Schools and Colleges

Rajiv Dewan, candidate for Whitman dean, addresses student concerns at open forum

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Rajiv Dewan, a professor of computers and information systems at the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School, spoke with students at the Milton room inside the Whitman building Monday.

One of the three finalists for the Martin J. Whitman School of Management dean position addressed concerns regarding students’ post-graduate success, the Whitman School’s ranking and the Charles Koch Foundation grant during an open forum with students Monday afternoon.

Rajiv Dewan, a professor of computers and information systems at the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School, talked with students at the Milton room inside the Whitman building Monday. Dewan was on Syracuse University’s campus to meet with faculty and administrators for an interview and a presentation.

The candidate selected for the position will replace former Dean Kenneth Kavajecz, who was arrested in a prostitution sting last September. Kavajecz received a misdemeanor charge for patronizing a prostitute in the third degree and is scheduled to next appear in court on May 25.

S.P. Raj, chair of the marketing department, has been serving as interim dean for Whitman, temporarily filling the position since mid-October.

If hired as dean of the Whitman School, Dewan said his first priority will be student success. He praised the Whitman School’s Goodman IMPRESS program, which was created to encourage students to be better business leaders, but said he wanted to improve student opportunities after graduation.

“I looked at the average salary of students upon graduation and the percentage of students who have jobs and both of those need more attention,” Dewan said.

The success of an undergraduate and graduate student’s education in business is measured upon what happens after students graduate, he added.

To expose students to companies outside of the Syracuse area, Dewan said he hopes to introduce experiential courses in New York City, Washington, D.C. and countries outside the United States.

Dewan also discussed Whitman’s Bloomberg Businessweek ranking after a student voiced concern that Whitman values rankings over current students. Bloomberg Businessweek in 2016 ranked Whitman as the 23rd best undergraduate business school.

Dewan responded that current students are most important, but added that a school’s ranking affects a school’s ability to recruit students and faculty. Rankings can be flawed, but they can give an overall view of what a school needs to improve upon, he said.

During the discussion, Dewan stressed multiple times he would remain committed to transparency and an open-door policy with students.

He said he understood students’ concerns about the Charles Koch Foundation’s $1.75 million grant to the Whitman School. The grant raised academic freedom concerns among faculty and students who were worried that Charles and David Koch — outspoken supporters of free-market capitalism — would have influence over Whitman faculty and their research topics.

“Academic honesty and academic freedom is about having the freedom to go where your thoughts and facts lead you,” Dewan said. “If that is constrained in any way, that is not something we should be doing.”

As a professor at the University of Rochester, Dewan’s teaching and research interests include business analytics, the information technology industry and financial information systems, according to his biography. From 2009 to 2014, Dewan also served as the business school’s senior associate dean for faculty and research, where he managed the school’s faculty, budget and human resources.

The university will hold student forums for the two other dean candidates on Tuesday and Thursday. Gene Anderson — dean of the University of Miami’s School of Business Administration, another Whitman dean candidate — will speak with students on Tuesday from 3:45 to 4:15 p.m. in the Milton Room.

The third dean candidate will speak with students on Thursday from 1:15 to 2:00 p.m. in Whitman room 402. The Whitman dean’s office will announce the third candidate about 24 hours prior to this forum.


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