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Inviting Business to the Table

Michele Kriegman
1994, 'Inviting Business to the Table', Rutgers Management, Vol. 1, No. 1:27-29.

Excerpt only: Inviting Business to Rutgers Management.

The Corporate Associates Program attempts to bridge the gap between business and academia by utilizing university resources and holding first-class events.

There is a truism among the entrenched and entombed of the business world. It holds that management schools are too wedded to theory and sadly divorced from reality. But key players in the New Jersey business community have teamed with faculty and students at Rutgers to shake up that notion with the Corporate Associates Program.

“The Corporate Associates Program is one of the ways Rutgers is helping both faculty and business practitioners to interact and learn from eachother,” says P. George Benson, who was sworn in last summer as dean of the school. “Through roundtables, networking forums and various university programs, the business community is provided with an entrée to Rutgers and the bast resources it has to offer. In turn, faculty and students are able to meet and learn from the most influential members of the business community.”

All of the program’s high-visibility events have been covered by business publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Star-Ledger. These include the Distinguished Roundtable Series, the executive leadership series, the inter-corporate colloquia program and the annual Roy G. Beck CEO Breakfast Forum.

As an example of the caliber of these events, the annual Roy G. Beck CEO Breakfast Forum, which met at the Short Hills Hilton for the fifth year this past May, has had top-tier speakers like T. Boone Pickens and Thomas A. Renyi, the Bank of New York Co. Inc.’s president and director, address these select gatherings of about 60 executives.

The jewel in the crown of the Corporate Associates Program, however, is the Distinguished Roundtable Series (see sidebar). By attracting participants like Nobel laureate Paul Samuelson, and CEOs like Ernest Drew of Hoechst-Celanese Corp., John Biggs of TIAA-CREF, the worlds’s largest pension fund, and Paul Koether of T. R. Winston, it has drawn praise from various quarters.

Dick Romano, vice president of government affairs at AT&T and a member of the Corporate Associates Program since 1983, has called it “a win-win situation for everybody. Corporations and schools pick the topic together so you get something of mutual benefit. We also get interaction with other companies over common issues like pension funds.”

Former Student Government Association president Kristin Runge (MBA ’94) says she went to the roundtables because of the impressive speakers, the topics and the balance between management and the academic views. “At the reception afterward, there were also really top management people in attendance.”

Paul Nadler, professor of finance, who has taught the likes of Alan Greenspan and Bert Lance during his 36 years of teaching, says, “I’ve dismissed a whole class to have them attend one of the Distinguished Roundtables because this is what management  schools should be doing, not academic journals.” (Thisl, he says, despite serving as editor of three such journals and authoring 120 articles in his field – in addition to appearing as a regular columnist for American Banker.)  He uses this ex He uses this expertise in the consulting work he does for one of the Corporate Associates Program members, First Fidelity Bancorporation.

In fact, membership in the Corporate Associates Program helps companies identify the particular expertise of faculty members who may be available as consultants for special projects, advisors for strategic planning, writers for corporate and business journal publications, reviewers of technical manuscripts and principal investigators for research grants.

Also at the disposal of Corporate Associates members are four research centers and five entrepreneurial enterprise centers.

The overall program has evolved since its inception a decade ago. It first started as a program where membership fees generated income for the school, and in return, corporations sent their chief personnel officers to recruit students.

But after the economy started to suffer in the late eighties, the program evolved. As business interest in corporate recruitment lessened, its interest in utilizing university services, such as conferences and events, increased. After a survey conducted by MBA students confirmed these findings, the university responded accordingly. The result was the Corporate Associates Program Preview Awards Dinners in 1990 and 1991.

To complete the program, the Distinguished Roundtable Series was inaugurated last year, after additional corporate and faculty input. Says Robert J. Leonard, director of the Corporate Associates Program and associate dean for external relations: “Companies value access to top corporate speakers on specific topics since the economic downturn.”

They also seem to value the voice the Corporate Associates Program provides to the business community as a whole.


Partnering With Business

Companies interested in becoming a member of the Corporate Associates Program can contact Robert J. Leonard at 201-648-5429. Currently, the program has 18 members, which include the following prestigious companies and individuals.

The Amelior Foundation

American Telephone & Telegraph Co.

Hoffman-La Roche Inc.

Automatic Data Processing

Wolff and Samson

T. R. Winston

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.

New Jersey Business & Industry Association

Constellation Bancorp

Banco Santandar

U. S. Trust Company of New York

Robert Kaplan

Prudential Asset Management Group

Price Waterhouse

First Fidelity Bancorporation

Warner-Lambert Co.

Ronald M. Feinberg

Harold T. Redding


Gathering Around the Roundtable [sidebar]

One of the most notable events sponsored by the Corporate Associates Program is the Distinguished Roundtable series, started in November 1992. Organized by James L. Bicksler, professor of economics and finance, the series is designed to serve as a forum through which the business community can interact with academics.

To date, each of the five Distinguished Roundtables in the series has drawn from 125 to 200 top executives, leading business media, government representatives, academicians and students.

Speakers have included such heavy hitters as Gerald Hines, founder and chairman of the Hines Interests Limited Partnership, who addressed the topic “Real Estate: Innovations, Market Movements and Pension Investment Strategies,” at Chemical Bank in New York City on June 30, 1993.

To discuss “Management Styles and Corporate Cultures,” which convened on Sept. 23, 1993, at Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., Rutgers attracted Dr. Ernest H. Drew, president and CEO of Hoechst-Celanese; Robert W. Iverson, chairman, CEO and president of KIWI International Airlines; and Thomas A. Renyi, president and director of the Bank of New York Co. Inc.

“This is an example of where you see the school on the cutting edge,” says one of the corporate organizers, Dick Romano, vice president of governmental affairs at AT&T. “New Jersey companies have been hit hard by the changing economy because of hierarchical structures. Many international competitors are flat, there are fewer layers of management, so everyone is downsizing. Here we have our experts and Rutgers experts to talk about how to adapt.”

“People were really listening,” says the Nobel laureate in economics, Paul Samuelson, who addressed a Distinguished Roundtable on Nov. 17, 1993, at U.S. Trust Company of New York’s Manhattan offices. Speaking on the topic, “Endowments and Foundations: Investment Strategies and Tactics,” Samuelson says, “It was a lively and long session with a lot of questions. The audience was primarily portfolio investors for institutions.”

Other speakers at this roundtable included Peter Bernstein, the founding editor of the Journal of Portfolio Management; David White, treasurer and chief investment officer of the Rockefeller Foundation; Linda Strumpf, vice president and chief investment  officer of the Ford Foundation; Frederick Taylor, chief investment officer and vice chairman of the U.S. Trust Company; and Coleen Higgins-Jacob, treasurer of the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

The roundtable hosted by Merck & Co. Inc. on Dec. 16, 1993, featured chairman and CEO of TIAA-CREFF, John H. Biggs, a keynote speaker. Joining him in discussing “Pension and Benefit Plan Finance and Investment” was Robert J. Anjelica, president of AT&T Investment Management Corp., which oversees the nation’s largest corporate pension fund.

Newark’s commercial renaissance was the subject of the June 9, 1994 roundtable. Speakers included leaders of the city’s economic development community. The keynote speaker was Gene Heimberg, president of Prudential Investments.

For information concerning future Distinguished  Roundtables and other events, please contact James Bicksler at 201-746-7012.


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