Targeting a Transformative MBA Experience

As the new associate dean for the MBA program, accounting professor Phillip Stocken is bolstering Tuck’s community in and out of the classroom.

On July 1, accounting professor Philip C. Stocken began his new role as the associate dean of the MBA program, replacing M. Eric Johnson, who left Tuck to become the dean of Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Business. Stocken, who hails from South Africa, has taught at Tuck since 2003; before that, he was an assistant professor of accounting at Wharton. In his 10 years at Tuck, Stocken has garnered a reputation for outstanding teaching, and was one of the first recipients of the Class of 2011 Teaching Excellence Award.

When he was offered the position of associate dean, Stocken considered it an opportunity to have a positive impact beyond the classroom. “Tuck has wonderful resources,” Stocken said, “and as an associate dean I want to help channel them towards creating a transformative experience for students.”

In his first few months on the job, Stocken has taken advantage of Tuck’s personal scale and nimbleness to introduce and implement a number of changes and initiatives in the MBA program. “There’s a culture of experimentation here that makes it exciting to try new things,” Stocken said. “The only thing we’re limited by is our imagination.”

What are you focusing on in your first year as associate dean?

I call it the Fabric of Tuck. We want to create a richer experience for students within the Tuck community, and by that I mean better in-class and inter-class interaction, and stronger lines of communication between staff, faculty and students. The motivation is to give students a truly transformative experience, which is more likely when they are exposed to the entire Tuck community.

Can you give some examples?

One is an international mentorship program, where faculty and staff mentor international students during their time here. Another is focused on quality of life:  helping the students expand the international and small-group dinners, so everyone has an opportunity to share aspects of their personality and culture. All of this is actually strongly related to the Tuck tradition. In Edward Tuck’s letter to Dartmouth president Tucker, giving the gift to establish the business school, Tuck placed a high value on altruism. And today, if you want to know what makes Tuck tick, it’s this emphasis on being altruistic, being publicly spirited. It pervades the academic and social code here.

What are some changes to the MBA curriculum?

There are two changes worth mentioning. In the core curriculum, we divided the Financial Measurement, Analysis, and Reporting course into two parts and moved the second half into the spring term. In exchange, we moved the Management Communications course from the spring term to the second half of the Fall B term. The idea was to make the fall term less quantitatively intense, and this was based on the feedback of second-year students and recent alumni. Second, in November we’re starting a new leadership program for second-year students: coaching and training that will help students establish a leadership role early in their new careers.

What’s next on your agenda?

We’re continuing to explore a global experience requirement: defining what we mean by a global mindset, determining which courses will satisfy a possible requirement, deciding whether students should be able to exempt themselves from it because of past experience, those sorts of things. Between our Learning Expeditions, the Tuck Global Consultancy and the First-Year Project course, Tuck’s capacity for providing global experiences has grown tremendously over the past few years. We’re excited to expand the offerings and make them a more integral part of the Tuck experience.