Perspectives on Excellence
Perspectives on Excellence
Open Crumb Nav
As the Max M. Fisher College of Business turns its focus to its next 100 years, Dean Anil K. Makhija and former deans Christine A. Poon and Joseph A. Alutto collaborated on a special project titled "Perspectives on Excellence."
The discussion provides key insights into the college’s journey, where it is and where Fisher is going as it embarks on a second century of creating ideas, encouraging scholars and developing principled leaders who positively impact their communities and our world.
- How has the evolution of business education shaped the mission of Fisher College of Business?
- How has Fisher’s belief in the benefits of blending theory with practice and having a strong faculty made for an exceptional educational experience?
- What distinguishes the Max M. Fisher College of Business as an institution that truly stands apart?
- What do you consider to be a vital relationship the college has forged that advances its educational mission?
- Why do you consider Max Fisher to be a model for leadership?
- What lessons, learned from Max, have had the biggest impact on your career as an educator and leader?
- How is Max’s leadership legacy imparted on students at Fisher today
How has the evolution of business education shaped the mission of Fisher College of Business?
A number of changes have affected education over the years, and Fisher has been in the foreground both in anticipating and reacting to these. These changes have included globalization, where we made early conscious efforts to attract faculty with international interests and international students to broaden exposure to global issues for all at Fisher; diversity of perspective, where we recruited and, in our graduate programs, produced future faculty with the diverse perspectives so essential for success; and entrepreneurship, where Fisher recognized that entrepreneurship curriculum for business students and those from across the university has created opportunities for students in areas a disparate as art, humanities, social sciences, physical sciences, engineering and medicine.
A big change we’ve seen has been the demand by students to integrate academics, basic principles and knowledge with experiential learning. This focus is teaching students to think more critically, to connect the dots and to see complex issues that cut across multiple facets of business. The real transformation in education comes when there’s a blend across those disciplines. That is an opportunity that we’re just now starting to scratch the surface.
As Joe and Chris mentioned, we have seen plenty of changes in the ways Fisher has prepared its students, recruited and retained its distinguished faculty and developed innovative programs. What has remained constant is our mission as part of a land grant university — to prepare leaders to make impacts in their local communities and around the world. Whether connecting Ohio-based companies with the fresh insights of our undergraduate students in the Ohio Export Internship Program, or sending graduate students in our Global Applied Projects program abroad to tackle challenges for firms throughout the world, these global experiences are consistent with what hiring managers and recruiters desire in graduates. We’ve tailored the Fisher experience to ensure our students meet the needs of the 21st-century marketplace with an emphasis on global education.
How has Fisher’s belief in the benefits of blending theory with practice and having a strong faculty made for an exceptional educational experience?
I am proud that the core values and talents that students bring to Fisher are reinforced through programs involving emerging theories of commercial operations and the application of those theories through experiential practice. Our students’ success has also been made possible by investments in faculty who blend the very best in new thinking about business and industry — whether in marketing, finance, leadership, logistics or entrepreneurship — and integrate these new perspectives into student learning experiences that are second to none.
College-wide, I am encouraged to see all the ways we are recognizing newly tenured professors who really show a dedication to all aspects of what we consider to be important in business education: cutting-edge research, the ability to bring new ideas and curriculum into the classroom, and the willingness to reach across Fisher — through work with our centers and programs — to be great colleagues and citizens of the college, our university and the world.
One of the great strengths of our college is its focus on bringing curriculum to life through the insights and experiences of our academic faculty and C-Suite executives in our classrooms. Our research-infused faculty provide our students with leading-edge business knowledge, while executives and former business leaders share decades of applied experience. The result is a faculty with incredible depth and breadth — teachers in the classroom and experts in their fields.
What distinguishes the Max M. Fisher College of Business as an institution that truly stands apart?
I like to say that the entire Fisher community — its students, faculty, staff and alumni — is different. It’s not just their great intellect that has helped establish the college as one of the best. It’s the very unique combination of intellect and heart that truly differentiates Fisher. Our college prepares our students with all the skills that other great business schools provide, but our students also find great purpose at Fisher. They become leaders in their industries and communities — leaders who care deeply for people, causes and organizations and whose purpose and passion are aligned.
Fisher has a history of outstanding graduates who have impacts on national and regional society. This can be seen in the pantheon of entrepreneurs who have started businesses and executives who have provided leadership in companies that have improved the opportunities and quality of lives of so many.
These have been and will be wide ranging and they encompass retail, manufacturing, technology and services as well as government policy development and implementation. The impacts of our tens of thousands of graduates, which have been made possible by the outstanding faculty teaching and research at the college, will forever set Fisher apart from other business schools.
At Fisher, we are committed to the creation of ideas, the encouragement of scholars and the development of principled leaders. Our world-class faculty — leading researchers in their fields and inspirations in the classroom — provide our students with a rigorous academic experience that blends theory with practice and brings curriculum to life. These thought leaders are helping to develop in our students the leadership potential, global awareness and entrepreneurial spirit that is critical to their success — wherever their careers may lead.
Among our college’s core values is a belief that, equipped with a solid academic foundation, our students can bring about incredible change as the next generation of leaders. I look forward to continuing Fisher’s dedication to excellence in business education throughout our second century!
What do you consider to be a vital relationship the college has forged that advances its educational mission?
When I first met Max Fisher in 1990, I was trying to decide whether to come to Ohio State, and he was determining if the university could find someone who would help fulfill his dream to advance his alma mater’s college of business. The first time we talked about the “dream” of creating a college with worldwide impact and a consistent commitment to be among the very best, Max asked me why I had not mentioned buildings, since that was where every discussion with Ohio State seemed to start. I explained that I thought buildings were meaningless unless they housed faculty, students and programs of world-wide quality, and these had to be the first investments. He literally finished that discussion himself telling me how delighted he was that someone finally realized that buildings were enabling devices, and much more was needed before such an investment could have any lasting effect.
To me Max’s main contribution to the college was not the funding he provided the college, generous though it was. Instead, values at the core of the model of servant leadership he exhibited all his life were and will be the most important legacy he has left to the college.
Throughout this centennial year, I’ve often been asked to describe the college’s greatest legacy. My answer? The relationships we have with our alumni — all 75,400 of them — and our countless donors, friends and partners. These supporters have built leading companies and organizations in countries around the world. They’ve shaped government policy and industry regulations. They’ve redefined, elevated and advanced business across all disciplines. And they have served others in a multitude of ways.
They have also remained engaged with us, supporting our students, faculty and programs philanthropically and in a multitude of other ways — mentoring students, speaking in classrooms, hosting events, and volunteering their time. Their support has been instrumental in all the ways Fisher is impacting business education.
I believe that truly exceptional partnerships with the business community have potential to bring new ideas and perspectives into an organization. Fisher’s partnerships with businesses are wonderful examples of how institutions can scale that outreach.
When you have a partner that lives and breathes in the world we’re preparing our students and faculty to live in, what better way to rejuvenate our mission of teaching, research and service than to reach out and build these critical connections?
Quality is part and parcel to staying relevant. One of the great things about Fisher is its willingness to be entrepreneurial and to stay relevant by bringing new ideas and new ways of doing things to the college.
Why do you consider Max Fisher to be a model for leadership?
Throughout his incredible life as a business and civic leader, philanthropist, statesman and advocate, Max Fisher embodied the vision and skills necessary to build consensus, no matter the challenge. In addition to founding one of the region’s most successful oil companies, he was a leading advocate for Jewish causes in the U.S. and around the world and served as a trusted advisor to four presidents. What separated Max from many other business leaders was his firm belief that his success obligated him to give back to causes he supported. This tenet helped establish Max as one of the great philanthropists of the 20th century.
What lessons, learned from Max, have had the biggest impact on your career as an educator and leader?
Max taught me that an effective leader empowers others. Max believed it required knowing yourself—your own strengths and weaknesses. Equally as important, you had to know about the people you were trying to influence. What are their aspirations? What are their backgrounds? How do they see the world? You then have to figure out what you are going to do to help them accomplish more than they ever thought possible, because that is ultimately the goal of leadership.
Throughout my 26-year career at Ohio State, serving as Dean, Executive Dean, Provost and Interim President, the lessons I learned from Max during my early years as Dean of the College of Business have proven invaluable.
How is Max’s leadership legacy imparted on students at Fisher today?
A complete business education includes a sense of responsibility to community and its people, and I can say that, here at Fisher, we have embraced that belief. That responsibility is part of what led us to put together the case study on Max’s life and his contributions to society. That process was a truly rewarding and enjoyable experience. I consider it an essential part of our college’s history and a powerful tool to remind all of our students that there’s a person, a story and a meaning to the name on their T-shirts, caps and backpacks. We wanted them to understand who Max Fisher was and, hopefully, show how his values transcend into who we are at Fisher.
©2023 Fisher College of Business
2100 Neil Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43210