Since becoming dean of LMU College of Business Administration (CBA) in 2018, Dayle Smith, Ph.D., has radically raised the stakes for global business education. As president-elect for the International Association of Jesuit Business Schools, Smith believes that a pedagogy of ethical practice is crucial to solving the world’s most pressing problems – from day one, CBA students learn that doing well means doing good. Here, she speaks about the critical impact of philanthropy to support the next generation of visionary business leaders.
In recent years, CBA has become a byword for entrepreneurship – and not just because our Entrepreneurship Program is consistently ranked among the top in the nation. That can-do mindset shapes how our students are taught to think and act; it defines our leadership style, innovative programming, and approach to industry partnerships. As our groundbreaking initiatives such as Business for Good have shown, high-impact entrepreneurship is inseparable from service to the greater good. Likewise, everything we do at CBA comes back to our mission, informed by our Jesuit and Marymount values: the commitment to advance knowledge and develop business leaders with moral courage and creative confidence to be a force for good in the global community.
Entrepreneurship serves as a model for how we thrive, and it informs the mission-driven success of our departments of finance, management, marketing, accounting, and business analytics – all of which have gained national recognition in recent years. Our fundraising goals are commensurate with our position as a top-ranked business school; to further expand our impact and reputation, we need to ensure that our students have access to outstanding faculty members, programs, and facilities. Private funding is the fuel that allows us to do more, and to give more. Ultimately, our success is measured by the transformational ways that our students apply their CBA education, focused on the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit.
Our strength as a college is equivalent to the strength of our community. Endowed scholarships are essential for bringing the best students to LMU, increasing access and affordability to bolster the diversity of the student body. Likewise, we need to offer competitive salaries to attract and retain superb faculty members. In the global city of Los Angeles, there’s a battle for the best and the brightest; professorships, chairs, and research funds are important assurances that our faculty members will be able to pursue their thought-leading research, in addition to going above and beyond for their students. Our learning environment is further enriched by our Industry Leaders Program, which gives students the chance to learn directly from the professionals who are shaping the evolving business landscape. That influx of industry knowledge is imperative for what we call “just in time” education – a set of skills adaptable to the rapid transformation of business and technology. Needless to say, securing these appointments requires significant funding.
We proactively innovate our programming to meet the needs of the world, and our academic and co-curricular offerings are designed to respond to the urgent sustainable development goals outlined by the United Nations. Across the arc of their educational journey, students grow to understand that the operations of a successful business are inherently interdisciplinary, and the stakes are always global. What’s more, they soon gain a firsthand understanding of what ethical business looks like in practice, becoming aware of the difficulties and rewards they’ll face along the way. For instance, our collaboration with the organization AIM2Flourish gives students the opportunity to investigate companies that demonstrate the profit-boosting potential of ethical practice. Business For Good goes a step further, challenging students to develop bottom-up business strategies to support emerging entrepreneurs in low-income communities. The near-peer mentor format of our Financial Literacy program is another way that our students gain a taste for making an impact – CBA undergraduates share their knowledge with high school and middle school students, many of whom come from marginalized communities. Gifts in support of programs like these not only help us to sustain these initiatives and enhance our available resources – they also enable us to scale those programs, creating widely applicable pedagogical models and sharing our unique approach to business education.
One of the things I love about my job is the experience of attending class presentations, club meetings, and informal gatherings where I get to witness CBA students developing their personal interpretation of our mission. The enthusiasm is exhilarating. So, how can we make sure that our students have a head start as they launch out into the world? The CBA Advantage program provides training in the key competencies that align with our mission, and I’m determined to give our students every chance to flourish professionally and personally. Recently, a student group attended a conference at the World Trade Center Los Angeles to watch faculty members present on the report for Foreign Direct Investment in California. Events like these are hugely beneficial for creative confidence, and this is just one of countless examples; going forward, I would like to ensure that every CBA student has the support to travel for conferences and competitions, take on mission-aligned internships, and maximize their industry exposure. We created our Student Experience Fund to further expand those experiential learning opportunities, and we’re looking to enlarge that fund significantly.
All that energy and direction needs a suitable setting to thrive. LMU students are lucky to live and work on one of the nation’s most beautiful campuses; however, they should also have access to facilities that reflect the contemporary workplaces they can aspire to after graduating. Our location at the heart of Silicon Beach sets a high bar – students should feel a seamless transition between their days on the bluff and life in an international tech and business hub. With that in mind, we’ve developed new spaces such as our Business Innovation Zone, and we’re currently fundraising to add a dedicated “maker space” for raw prototyping of new products as well as “launch pads” to support student ideation in our business incubator. The Business Innovation Zone will also serve to host cross-disciplinary programming for students and faculty from across campus, infusing the CBA mindset into everything we do at LMU. It’s a space that sets a precedent for what comes next: in the near future, we plan to dramatically enhance the facilities, equipment, and on-site resources that we can offer our students, faculty, and visiting industry leaders.
These are just a few of our primary fundraising priorities, and they’re guided by input from all across the college. That non-hierarchical sourcing of ideas is part of our entrepreneurial spirit, and it influences the way I lead. As dean, I consider myself to be a servant-leader, here to listen, support, and collaboratively execute great ideas. That’s how we’ll create more of what I call “memorable moments” – the type of in-depth engagement that truly differentiates what we do here at CBA. A memorable moment might take the form of an extended chat with an industry leader at an evening event; it might occur over lunch on the terrace with a faculty member. We can’t predict when and how those moments will arise. But we can be sure that these are the experiences that stay with students for a lifetime, shaping their values and determining what they give back to the world.