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Assigning a Novel to Business Students Sends a Message about Pace University Business School: Dean Joseph Baczko gives 900 new undergraduates "The Namesake"

 

August 31, 2007

Dean Joseph Baczko of Pace University's Lubin School of Business sent a no-nonsense signal this summer about the way his school is increasing its focus on global perspectives and cross-disciplinary problem solving. He put in a bulk order to Houghton-Mifflin for 900 paperback copies of "The Namesake," the 2003 novel by Pulitzer-Prize-winner Jhumpa Lahiri that recently was made into a movie. Baczko made the book the first assignment for newly-matriculating undergraduate business students, handing out books and discussion questions as students arrived for orientation over the summer. On Tuesday, September 4, Baczko will greet students and explain his goals to kick off several dozen discussions of the book for Lubin students. In each, some 20 students and a faculty or staff member will explore the novel's bittersweet themes of coming of age and coming to terms with the values of one's family and culture. Media are welcome. The Manhattan sessions begin at 10 AM at 1 Pace Plaza, east of City Hall. The Pleasantville sessions start at 2 PM in the Gottesman Room of the Kessel Student Center, 861 Bedford Road (Entrance 3), Pleasantville. To attend, please contact Pace Public Information at 212-346-1117, 917-608-8164, or ccory@pace.edu. In a letter to students, Baczko said the book is "entertaining and fun to read," but added that the themes are "important in today's 'flat world.' As business majors, the role of immigrants in the U.S. and adaptation of people new cultures is an important topic that will be incorporated into numerous courses you take." The mix of business and literature is a first taste of a new, multidisciplinary teaching emphasis at Lubin that culminates in an MBA curriculum based on collaborative approaches to solving concrete business problems. Baczko adds: "Nonfiction can't always let you experience life the way people live it and feel it. We think this will motivate students to better understand human behavior and get them away from the stereotype that business is mostly finance, strategy, logistics and control. We teach those rigorously, but more than ever, success takes the ability to see beyond functional boundaries." "Besides," he says, "having a book in common gives everyone an icebreaker for getting through those first awkward conversations." Blockbuster. Dean of Lubin since 2005, Baczko is a former president of Blockbuster Entertainment and Toys "R" Us International and CEO of Max Factor (Europe). He is a graduate of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.
Source: Pace University, New York
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