–we will be entrepreneurial and help to create entrepreneurial opportunities for students across the University of St. Thomas.

We will be multi-cultural and global and cultivate partnerships with business schools in different parts of the world so that our students and faculty have the opportunity to experience innovation,  competition, and culture from different perspectives and live the benefits of diversity.

We will be interdisciplinary and solve problems from a multidisciplinary perspective because as President  Sullivan said: “problems no longer come in disciplinary boxes.”

We will be innovative and create new programs, which incorporate cutting edge technology.

And we will deliver on our mission to educate morally responsible business leaders who think critically, act wisely, and work skillfully to advance the common good.

We will do all this in partnership with the Twin Cities business community. I will work with partner companies to create opportunities for our faculty to engage with the cutting edge challenges facing business and for our students to apply what they learn in the classroom to real business problems. Our programs will continue to build on the strong practical business orientation, which is fundamental to the brand of the Opus College of Business, and we will bring rigor together with relevance. And we will do this together.

Thank you.