Throughout his inaugural year as School of Management dean, Edward Snyder has welcomed small groups of students into his office over breakfast or tea.
In an effort to address student concerns and get to know the school’s student body, Snyder has hosted informal 10-person meetings since the start of the fall. Snyder said the meetings are designed to help him gauge the pulse of the school as he embarks on several new projects, such as building partnerships with international business schools, and give students information about administrative proceedings. Students who have attended the meetings say they appreciate seeing Snyder’s interest in meetingthem and having the opportunity to share thoughts about the future of their young and developing business school.
Before coming to Yale, Snyder served as dean of the University of Chicago’s business school — a school known for placing emphasis on consulting and finance. SOM has the reputation of focusing on public sector and nonprofit work.
Michael Gitner SOM ’13, who attended one of the meetings, said he was curious to hear how Snyder plans to adapt his previous experience to Yale’s business school philosophy.
“He came from Chicago, which is a very different business school than SOM in a lot of cultural aspects,” Gitner said. “I wanted to see whether he was buying into our culture, and if he thought that our culture was valuable.”
Since the first breakfast meeting in October, Snyder has met with approximately 40 of the school’s roughly 450 MBA students over the course of four gatherings. At those meetings, discussions have included Snyder’s travels, SOM’s reputation and student life concerns.
“I like conversations on that scale,” Snyder said. “Students have to know that I care about them and that I like them.”
While former SOM Dean Sharon Oster met all students pursuing Master of Business Administration degrees when she co-taught “Basics of Economics,” a required class for all first-year MBA students, Snyder is not currently teaching any classes and traveled extensively overseas on administrative business during his first semester. He said holding small meetings with students has helped him structure times for getting to know them.
The meetings have been extremely oversubscribed so far, said Samantha Piro SOM ’13, the SOM student government member who coordinates the meetings, with over 80 students registering for the past three meetings. Students are admitted by lottery, she said, with five slots reserved for first-year students and five for second-year students.
The meetings are informal and guided entirely by students’ questions, Snyder said.
“It was a mix of first- and second-years and [Snyder] really just kind of said, ‘You know, at the end of the day, we’re really both new here,’” Anna Grotberg ’08 SOM ’13 said. “He basically just asked us, ‘Do you know what’s going on? What can I tell you?’”
Sura Tilakawardane SOM ’13, who attended Snyder’s first meeting in the fall, said he and the other attendees were curious to hear about Snyder’s travels. After that initial meeting, Tilakawardane said Snyder sent an email update to students about the projects he worked on while abroad.
Five students who have attended the meetings said the open format allowed them to raise concerns about problems they have noticed at SOM and ask about Snyder’s goals moving forward.
Jason Harp SOM ’12 said he thinks Snyder’s transparency will help him transition smoothly into the deanship. Oster held similar meetings during her tenure. He added that in his experience, the questions that students asked Oster focused on her, but the breakfast meeting Harp attended with Snyder seemed to focus more in his plans for the school.
Snyder took office this fall, after a yearlong sabbatical.
Correction: Jan. 17 A previous version of this article mistakenly suggested that most Yale School of Management students enter careers in the public sector. In fact, most graduates work in the private sector.