Convocation 2010: The Greatest Hits

Convocations at b-schools are that time of the year when the entire top brass of a business school, including the Director, the Deans and the heads of the Governing Board come together to face the public. While a lot of inspiration flies in the air as they deliver their speeches to the graduating class, one also learns about the highlights of the bygone year at the school and some short-term plans. Here’s a compendium of noteworthy excerpts from this year’s convocation speeches at some of the best known Indian b-schools, the ones that have made the full texts of the speeches public.

Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta

While the institute hasn’t made the Director’s speech available, the address by Chairman, Board of Governors Ajit Balakrishnan is a tour-de-force on the institute’s research record in 2009-10. So much so, that the 5,500 word speech is entirely made up of a factual summary of research and published work of IIM Calcutta professors.

“Outsourcing is what has driven Indias emergence as a global economic giant, yet little organization theory has developed to understand the many different organization forms these outsourcing firms take. In a study of sixty such firms, Professor Leena Chatterjee of Behavioural Sciences Group and Kirti Sharda, a doctoral candidate at that time, proposed five dominant types: Clear Eyed Strategists, Adapting Professionals, Focalizing Artisans, Conservative Controllers and Overambitious Associates. Their paper Configurations of Outsourcing Firms and Performance: Exploring Organizational Gestalts was presented at the 2009 Academy of Management Meeting held in Chicago during August, 2009.”

“We have all watched in amazement as international commodity prices doubled between 2005 and 2008 and then in a six month period halved to a level that wiped out all the increases. How did this violent fluctuation affect the lives of the 400 plus million people in the Asia Pacific region whose lives are dependant on agriculture. Did the price increase benefit them as producers and since they are also commodity consumers, did it hurt them? Prof Parthprathim Pal of the Economics Group studied this issue and drew some policy implication for developing countries for the ongoing WTO negotiations. His paper, Commodity Price Movements and Their Impact on Human Development: Evidence from Asia and Policy Options, was presented at the 9th International Working Group on Gender and Macroeconomics conference, at Bard College, New York in July 2009.”

(Full text of the speech)

The speech summarizes over 30 instances of research papers and book chapters contributed by IIM Calcutta faculty in the past year, ranging from papers presented in both lesser-known to large conferences. While only another academician can comment on the quality and worth of the various research papers publicized in the speech, it is noteworthy that this is for the first time that any IIM has openly and so forcefully spoken about any research happening within using specifics.

Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad

If the Chairman, Board of Governors of IIM Calcutta chose research as his theme, the one at IIM Ahmedabad made a clear call to the government to end all interference in the functioning of the IIMs. According to Dr Vijaypat Singhania, the government should…

“… free it (the IIM system) from the strangulating controls that it is tied down in – at all levels – primary, secondary, graduate and post graduate fields. Indias literacy rate of 65% is below that of 125 countries of the world. Our higher education enrolment ratio of 10% is once again amongst the lowest in the world. Knowledge has become the most important factor in

economic life. In 1998 when India was at position 128 out of 174 nations in the field of Human Development, 11 years later in 2009 its position slipped to 134 out of 182 nations. We need some serious introspection, especially since Brazil and China retained their positions.”

While welcoming the bill to allow entry of foreign educational institutions he said,

“The foreign universities bill proposed by the government would provide the same freedom of operations to the foreign academic institutions as provided to the private domestic academic institutions in the country. If this were to happen, without the public academic institutions being unshackled from government restrictive controls, then these institutions would not be able to compete with the better known foreign bodies. Un-intentionally and without reason the government would

have sown the seeds of destruction of some excellent academic institutions in the country.”

Samir K Barua, IIM Ahmedabad Director announced that while the institute was prepared to completely implement the quota for Other Backward Classes (OBC) this year, maintaining the quality and delivery of output would be a challenge for the institute.

On curriculum changes, he said that the Post Graduate Program (PGP) revamped curriculum had been implemented while the one for PGP Executive (PGPX) would be put under review this year. He also added that the PGP Public Management and Policy course would be stopped for the time being since “the demand for such a programme as well as the demand for graduates from such a programme, appears to be limited.”

Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore

Director Pankaj Chandra announced the extent of new additions to the school’s faculty and awards won by them.

“We now have 91 full time, 6 visiting and 5 adjunct faculty one of the largest in the country. In 2009-2010, 8 new faculty with strong research backgrounds and from the best of global universities, have joined the Institute. Four more faculty are expected to join the Institute in a couple of months.”

He announced that the institute would review the PGP curriculum starting this year. It is also in this speech that he announced a fee-waiver for graduates desiring to work in the non-profit sector. “The Institute has decided to refund the fees for any student who chooses to work for such an organization for a period of three years on a pro-rata basis,” he explained.

Remarking that the OBC quota would stand implemented at IIM Bangalore with the admission of the 2010-12 batch, he added that the construction of 300 new hostel rooms and 24 faculty houses was in progress and work on a new classroom complex will begin soon.

Indian School of Business, Hyderabad

The institute signed up the Sloan School of Management, MIT as an associate school the same day as the convocation. “MIT Sloan will specifically help us in the areas of manufacturing excellence in innovation and physical infrastructure management. But their association with us, joint research with us and the other things that they do with us would not just be restricted to just these. So they are a full-fledged associate school of ISB and we look forward to doing some really cutting-edge innovative and affordable innovation and research in areas which we have not done so far,” said Ajit Rangnekar, the ISB Dean.

Mr Rangnekar also announced the Alumni Endowment Fund seeded by students from the ISB class of 2004. “I promise you we did not ask them (to start the fund), they came on their own because they passionately believe that they have benefited enormously from what they learnt here and therefore they want to contribute to the continuing improvement of the school,” he said.

On the impending entry of foreign educational institutions, he said, “People ask me are you not afraid of foreign universities coming in and I say no I am extremely happy because the more there are, and this country can take hundreds, the better we all will be. We can do more research, we can get more faculty, we will all strive to learn from each other and do things in a much better way.”

Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode

IIM Kozhikode seems to have gone big on energy conservation within its campus. Chairman, Board of Governors AC Muthiah narrated how the campus could now store about 55,000 cubic meters of water in their sustainable and eco-friendly rainwater harvesting system to meet the entire year’s drinking water need. “Besides this, we have also adopted several other environment friendly measures such as recycling of treated waste water for horticulture irrigation and protection of road and other embankments within the campus by using bio-degradable coir geo-textiles for soil erosion control,” he said.

Director Debashis Chatterjee announced that a 522% increase in batch size between 2002-03 and 2008-09 made IIMK the largest growing b-school in the country.

Indian Institute of Management, Indore

Director N Ravichandran announced that the school was in the process of implementing several infrastructural requirements to double the PGP class size from 240 to 450.

Xavier’s Labour Relations Institute, Jamshedpur

Since the year marked the completion of XLRI’s 60 years, the Director Fr. E. Abraham, S.J. centered his speech around remembering important people who had contributed to XLRI and chose to deliver the year’s report through a brochure. Much of it spoke about XLRI’s initiatives and partnerships in building human capacity in the rural, agricultural and health sector in Jharkhand as well as other states such as Andhra Pradesh. He also announced partnerships between XLRI and the International Trade Center, Geneva and the one with Loyola University Chicago School of Business Administration to build a ‘Center for Global Management and Responsible Leadership’ at XLRI.

The Director also informed that in the past year, XLRI faculty had “written six books, presented 17 papers in international conferences, 16 national conferences, 7 book chapters and cases, 7 international and 13 national journal publications.”

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