S.D. Business Schools Study Their Future Course

Times Staff Writer

Trying to be all things to all people is not sound business practice.

With that in mind, San Diego’s graduate and undergraduate schools of business are building on existing programs rather than branching out into new territory.

“We can’t afford to use the shotgun approach anymore,” summed up James Burns, dean of the University of San Diego’s School of Business Administration. “We can’t do everything people want; we have to use a rifle approach.”

Because of those limitations, USD’s business school in 10 years “will be known for four or five quality programs” at the graduate level, Burns said. Those offerings, he added, will be tailored to meet the needs of San Diego’s business community.


“You go through cycles that include periods of maintenance and periods of new issues,” said Allan Bailey, dean of San Deigo State University’s College of Business Administration. “We’re in the middle of continuing issues now.”

Bailey said the college’s priorities include generating more private donations and bolstering “community awareness” of SDSU’s business school programs.

Obviously, the availability of funds is the bottom line that dictates how much area business schools will accomplish during the coming decade.

Bailey said financial pressures have historically haunted business schools that must lure Ph.D. instructors from a pool that is not large enough to meet nationwide demand. An obvious problem, Bailey said, is that the universities generally can’t compete with the hefty salary and benefits packages offered by industry.


Alumni Donations

“We have the same problems that the people at General Dynamics have,” Burns said. “You get the guy with a five- or six-bedroom house and a half-dozen acres in Connecticut and he tells you he can live with a $60,000 mortgage and just a couple acres. Yes, we’ve lost a couple of people because of the costs of living here.”

At SDSU, Bailey relies on donations from the college’s alumni and friends to help cover the costs of recruiting instructors: Although the state covers travel expenses for candidates, public funds cannot be used to house them or their spouses overnight.

The college’s Century Club last year donated $32,000, which Bailey used to cover some recruitment expenses and underwrite the college’s small faculty travel budget.


SDSU’s business college hiring has been hindered more, though, by the state system’s low salary schedules. That changed last year when the state legislature increased salary caps for university professors. As a result, the eight faculty members SDSU has hired for the 1985-86 school year are more than were hired in the last four years combined.

However, Bailey said the college deliberately limited its hiring during recent years, opting instead to limit the number of students it accepted. That helped SDSU maintain a higher-quality faculty. Some business schools that added faculty instead of limiting enrollments are faced with accreditation questions. The national association that accredits business schools is concerned that some of those hastily hired professors, saddled with advanced duties too early in their careers, are not able to produce high-quality research.

Bailey said the college, which lost faculty to out-of-state competitors with fatter pocketbooks during the early part of the decade, is back on the hiring track. He said the 1984 addition of Chee W. Chow, an “outstanding” accounting department professor who was hired to fill an endowed position, helped attract several of the accounting professors who will be on campus in the fall.

More Competitive


Chow’s decision to join SDSU--coupled with awareness of California’s new salary schedules--should make SDSU even more competitive when it comes to hiring, Bailey said.

“This will be a year of disseminating information,” Bailey said. “We’ll get the word out at various professional meetings and sow the seeds for future hiring.”

Burns said the USD business school’s physical plant and teaching staff are in line with the plan he created in 1974.

“Of course, if you asked what we needed around here (in 1974) I’d have said a building, more students, computers, library books and faculty,” Burns said.


The number of students, faculty members and library books grew steadily during the past decade but the building and computers arrived en masse when the Olin Foundation provided a $4.5-million grant that funded “everything you see walking around” the building, Burns said.

“It takes some time to build a machine, but when you put it together, you can do something with it,” Burns said, adding that the school’s faculty is ready to expand its graduate course offerings.

Capitalizing on what Burns called the school’s growing “international” expertise, the university this fall will begin a master’s program in international business.

USD also is in the final stages of creating a master’s degree in accountancy, Burns said. Down the line, he added, USD might offer courses aimed at San Diego County’s growing number of entrepreneurs. He also is considering a program geared toward managers in the financial sector.


Attractive Potential

Reed Powell, incoming dean at United States International University’s School of Business and Management, said he was attracted to the business school by its potential to assist managers who are “reaching out to the international marketplace. Outreach is the best thing that could happen to a country that needs to be a world-class competitor.”

Powell, most recently a professor at California Polytechnic University, Pomona, said he was at first “not interested” in the job. “But . . . I realized that USIU can be a real leader in terms of helping the United States to build bridges, relationships and understanding with the world.”

Powell said he has three goals at USIU: helping U.S. companies reach new international marketplaces; providing a forum for government, business and the not-for-profit sectors, and helping the university “be a good citizen in the San Diego community.”


The new dean would not speculate on how USIU’s business programs will grow.

“I’m hesitating because it’s premature to have that kind of assessment of the university,” he said. “What’s important to me is that we maintain (the existing) student/teacher ratio. We don’t want to sacrifice excellence.”