First in a Three-part Series*
NJIT’s Martin Tuchman School of Management (MTSM) is turning the big 3-0! The past three decades at MTSM have certainly seen many noteworthy accomplishments, including becoming accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), launching a Ph.D. program in business data science, partnering with IBM to educate and prepare the next-generation “new collar” workforce, and teaching students “Business With the Power of STEM” so they excel in today’s increasingly tech-driven society.
Students have also benefited from joint B.S./M.S. and B.S./MBA programs that have enabled accelerated study. And engineering, computing, social science and design majors have turned to the school to pursue minors in business. Through experiential learning, scholarly academic research, and innovation and entrepreneurship activities, MTSM students have been fully prepared for the professional world and have gone on to work at such top-tier companies as AT&T, JPMorgan Chase, NJ Transit and Prudential.
What has always remained the same is the school’s mission — to engage, innovate and impact. NJIT chatted with two prominent MTSM figures, Professor of Management Hindy L. Schachter (HLS) and Associate Professor of Finance Theologos H. Bonitsis (THB), both of whom have watched the school carry out this charge, and witnessed its evolution from the very beginning.
Is it hard to believe that three decades have passed?
THB: Of course! You know this was my first full-time academic position after I got my doctorate and I haven’t been anywhere else. You look back on one’s life and you see time flies.
HLS: I think the same thing. It all goes very quickly.
What role did you have when you came on board?
THB: Assistant professor of finance. I was hired back then to teach international economics, international finance. They needed someone to help create a finance curriculum.
HLS: Originally, the Organizational and Social Sciences Department [OSS] in which both Homer and I were hired was a service department. Roy Helfgott was the chair. The department taught management, economic and social science courses for people in other degree programs. This was primarily if not wholly an engineering school. There was no School of Management.
THB: Yes, it was the Department of Organizational and Social Sciences. OSS it was called.
At what school?
THB: Back then, if I recall correctly, it was called the Third College, and then they made it into the College of Science and Liberal Arts.
HLS: Several years before I was hired, Roy and some of the other professors in the OSS department got together and developed a Bachelor of Science in industrial administration. So for the first time, NJIT was going to give a management degree. This would be sometime in the late ’70s. I was one of a number of hires at that point for the new program. Up until that time, there had never been management students on the campus.
THB: BSIA was the degree.
HLS: Yes, exactly. So that was really the first step toward getting this school. Obviously, if Roy and the people who worked with him — John Stochaj, Ted Zaner — hadn’t been able to get a program, there would never have been a school.
What was MTSM and even business management education like in the early days?
HLS: The first school was not called SOM, as current, but rather SIM, School of Industrial Management. This piggybacked on the old BSIA. We were no longer a School of Industrial Management, we were now a School of Management. But at the same time, I think we’ve embraced the notion that we are different, that we don’t simply give a generic management degree. We’re a special kind of management school, management with the power of STEM.
But was that the case back then? There was no STEM then really.
THB: No. Slowly programs were developed, like the curriculum in finance was developed, and also in other areas, but it took some time.
What’s the meaning behind industrial management?
HLS: I think management aligned with engineering. We preferred being a School of Management. We wanted to be SOM, not SIM.
When was the transformation to SOM?
THB: From what I recall, it occurred after we got the initial AACSB accreditation under the title of School of Industrial Management. And then we changed it to School of Management. We became the School of Industrial Management in 1988. It was at this time that the multifaceted discipline of management became an independent academic unit within a comprehensive technological university. The OSS Department was in Cullimore Hall. We stayed there I think for about one year after we became the School of Industrial Management. And then we moved over to Weston Hall, on the second and third floors.
UP NEXT: Professors Schachter and Bonitsis talk about students, seismic shifts and the AACSB accreditation.
*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.