On July 1, 2013, Thomas Hyclak began his second term as interim dean of Lehigh’s College of Business and Economics.
Hyclak, who has worked at Lehigh for 35 years, is best known as a professor in the department of economics. Throughout his tenure at Lehigh, Hyclak has taught a variety of courses, including Principles of Economics, Intermediate Macroeconomic Analysis, and Urban Economics, with a research focus in the determinants of wages and jobs in urban markets, according to his faculty profile.
With an extensive history of involvement within the CBE, Hyclak is no stranger to the business school. He was named interim dean for the second time after former dean Paul Brown announced he would accept the position of president at Monmouth University. Previously, Hyclak acted as interim dean from 2005 to 2007 and as chair of the economics department from 1999 to 2005.
“(Hyclak) has long been a highly-valued member of the faculty, and his commitment to both Lehigh and the college is, as always, greatly appreciated,” said Provost Pat Farrell in an email announcing Hyclak’s second term as dean in December.
Hyclak said his previous experience as interim dean helped him prepare for the routines and activities of the office.
His main focus this year was to increase communications between faculty and students “to enhance transparency and trust.” He said the CBE also focused on preparing students with professional and leadership skills to complement what they have learned throughout their academic careers at Lehigh.
“I had meetings with everyone on the faculty and staff and the leaders of student clubs and kept my faculty office on the fourth floor so I could stay in touch,” Hyclak said.
Shaan Gurnani, ’16, a finance and accounting student, said Hyclak always makes an effort to reach out and get the opinions of his students. He said Hyclak was a good choice for interim dean because of his experience in the CBE and willingness to get student perspectives on major issues.
“Hyclak has a very visible presence in the college,” Gurnani said.
In order to maintain a continuous relationship between students and the CBE community, Hyclak asked a group of students from various clubs to meet throughout the year to discuss issues within the CBE.
Gurnani, who is a part of the dialogue group, said one of the most interesting things he’s seen come of out the meetings was an effort to encourage students to participate in events put on by the CBE. One of the outcomes was the first interclub fair in the Rauch atrium.
“On several occasions I was advised that CBE students would not respond to invitations to, say, a networking reception with alumni…and each time I was impressed with the response,” Hyclack said.
In addition to increasing communication within the business school, Hyclak has focused his efforts on improving issues related to the campus climate. He said the racial incidents that occurred during the fall semester have led to a “renewed focus on diversity and inclusion.”
“It is the energy brought to bear on diversity issues by student leaders that accounts for the momentum we have been able to build around preparing students for careers in organizations with diverse workforces and diversity management strategies,” he said.
During Hyclak’s deanship this year, the CBE was ranked 31st in the 2014 Bloomberg Businessweek rankings of 132 Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accredited business schools. Last year, Lehigh’s business school was ranked 35th.
“Lehigh’s consistent high ranking affirms the commitment to excellence and hard work of our entire CBE community — our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and many employer partners — a distinctive, shared accomplishment of which we can be rightfully proud,” Hyclak said in an email to the CBE community announcing the improved ranking.
In December, Georgette Chapman Phillips of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania was appointed as the new dean of the CBE. She will begin her role as dean on July 1.
For the future, Hyclak referenced the CBE’s strategic plan as the focus of the college going forward. He said Phillips plans to work with the faculty to “sharpen these general goals and develop tactics to achieve them.”
Hyclak said he hopes Phillips will be the dean for a long time so the CBE won’t need an interim dean until after he’s retired. He encouraged people to remind themselves that meetings, fundraising and public relations only have value if they support an environment where learning and sharing can occur.
“There are so many things, for good and for bad, that happen on and around campus that it is often easy to forget why we are here,” he said. “That is, simply, to learn and to share what we know.”
Story by Brown and White lifestyle writer Daniel Leal, ’16.