Taking Care of
Dean Joseph Wen leads the College of Business Administration and Public Policy into an exciting new era.
Joseph Wen, dean of the College of Business Administration and Public Policy (CBAPP), is the longest-serving dean at CSUDH, having started in his position in 2012. A native of Taiwan, Wen earned his doctorate in information systems from Virginia Commonwealth University before embarking on an academic career that has taken him across the country and world.
Prior to joining CSUDH, Wen held faculty positions at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Southeast Missouri State, Illinois State, Rutgers, and Emporia State University. He has also served as a visiting professor at National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan. His scholarship focuses on e-commerce strategies and information science, two disciplines that have gained importance in business circles since his tenure at CSUDH began.
Q: What is the mission of CBAPP under your leadership?
A: Well, we have two key missions. One is to provide high-quality academic programs. The second is to provide a great university learning experience for students. As President Parham likes to say, “We have two North Stars.” (laughs)
Q: What impact will the new Innovation and Instruction (I&I) building have on your college?
A: It will have a major impact. It will completely change the way we teach our classes. All the classrooms are designed to enable active learning and teaching, which is very different from a traditional classroom.
In active learning, we’ll be putting a lot of focus on the “Aha!” moment for students, that sudden instant of discovery. To me, that is something that’s missing in traditional higher education, which is lecture, lecture, lecture. You listen and listen, and fall asleep. You don’t really remember the material. To me, what I still remember 35 years after I graduated from my university are those “Aha!” moments.
We want our active learning classrooms to provide those moments, to change the lives of the students who come through the building to take classes.
Q: The college’s emphasis on entrepreneurship is reflected in the new business incubator program. What is the Innovation Incubator, and how will it work?
A: The Innovation Incubator has three sections. The first section is Idea Generation, where people come to us with their idea for a business. In this section, we have all the technology needed to help people brainstorm or test their idea. Once you work on your idea, our mentors will approve your concept and you move to the next stage.
The second section is called Idea Realization. Here, we have technology such as 3D printing and computer simulations—so if you have an idea for a physical product, you can design and print it out. In the past, you would just have to describe your idea to investors. Now, you can print it out and you have a real, physical product to put in front of potential customers when you do consumer research.
If your idea is to provide some kind of service, we can now create computer simulations at this stage. You can design a workflow, and really figure out how to make your service more efficient or effective.
Once you have your concept approved and get your prototypes, the last section of the Incubator is Sales, Marketing, and Finance. How will you promote your product and finance your company? This section focuses on presentation and critical thinking skills.
Our concept is pretty new. There are some places you can come and work on your idea, but you can’t necessarily go next door and create your product prototypes. Most incubators also don’t have a finance or marketing section, either, to help people complete the cycle and really start their own business.
Q: Who can use the Innovation Incubator?
A: It’s open to the whole university, as well as people from the local community. We want the Innovation Incubator to become an outreach component, a service the university can provide to the community, to help strengthen the bonds between us. This will be a huge project for strategic engagement. It should bring a lot of economic benefits to the area.
A big part of CSUDH’s mission is social equity and mobility, and the Incubator will be a key for this kind of engagement. We are not just talking the talk here. We’re really doing the work.
Q: What does CBAPP’s recent accreditation mean for the college?
A: Our accreditation by AACSB International (AACSB) means that the quality of our academic programs is the highest you can get. The accreditation tells us that in terms of academic quality, we are becoming an elite program.
But we are not only accredited by AACSB. Our public policy school is also accredited by NASPAA (Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration). You may see some AACSB-accredited schools, and you may see some NASPAA-accredited schools, but very few colleges are accredited by both organizations. So we’re very proud of that.
With these dual accreditations, we are becoming an elite school. We’re heading even higher in the future, because of these accreditations and the new building. This really is the perfect school for students studying private or public administration. The future of the school is very bright.
Q: What does the future hold for CBAPP?
A: Most recently, we got our Master of Science in Accounting approved by the University Curriculum Committee, and we plan to launch this new degree in the near future. Currently, we’re working on a master’s degree in business analytics, which is a huge area now. A few years ago, we were all talking about data mining, but now it’s not just data mining, it’s more like full-fledged business analytics. It helps us know more about our customers, our products, and market.
We are in the process of developing a new degree in financial economics. The plan is in five years, we will have launched these three programs and that will really build our reputation in what we call “specialized” master’s degrees. A lot of schools have MBA programs, but the trend these days is away from the general MBA degree to a specialized master’s degree. So that’s on the business side.
On the public policy side, we have a new school called the School of Public Service and Justice. That is also huge for the university, particularly in terms of our mission of social equity.
In the future, there will be a few different degrees given in that school, but it’s a little bit too early to mention the details. But we do have a renowned scholar on-board in (Professor of Criminal Justice Administration) Gus Martin, who has written numerous books about homeland security and terrorism. As you know, security and public policy are getting more important nowadays. With this new school, we will be ready for that.
Q: How does CBAPP support workforce readiness?
A: I’m glad you asked, because I have a vision for our CBAPP students. In the next few years, I want us to be able to say that before they graduate, every CBAPP student either gets a job offer or an internship opportunity.
Workforce development is critical. The CSU’s mission is really to provide the next generation of our workforce. Our mission is really to provide the knowledge and skills that students need to get a job.
Getting real-world experience is the key. We want our students to hit the ground running, helping society. In the next ten years, experts anticipate a labor shortage of about one million workers. Are we ready for that? I hope that before I retire, I can proudly say to anyone: 100 percent of our students either get a job or an internship opportunity where they can show people they can do the job they were trained to do. That’s my dream.
Q: What would you like students to know about CBAPP?
A: They should know that our college provides the highest academic quality,
and they’ll have their own “Aha!” moments during their university experience.
They should know they will get a job or they will have internships, which are
99 percent like regular jobs to me. You apply what you’ve learned from your studies to a real job. I hope everybody understands the quality and the experience that they’re going to get from this college will be the highest they can get from any top school in this region.