DEBRIEF: Rajib Sanyal, incoming business dean, Adelphi University

Rajib Sanyal, dean of Adelphi University's business school.

Rajib Sanyal will take over as dean of Adelphi University’s Robert. B. Willumstad School of Business on July 1, succeeding Anthony Libertella, who’s retiring after 11 years in the dean’s office. An oft-published veteran of university administration, Sanyal has served as dean of the Walker L. Cisler College of Business at Northern Michigan University and currently heads the Miller College of Business at Indiana’s Ball State University – two schools and regions, he told Innovate LI, that are experiencing the same transitional trends as Adelphi and Long Island. In his own words:

WHY PHI: Adelphi is a well-managed university with new leadership in one of the world’s most dynamic regions. With everything the New York metropolitan region offers – whether it’s business, the arts, healthcare innovation – the location is something one has to notice. And while Adelphi has been well led by its outgoing president, Robert Scott, a new president is coming in, which is always exciting, in the sense that you’d expect new initiatives. This was a rare opportunity to start at the same time as a new president and to partner on crafting new goals and visions.

DIFFERENT STRENGTHS: Having spent a lot of time in the Midwest, I can say this is a different sort of environment and a different sort of institution. At the same time, Adelphi has a lot of strengths to build on. Its programs in psychology, its programs in social work, its business school programs – all of the elements are there.

PATTERN RECOGNITION: Many communities are going through periods of change. In the upper Midwest, the old manufacturing sector has declined dramatically. Places like Muncie (Indiana), which were once major industrial manufacturing cities, are no longer that way. Big cities in Michigan have gone the same way. There’s a lot of movement of young people out of these communities, all of which have traditional industries whose best days are behind them. My goal [on Long Island] is to work with the remaining industries and communities to create an economic and social environment where young people feel excited to stay.

HOME COOKING: A business school must prepare students to pursue their dreams and go where they want to go. At the same time, at Adelphi, they will be well-prepared to stay locally and contribute to the innovation economy in industries such as healthcare and biotech. To the extent that we can, we will prepare our graduates for careers in these emerging industries and help create an economic environment that provides opportunities for those careers to flourish.

BASIC INSTINCT: Regional state-supported schools were originally established to serve as the engines of regional economic development. They were training the school teachers, the nurses, the accountants to work in the regions in which they were located. At a basic level, you might say a business school is preparing a workforce to meet the needs of a region’s employers.

SYMBIOSIS: Universities have always been sources of knowledge. But more and more, they are about the dissemination of these ideas and exploring new ways to look at these things. Partnering with the local business community, being more engaged with employers and business leaders, has become much more important. Today, it’s critical to provide a symbiotic environment that helps keep the curriculum current and relevant. Faculty and administrators like myself must be fully in tune with the latest trends and thinking in the business world.

ON-THE-JOB LEARNING: My knowledge of the Long Island economy is from afar and I will certainly learn more. I do know the healthcare industry, a growing center of our economy nationwide, is important. And because this is a knowledge industry – researchers, practitioners, thinkers in the medical arts and sciences – it’s an industry that will continue to grow, and it’s the sort of industry that helps other industries grow.

MOTHER LODE: We used to call them “mother industries.” The automobile industry is a good example. The tire shop, the windshield maker, gas stations – all of these are supported by the automobile industry. In many ways, the healthcare industry is the mother industry of today. Therapeutic services, educational institutions, the medical-device industry, pharmaceutical research, regulators … you can see how having several hospitals in a particular region can spawn a large number of supporting industries.

DATA POINT: I imagine there will be huge growth in what’s called health informatics – using the tools of big data and data mining and analysis for health-related matters. Researchers are combing through tons of healthcare data to see back ends and identify healthcare trends. That, I imagine, will be another growth area that brings people with training to Long Island.

NEW AND IMPROVED: I need to meet the faculty and hear their ideas and aspirations. At the end of the day, a dean has to work with the rest of the organization, including the faculty and the president, to steer the kind of changes that a place needs and the times demand. This will be a collaborative effort to not only advance Adelphi, but to advance Long Island.

Interview by GREGORY ZELLER


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