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Off The Beaten "Academic" Path: It's All About The Extraordinary In JSOM

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Fall classes are well under way. The hallways are packed with bright, eager students excited about the opportunities that lie ahead when they graduate in a few years. The classrooms are filled. The advising office is bustling, and the elevators are racing from floor to floor. Inside the maze of busy students, I find myself catching glimpses of “above and beyond” gestures at the Jindal School of Management. As the associate dean for graduate programs at the Jindal School, I’m often found espousing the great attributes of our school, including our world-class faculty, our abundant selection of degrees and elective courses, our smart students and our endless opportunities for engaging employers. While these are easy to sell, what I often forget to sell is those remarkable interpersonal extras of this incredible place.

In the hallways today, I watched friends connect who had been away on internships in New York and California. I heard them exchange greetings and quickly launch into an animated conversation about their experiences on the job. Outside Jason’s Deli on our first floor, I watched a Chinese student whose name I don’t know wrap his arms around an Indian classmate that he hadn’t seen all summer. I saw in their eyes the value of their global friendship. Then as I rounded the corner toward our undergraduate program office, I saw two professors helping lost, overwhelmed freshmen locate their classrooms. I swelled with pride at the thought that our Jindal Ivory Towers are comprised of far more than faculty delivering top-notch programs; these ivory towers are filled with smart global citizens who are enriched not just in the classroom but in the hallways, inside student organizations, inside faculty offices and in every conversation.

The Jindal difference is measured by the advisors who take extra time to make sure that a student gets registered even if it means staying late. The difference is measured by the undergraduate student volunteers who came to help make graduate-student orientation run flawlessly. Our school is defined not only by what we do but also by who we are. We are a community committed to helping every student, colleague, staff member, faculty person, administrator, visitor and stranger become everything they hope to be. We are better because of the conversations we have; the differences that distinguish us and the commitment we make to caring about others.

As I left the building today, I ran into a colleague, and together we sat on the window sill just inside our new building. We talked about our day and the challenges we tackled. Then without any cue, we looked up and watched the bustling activity before our eyes. We were really moved by what we saw. Both of us knew in that moment that we would likely be sitting in this same spot in 10 years, watching our colleagues, our students and our friends walk these halls still sharing these extraordinary moments at the Jindal School. We were humbled and joyful at what we saw and for what lies ahead for this remarkable place. I hope you will take a moment to capture this feeling somewhere in the Jindal School and let me know what you think.

Monica Powell

Monica S. Powell, PhD, is the associate dean of Graduate Programs for the Naveen Jindal School of Management at UT Dallas. In her role as the associate dean, Dr. Powell is responsible for 4,000 graduate students in 15 academic degree programs as well as the school’s Career Management Center and Recruiting Department. Dr. Powell teaches both undergraduate and graduate students. Dr. Powell has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in communications from the University of Alabama, and a PhD in higher education with a minor in communications from the University of North Texas. Read more articles

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