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Mendoza deans discuss college’s history, mission

Three past and current deans of the Mendoza College of Business spoke at a panel Tuesday about the history of the college and its future. Current dean Martijn Cremers and former deans Roger Huang and Carolyn Woo spoke on the panel moderated by Brett Beasley. Beasley and Notre Dame Magazine editor Kerry Temple co-authored the book “O’Hara’s Heirs: Business Education at Notre Dame, 1921-2021,” which was distributed to audience members.

After thanking the attendees for coming, Beasley discussed Mendoza’s past.

“I came across that particular quote from the ‘BusinessWeek Guide To The Best Business Schools’ from the early 1990s. That actually suggested instead of sending white-collar criminals to prison, maybe we should send them to Notre Dame to get an MBA, so that they can go out and be reformed and be better business people. So that’s the tradition that I think we’re all heirs to,” Beasley said. 

Beasley asked the panelists about what it was like to “cultivate … reputation and ethical leadership,” continuing Mendoza’s legacy.

“I think it’s just part of the Mendoza brand, and it comes with all the rest of the mission and therefore the students are familiar with it when they are here. The faculty are passionate about it. And we have increased our vision. We have a University that helps us with developing his mission statement,” Huang, who served as dean from 2013 to 2018, said. 

Woo, dean from 1997 to 2011, said she believes it was an effort of more than a few at the top.

“When I think about leadership, I think of all the people who are in these chairs. We didn’t do what we did because of one person. It was a whole school which understood what we stood for,” she said.

Woo thanked her colleagues and mentioned the bond she had with her female colleagues.

“There is an incredible sisterhood here,” Woo said.

Beasley asked the panelists what success meant to them through good and bad times and how the college should continue to be successful.

Woo recalled hearing another dean from a different school say that success for a business school was to change the earning curve of the students. She disagreed with that. She emphasized the importance of succeeding on our own terms.

“I am going to show that we will succeed, but on our own terms. We will play with the big boys, and we will lose sometimes, win sometimes, but when we win, it will be on our own terms,” Woo said.

When asked about the metrics involved in success and how students’ success is measured, Cremers said he focuses on how much alumni contribute to the world and back to the school.

“My answer would be we want to try to think about how, as students go out, how much do they actually contribute, how well do they operate and how well do they compete. In my mind, in that order. I think we have good indicators for those three,” Cremers said.

Beasley mentioned that the business school has come a long way in 100 years, asking the deans if they have a goal they would like to aim for in the next 100 years. 

“I think my moonshot direction would be to become much more global, especially be more focused on the global south,” Cremers said. 

“I think for me, the moonshot would be sort of like how do you optimize the welfare of people?” Woo said.

The panel ended after the deans discussed the fond memories they have from their time at Notre Dame.

Contact Colleen Farrell at cfarre23@nd.edu