The sun shines down 10th St. on Terrence Murphy Hall.

Opus College of Business Restructures in Response to Changing Student Demand

At the Opus College, we are constantly thinking about the future and how we can remain responsive and relevant as leaders in graduate management education. The faculty have done a tremendous job redesigning our program portfolios to make them more attractive to prospective students and more competitive in our market. The admissions team has done an outstanding job recruiting new students. Faculty, program directors and professional staff have worked tirelessly to ensure that each student in every one of our programs experiences the best of St. Thomas. Through this transformation, we have continued to embrace the changes in what students need to build their careers and provide students with an outstanding academic experience.

Higher education and the University of St. Thomas face constant pressure to modernize and create efficiencies that allow us to focus resources on offerings that are in demand, while also contributing to university and college strategic priorities.

The impact of digitization and demographic shifts have only begun to become visible in higher education and are here for the long term.  As such, the Opus College is reimagining our organizational structure to remain a leader in management education.

Transforming our Strategy

Today I am announcing a far-reaching organizational realignment that will enable us to reorganize based on design rules taken from platform strategy. Moving toward a platform strategy means a departure from infrastructure organized around individual degree programs to one that can operate more efficiently and continuously innovate to provide educational opportunities for which there is demand. The platform that we build within the Opus College, based on our network of students, faculty, staff, alumni and employers, will support our degree programs and innovation around courses that can be bundled into stackable credentials, which we believe will provide the Opus College a sustainable competitive advantage in lifelong education. The engagement of our network in this platform will provide data to help us understand and respond to industry demands that will inform the creation of new courses and program offerings. This strategy also creates the opportunity to reduce program expenses within the college.

Going forward we will seek to more effectively leverage technology and data, reduce transaction costs when appropriate, and be even more responsive in delivering the right mix of high quality graduate certificate and degrees based on market needs. And, the college will leverage other existing university departments to provide outreach, alumni and career services, and to deliver non-degree executive education programs.

To move forward toward this strategy over the near term, we are making substantial changes to the college as outlined below, including the restructuring of administrative leadership, programs, academic departments and outreach activities.

Administrative Leadership

We will replace the current faculty graduate program directors and Associate Dean of Graduate Programs and Strategic Outreach with a new Associate Dean of Graduate Programs. This faculty associate dean will be responsible for both the academic and operational aspects of the graduate program portfolio.

The current Associate Dean of Graduate Program Innovation will be replaced by a Director of Strategic Initiatives.  The focus of this role will be to design the innovation process for stackable credentials and lead outreach aligned with the Business in a Digital World initiative supported by the GHR Legacy grant.

We will appoint a faculty director for the Business in a Digital World initiative who will be supported by the GHR Legacy grant. This individual will work closely with me to advance the three focus areas of the grant:  piloting a new learning model—The Commons—supported by an interdisciplinary, virtual department, evolving our curriculum through faculty development and experimentation with immersive learning models, and building thought leadership on the ethical and human dimensions of digital transformation.

We will create a new administrative team to lead the undergraduate business program.  The current Assistant Dean of the Undergraduate Program and Faculty Director of the Undergraduate Program will be replaced by new positions: An Associate Dean and a Senior Director of Undergraduate and Accelerated Master’s Programs. In addition to leading the undergraduate business program, these new positions will support the GHR Fellows, the Schulze Innovation Scholars, as well as future accelerated master’s programs.

Degree and Non-Degree Programs

Recognizing the changes in demand for graduate management education, the college will immediately suspend admissions into both the Full-time MBA and the MS in Accountancy. This will enable the college to focus resources on our most economically viable programs. All other Opus academic programs will remain unchanged.

To support the university in its initiative to create a platform for lifelong learning, Executive Education will transition from the college to the university. The transition of our non-degree programs will begin this spring with Executive Education officially joining the university on July 1. The university will continue to provide Executive Education to the corporate community and evolve its offerings to meet rapidly changing market needs.

The college will streamline academic operations, reporting, and faculty support across undergraduate and graduate programs. A new position, Director of Academic Operations and Faculty Support, will lead college-wide faculty support services, academic scheduling, data management and reporting.

Academic Departments and Faculty

We will bring academic departments together to build an administrative structure that will create space for faculty to explore new connections among their disciplines. The Schulze School will remain structured as an interdependent team of faculty and staff. We will combine the six other academic departments into three.

As faculty retire, we will prioritize faculty hiring to further our strategies and build capacity for high demand programs.

Centers and Outreach

We will leverage our legacy strengths in business ethics and principled leadership and build synergies across our research and outreach by combining the activities of the Veritas Institute and the Center for Ethics in Practice into a single unit.

To align both career services and external relations with the university, the college will streamline our teams and transfer these functions to university career services and development and alumni relations.

Going Forward

While these decisions are essential to ensure a strong future for Opus, I recognize that this is a difficult day for our community. We will be losing employees who have been part of our St. Thomas family. We will give our employees transition support, identify other open positions that are available at the university and provide avenues for communication about these changes. Individual conversations with the employees who are impacted have taken place.

I know that many of you will have questions and concerns about this announcement and the associated transitions. We have planned a college-wide faculty and staff meeting on Feb. 14, and there will be multiple opportunities for faculty and staff to participate in the planned changes. We will need your active engagement and assistance during the transition and are committed to supporting you through the next few months.

With these changes the Opus College of Business will remain an integral part of the University of St. Thomas and our historic relevance in the marketplace will sustain and strengthen over time. We will continue to do what we do best - provide comprehensive business education with rigorous, relevant, applied programs that combine ethical leadership with technical skill building and provide compelling experiential learning opportunities for our students.