Dean Anil Makhija poses with Brutus Buckeye outside of Mason Hall on Fisher Impact Day.

For the past 10 years as dean, Anil Makhija has had a front-row seat to the growth of the Max M. Fisher College of Business as a destination for education, research and outreach. His leadership has driven student enrollment, program and research rankings, strengthened connections with the college’s alumni, friends and partners and guided Fisher to strong financial standing. 

As he wraps up his tenure as dean and prepares to return to the college’s Department of Finance faculty, Makhija spent some time reflecting on his decade as dean, the college’s growth to eminence, and why the past decade has been so special to him.

Q: What were some of the biggest changes and challenges that you’ve seen in business education during your decade as dean?

A: Over the past 10 years, I have seen a marked growth in competition among business schools and remarkable development in the multi-dimensional nature of what constitutes effective business education in today’s dynamic world. We have responded to these challenges by: (a) competing for the best students, (b) giving them an exceptional educational experience, and (c) putting them on successful career paths. 

In terms of admitting the best, over 95% of our undergraduate students place in the top quartile of their high schools. We deliver on three pillars of their education. First, our outstanding faculty, consisting of award-winning teachers and highly ranked researchers, aided by dozens of dedicated academic advisors, provide superior academic education. Second, we stress real-world application to this academic education through experiential learning. Thus, nearly every undergraduate student undertakes an internship, and many complete more than one. Third, we stress the development of interpersonal skills, particularly leadership, entrepreneurship and a global mindset. We accomplished this in a setting that respects diversity and inclusion. Finally, nearly 90% of our undergraduates are placed within three months of graduation with an impressive average salary and bonus of about $75,000.

I should also point to the pandemic as a time when much of higher education changed. But some of the biggest changes in business education facing the college were already in motion well before 2020. These trends included a stronger market for degrees and programs that were more specialized, especially within graduate education, and a general desire for more flexible learning options.

As part of our commitment to continuous innovation, we talked with students, alumni, recruiters and employers about what they want from new specialized programs and from established ones such as our Full-Time MBA (FTMBA). We moved quickly but deliberatively to create, expand or enhance our educational offerings in the marketplace. Some of these accomplishments include:

  • Continuously evaluating and enhancing undergraduate offerings such as our Industry Immersions programs to provide students with hands-on experiences in important industries
  • Redesigning our FTMBA
  • Adapting our Specialized Master in Business – Analytics degree to a fully online format
  • Augmenting the Working Professional MBA to increase flexibility via in-person, online or hybrid delivery
  • Creating the Master of Supply Chain Management degree at a time when supply chain expertise is in great demand
  • Launching a Fintech micro-credential, a pioneering offering at Ohio State that explores topics such as AI, machine learning and blockchain
  • Providing access to stackable certificates in key areas such as leadership, analytics, lean, IT business strategy and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)

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Q: Amid all the changes and challenges, what are you most proud of from your tenure as dean at Fisher?

A: I’m proud of how our community has broadened the college’s impact in many ways, namely our investment in research, teaching and staff, educational programming and outreach. 

We’ve grown our faculty from 139 in 2015 to 170 this past year, funded 33 professorships/chairs, increased our research expenditures by 75% and ensured that nearly all of our tenure-track faculty (90%) have research funding. These efforts have paid off with measurable impact, as we rank #23 in North America for research published in top journals, according to UT-Dallas research rankings.

Likewise, we have grown our staff community to nearly 200 individuals and supported them by investing in their continued professional development and recognition of the incredible work they do.

I’m proud of the new, market-relevant offerings we’ve created, the many ways we’ve scaled learning opportunities outside the classroom by partnering domestically and abroad, and our efforts to elevate principled leadership as a cornerstone for all Fisher students. We have committed to ensuring that tomorrow’s business leaders understand the advantages of a diverse workforce by providing additional DEI scholarship funding. And our commitment to social responsibility has gotten stronger each year. The creation of our annual Fisher Impact Day in 2015 remains a shining example of our commitment to broadening our definition of positive impact. 

Our work in these areas continues to gain recognition in key rankings while also positioning our students for career success. As noted above, nearly 90% of our Class of 2023 undergraduate students secured jobs within three months of graduation, while 92% of our MBA graduates were placed within the same period.

We’ve also made significant strides in our outreach efforts. We’ve built and strengthened strategic relationships with key organizations that have opened doors to experiential learning opportunities for our students as well as lifelong learning offerings for employees at these organizations. Our certificate work with Tata, for example, has connected more than 3,000 of its executive leaders to our Executive Education expertise since 2020. Our 10 centers of excellence continue to create the impactful research, knowledge and insights that drive leading organizations across multiple industries. And we have actively collaborated across campus, leveraging the synergies of interdisciplinary education through offerings such as the highly sought-after Integrated Business Engineering Honors program.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I’ve always enjoyed teaching and research, and I was fortunate to be able to do both during my tenure as dean. I look forward to continuing my work in the classroom and in my research. Our college is built on the idea that education is a lifelong journey, and I’m excited to continue my development as a teacher and scholar.

Q: After 10 years as dean and more than 25 years as a professor and leader at Ohio State, what do you think makes Fisher and the university so special?

A: Any great organization is made up of great people, and I’ve been extremely fortunate to work alongside many outstanding people. No matter their area of expertise every individual I’ve worked with has shared a common goal ― making Fisher a premier organization to teach, work and learn at. Every day for the past 10 years, I’ve had a front row seat to the incredible skill and professionalism shown by so many.  I am sincerely thankful to the many colleagues who stepped up to serve on the dean team, or as department chairs, unit supervisors, and many other valuable roles, providing indispensable leadership.

Then there’s the pride that accompanies being associated with Fisher and Ohio State. It’s a feeling I’ve seen firsthand in many ways. Celebrating the college’s Centennial in 2016 was a special opportunity to experience the incredible impact that business education at Ohio State has had since 1916. In my travels as dean, I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard “O-H!” yelled out in some airport, at an event or just walking down the street of any city around the world. This network, of course, is a differentiator for so many of our students, alumni and friends. But beyond the professional advantages, there’s simple comfort in knowing that being a part of our small community here at Fisher also means membership in a global community more than a half a million strong. These connections and the feeling of community are what I’m most thankful for!

At a glance

Snapshots of Fisher's accomplishments under Dean Anil Makhija

  • Fisher has grown to one of the largest business schools attracting enrollments of more than 9,000
  • Its BSBA (approximately 8,300 students across 12 specializations) and Working Professional MBA (approximately 550 students) programs comprise 95% of Fisher's student body
  • The BSBA (#7) and WPMBA (#5) are ranked among the best by U.S. News & World Report
  • Fisher's faculty is ranked 10th-best among publics on average, based on UT-Dallas publishing
  • Along with eight other well-ranked graduate programs, Fisher has created certificates and non-degree programs for industry, serving several thousand executives since 2020
  • Fisher's 10 centers of excellence engage more than 100 paying partner firms 
  • Hundreds of research- and expertise-focused content has been translated into readily accessible form for executives via Forefront and Lead Read Today
  • Fisher is on track to eclipse the college’s Time and Change Campaign goal of $200 million, a testament to the generosity of the college’s alumni, friends and partners