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SAN DIEGO - It was the day before his first of many interviews for the job as SBA’s new dean and David Pyke had arrived unannounced at the University of San Diego campus for a quick look around with his wife, Sue, and youngest son, Cory. After spending the previous twenty years living in New Hampshire and working as a professor and associate dean at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, Pyke and his family were entranced by the prospects of life in San Diego. “The sky was bright blue with incredible sunshine,” he recalls. “The spectacular beauty of the campus was instantly appealing.”
When he returned for the second round of interviews, the initial appeal of an idyllic campus setting only intensified. “I was led on a campus tour by an undergraduate student, and I was again amazed at the architecture and the landscaping. It was truly wonderful to see the inside of Founders Chapel, the Institute for Peace & Justice and other buildings.”
Beyond the sheer beauty of USD’s Spanish renaissance inspired buildings, there was something else that caught Pyke’s attention. “When I walked around Olin Hall, I didn’t see a classroom that seated more than 35 people,” he said. “A lot of schools give lip service to personalized service and being student-centric, but I was struck by how the school really takes that to heart and backs it up by ensuring that students will be in small classes and have a more intimate learning experience.”
At Dartmouth, which is known for its challenging but supportive community, Pyke had overseen the top-ranked Tuck MBA program. At the time of his first interview at USD, there were open dean positions at close to 100 business schools, and Pyke was being heavily recruited by some of the top academic programs in the world.
While there was no doubt that USD offered a similar collaborative environment for its students that he had come to love and respect at Tuck, Pyke needed to know that there was more to the school than just pretty buildings in close proximity to beaches and golf courses. The proof came when he sought-out and listened to the insights of business students.
“In one meeting, I was asking students about their classes, and as they described them to me, they repeatedly highlighted professors that they really liked. The reasons were varied, but incredibly gratifying to see: ‘Professor Pattison helped me get my internship, and she was so patient with my hundreds of questions about the accounting material.’ ‘Professor Rivetti has great real-world experience that he shares with the class every day.’ ‘Professor Hanson worked for many years in industry, and he brings that expertise to our class – which I really value.’ And the list went on.”
The final confirmation that USD fit his vision of what a business school should be came when he walked past the office of Professor Steve Sumner and observed the interchange taking place between a teacher and his students. “Exams were looming, and he was meeting with a small group of students, helping them with homework and exam preparation. The tone was light, but serious – laughter and fun, but clearly the students and Professor Sumner were focused on learning. One student had written ‘This homework is hard!’ on the white board in the office. I could see that they connected really well.”
“That was the moment I realized what USD is all about. Yes, the campus is beautiful. And yes, the business school has a growing reputation that comes along with its ranked undergraduate and graduate programs. But most importantly, the story of the business school is that of a faculty which cares deeply about the students and challenges them to learn and grow. This is not a diploma factory where students sit in large auditoriums to hear lectures delivered by teaching assistants. The school understands that business is ultimately a human endeavor, and that business education must have a personal connection.”
When the job was offered to him, it did not take long for David Pyke to accept. “What more could I have asked for?”