After decades of concentration on establishing its academic respectability, a job that is now well advanced, Loyola College's Sellinger School of Business and Management is about to practice what some of its professors preach.
Led by a new dean who peppers his conversation with business-school phrases such as "strategic marketing" and "information revolution" -- but means them as guidance the institution must apply to itself -- the school is about to undergo a reassessment of its relations with everyone from its own alumni and students to the Maryland business community.
"Our greatest strength, the widespread network of our own alumni, who are prominent in senior positions in many of the businesses and institutions of the Baltimore metropolitan area, is also our greatest weakness, because we need to take a strategic marketing approach to our relations with them, get to know them better and get them involved in building the future of the school," said Peter Lorenzi, the new dean.
That future, "will have to move very much in parallel with what is taking place in corporate America," where downsizing, technology and international competition are forcing managements to rethink not only how they do business but the very definitions of the businesses they are in, he said.
With Congress determined to tighten student aid and loan programs, business schools such as Loyola will face downsizing pressures similar to those that businesses already confront.
Enrollments in bachelor's degree business programs already have declined by half nationally in the past seven years, he said, and that trend will continue because companies, "now can do with a personal computer so much of the work that used to be done by a slew of recent accounting graduates."
"These are forces that are drastically changing our market," said Dr. Lorenzi, who arrived at Loyola's Charles Street campus last summer after three years as dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Ark.
Dr. Lorenzi, 44, holds a bachelor's degree in administration and an MBA from the State University of New York at Binghamton and a doctorate in business administration from Penn State.
He has taught at the universities of Wyoming, North Carolina and Kansas and was associate dean at Marquette University in Milwaukee for five years before moving to Arkansas.
He has taken charge of a school that has 55 faculty members and 1,800 graduate and undergraduate students and traces its origins to accounting courses the Jesuit-operated college offered in the early years of this century.
Loyola offered its first undergraduate business major in 1936 and its first master of business administration degree in 1967. In 1980, an anonymous donor provided the gift that made it possible to establish the Sellinger School. It is named for Joseph A. Sellinger, S.J., the Loyola president who had built the college's business programs in the preceding two decades.
For an institution such as the Sellinger School, which now has hundreds of alumni in leading positions with businesses throughout Maryland, the changing business world should bring as many opportunities as challenges, Dr. Lorenzi said.
"We need to be looking to build long-term relationships with companies, rather than thinking that our only market is students who want to take courses for credit toward a degree," Dr. Lorenzi said.
The school's alumni network, which he said "has not been developed and marketed enough," can be the entry point for many of those relationships.
At the core of the relationships, he said, probably will be "customized, not-for-credit corporate education programs" designed to meet companies' "rapidly growing needs to build specific kinds of knowledge and ability into their work forces."
Companies need help training their staffs in fields ranging from computer use to customer services and from derivatives to health care management, he said.
"We need to make ourselves the provider of choice for that kind of educational services in the Baltimore metropolitan area, and to do that we need to think of our alumni as friend-raisers rather than fund-raisers," Dr. Lorenzi said.