The Increasingly Global Georgetown McDonough School Of Business

McDonough School of Business Undergraduate Dean Norean Sharpe. Courtesy photo

McDonough School of Business Undergraduate Dean Norean Sharpe. Courtesy photo


Much of this stems from Sharpe’s ability to get support from alumni. When she’s not implementing programs or instructing, she’s globetrotting and raising funds from alumni and donors.

“One of our goals was to equalize the global opportunity,” she explains. “What I mean by that is, the opportunity to travel and study abroad should not just be for a certain segment of the student population. It should be open to all students, regardless of socio-economic level.”

So she created a global parents fund, a need-based scholarship fund to send her students around the world, regardless of economic status. “I’m essentially able to meet all need and all requests for need during the summer,” she claims, noting the $100,000 she awards each summer.

“I’m an incrementalist and start small because these donors are savvy,” she admits. “They want to know that you’ve piloted the program. They want to know that it works. They want to know that it’s sustainable. They want to know that the program is scaleable. That it’s feasible and fundable. When you demonstrate all of those aspects of a program to a donor, then they are more willing to fund your program.”

As a result of the extended programs and funds, Sharpe says McDonough students studying abroad have risen from just a little over 50% when she arrived to nearly 60% now. “And I only see that number increasing,” she adds.


Sharpe has also tapped into the immense global resources that abound in McDonough’s backyard. From developing a new cross-collaboration degree program with Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service called the Global Business Fellows Program to bringing world leaders on campus, McDonough has made it their modus operandi to produce globally-minded and educated students. The fellows program was brought to life in collaboration with Ricardo Ernst, McDonough’s former deputy dean and current director of the Global Business Initiative.

“We are in Washington D.C. We have access to all of the global embassies, the IMF, the SEC, the World Bank,” Sharpe says. “So we’ll have speakers come in and talk about the EU crisis. What’s really happening in the EU? Why is it so hard for entrepreneurs to launch startups in the EU? It’s a very different economic climate for startups than in the U.S.”

Sharpe reasons the heavy global emphasis stems just as much from students’ interests and desire to be  marketable to future employers. “We do seem to attract a student that is globally-focused,” Sharpe admits. “And they realize before they graduate that they need to have a deep understanding of what it means to be living in a global economy.”

And so far, the schools big-time donors are seeing the value as well. “I’ve worked extremely hard traveling across the globe meeting with alumni, meeting with parents, meeting with donors and explaining the importance of these innovative global programs,” Sharpe explains. “And it seems to resonate with the donors.”


Moving forward, Sharpe says she plans to continue that global development. But she’s also hoping to seek out more opportunities for cross-college collaboration,  continued development of curriculum, with an emphasis on ‘principled leadership.’ Sharpe says she’s been exploring with faculty how to better integrate Georgetown’s “Jesuit principles and philosophy on social justice and social learning” throughout the curriculum.

This will most likely first impact the First Year Seminar courses, Sharpe’s first major curriculum change as dean. It is a course recommended for freshmen that is meant to be “writing intensive, global, and social justice oriented.” The courses are deep dives in specific areas chosen by faculty based on their interests and expertise. In 2010, McDonough offered five different first year seminar courses. Now there are nine and about half of each incoming class participates.

“The beauty of the First Year Seminar is we put senior faculty in rooms with small groups of students—20 or less. And they’re allowed to teach to their strengths,” Sharpe explains. “Students who have graduated and had it four years ago still say it was their favorite course.


“Being a leader in global education is central to Georgetown University’s mission and certainly central to the mission of the McDonough School of Business,” Sharpe says very matter-of-factly. “I think people have realized that in this Internet and digital age, we are all so connected. It truly is a global economy.”