Phillips: Fundraising is key for next dean

A strong sense of fundraising, networking and student outreach will be vital for the incoming dean for the School of Business, current Dean Susan Phillips said Monday.

Phillips announced in October her plans to retire at the end of this year, and a search for her replacement is underway. In an interview with The Hatchet, Phillips reflected on her 11 years at GW and discussed ways the incoming dean could improve the school.

“We are pretty solidly in the top 50 for undergraduate and we have just gotten into the top 50 in the last couple of years for the MBA program,” Phillips said, referring to the school’s U.S. News and World Report, BusinessWeek Magazine and other college rankings. “I think we need to move up to the top 25. That would be a harder road because the competition gets stiffer the further up you go. And that’s going to take a lot more work to continue development of the curriculum.”

She added, “It’s probably going to take some additional faculty appointments and some additional funding for student scholarships.”

Phillips said the incoming dean should also focus on maintaining a relationship with students.

“Students are why we’re here,” she said. “Obviously I interact [often] with the students in a variety of ways, through their clubs and their programs.”

During her tenure at GW, Phillips fundraised for and oversaw the building of Ric and Dawn Duques Hall – the first building to completely house the business school.

“Once they literally started digging the hole for the building it was a rainy day, but I was out here and that’s when I knew it was really going to happen,” Phillips said.

Colleagues in the School of Business said Phillips’ leadership and dedication will be missed.

“She takes a lot of care in everything she does and is a very consensus-type of person who is very inclusive,” Senior Associate Dean Pradeep Rau said. “The School of Business now has an identity and we have definitely become more visible as a business school in the last dozen years she has been here.”

The School of Business was not ranked when Phillips entered her position, and she said a major goal at that time was to gain a place among the top 50 business schools. Currently, the school is ranked 38th for undergraduate business programs by U.S. News and World Report. In 2009, the graduate program was ranked 55th by U.S. News and World Report. BusinessWeek ranks the undergraduate sustainability major No. 5.

“We are now regularly ranked both nationally and internationally and that has happened under her watch,” Rau said.

Rau said Phillips is a “very methodical person,” coming to GW after a two-year process. While working as a chairwoman with the Federal Reserve when GW first recruited her, Phillips turned the position down because she did not want to abandon the Fed with only two experienced members. A year later, the search for a dean began again and Phillips reapplied.

After stepping down, Phillips said she hopes to spend more time with her family and will continue serving on educational boards and working on public policy. She also plans on guest lecturing at her undergraduate college, Agnes Scott College, near Atlanta, and perhaps serving on their Board of Trustees.

But, she said, “I’m not planning to take on any new jobs.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.