Smith Undergrad Staff Spotlight
Kristin LaRiviere, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Programs
When Kristin LaRiviere, assistant director in the Undergraduate Program at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, graduated with her M.A. in 2011, she had no desire to return back to school. Then, as the years went by and more of her peers returned to school, she started questioning if returning for a PhD was the right move for her. She ended up following the same advice that she gives students: don't proceed unless you know the "why" behind your decision.
In 2015, she found her "why" after enrolling in a graduate course about rankings through UMD's College of Education. Every class meeting left her questioning, challenging and eager to to engage in research. Recent research found the criteria of many popular national rankings was irrelevant to student learning, and moving up even three places in some rankings would require higher education leaders to spend at least an additional $1 million in the annual budget. Ultimately, she was led to the question: why do decisions in higher education sometimes pander to rankings developed by commercial publications with poor criteria?
As she reflected more on this question, she realized she had the start of a dissertation topic; She had her "why." With this "why" articulating into a personal statement, Kristin applied to the PhD program in higher education at the University of Maryland and has been accepted to start the program for fall 2017. In addition to helping her shed light on the decision-making process of leaders in higher education, Kristin is hoping her future research will also empower college seekers to understand that rankings are not necessarily an indicator of the quality of education they will receive. In her ideal future, rankings will no longer matter. Students seeking higher education will make decisions based on which institutions best fit their academic, financial, and career needs. Higher education leaders will stop pandering to numbers, and prioritize funding programs that are fiscally responsible but highly impact student learning and engagement.
Taking this philosophy to her work, she's been focusing more on collaborating with other departments in the college, on campus, and in our greater Smith community to best utilize our resources and to improve our student outcomes. One of the most successful collaborations so far has been the Global Mindset Colloquium, a collaboration with E&Y and the Smith Office of Global Initiatives to increase students' global mindset without having to leave campus. The first Colloquium group is about to graduate, and many participants have stopped Kristin in the hallway to thank her for the class. For some, the Colloquium inspired them to study abroad, and for others, the course helped them discover other sectors of business (such as transfer pricing).
In April 2017, Kristin will be presenting on the importance of collaboration (and the Global Mindset Colloquium) at the National Undergraduate Business Symposium (NUBS) at the Carlson School of Business, University of Minnesota. NUBS brings together leaders of top undergraduate business programs to share best practices and discuss how we as business schools can best prepare the next generation of business leaders. Kristin hopes her presentation on best practices surrounding collaboration will inspire other business school leaders to work together to make the most of our resources and connections to increase student engagement and learning.