Brooklyn College Campus

Newly Accredited: Brooklyn College CUNY on Earning AACSB Accreditation

Dean Willie Hopkins talks about the culture change that was needed at his school to achieve accreditation, and how eventually the whole university rallied to help the school get there.

In this blog series, AACSB spotlights business schools around the world that have recently earned AACSB accreditation. We ask the business school leadership about their journey to accreditation and what the new achievement means to them.

In this interview, dean of Brooklyn College’s Koppelman School of Business, Willie Hopkins, talks about the culture change that was needed at his school to support accreditation efforts. Eventually the whole university realized the advantages of having accreditation and rallied around a mantra to help the school get there.

Why was it important for your school to undergo the rigorous process of earning AACSB accreditation?

I would venture to say that the mission statement of most, if not all, colleges and schools of business either implicitly or explicitly says that their top priority is providing students with a high-quality education. If we are serious about this priority, then it’s worth undergoing the process because we can be assured that our students are indeed receiving a high-quality business education. That’s why it was important for us to seek, and ultimately earn, AACSB accreditation.

What did you learn about your school through your accreditation journey?

It wasn’t so much about what I learned about my school but what I learned about the students, faculty, staff, and administrators at Brooklyn College. The whole campus was supporting our efforts. The mantra was “A rising tide floats all ships,” meaning that not only would the Koppelman School of Business benefit from being AACSB accredited, but the status of Brooklyn College as a whole would be elevated.

What were the most challenging and rewarding parts of the accreditation process?

As a business school newly established in 2011, one of the most challenging parts of the process was creating the type of culture that would support AACSB accreditation. It was challenging to get faculty to see the value in things like developing learning goals, measuring them to assure student learning, and assessing the impact of their research. In other words, getting faculty to do things they had not done before; things that reflect the type of culture required of AACSB-accredited business schools.

One of the most rewarding parts of the process was observing the cultural change that was taking place as we received positive feedback on our progress from our AACSB mentor and the Initial Accreditation Committee. I can truly say that our faculty, staff, and students are extremely proud of the fact that we have now earned AACSB accreditation and have embraced the type of culture required to maintain what we have gained.

What impact do you hope to see from having achieved AACSB accreditation?

I’m hoping to reap the benefits of an AACSB-accredited business school: more access to recruiters and more competitive salaries for our graduates, and the ability to attract and retain higher-quality students and faculty. Despite the controversies around business school rankings, only AACSB-accredited schools can compete for rankings in outlets such as U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, The Economist. My hope is that the impact of our achievement will help us become a ranked school of business.

What advice would you give to another school approaching the accreditation process?

To the dean or administrator leading the effort, I would say that getting through the process may require a cultural change within the school. Quick and small wins are building blocks toward such change, and big wins can help facilitate change more rapidly. The dean will have to have “thick skin,” a lot of patience, and belief in their ability to lead effectively. For faculty and staff, if you are indeed student focused and mission driven, then adopting the type of culture that supports AACSB accreditation is the best way to prove it.

Willie Hopkins, Dean, Koppelman School of Business, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York Willie E. Hopkins is dean of the Murray Koppelman School of Business at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.