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Dean says travel broadens perspectives

September 22, 2008

Dean says travel broadens perspectives

At a time with the United State is no longer the 800-pound gorilla, it’s time for future leaders graduating from college and universities to take stock of what they can offer the world, according to PLU’s new business dean. At least that’s what James Brock, the dean of PLU’s School of Business, plans to talk about Wednesday night when he kicks off the State Farm MBA Executive Leadership Series in the Morken Center, Room 103 at 6 p.m.

Brock, who joined the School of Business last month, said that he will draw heavily on ideas expressed in Fareed Zakaria’s new book The Post-American World.

“I agree with his ideas, mainly that the U.S. is not lagging behind the rest of the world, but that the rest of the world is catching up rapidly,” he said.

In his travels, Brock added that he has also seen the same attitude that Zakaria comments on in the book.

“It’s not so much that many folks across the globe are angry at the U.S., but that they are indifferent,” he said. “We still have this thought that we are the Promised Land, the land of the greatest. But when I’ve met people around the world and prodded them, asked them if they could be anywhere tomorrow, where would they want to go?

“The answer is usually not the U.S. It’s France, New Zealand or Thailand,” he said.

But, like Zakaria, Brock said there are some leadership traits that graduates can offer the world, if they are willing to appreciate and encourage other cultures.

“Integrity of character is important,” he said. “And a preference for diversity, respect and technical savvy.”

That’s why programs such as J-term are so important, he said. Brock served 11 years as the dean of business at Sigmund Weis School of Business at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania. That university has a successful study abroad program where students spend a semester in London, he said. After the students returned, they were changed, he said.

“They realize they can do this,” Brock laughed. “”It just opens up a world of possibilities for them, quite literally.”

Brock has also worked in the private sector- as vice president of marketing at Pacific Steel & Recycling in Montana – as well as working as the business dean at Montana State University. He didn’t travel overseas until he was in his 50s. While he’s appreciative of that travel now, he wonders would his world would have been like if he’d travelled in his 20s, as many PLU students do.

Brock earned his Ph.D. in Marketing from Michigan State University, his MBA from San Francisco State University and his bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of California (Berkeley).