A. Sue Weisler
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Last August, dt ogilvie (lowercase is the legal spelling) became dean of Saunders College of Business. She came to RIT from Rutgers Business School—Newark and New Brunswick, where she was professor of business strategy and urban entrepreneurship. There, she was founding director of both the Scholarship Training and Enrichment Program, designed to help underprepared freshmen, and the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development, which reshaped Newark’s economy through business development.
In Rochester, she is helping launch the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship, a similar venture located at the former Rochester Savings Bank, 40 Franklin St. Before going into education, she held various positionsin industry. Here are her thoughts on her background, the importance of creativity and her plans for Saunders College and the center.
When I was a kid, I did lemonade stands and sold magazines so I guess I had some sense of commerce. But I was more like a scientist in terms of chemistry sets and puzzles. I loved math. I was also a writer. I actually planned to become a neurosurgeon.
When I went into my doctoral program I was interested in the role of creativity and business—not just for new products and services but for making strategic decisions. At that time in business academe, very few people were talking about creativity.
I ended up doing my dissertation in that area. I had a brainstorm and I changed the word ‘creativity’ to ‘imagination’ and then a lot of the opposition melted away because people didn’t have any ingrained prejudice against imagination.
I got a job at Rutgers and I was there until I came here. I created some institutions, did the first creativity class at Rutgers in the business school and developed the first e-commerce course. I created the course Doing Business in China and Doing Business in other countries courses.
I knew RIT was a technology institute. I didn’t realize we had a business school here. I didn’t really think much of it when the (dean opening) announcement came across my desk. Some months later one of the principals called me and asked me to send a letter of interest and he made a good argument. I said, ‘OK. I’ll send a letter.’
Once I got here I fell in love with the place—the people in particular. Bill Destler is one of the few people in the country, if not the only person in the country, to talk about creativity and invention. He seemed like the most compatible in terms of his vision with my own for what should be done and what could be done. It was very compelling.
It was also very difficult because I liked it at Rutgers. I really had to think a lot about it and pray. I’m religious in that sense. I got a sign that this was the next step in my journey.
I find Rochester to be the most welcoming community I have moved to. There’s some extra embracing and a warmth that you wouldn’t think of when you think of New York.
The purpose of the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship will be to create wealth in Rochester, to be a world-renowned center and the hub for economic development and entrepreneurial activity in the area—helping to bring together the different collaborators and partners in the community. We have a model. What I did at Rutgers has made a difference.
I would like to create a fund so that any student, regardless of their means, can have a global experience. I think you can’t be an educated business student today without having firsthand global experience in doing business in another country. I also would like to allow more students to go here regardless of their means—so raising funds for scholarships is important.
This is a great place. We have good faculty, good staff and good students. We have all the raw ingredients. We just need to put them together in different ways. I think we need to be on the leading edge of innovative education. And we need to look at our programs and reassess the academic offerings that we have and build a curriculum that’s more cohesive and more internally consistent to achieve the goals we have for our students. I think we can do it. There’s no reason we can’t be pre-eminent.
My life is about making a difference. I want people to say, ‘When dt was dean, she made a difference.’
- Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin; strategic management
- MBA, Southern Methodist University; business strategy and policy
- BA, Oberlin College; sociology
- Strategic decision-making and the use of creativity to enhance business and battlefield decision-making
- Executive leadership strategies of multicultural women executives
- Women in the executive suite
- Assessing environmental dimensions
- Strategic thinking in the 21st century
- Entrepreneurship and economic development of urban cities
- Successfully managed turnaround situations for two small firms
- Managed a multi-million dollar profit center
- Business planning manager/strategic planning for The Southland Corp.