Meet the new Silberman dean!

Interview by Kenna Caprio

(July 7, 2014) — Imagine. Execute. Repeat. New Dean Andrew Rosman is thinking big for Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Silberman College of Business.

Effective July 1, 2014, Rosman took the helm of Silberman, after two years at LIU Post and 23 years at the University of Connecticut. A champion of online education, experiential learning and business outreach, the accounting professor and dean is already hard at work. On day three of his new job, Rosman made time to chat with FDU about his background, goals and philosophies.

Dean Andrew Rosman

Fairleigh Dickinson University: What’s your background?

Andrew Rosman: I’m incredibly passionate about teaching and about doing research that informs my teaching.

My area of research is in behavioral accounting — understanding how people make decisions and trying to improve their decision-making.

I’ve got a paper forthcoming in The Accounting Review, a premier publication in the accounting field, which is about how to train auditors to be professionally skeptical. I brought it into the classroom by using Lord of the Rings Online™ as the platform, because I wanted to try to figure out how to use gaming to teach in order to further my understanding of an area of research that is referred to as “situated cognition.”

Off of that, I’ve morphed into an area where I’m trying to understand learning styles and in particular how learning online can map into somebody’s learning style.

FDU: What are your first priorities?

AR: Between now and September, I’m meeting with every faculty member.

My first job here is to facilitate the jobs of everybody else at Silberman—that means faculty and staff. I need to do whatever I can to make their jobs easier so that they can accomplish their goals.

The word I like to start off with is “imagine.” I want people to imagine what Silberman and FDU will look like a year, two years, five years, ten years from now. The challenge is not creating the vision, but succeeding in accomplishing it.

FDU: What’s your vision for Silberman?

AR: Most  great universities, with the exception of some Ivy League institutions, have a strong school or college of business. You could almost look at it like being an anchor store at a mall. You can’t be a silo. What I’d like to see Silberman do is become an integral part of every single program across the University. We have our own programs to develop and deliver, but we need to make sure that we can support non-business programs on campus to help them achieve their fullest potential.

At LIU Post, I worked with the dean of the school of visual and performing arts and created a joint degree, a BFA/MBA. A lot of people who are in the arts ultimately come to the conclusion that they’re not going to be the next Rembrandt or Beethoven, but they still have expertise in a field that they’re passionate about. So if you want to start an art gallery, for example, shouldn’t you have a business or entrepreneurship background or minor?

I’d love to partner with other parts of the campuses to bring opportunities that not only benefit Silberman, but also the entire University.

During the presentation I made when I interviewed here, I told the faculty that a very high priority goal for me is to make Silberman financially independent. By doing that we can reinvest in our own entrepreneurial activities while freeing up  resources for other parts of the University. If the University has to commit less of its tuition dollars to us, and those dollars can now go to Maxwell Becton College of Arts and Science, Anthony J. Petrocelli College of Continuing Studies and University College: Arts • Sciences • Professional Studies or infrastructure.

FDU: How else do you envision Silberman growing and changing?

AR: In Dickinson Hall, we’re building out a space for a trading floor and a student-managed fund that will go along with it. Hopefully within a year we’ll have something built out in Florham as well.

These need to be set up so that we can communicate back and forth between the campuses, with ITV (interactive television). I’d like us to create an interaction between Florham and Metro students, including a competition. That would be a way for students to start getting acquainted with the folks on the other campus.

FDU: Do you foresee changes to Silberman programs and curriculum?

AR: Curriculum is a faculty prerogative, not a dean’s prerogative. The faculty owns the curriculum.

That said, we need to have a conversation with the faculty about how to reach some markets that we’re not reaching.

There are over 600 AASCB-accredited (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) schools of business in the country. There are quite a few at our back door now. The question is how do we distinguish ourselves from Seton Hall University, Rutgers University, etc.?

We have Rothman Institute and the Institute for Sustainable Enterprise. We need to be high profile and create a sense of destination. I could see us adding a couple of other institutes that would not only add to our curriculum, but also add to us in terms of our outreach and relevance to the business community.

Then I could also see us saying to ourselves, “How can we better take advantage of our location and alumni base?”

I could see additional curriculum and other initiatives coming out of our relationship with the business community that would be much more specific to us, some boutique or unique efforts. Before I got here, the faculty had already come up with the idea for the MS in Supply Chain Management as just one example.

We need to have some other boutique degrees as well to help distinguish us. It might be a master’s in financial engineering; it might be a master’s in financial risk management. And I think that we will determine that some of these masters will need to be put online, so it’s not just the New Jersey market that we’re pulling from. It’s got to be the national and global market from which we attract students to continue to build our brand for our own benefit as well as for the University.

FDU: Where does the global element of FDU’s mission fit in to your plans?

"I want people to imagine what Silberman and FDU will look like a year, two years, five years, ten years from now. The challenge is not creating the vision, but succeeding in accomplishing it."

AR: We are the global leader in education, but at each college we have to live that. Embracing the opportunities that being global offers in terms of the benefits it will bring to our students and our faculty is something that Silberman must do.

I can imagine, for example, an online graduate degree— maybe a global healthcare management degree. Because healthcare systems are different across the world, wouldn’t it be phenomenal to give students an international experience by teaming up with faculty from around the world and developing this degree together?

We have global faculty team-teach students from across the world. What a wonderful opportunity! Courses have been developed like that, now the idea is to develop a degree.

Online learning is much more labor-intensive for the faculty, but it is much more like one-on-one teaching. You can do simulations in an online environment that you can’t do face-to-face. It’s an active, student-centered learning environment that at the end of the day is very rewarding to teach in.

FDU: How do internships and job preparation factor into Silberman?

AR: I’m all about employment. I’ve got three kids of my own. My youngest is going to be 20. My middle one just turned 21. One’s an actuarial science major and one’s a natural resources major. As a parent I expect their university  to help both of them jobs. And, parents of Silberman students expect the same.

When I was at UConn, for 18 years I was the faculty director of the accounting internship program, and during that time we placed over 1,600 students in internships.That experience and my rolodex are what I bring to Silberman.

FDU: What skills should all Silberman students have upon graduation?

AR: Informational literacy. That means that they need to be able to identify an informational need, and then identify resources to solve that need and test those resources to see if they’re the right ones.

They need to be able to communicate well, write and speak well. They need to know how to manage time and understand what it means to be a professional. These include very simple things like not using your cell phone at work, but also, not leaving at 5 o’clock, but, rather, staying around to make sure that the project you’re working on is completed.

At the end of the day, what’s going to distinguish your students is the complete package. How well-rounded are they?

We need to develop each student to be more of a Renaissance person, who understands process, not just simply outcome. Because then you’ve essentially created a critical thinker. That’s a life skill that distinguishes FDU graduates from everybody else.

FDU: What challenges do you anticipate?

AR: We have to imagine big, but have a plan and be successful. We need to raise money for endowed professorships and  infrastructure so that there is a Silberman College of Business building on both campuses that is a destination for future students, faculty, current students and alums.

Imagining is the easy part; it’s obviously accomplishing those goals that’ll be tough. However, I am confident that most of these goals are going to be things that, if we work hard, will be achieved.