Five Questions With Jeffrey A. Mello

Jeffrey A. Mello | Dean of the School of Business, Rhode Island College

1. You’ve led RIC’s School of Business for nearly two years. How would you describe the state of the school when you signed on? A significant number of our students and alumni are [first-generation college students] and our quality and affordability are life-changers.

[Yet] when I arrived, many Rhode Islanders, even lifelong residents, didn’t know we offered business programs.

2. Known as the School of Management since 2002, one of the first tasks you set was changing the institution’s name to School of Business. Why was that important? “Business school” is the industry standard. Management is one of seven RIC undergraduate majors … and the moniker “School of Management” didn’t accurately describe [what is offered].

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3. The number of graduate programs tripled under your tenure. In what areas did you branch out and why? When I arrived, RIC had one graduate program, a professional accountancy master’s with a concentration in financial planning, and a graduate certificate in financial planning.

We added new programs in health care administration and operations management, areas of existing high demand in line with projected Rhode Island employment growth.

This fall, we are launching new graduate certificates in project and supply-chain management and a track in the accounting program which will be aligned with the CPA exam.

We are creating seamless, accelerated paths for undergraduates who wish to receive their graduate degree at RIC by allowing them to complete some requirements [prior to graduation].

4. One of eight business-focused educational institutions in the state, RIC’s School of Business remains unaccredited. What are you doing to change that? We are aggressively pursuing International Accreditation Council for Business Education accreditation. … We were [recently] admitted to candidacy status … [and] will be completing a self-study during the coming academic year in preparation for a formal accreditation visit in January 2020.

5. What are your goals before the planned 2020 accreditation visit? In addition to new graduate programs, we are developing an undergraduate international business minor and converting most undergraduate programs from three- to four-credit curricula. Students will take fewer but more in-depth classes and additional experiential learning will be incorporated. We are [also] continuing to enhance our internship program and employer partnerships.