Dean’s Q&A: Robert Dammon Of Carnegie Mellon Tepper

How do you think potential students and employers view Tepper and how has that changed over the past few years or so?

I think we’ve always had a reputation for being a very innovative undergraduate business program. As I said before, we frequently change our curriculum to meet the needs of business. Our reputation as a business school also benefits from the reputation of the university, which is a place where students are well versed in analytics and technology. We often like to say we own the space where business meets technology and I think that’s the way people perceive us.

I think what’s changed in recent years is the extent to which the way the business school is more integrated with the rest of campus and how the educational experience of our students is drawing on the strengths of the entire campus. Rather than being isolated and just teaching business, our students are really having opportunities that flow well outside the business school and into other areas of campus and their education has become much more inter-disciplinary and collaborative than it ever has in the past.

Whether that’s the way we’re perceived, I’m not sure, but I’ve seen that internally as a major change.

What advice do you have for high school students and their parents who are looking for a good undergraduate business program?

The one thing I’ve been disappointed by—and even though we’re a top-ranked program, so I’m saying this in spite of that—I think that students and maybe their parents focus too much on rankings and making a decision on where to go for their education. I think that’s a mistake. They really need to dig deeper and do their homework about what an educational institution really has to offer the student.

So, I would advise students and parents really to look beyond rankings. And look at factors like the size of the program, the culture of the community in which you’re going to be living for the next four years, the overall quality of the university itself, because after all, you’re going to be doing more than just business.

You’re going to get a broad general education, so the entire university matters for that. What access will you have to courses and other things outside the business school? What kind of career support are you going to get? What are your opportunities for student clubs and organizations? What’s the student life like? Diversity is important to the experience. After all, this is four years of your life where you’re going to transform yourself into an adult. So having a rich, diverse set of people to interact with and opportunities to engage in are extremely important.

So the best place for an individual is really up to the individual. And they should look beyond the rankings in making decisions about where to go.

If you could change anything about undergraduate business education, what would it be?

I think it’s extremely important for all undergraduates to get a very broad liberal arts education. And too often I see students—especially in business schools—wanting to focus much too quickly on taking business classes and getting prepared for internship interviews and other such things at the expense of developing themselves as the whole person. And so if there was anything I would change, I’d love to see less emphasis being placed on access to business early and instead having students focus more on developing themselves through a broader educational experience early on in their careers, before getting into business courses.


Charles Whiteman of Penn State

Roy “Chip” Wiggins of Bentley University

Lori Rosenkopf of Wharton

Carl Zeithaml Of University of Virginia

Dale Nees of Notre Dame University

Edward McLaughlin Of Cornell

Steven Malter of Washington University

Lawrence Murray of the University of North Carolina 

David Platt of University of Texas

Andrea Hershatter of Emory

Lynn Wooten of Michigan

Idalene Kesner of Indiana University

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