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Direct from the Dean: Joseph DiAngelo of the Haub School of Business

Joseph DiAngelo has been dean of Saint Joseph University’s Haub School of Business (HSB) since 2000, during which time the student body has doubled, making HSB the largest Jesuit business school in the country. Before that, he was dean of Widener University for  13 years. “I am the longest serving dean in the Philadelphia metro region,” he asserts proudly.

In addition to overseeing unprecedented growth at HSB, DiAngelo also helped spearhead new accreditation standards for business schools around the globe during his 2012-13 term as chair of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the oldest accreditor of international business schools. “Being able to interact with all the business schools from throughout the world was a very interesting duty,” he tells us. The new accreditation standards, approved in April, are designed to give business schools more flexibility to encourage innovation and creativity.

We’re grateful to DiAngelo for taking time out of his schedule to speak with MetroMBA and share some of the things that set HSB apart. Don’t miss this interview, in which he touches on Haub’s particular focus on the food, insurance and pharmaceutical industries, the advantage of its accounting curriculum, and several new initiatives ranging from data analytics to family business and entrepreneurship.

MetroMBA: What is the one area of your MBA program that you wish prospective applicants knew more about?

Joseph DiAngelo: Well, the one thing we always talk about is that we are Jesuit and so there is a tremendous emphasis on ethics. I always laugh when I see these articles in the papers about schools doing a course in ethics and it makes the front page of the New York Times. We’ve been doing it forever. In fact, the Aspen Institute ranked us 17th in the world as having the curriculum most infused with ethics.

There are 88 schools in the Philly metro area, and most have business offerings. We focus on industry-related sectors – food, insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Also, our accounting curriculum is all infused with Statutory Accounting Principles (SAP) – so students graduate with certification and proficiency in SAP, which is a major advantage for the big four accounting firms because they all have SAP clients.

MetroMBA: In the Philadelphia Metro area, what sets Saint Joseph’s University’s graduate management education offerings apart from those of other schools? Basically, if someone is looking to go to business school in Philadelphia, why should they look here?

JD: I would definitely say our industry focus. We try to be especially attentive to what the companies want as opposed to just what faculty want to teach. We also have a new initiative in data analytics, which is huge across all industries. We call it business intelligence – next year we will be infusing all of our courses with data analytics. The one thing about Philadelphia is you can’t sit back and rest on your laurels or someone else will pass you by. But the competition is good – it keeps you on your toes.

MetroMBA: What is the greatest single advantage to going to business school in Philadelphia? How does HSB prepare students specifically for careers in Philadelphia?

JD: I think the fact that because there are so many business schools in Philadelphia the schools have to really be attentive to the market. So we are always trying to stay ahead of the curve. Some other schools do as well, some do it better than others, those that do are the ones that are successful. Last year we were ranked fourth in the country by PayScale for offering the best return on investment to students. It just shows that the companies appreciate what we provide because they hire our students. If you are not putting out a good product, companies don’t hire your students.

MetroMBA: The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) movement seems to be gaining momentum at many business schools. What role does online education play in today’s MBA offerings at HSB? How do you see that changing over the next five years?

JD: It is big for us. Our graduate program in human capital/finance is all online. Soon our graduate program in marketing will be all online. Food also will be a national online market for us, and pharmaceutical will be offered online as well. It is the wave of the future. When my two-year-old granddaughter can download iTunes down from my iPad, you know it’s here.

We did an online program in pharma marketing for one of the major pharmaceutical companies, and when we finished they said they wanted to evaluate it. Basically, during the last six months of the program, students from the company focused on cases in the pharmaceutical industry and then wrote reports for their superiors listing how much money they saved based on what they learned in the program. Even when it cut the students’ estimates in half to counteract any exaggeration, the company found that it made $4.50 for every dollar it spent. That was an online program.

In general, our online programs are extremely well regarded. We were ranked 18th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for having the best graduate online program, and we were very happy with that.

MetroMBA: When you became dean, what was HSB best known for? At the conclusion of your tenure, what would you like it to be best known for? 

JD: Saint Joe’s has always been a very good school in Philadelphia – we have always had an excellent reputation in the region. When I became dean, we had a lot of programs that were substantive but not industry-focused – the only one was food at the time. Since adding more industry-focused programs, we have moved from a regionally recognized school to a nationally recognized school, and that is something that everyone here is proud of.

MetroMBA: What is the one upcoming development or change at HSB that you are most excited about and why?

JD: We have a couple major initiatives that are getting legs now. We started an academy of risk management in insurance, and that has been very successful. Our newest initiative is our Family Business and Entrepreneurship (FBE) initiative. We have a significant number of alumni who are family business owners and lots of legacy students. So this new family business initiative is starting to move forward quickly.

MetroMBA: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

JD: I guess the one other thing I’d like to point out is that we may be the fastest growing business school in the country. We are definitely one of the fastest growing business schools since 2000. Saint Joe’s has grown by 86 percent overall, and HSB has grown from 600 to more than 1,200 graduate students. This is compared to a growth rate across the United States of about 20 percent. We have become the largest Jesuit school in the country, passing Georgetown and Boston College several years ago. Today, we are a major business school in the country. I think many people still think of us as “little Saint Joe’s,” and the dramatic way we have grown gets overlooked.

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