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
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
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
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
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
U. S. Trust Company of New York
Prudential Asset Management Group
First Fidelity Bancorporation
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
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
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
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