I N  T H I S  I S S U E

The Added Dimension
Participation in extra-curricular activities is an important part of student learning — featured are the business fraternities.

Focus on Research
Marketing faculty Brian Wansink appears on both CBS and ABC.

New Research Awards
Performance Awards

Winter Convocation


Association President
Alumni Activities
Two major alumni events on campus — EMBA/MBA Review Weekend and Black History Month Celebration

Class Notes
Alumni Calendar


thomas.jpg (11274 bytes) It's always a pleasure for me to share some of my thoughts about the college with you. Today I want to focus on the undergraduate program, the largest and best known in the college — "the jewel in the crown."

In the last ranking of undergraduate business programs by U.S. News & World Report  the college tied for fifth place. Yet this dynamic program undergoes constant change and improvement. In recent years, the accountancy curriculum has been completely overhauled, finance, too, has made major revisions, and economics and business administration have changes under review. In addition to the improvements faculty and departments continually make, we currently have three task forces reviewing the undergraduate program.

The explosion in technology radically affects everything we do in the college. It plays a large part in both what we teach and how we teach it. Computers are omnipresent   —  a computer of one's own is becoming common among our students. Many class assignments are completed and submitted online. Web references are frequently used in place of library citations.  PowerPoint slides replace overhead transparencies and multimedia presentations are common. Many courses allow students to ask questions and receive answers by e-mail, any time of the day or night  —  we call this asynchronous learning. The Technology and Management concentration with Engineering continues to break new ground. Management Information Systems is one of our fastest-growing areas. Student options, too, have changed. Internships now provide an entrée to many jobs. Each year, more students study abroad. Commerce has exchange arrangements with some of the leading business schools in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Still, our undergraduates earn their degrees in an average of eight and a half semesters; the campus average is closer to nine. Demand for our undergraduate courses is high, often outstripping our resources. In addition to serving our own students, we supply all the business courses for LAS economics and finance majors. Add to that number students in other colleges who either want or are required to take our courses and it becomes easy to understand why 45 percent of our instructional units are taught to undergraduates from other colleges. Demand to transfer into the college is also very high. As an illustration, this year there were 700 students in our freshman class, but close to 1,000 seniors will be graduating in May. And, our Commerce Career Services (CCS) office also serves the wider university community. Last year 970 students registered with CCS, but only 690 were our undergraduates. One downside of the growing popularity of our courses is that class size keeps growing. At the freshman and sophomore levels, our class sections average sixty-plus students. The campus mean size is in the thirties. On the upside, we continue to be blessed with outstanding undergraduates who are bright, hard working, and passionately committed to the college, university, and community. With more than 90 percent from Illinois, it's clear that we continue to provide great service to the citizens of the state. Each month I have lunch with the presidents of all the student organizations in the college. I am impressed with what they accomplish and how much they add to our program. Their leadership skills are exceptional. No wonder employers flock to campus, in increasing numbers, to recruit them. Thirty-two of the 1999 Top 100 Seniors come from Commerce. Pretty good for a college with only 11 percent of the undergraduate students!

I think you would be pleased with the students and the programs that continue to represent your alma mater. I invite you to visit campus and see for yourself. While there is always room for improvement, we have made a great deal of progress just in the years I have been dean. Working with a dedicated faculty and such promising students has been a challenging and rewarding experience for me.


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Howard Thomas, Dean and James F. Towey
Distinguished Professor of Strategic Management