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U. business school dean wants to forge community ties

Business schools traditionally are "in the community" but not "of the community," and Jack Brittain wants to change that at the University of Utah.

Brittain is the new dean of the David Eccles School of Business, starting Thursday, after a stint as a management professor at the University of Texas at Dallas."Universities historically have stood aside. I want to do more partnering in the community," Brittain said in a telephone interview.

"What I'm trying to move beyond is us as someplace that provides a venue where people come (to a lecture or class) and go away," Brittain said. "I want us to be more 'of the community' where, when professional groups sponsor a speaker, we will jointly sponsor the speaker in the community and provide continuing education credits."

Brittain said there are plenty of ways the school can partner up with businesses and community organizations to create what he terms "a higher level of value," not only for students, but also for professors doing research and for the businesses.

"I want the community to feel they have avenues of contact in the school," Brittain said. "One of the attractive things about the school is that it's in pretty good shape. There are a lot of opportunities there."

Brittain said he is especially impressed with an advisory board that now works with the school, and he plans to build on that relationship.

Among possible joint ventures are more internships for students and an expansion of an existing MBA program in which students must participate in a field project. This would be especially desirable in areas of entrepreneurship and business start-ups.

"Those are terrific educational opportunities for students. It's one thing to have an accounting class and study a system. It's another to have the ability to go in and start one up for a starting enterprise. It's a whole different level of learning," he said.

He said he also wants to get the university's MBA program ranked in the Top 50 schools by U.S. News & World Report. The national recognition and prestige yields more than most people realize -- including such things as more scholarships and recruiters on campus. The timetable for that goal: three to five years. His next goal is to have Business Weekly rank the school among the Top 20 in the nation within the next seven years.

He said such recognition is psychologically rewarding for everyone associated with the school.

"You can have quality, and it doesn't get recognized, and we want to have that quality recognized," Brittain said.