A Vision for Crummer’s Future: Dean Anil Menon’s Town Hall Message

By now, you have probably heard of our new dean, Anil Menon, but do you know his vision for Crummer and ideas for the future? On December 12, Dr. Menon held a town hall event, answering questions from Alumni Board President Austin Montgomery ’17MBA as well as inquiries from attendees. Dean Menon began addressing the group by getting personal, sharing his love of the Wild West and classic country music. He also discussed his academic and professional background, which can be seen here.

Of great interest was the dean’s observations from the first three months. Dr. Menon emphasized that there has been a systemic change in MBA schools: Stanford enrollments have declined for MBAs, and Harvard’s placement has dropped. Schools need more hybrid options as well as badging or certifications to build a degree or concentration over time. There needs to be more of a focus on executive education with more partnerships with the business community. Crummer is a smaller, more intimate school and while that won’t change, we do need to become a little bit larger to have more of an impact. Dr. Menon also posed the questions: What is our value proposition? Why Crummer? He stated we need to shift away from a functional approach to a value creation and growth model.

The next topic was that of the new slogan: Proud Tradition. Bright Future. Dr. Menon discussed how you can’t make change happen without understanding the context and history of where you are. In 1926, Hamilton Holt created a conference plan where they redefined liberal arts education, going from lecture style to discussion between cohorts and faculty. This occurred right here at Rollins, and Yale and others came to study it. That is a proud history. What else are we proud of that we should protect? Dean Menon has been meeting with alumni and heard that Crummer was the best two years of their lives. When asking why, the response he got was that it was the cohort experience. That is another tradition we need to preserve. Overall, we need to protect what’s important but also make changes moving forward.

When asked about the future of Crummer, the new dean had several thoughts. He began by stating that we need to stay within the liberal arts tradition and values. We need to have global thinking and understand the historical impact on culture and economic activity. We also must focus on leadership and management. For example, Crummer has relaunched its executive MBA with a strong focus on leadership, including four classes on the topic. The school will also be focusing on mental resiliency and wellbeing, how to balance work and life, and also how to manage a team. Every company has issues with mental health, and it is often hidden because people don’t want to talk about it. In addition to mental health, social impact is also a key component of leadership Crummer students will be focusing on. It should be integrated into the business model itself, not something HR does in isolation. Global thinking, a focus on leadership, and considering social impacts are all core elements of a liberal arts education that we need to develop more in the future.

Another topic an alumni wished to discuss was the building project and the Innovation Triangle. Dr. Menon gave an update, saying that Rollins has gotten approval from the city, although it’s a bit scaled down from the original version. They are working with multiple donors, trying to raise the remaining $20 million needed for the project. As far as the triangle, Crummer’s centers must be the pillars, such as the Center for Advanced Entrepreneurship. Dr. Menon is working on two more centers, one focused on sustainability and another on AI and analytics. In addition to the centers, we need to create summits around the financial services that we already have existing here. We should take companies such as FINFROCK and Massey and turn them into cases that we can share. All this focus on innovation will be a keystone to the new triangle.

The next question was concerning in-person versus virtual classes in the future. Dr. Menon said it wasn’t a question of whether to have virtual, but how much it is going to be. The challenge is to think about scalability. Dean Menon mentioned some upcoming initiatives that involve partial virtual education opportunities. He discussed the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) and how he has proposed a YPO degree from Crummer to the organization. There is also a partnership with Fortune Magazine coming in February where alumni can earn a certification. He concluded this topic by saying that we will never be 100% online for MBA programs. Early Advantage will always be in person, and the Executive MBA and doctoral degrees will be hybrid.

Dr. Menon then wished to discuss the importance of alumni and his goals for that important group. He mentioned how we need to strengthen our connection with alumni beyond the episodic or transactional. Dean Menon has made a council of past alumni presidents to advise him. He also wants to get the city clubs more engaged. Dr. Menon and President Cornwell will be going on a tour of several cities and are hoping to interact with the clubs more then. Staying involved with alumni throughout different phases of their career will be more helpful to them and will assist them in a more enduring manner.

Finally, the dean was asked about the function of an Executive DBA (EDBA) for those who are not interested in going into academia. He isn’t convinced that an MBA is a terminal degree for executives. If a person wants to be in the c-suite or have “chief” in front of their title, they should get an EDBA degree. It is deep research and deep thinking in how to move a discipline forward. It is analytical processing to re-envision the business model so a person can then go back to their company and demonstrate their ability to break things apart and put them back together. Overall, an EDBA should be the terminal degree for an aspiring executive.

In conclusion, the dean showed tremendous enthusiasm for the future of Crummer and the position it is in. The school is primed to cultivate leaders with a global outlook, encourage innovation and entrepreneurial thinking, and foster interdisciplinary expertise. The days ahead are truly bright.

To hear more from Dean Anil Menon, attend the Alumni Winter Social on January 23, 2024 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm at the Orlando Science Center on the FINFROCK Terrace. If you live out of town, stop by one of the president and dean’s tour events in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., or New York City.  Stay tuned for additional locations.