No one was prepared for the shutdown when COVID-19 hit U.S. shores. Yet the response of Florida International University’s College of Business (FIU Business) was more nimble than many other schools, said FIU Business Dean Joanne Li, because robust online options have long been a dynamic element of its programs.
Li made her remarks during a virtual panel discussion hosted by EFMD, an international network of select business schools and corporations. Last year, FIU Business joined the network, and Li was invited to serve on the EFMD Global Network Americas Advisory Board.
The discussion centered on pandemic lessons learned and plans going forward for business schools.
“I would say that, before March 16, when we flipped the whole university remote, FIU Business already had 40 percent online sections,” she said. “We created FIU Online roughly 21 years ago,” so compared to other business schools, “we are a lot more prepared.” The school then rapidly shifted the other 60 percent of class sections to remote learning.
The spring became a blueprint for the fall semester, which, in turn, is a harbinger of the forward-thinking direction the school was already pursuing.
“When we were betting on which way to go, we had no idea what the world would be like in Miami at the time,” she told the audience, referring to planning the school did over the summer. “[Five] months and a few days later, our goal is to really move the college into what we call the HyFlex model,” which allows some students to be on a campus rotation while others attend classes remotely.
“So far it has been going quite smoothly, and students are very appreciative, because we are probably the college that has more face-to-face elements than other colleges,” she said.
Joining Li on the panel were Yuan Ding, vice president and dean at China-based CEIBS; and Tugrul Atamer, vice-president, emlyon business school in France. United Kingdom-based Andrew Jack, the global education editor for the Financial Times, moderated the discussion.
The panel discussion is one of a number of such talks that Li is participating in to address the issues facing business schools in the wake of COVID-19. On the same day she, along with Jerry Haar, FIU Business professor and executive director for the Americas, moderated a panel discussion on the “Future of Business Schools in the Americas in a Post-Pandemic Era,” hosted by the Council of the Americas. Panelists included Veneta Andonova, dean, Universidad de los Andes in Colombia; Ignacio de la Vega, dean, EGADE Business School, Tec de Monterrey in Mexico; Peter Yamakawa, dean, Universidad ESAN Business School in Perú; and Alberto Trejos, dean, INCAE in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.