Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

The house that Jack built

Professor Jack Osborn congratulates a student on the stage during a Commencement ceremony.
The Hunsaker Endowed Chair of Management Jack Osborn poses with one of the many students whose lives he changed as founder of U of R’s Global Business program, which he led for more than two decades.

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. —Matthew 7:25

Can there even be a Global Business Program without Jack Osborn, the Hunsaker Chair of Management? That's hard to imagine, right? Those of us involved in the program's day-to-day operations over recent years—eight years in my case—acutely feel this. You may also find it hard to visualize. Jack's been such a force—omnipresent, profoundly influential, the relentless leader driving Global Business at Redlands for more than two decades, our founder. Superman can't retire!

Well, however unimaginable, that day has come. As the person with the daunting task of following Jack Osborn as the chair of Global Business at Redlands, I want to stress two things:

  1. Thank you, Jack, for all you've done. You've made this program one we're all proud to be associated with. Your work has left an indelible imprint on your alma mater. You've shaped the careers and lives of so many students. We are in awe, filled with admiration and gratitude. Gathering to celebrate Jack and the success of Global Business over these last 20 years will be, as some students might say, “epic.” We hope everyone can join us on October 13 and that, before that event, you’ll send us your memories, testimonials, sentiments of gratitude, updated contact information, and any other gestures of support you wish to make in Jack’s honor. This is a profound moment of transition for Global Business at the University of Redlands; now is the time to celebrate and thank Jack, revel in the success of our Global Business program, and commit ourselves to sustaining and enhancing the house that Jack built;

  2. With your support and help, the future of the program is bright. We can sustain and even enhance its excellence. We are confident about that bold claim for a number of reasons. Jack laid such a strong foundation. He’s handed us a winner. It would be hubris to think any one of us could step into Jack's shoes, but having worked with Jack for many years, the Global Business faculty are confident that, with hard work, your continued support, and by building on the fundamentals that made Global Business such a success, we can continue to be among the “crown jewels” of the University of Redlands—a program with outstanding students and graduates that confers profound, positive benefits in students’ lives and careers.
“Now is the time to celebrate and thank Jack, revel in the success of our Global Business program, and commit ourselves to sustaining and enhancing the house that Jack built,” says University Chair in Global Business Walter Hutchens, shown here teaching a Global Business class. (Photo by William Vasta)

How will we do this?

The "secret sauce" of the Global Business program includes:

Academic rigor. Did Jack make you cry in your First-Year Seminar or the introductory 226/228 class? Did he ever invite you to leave class or end an entire class early if preparation was inadequate? Cut you off if a presentation ran long? Did he ever ask a question in class that shifted your entire worldview? Those may be outliers, but we all know Jack was a challenging, invigorating teacher. He tied theory to practice, asked penetrating questions, expected hard work and excellence, and constantly refreshed course content with current global events. The entire team—myself, Professor [Hueng Joo] Cha, and Professor [Faisal] Harahap—share his view that academic rigor is essential to the mission of Global Business. Jack recruited us because he believed in our capabilities as teachers, and we were each attracted to the program as faculty whose academic emphasis has been on teaching and student development. We don’t want to reduce all future Global Business students to tears, but we will uphold the high expectations and belief that students are capable of superlative work that Jack modeled. Global Business will never aspire to be the path of least resistance to a degree at Redlands. We will attract some of the best and brightest students on campus, challenge them, help them prepare to compete with students from anywhere, and help them flourish in their careers. We are always thrilled to hear from you to know what your degree has helped you the most, what areas we need to strengthen, and what you think the next generation of business leaders need. Let us know your thoughts, and rest assured we will not retreat on rigor. Careers and futures are at stake!

Intensive career coaching and hyper-attention to outcomes. Jack wanted every student to get a good job. We are not ashamed of ambition. Indeed, we celebrate it and expect it. We all believe in the liberal arts education Redlands offers. We want our graduates to be thoughtful global citizens with well-furnished minds, not narrow technocrats with no ethical compass. We also know that students come to college to get better jobs than they would have gotten without college. Students’ enormous investment of time, effort, and somebody’s money ought to earn dividends over their entire careers. We thus think the first semester of the first year is not too early to start thinking about career paths. We want every Global Business student to reflect deeply on their vocational dreams, discern a direction, and take steps to get there. We will follow shifts in the labor markets but not be instantly reactive to all of them. We know some of the jobs our students will do can’t even be foreseen; some of them may invent new industries, and certainly many will work in them. We know they’ll likely change paths a few times over their careers. But we want our students to own their careers, to actively move towards a goal, even though that goal will likely be revised, revamped, and extended. We will nudge, coach, and nurture them in that pursuit. This year, 100% of the Global Business graduates had excellent job offers, graduate school admissions, or promising internships lined up by May. What a compliment to Jack’s leadership! We’ll aim to make that true every year.

Emphasis on languages and cultural understanding. How many college students take only a couple of semesters of another language, learn just to say “hello”—perhaps a few words more—then move on? That’s not Global Business students. Our standard is serious language yielding something moving towards professional proficiency, at least. We intend to keep that. We also want students to learn as much as they can about other cultures, including all the historical and institutional influences that shape them. We know that even if a person’s entire career unfolds in a single region of the United States, deeply studying other languages and cultures can enlarge their imagination, empathy, and appreciation of all that is good or needs fixing at home.

Study abroad. We believe it is valuable to study a target region from an academic perspective, but there is no substitute for personally being there, for moving about in and participating in the daily life of another place. We will keep study abroad as a special characteristic of Global Business.

Communications skills. Global Business students need good communication skills. We do our best to help them become savvy writers, speakers, presenters, and crafters of media messages. This isn’t easy. It is labor-intensive. But we believe, from our introductory class to the capstone, it is valuable.

Analytical and quantitative skills. Clear, incisive thinking is often the sine qua non of success in business. Students get better at it through practice, through dialog and engagement with faculty, among themselves, with the content of their own minds, and by encountering the best that has been said and written on important topics. We will relentlessly train students to sharpen their analytical skills, including the quant skills so important for many business decisions.

A culture of achievement and success. Through the broad sweep of Jack’s work and a surfeit of recurring events (our intro. class dinners, senior dinners, so many events at Jack’s house), we have created a Global Business culture of achievement and success. Our focus on student development and outcomes and through positive interpersonal relations—our investments in students—we have created virtuous circles—grateful students assist subsequent students with their career searches and support the program in myriad other ways. Keeping and enhancing our inclusive, international culture of achievement and success and our sense of common bonds and mutual support will help us maintain the house that Jack built.

Support of alumni and friends. Nobody, including Jack, builds a great thing like Global Business at Redlands alone. One of Jack’s great contributions has been to find and cultivate supporters. The excellence of the Global Business Program attracts friends who applaud and want to support excellence. The Schroeder Summer Language Program has been invaluable in supporting so many of our Global Business students, allowing them to take intensive language courses abroad and be immersed in another culture. We are so grateful to Jim Schroeder ’65 and Althea Schroeder for this. It has profoundly affected many students’ lives. The Wilke Career Pathways program, made possible by [Trustee] Chuck Wilke ’64, has brought many young, successful alumni back to campus and has inspired many students, opening their eyes to what is possible. The Harris and Berens scholarship programs, established respectively by [Trustee] Rob Harris and Jim Berens ’87, have also been enormously helpful to Global Business students.

We need the continued support of these generous donors and others to sustain the excellence of Global Business, and we hope that each friend of the program will contribute in some way. This is a team effort. You are on the team, and we thank you for your vital support.

Jack's contributions are unparalleled. I can’t help but feel like the coach who will follow Nick Saban or those who succeeded Paul Bear Bryant, two great football coaches from my home state of Alabama. Only continued success is acceptable! As Pope Benedict remarked in a perhaps somewhat similar situation, “After the Great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble worker in the Lord's vineyard.” Yes, I can relate to that feeling. But like Pope Benedict, I am comforted knowing that given such a good foundation, more good can be accomplished, even with insufficient instruments. I entrust myself to your support. I begin with humility and enormous gratitude to Jack and all those who have helped build this excellent house of Global Business at Redlands. We go forward, knowing what must be done to sustain and even enhance the house that Jack built.

As always, I am thankful and honored to be part of it. I look forward to all that we will accomplish together in the days and years ahead. Thank you, Jack. And rest easy. You built this team. We got this.

Learn more about the Global Business Program at the University of Redlands, as well as the event honoring Jack Osborn on October 13.