On the job less than week, he has bold plans for a ‘connected’ school offering ‘transformative’ experiences for students, community
Brian Klaas, Ph.D., has a two-pronged task as he takes the helm as the new Dean of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City: helping to chart a 21st-century course for one of the nation’s leading management schools, while preserving and renewing the vision of its 94-year-old namesake patron.
He relishes the challenge.
“The Bloch School has always stood for excellence, and for its commitment to Henry Bloch’s vision for Twin Pillars of excellence in the for-profit and not-for-profit spheres,” Klaas said. “That commitment will not change. But one key challenge will be finding ways to ensure that our programs and curriculum are sufficiently responsive to some of the changes we are likely to confront over the coming years. The pace of change is increasing rapidly and we will need to be vigilant to ensure that our programs and curriculum are responsive to changes in technology, the job market for graduates and the needs of organizations, here in Kansas City, and around the world.”
Klaas envisions a school in a constant state of evolution, matching that of the world its researchers serve and its students will lead as graduates.
“Our responsibility is to provide course content that is not just high quality, but always up to date, and dynamic in its form and application. We can’t accomplish that by looking inward. We need to be connected in a dynamic way with the communities we serve, with our peers and with thought leaders across the globe,” Klaas said. “Our students range from 18-year-old freshmen to participants in our executive MBA program; from future non-profit CEOs to Entrepreneurship Scholars from our community. So any kind of one-size-fits-all approach to teaching and learning is out of the question. But one thing all our programs will share is a commitment to creating transformational experiences for all of our students.”
Klaas said one of the big advantages the Bloch School will enjoy in that endeavor is the strong support of the Kansas City community overall, and in particular its strong entrepreneurial, business, innovation and public affairs communities.
“We already enjoy strong support from key stakeholders within the community. The next step is to seize the opportunities that exist to build additional strong connections throughout the region,” Klaas said. “There are exciting opportunities to deepen partnerships with organizations in Kansas City and beyond, to develop new programs in response to emerging needs, to enhance accessibility by leveraging technology, and to find new ways for partner organizations to serve as learning laboratories, where students and faculty help tackle critical organizational challenges.”
Klaas comes to the Bloch School from his former position as Senior Associate Dean for Research and Academics, and Director of the Riegel & Emory Human Resource Center, at the Darla Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina, a school with a number of nationally ranked programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Klaas is also a Professor of Management and previously served as Chair of the Department of Management and Faculty Director for the Master of Human Resource program. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Illinois State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin.
Klaas has published extensively in such areas as human resources, dispute resolution and labor relations. His work has been published in some of the top journals in his field and he has served on the editorial boards for some of these same journals. His research has been funded by leading professional organizations and foundations. During his time at USC, Klaas has served on a wide range of college and university committees and worked extensively with undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students.