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Bruce Magid says that he has always had a game plan. “It was to go into the business world before going into academia.”
Having spent 21 years in the private sector, at Bank of America, he is now well on the way to completing a further 20 years in education. His first port of call was Michigan State University, followed by San José State University, where he was the founding dean of the Lucas Graduate School of Business . He has now been re-appointed for a second five-year term as dean at the Brandeis International Business School, in Boston, his home city.
The school is a strong boutique finance school, indeed the school’s flagship MA in international economics and finance was ranked 14th in the world by the Financial Times in its 2011 ranking of Masters in Finance programmes.
As such, the school is arguably a perfect fit for 60-year-old Prof Magid. As a former banking professional, the title professor of financial markets and institutions suits him down to the ground. But just as significantly, the business school at Brandeis was conceived as a international institution from the start he says and international business is where his interests lie.
In his commercial life he lived extensively outside the US, directing Bank of America’s international economic and policy research group and leading the bank’s corporate finance activities in Latin America. At one point he was even senior advisor to the Minister of Planning of the Republic of Venezuela, as well as treasurer and board member of the Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment.
On top of that, Prof Magid’s PhD is in international economics, business law and comparative politics, all of which play to the strengths of a school such as Brandeis.
Brandeis’s contemporary outlook results from the fact that the school is relatively new to business in US business school terms, although the university is an established liberal arts college. The seed of the business programme was sown in the late 1980s with the finance programme, and the business school itself was not established until 1994, with the inauguration of the MBA.
The late entry of Brandeis into the business school market also means the school has taken a different focus. “Our model is much more a European model,” says Prof Magid. “In our pedagogy we combine academic rigour with practitioners.”
But while its short life brings some advantages, it also brings two big disadvantages. The first is the school’s size. “We’re bigger than Dartmouth but not as big as Boston University,” claims the dean. There are about 525 graduate students at the business school, with between 50 and 75 MBA students a year. Prof Magid says he plans to have between 400 and 500 undergraduates who major in business.
Although the dean makes a virtue of the small size - “I think our size is an advantage: I use the term intimacy” - he concedes that it raises difficulties. “How do you become well-known when you are small?”
Being small means there are few alumni, and being relatively new means those students that have graduated, have not been in the workplace long enough to accrue the sort of wealth needed to be a large benefactor. “We have only 2,000 alumni so we have to work hard to ensure they are all engaged. We need to connect with the community and get more corporate support.”
As with all private US business schools, money is a factor. Although Prof Magid insists that the business school at Brandeis is run like a business, he is hoping to get “an increased share of wallet” as he puts it from potential donors.
He hopes to double the school’s endowment. “I think that the donors of today are engaged philanthropists. They want to see where their money is going.” Explaining that will be his objective.
Growth is also part of the plan. As well as increasingly working with different departments in the university to teach business to undergraduates, Prof Magid believes that there will be growth in the one-year MSF degree. “Companies will sponsor managers for nine-months,” he believes. “There’s still money in the world.”