October 01, 2018

A Conversation with Matthew Rousu

Matthew Rousu was appointed dean of the Sigmund Weis School of Business in May, after serving as interim dean for one year. He joined the business school in 2004 and is also a professor of economics. He earned his Ph.D. in economics from Iowa State University. His research interests include political economy, experimental auctions, agricultural economics, pedagogy and public health. He has published more than 50 scholarly articles, and his book Broadway and Economics: Economic Lessons from Show Tunes was published this summer by Routledge.

Matthew Rousu, Interim Dean of the Sigmund Weis School of Business

What are your five-year goals for the business school?

I want us to provide more life-changing opportunities for our students, to better connect our alumni with students, and to become better known as a premier undergraduate business school. Sigmund Weis School of Business faculty, students and alumni will work on a strategic plan for the school this year, but here are a few goals I would like to see included:

  • More opportunities for business students to complete international internships. An international internship is a life-changing experience that can alter a student’s career and life trajectory. About 30 percent of the school’s Class of 2019 will graduate having completed an international internship, which I believe is the highest percentage of any business school in the country. But I would like for more students to have these opportunities.
  • More high-impact domestic experiences for students. We want to partner with employers on consulting projects and expand opportunities for externships and internships. We also want to have more projects working for businesses as part of our coursework.
  • Improve the marketing of the school. I believe we are now one of the top undergraduate business schools in the world. We still have areas to improve, but our students have incredible experiences and land amazing jobs and internships. The Sigmund Weis School of Business “brand” is also strong, but not as strong as the quality of the program.

What do you think business students need in a business school education today?

Graduates need to be able to think critically, communicate well (orally and in writing), think globally, and adapt to a changing business environment. That is the hallmark of a liberal arts education. They also need the technical foundations provided by an AACSB-accredited business school. Students who have these skills, along with a thorough grounding in accounting, marketing, finance and the other areas of business, will succeed immediately and throughout their careers.

Your area of study is economics. Why did you choose this focus?

I love how economics explains the way the world works. When I took my first economics class, I couldn’t wait to study more and eventually use economic research methods to help study problems. My economics training has helped me in my role as dean. The question economics attempts to determine is how to maximize outcomes based on limited inputs. Because no business school can do everything, we need to decide what we can do to best train our students to live lives of continual learning, achievement, leadership and service.

How does the business school stay abreast of changing industry needs?

We are in constant touch with Susquehanna alumni working in all types of industries. Systematic feedback is provided through our executive council-a group of alumni who meet with me semi-annually to discuss business trends, strategic initiatives and more. Also, alumni visit campus weekly and keep us abreast of current trends.

Feedback from alumni is one reason we created the business data science major. We are also integrating Microsoft Excel skills more intentionally throughout the curriculum based on their feedback.

How else are alumni helping business school students?

I am astounded by the generosity of our alumni in terms of both their contributions of time and financial support. Dozens come back annually to help our students. Many times after spending a day sharing their experience and advice with students, they will come thank me for the opportunity. That is crazy-they just gave a day of their time to help our students-they are doing a service for us. But that attitude speaks to how lucky we are to have such an engaged alumni base. The business school also wouldn’t be where it is today without monetary contributions. Alumni and friends have helped to fund scholarships, the London Program, international internships, professorships-basically all aspects of the Sigmund Weis School of Business.

I invite readers to please reach out if you would like to help financially, provide an internship or job for a current student, come back to campus to talk to our students, help recruit future Susquehannans, or assist in some other way. I am so thankful for our alumni and friends; they are a big reason that Susquehanna is such a special place.