February 07, 2009
St. John’s University, administrators work tirelessly to ensure
students receive a quality, affordable education that embodies our
Vincentian mission. In the following interview, the Tobin College
of Business Dean provides a glimpse into the responsibilities,
challenges and concerns of leading a business school and how
earning a degree at the Tobin College of Business is a stimulating,
student-centered and rewarding experience.
We spoke with the Dean during an accreditation period, an extremely
important and very busy time for any Dean or faculty member.
Q.: Dean Papamarcos, you were named dean of
Tobin College of Business in July, 2007. Tell us about your first
A.: My first year-and-a-half has been challenging and fabulously
rewarding. We have made tremendous progress as a faculty and as a
college. Every change has been designed to enhance our students’
personal growth and career success. We have developed new,
leading-edge programs aimed at engaging our students, particularly
with faculty, the University, and the community outside our gates.
Just as importantly, engaging students in their own education has
become a key focus.
Q.: Can you provide an overview of how this
focus has been made real in day-to-day life at Tobin?
A.: Sure, I’ll give you a few examples:
Executive-in-Residence Program (EIRP) enables Tobin College
students to serve as consultants to actual businesses. Guided by
clients’ senior executives and Tobin College faculty, students
develop solutions to today’s complex business problems and present
their recommendations to management. It is, perhaps, our most
popular course. Because of its popularity, the EIRP was doubled in
size last year.
Student Managed Investment Fund allows Tobin College
students—both graduate and undergraduate—under the supervision of
an Advisory Committee comprised of faculty and distinguished alumni
drawn from the financial services community, to invest a portion of
the University’s endowment. Students locate, analyze, and present
investment opportunities to the Committee. Students then monitor
the performance of their investments. It is hugely popular. Plus,
November saw the completion of our
Financial Information Lab. This state-of-the-art learning
environment brings real-time news, market information, and
financial data to Tobin College students and faculty. I urge
everyone to stop in to take a look at our “trading floor.”
We have also redoubled our efforts to provide our students with the
international perspective required to live and succeed in an
increasingly global society. For instance, virtually every course
we offer now includes a global component. For those who want more
direct experience internationally, we are in the process of
developing a series of Travel Courses. Exposing our students—who
generally work either full- or part-time—to global issues
experientially is a bit of a challenge. Bringing our students to
the world and the world to their classrooms is more complicated
than a traditional study-abroad option might suggest. With this in
mind, we are developing this program of international field study.
Tobin College students and faculty will engage in rigorous
classroom study of current international business topics as a
precursor to a related exploration of these issues overseas.
Courses will be offered at both the graduate and undergraduate
levels and in every discipline.
Currently, at the graduate level, we offer M.B.A. degrees in
Finance, Marketing, and International Business at the University’s
Graduate Center in Rome, Italy. Officially opened in October,
this new state-of-the-art, 75,000 square foot campus is
commensurate with an outstanding 21st century global business
We’re also in the process of establishing a very exciting
Global Micro-loan Program. Major challenges in the
micro-lending industry include: finding reliable partners
on-the-ground in lesser developed countries; too-high
administrative costs; and fundraising. Using Vincentian
organizations around the world, student-managers and web-based
technology, TCB will be almost uniquely positioned to address each
of these challenges while simultaneously offering students and
clients a life-changing opportunity.
We’re hoping to launch the Micro-loan Program in September, 2009.
The preparatory course begins this spring. The program is being
developed in partnership with the 22,000 Daughters of Charity who
will serve as our “boots on the ground.” The Daughters serve
communities in 72 developing nations around the world. As an
integral part of the micro-loan course, we’re hoping to support,
financially, students’ travel to visit and work with the
entrepreneurs they funded.
Q.: You came to St. John’s after years in the
world of finance. What did you do and how did you make the
transition to academia?
A.: I spent the majority of my career in the field of mergers and
acquisitions, except for two-and-a-half years as General Manager of
the coal, oil and gas properties business of a Fortune 500
corporation. All in all, it was a fantastic learning experience—a
nice combination of corporate finance and operating management. But
since my freshman year in college I knew that one day I would be a
professor. I loved the excitement of university life back then, and
I love it now; the freedom to test new ideas and the privilege of
teaching, well…there’s nothing like it. So, for me, the transition
was easy; I was going home.
Q.: Who is the typical Tobin
A.: It’s hard to characterize “the typical Tobin student.” At many
colleges and universities, including many elite private
institutions, there has been a realization of the educational
benefits of bringing students of diverse backgrounds and
experiences together. At St. John’s generally, and at the Tobin
College in particular, we also value diversity as a fundamental
foundation of our mission and vision. And our location in what is
probably the most diverse county in the country has enabled us to
naturally attract a diverse student body. In fact, our students,
alumni, and faculty recognize and consistently identify diversity
as one of our top strengths—as do employers! As recently as 2006,
St. John’s was ranked ninth among racially diverse national
universities in U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s
Best Colleges.” So the typical Tobin Student becomes hard to
identify. I’d say that they’re bright, inquisitive, and
hard-working. In other words, they’re not here to waste their time.
This makes for a very rich learning environment.
Q.: The School of Risk Management, Insurance
and Actuarial Science is a division of Tobin College of Business.
Tell us about programs offered there.
A.: We’re very proud of our risk-management programs. Located at
St. John’s Manhattan campus in the middle of the financial
district, SRM awards undergraduate, M.B.A. and M.S. degrees in
insurance, risk management, and actuarial science. These programs
have been growing at an incredible rate and, in response to recent
events, we expect that growth to continue.
Simply stated, risk management has now become central to so much of
corporate life. From Fortune 500 corporations to commercial banks,
management-consulting companies, and public accounting firms, risk
management has taken center stage.
Q.: How are you preparing this generation for
the 21st Century world they come of age in? What are the
challenges facing business leaders in general and your students in
particular when they graduate?
A.: In addition to preparing our students technically and
technologically for 21st-Century careers, we believe that now more
than ever we are compelled to increase their understanding and
appreciation of the concepts of business ethics and corporate
social responsibility. Stories of the decline of many of the
world’s largest and most well-respected corporations are in the
news every day. Ethical lapses and breaches of transparency and
accountability are all too common examples of why these companies
It’s crucial to remember that these lapses impact not only
stockholders and employees, but myriad other stakeholders as
well—sometimes entire communities. In fact, what happens today to a
major company in the U.S. or the European Union may spell
prosperity or poverty for a family on the other side of the world
tomorrow. We have never before been so interdependent, and the
scale and scope of our responsibilities to one another have never
before been so great. At the Tobin College, we seek to imbue every
aspect of the curriculum with these considerations.