EMU's new College of Business dean focusing on fundraising to offset lower state contributions
When Michael Tidwell took over as dean of the Eastern Michigan University College of Business last summer, he inherited a program that was ranked as a top business school by Princeton Review for eight straight years.
“Coming in, this program obviously has tremendous strength in the quality of the curriculum and the quality of the faculty,” Tidwell said. “I also think we have a very strong alumni base.”
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“It’s one thing to have a lot of alumni out there doing well for themselves,” he said.
“It’s another thing to have a real relationship with them. We want to have not just strong alumni, but engaged alumni.”
Tidwell said that the Princeton Review ranking, conferred on the school again in 2012, is measured through a combination of criteria.
“The quality of your program is the first check box,” he said.
“What kind of courses you offer, how many courses, what the quality of your faculty is. The second piece is reaction to those courses by students. They survey and question students and alumni to find out what they felt about your program.”
The third leg of the ratings is how the school is rated by potential employers and colleagues at other colleges and universities.
“Perhaps the most important is what the employers are saying about you,” Tidwell said. “If anyone knows about the quality of the school it’s the person who’s hiring the students you trained.”
Tidwell worked with faculty and staff over the summer to craft a strategic plan for the school and said one of the top issues that came out of the brainstorming was a need for greater professional development.
“We want to be looking at not just how our students are trained in the classroom, but what kind of professional polish do they have?” he said.
“Are their resumes in tip-top shape? Are they interviewing well? Do they understand how to conduct themselves in a business setting? That can separate people in terms of upward mobility - not just getting the job, but getting the next job and the promotion.”
Before being named a dean at EMU, Tidwell held the same position at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.
"Dean Tidwell distinguished himself through his strengths in fundraising and building relationships with the business and alumni community," EMU Provost Kim Schatzel said in a statement at the time of his hiring.
"He is a very collaborative leader who will work effectively with the college's faculty, staff and alumni to advance the college even further.”
Fundraising was on Tidwell’s mind as soon as he stepped in the door at EMU. He said raising amounts large and small would help him keep costs down for students.
“It’s not a secret that the state isn’t opening the coffers the way it used to, and as a result we’ve seen some budget cuts,” he said.
“We want to make sure we don’t raise tuition by too much, and a way to offset that is by fundraising.”
Some of that fundraising can be done from the major companies that come to EMU to recruit students for jobs.
“The fact that the ‘Big Four’ accounting firms keep coming back to recruit us is an external validation of our program,” he said.
“If they’re taking advantage of our great curriculum, great faculty and students, we want to make sure we leverage that in any way possible. That might include asking for a gift from one of their foundations.”
Ben Freed covers business for AnnArbor.com. You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2