HBU’s Growth Engine
“Students take a two-week trip in conjunction with their international business course work. We take them to see the world.” – Dr. Michael Weeks
THE PILLARS: The College of Business is named for Mr. Dunham. Can you give a brief profile why?
DR. MICHAEL WEEKS: Yes, Mr. Dunham has been the non-executive chair of Chesapeake Energy and former chairman of ConocoPhillips, and he recently made the largest contribution in HBU’s history, so in honor of that we named the College of Business for him.
THE PILLARS: And your background?
DR. MICHAEL WEEKS: My background is a little non-traditional for an academic administrator. I spent 21 years in the Air Force, but in the middle of my career, I transitioned to the academic world by teaching at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. When I retired, I went into full-time academia rather than the aviation industry.
THE PILLARS: We have noticed that the business school is a growth engine at HBU, undergraduate and post graduate. Tell us why.
DR. MICHAEL WEEKS: The business school reflects the modern economic environment. Modern society demands that we have an understanding of the workings of business, and there is a lot of demand for business training, which is a fairly broad curriculum. There is training in information systems, management, finance, accounting – the language of business. Our undergraduates get the language of business, and our graduate students get advanced training in that.
THE PILLARS: Give us the uniqueness of the Archie W. Dunham School of Business.
DR. MICHAEL WEEKS: We have a unique mission. Our mission is to serve Christ by developing innovative leaders of character, and those words were deliberately chosen by the college: innovation, leadership, and character. We are looking to develop leaders that can be prepared for the changing economic environment.
THE PILLARS: And so, synoptically, the undergraduate degree includes what exactly?
DR. MICHAEL WEEKS: Our undergraduate majors are Accounting, Finance, Marketing, International Business, and Management. Our graduate programs have four graduate degrees: a Master of Science in Human Resource Management, a traditional MBA, a Masters of International Business, and the Master of Accountancy, which prepares students for the CPA exam.
THE PILLARS: In the post graduate level, what’s the most popular?
DR. MICHAEL WEEKS: MBA by far. It is the generalist degree that prepares students for the broadest range of career options. But those students who want to sit for the CPA exam go through our Master of Accountancy program. Our Human Resource Management program is also very popular and was recently credentialed by the Society for Human Resource Management. Beyond that, we have a master’s degree in International Business, which prepares students for the global marketplace. We have a lot of international students in this program.
THE PILLARS: What is the future vision of the business school?
DR. MICHAEL WEEKS: Our first priority is to achieve AACSB International accreditation, which is the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. AACSB is the top-level accreditation. In the meantime, we are strengthening our current programs. We have altered one of our courses so we now have a course specifically for managing innovation. We call it Managing Innovation Strategically and we teach students to evaluate not just technology, but also to evaluate the societal context around it.
THE PILLARS: Now your business school also has the Center for Christianity in Business (CCB) with Dr. Liang. Explain the uniqueness of that.
DR. MICHAEL WEEKS: We need to expose our students to the practitioner environment. In other words, what our business leaders are doing out there. Students have to know that they can practice their Christian faith, and that it is not misaligned with the business world. That is the intersection of the academic world and the world of business. The CCB gives the Christian business leaders from Houston an outreach where they can come talk to other business leaders about issues of faith in the workplace – how they can manage their Christian life, as a good witness, a good steward for God’s resources in the business world. These are very real issues that Christians deal with every day in the work place.
THE PILLARS: A number of leading Houston businessmen and women have been big backers of HBU historically and currently. Why is that?
DR. MICHAEL WEEKS: David Brooks wrote a recent column in the New York Times called “The Big University,” and he talked about how many of our landmark institutions, Harvard and others, were originally founded as religious institutions, but drifted away from that and are now completely secular. We recognize that all truth comes from biblical teaching and we want integrate faith and business. We don’t see those as separate things, but as mutually reinforcing. Biblical principles lead to good business outcomes, and we want our students to recognize that.
THE PILLARS: Do you see the faith factor giving an edge in business and entrepreneurialism and success in business?
DR. MICHAEL WEEKS: I think so. You know, I want to be careful. I don’t think that it is necessarily God’s mission that we be prosperous — God’s mission is that we serve and worship Him. To have a fulfilling life, we need to reflect the Christian faith so we feel like we are preparing our students for the most fulfilling life that they can have as a Christian and as a contributor to society. One of our new initiatives is to develop leaders of character. We thought hard about what that would mean, and we’ve added a course called Stewardship to the curriculum that will launch next year. It is a course in advanced ethics that has a practical application.
THE PILLARS: Does HBU have an advantage with Houston being the third most populated city in the U.S.?
DR. MICHAEL WEEKS: I think it’s a huge advantage. Houston is the most diverse metropolitan area in the U.S. and reflects that diversity. That is a strength for us. We have a tremendously diverse student body and faculty in the College of Business and that really adds strength.
THE PILLARS: Is there an entrepreneurial spirit to the city of Houston that gives an advantage to a prospective student?
DR. MICHAEL WEEKS: We have a lot of entrepreneurial ventures in the healthcare and energy industries. We also have a lot of entrepreneurial energy in the real estate and finance sectors with links and internships in those key industries. Our students are well-prepared to succeed in the Houston economy after they leave HBU, and that will prepare them to succeed anywhere.
THE PILLARS: Let me also segue to the international business trips. Tell us about where you’ve been and then where you’re going.
DR. MICHAEL WEEKS: Our graduate programs, our Master of International Business and our MBA, have an integrated international experience with them. Students take a two-week trip in conjunction with their international business course work. We take them to see the world. We spent time in South America, where we saw international entrepreneurs working to develop a range of products in Lima. That was a fantastic experience. We also went to Spain recently to get an experience in the EU. This year we’re taking students to China. We take our students to see the world because we feel like, in order to understand the modern business environment, you really have to have an appreciation for the international environment.
Dr. Michael Weeks
Archie W. Dunham College of Business
Dean, Archie W. Dunham College of Business
Professor of Management