Shenandoah University Dean Emeritus W. Randy Boxx, Ph.D., delivered the keynote address virtually to 35 new SU Global MBA graduate students at Spring ’21 Convocation on Feb. 27 in Shanghai. Below is the full transcript of Dr. Boxx’s speech.
“Distinguished university leaders, faculty, colleagues, and students. Thank you for allowing me to add my voice to this very special occasion. Fifty-five years ago, I was in the position that you as a student are in today. I was a student getting ready to pursue an MBA degree. I had a lot of questions: Did I select the right school? Will I emphasize one business area over another? What will the faculty be like? How hard are the courses going to be? Will I have any free time? Will I develop some close and new friends? Is there a correlation between the cost and the value I will receive?
“It is hard for me to believe that so many years have passed since that date. After a business and a 42-year academic career as well as serving as a dean at three business schools, I have spent the last eight years consulting with business schools all over the world. That number is now 105 with multiple visits to many of these and services provided in 3 primary areas: AACSB accreditation, strategic visioning and planning, and strategic risk assessment. My work has taken me to Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South and Central America, Canada, and the U.S. During the next few minutes, let me share some thoughts with you as you pursue your master’s degree with faculty from two exceptional institutions of higher learning.
“You should be confident that you have made the right, wise decision in selecting this program of study. You will be affiliated with faculty from outstanding and accredited business schools who have made important contributions in placing highly qualified graduates into the global marketplace. Let me share with you my knowledge of both institutions, but especially Shenandoah University, where I served eight wonderful and fulfilling years as its business school dean with this mission: The mission of the School of Business is to educate its students to become successful, principled leaders with a global perspective.
“I would like to reflect for a while on two different levels: First, what are the characteristics of a high-quality business school such as these two? Second, I would like to share some thoughts with you on a more personal level as you pursue your degree.
Business schools around the world seek international recognition and status as they operate in an increasingly global marketplace. In this competitive environment, it’s essential they demonstrate high quality.”
W. Randy Boxx, Ph.D. | Dean Emeritus of Shenandoah University School of Business & Member of SU Global Board of Advisors
“To be among the best in the world, an institution must meet expectations on three measures:
“First, stability. Resources must be in good shape and are likely to remain so. This environment provides a foundation for creativity, innovation, and new programming.
“Second, collegiality. A collegial institution fosters significant engagement among students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding community.
“Third, a strategic mindset. When a school has a clear-cut strategy, external stakeholders such as students can determine if its mission, values, and goals align with their own.
“Key attributes are also critical. Let me name four. The importance of committed leaders can hardly be overstated. Institutional support is critical. The school must be well run. And, there must be processes for accountability.
“Outcomes must be a focus as well. I will cite four. A school must be meaningfully engaged with both internal and external stakeholders, and it needs to be at a high level. There must be excellent teaching and strong student learning. High-quality research is important. And, there must be a relevant degree program and curriculum.
“Schools today must have a global perspective. It is important to have a diverse faculty and student body. Opportunities must be offered to students to work and study abroad. Current and emerging technology must be provided to students.
On a personal level, what you will learn from this outstanding set of faculty should empower you to engage the world’s possibilities; it should not prepare you just to get a job or to simply allow you to move up in the job you are currently in. You will be developing yourself both intellectually and emotionally. You will learn new knowledge, but you will also establish and share the core identities of the school’s ethical compass. You will understand the principles that form your educational experience as well as the principles and values that will guide your own professional work and growth.”
W. Randy Boxx, Ph.D.
“As I have worked with and developed partnerships with employers over these many years, I have first-hand knowledge of the skills and competencies they seek today in MBA graduates, those skills that will shape your work ethic and enhance your professional strengths. They are leadership, communication, critical thinking, creativity, teamwork, cross-cultural competency, integrity, flexibility, self-awareness, and resilience.
The program you are now pursuing will enable you to strengthen your possession of these [skills and competencies]. You must also know that this program has been designed to stand at par with other strong programs across the globe.”
W. Randy Boxx, Ph.D.
“Your study will move your passions into professions. You will learn more than the functional disciplines of business. You will be moved to be more deeply connected to the purpose of your work. You will be able to dream the impossible in ways that are grounded in the possible.
“Make your education both broad and deep and let me remind you that ‘to whom much is given, much is expected.’ Let it shape you in ways you may not realize right now. Reflect on what you have brought to this educational journey, but also focus on how much more there is to learn and accomplish. You will be balancing personal and professional obligations with your determination to excel in your studies. It is you who will develop a sense of inquiry to make discoveries, to experiment, and to create. This is the time to realize your potential while fostering excellence in all you do. Your education will be theoretical, practical, and it will be transformative. When you have completed your program of study, you will be ready for what’s next.
“There are real-world lessons we must learn during our course of study. Realize in life we cannot do things alone; we must have the support of others. We must think, but we must also realize that others can help us think deeper. We must realize that difficulties will come, but others are there to pick us up and to tell us don’t give up. When we are unable to solve the problem, others are there to assist us in finding the answer. We must realize that who we are and who we want to become is a function of how we spend our time. We will realize that our studies are about economics, finance, management, marketing, strategy, quantitative analysis, and entrepreneurship, but we will also learn important lessons about life. We must keep thinking alive. We must empower our minds to be open and to be open to all the possibilities of the world. Each one of you can make a difference; you can have a positive impact on society, the practice of business, and the diversity of ideas. You will create a network in the months to come that can be used for business purposes, but you will also create a bond and a connection, one that is built around respect, gratitude, and friendship.
“Work hard, but also have some fun. Get involved. Volunteer to go the extra mile with team assignments. Cheer your team members on. Make new friends.
My charge to you, from this day forward, is: work with dedication and purpose, be guided by ethical principles, be a force for good, and become proud, loyal alumni of these two great institutions of higher learning.”
W. Randy Boxx, Ph.D.
“I wish each of you good luck, good health, and good fortune.”