PULLMAN, Wash. — The Washington State University College of Business and Economics received word last week that its accreditation has been reaffirmed by AACSB International—The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business at its international conference and annual meeting in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

“We are very pleased with the reaffirmation of our accreditation by the AACSB International,” said CBE Dean Len Jessup. “The faculty, staff and administrators of the college have implemented a tremendous number of changes that are improving the quality of our programs. The efforts begun during the reaccreditation review period will continue, and I am confident that by the end of this decade we will rank among the top 25 business programs in the country. We’re on our way to the top.

“I tip my hat to the members of our AACSB peer review team for their insights, high standards, patience and guidance. Their valued input, plus tireless efforts by our faculty and staff, and considerable support from our alumni, president, provost and friends throughout the AACSB network made all the difference,” Jessup said.

AACSB International Board Chair Carolyn Y. Woo wrote that, as noted in the peer review team’s report, the college “…is commended on the dedicated and effective effort of Dean Jessup in affecting a dramatic turnaround for the college. Under his leadership, the college is moving expeditiously in the direction of achieving and maintaining high-quality business programs.”

Hired in 2000 to lead the CBE’s management information systems program, Jessup became dean in the summer of 2002 when the college was three years into its scheduled peer review by AACSB International. The peer review team has asked the CBE to address 16 areas it felt needed critical improvements. Those ranged from creating a “mission-driven” organization to raising standards for faculty and students, and from establishing assessment processes and educational outcome measures to rationalizing the number of academic offerings and more.

“Within my first few weeks on the job as dean, the review team visited us in Pullman and put it this way,” Jessup recalled. “‘It’s the bottom of the ninth, two outs, two strikes, and you’re behind.’  Jessup added, “That motivated us all to not only make the changes necessary for successful reaccreditation but to enable the CBE to live up to its true potential.

“Accreditation is imperative. There are nearly 3,000 business programs in this country, and only about 400 of them, including us, are accredited by the AACSB. We want to continue to be among this very select crowd. It is a high achievement that assures stakeholders that we are mission-driven and manage our resources well, that we have world-class faculty and programs, that we are student-centered and that we have high quality across the board,” Jessup said.  “We had to regroup and rethink everything in our organization in order to be successful, and we had no time to spare.”

In short order, faculty members crafted a new promotion and tenure document, and a new merit-based annual performance appraisal system was implemented. CBE faculty helped to review and ultimately phase out nearly half of CBE’s academic programs. A list of the top research journals was created and targeted by faculty; the dean now rewards professors publishing in the top journals. Steps were taken to increase diversity in the student body and among the faculty. International study abroad opportunities were increased, external relations and fundraising was ramped up, and admissions standards were raised and enforced. In fall 2003, the college submitted 52 proposed changes to the WSU Faculty Senate for a vote; all were approved, setting in motion a number of the changes. There was so much paperwork, Jessup said, that it literally had to be hauled to the Senate offices on a large handcart.

“The College of Business and Economics at WSU is world-class,” Jessup said. Several programs are already recognized as leaders — entrepreneurship is ranked in the top 25, hospitality business management in the top 10, international business in the top 18 and MIS (management information systems) is benchmarked as the best in the region and among the best in the west.

“We’re well known for having world-class faculty and innovative, hands-on approaches to learning. Facilities like our Boeing Wireless Classroom of the Future, an electronic stock-trading room, the consumer behavior lab, the MIS networking lab and our kitchen/dining training facility for our hospitality business management students all promote active learning and teaching,” Jessup said.

“Key words in the college are innovation, leadership and entrepreneurism. The college has assumed a leadership role in the campus-wide Entrepreneurship and Innovation Initiative. 

“We are well on our way to move up to the ‘next level’ in terms of quality, performance, rankings, impact and reach. Our goal is to be considered among the best and most innovative business programs in the world,” he said.