October 14, 2015

We Are Smith: Four Pillars of a Winning Brand

Robert H. Smith ’50 came to the University of Maryland as an undergraduate student with passion for real estate development and quest for adventure. “The person who is afraid to take risks and make mistakes will never achieve everything of which he or she is capable,” he said more than 60 years later during a 2008 commencement address at his alma mater.

Smith earned an accounting degree and then threw himself into the family business, which he helped grow into the largest property owner in Washington, D.C. Today his name represents a brand that attracts people with similar commitment to excellence. Here are four trademarks of the school that bears his name.

Experiential Learning

Former D.C. United midfielder Stephen King ’08, MBA ’15, knows how to balance leadership and teamwork, thanks to his time in Major League Soccer and Smith’s mQuest program. A member of the program’s inaugural cohort, he helped frame its vision and reality-based curriculum. Book learning and classroom discussion have a place in higher education, but King and others at the Smith School understand the importance of testing ideas in the real world. Faculty commitment to diverse teaching methods is one reason Bloomberg Businessweek ranks the school’s MBA program No. 1 in the United States for student satisfaction, while the Economist ranks the executive MBA program No. 1 in the world for student-rated teaching quality. We make the world our classroom through experiential learning. We are Smith.

Collaborative Community

Smith professor Shreevardhan Lele is one of the first faces Smith MBAs see when they arrive at math camp during their orientation, and one of the first professors alumni seek out when they return for a visit. A favorite in the classroom, he has a hand not only in shaping the curriculum, but the entire Smith experience. Lele is part of a close-knit community that students frequently cite as their reason for choosing Smith for their business education. “I felt that if I made a mistake, my classmates would pick me up and help me out,” one student told Bloomberg Businessweek in a 2015 survey. Another student said: “We are family, and we are each other’s biggest fans.” We are an encouraging, collaborative community. We are Smith.

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Like a proud parent, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship managing director Elana Fine ’97 delights in watching students take their first steps as business creators. This is what attracted her to a watercolor she found in Beijing’s Dirt Market during a weeklong student business plan competition. The painting, which now hangs in Fine’s office, includes a message from Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” “The quote spoke to me because it so accurately captures what we do at the Dingman Center,” Fine says. “We help students with those very first steps in vetting an idea or launching a venture.” This is partly why U.S. News & World Report ranks Smith’s undergraduate program No. 13 in the nation for entrepreneurship. We embody the spirit of entrepreneurship. We are Smith.

World-Class Faculty and Research

As many as 98,000 people die each year as a result of medical errors. Smith professor Ritu Agarwal founded the Center for Health Information & Decision Systems (CHIDS) to change this statistic. Standing at the forefront of health care technology, she leads the charge in converting medical records to an electronic format to reduce errors and save lives. She is part of an elite faculty ranked No. 6 in the United States by Bloomberg Businessweek for “intellectual capital” and No. 4 in the world for “academic excellence and business research” by CEOWORLD. She and her colleagues have specialized knowledge and global perspectives that span nearly every industry and discipline. We push the boundaries of research with world-class faculty. We Are Smith.

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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