Collaborative MBA program transitions to new director

by Lauren Jefferson, Eastern Mennonite University

Professor Andrew Miller is the new director of the Collaborative MBA program, taking the reigns from retiring Bluffton professor George Lehman.

The Collaborative MBA program, a joint graduate degree program of Bluffton University, Canadian Mennonite University, Eastern Mennonite University and Goshen College, has approximately 51 graduates scattered across the globe and a new cohort beginning this fall. The hybrid program develops professional technical and relational skills and prepares students to lead for the common good.

Andrew Miller, professor of business at Eastern Mennonite University, is the program’s new director. Administrative responsibilities rotate among partnering institutions. He takes over from George Lehman, professor of business at Bluffton University, who is retiring. Lehman has led the program since spring 2014.

“I’m honored to be stepping into a leadership role behind one of the visionaries behind this program,” Miller said. “Dr. Lehman’s innovative, collaborative leadership is emblematic of the kind of leaders our program helps to develop.”

Lamar Nisly, vice president and dean for academic affairs at Bluffton University, pointed to how the program matured during Lehman’s involvement through five cohorts, with another two currently in progress. “Dr. Lehman has creatively led the Collaborative MBA program as it has matured and solidified. We very much appreciate his thoughtful leadership in exploring new possibilities and developing a sustainable program.”

The Collaborative MBA program integrates Anabaptist-Christian roots with the faculty’s jointly shared and “holistic view of how all of our decisions and actions affect other people, the community, and the world,” said Lehman, in a press release announcing the program’s start in 2014.

That unique approach to business still energizes Miller, who has taught in EMU’s graduate programs for several years. “I’m excited to work with business leaders who care for their organizations, employees and the environment, and to be working with a program across several universities that draws from the belief that one’s faith and values should be primary in how business should be operated and how we treat others.”

The Collaborative MBA curriculum is based on the concept of “leadership for the common good,” which includes values of spirituality, community, leading as service, justice, sustainability, and global citizenship.

Prospective students can enter the program through the doorway of any of the four sponsoring schools.

“This unique MBA program helps students develop their focus on environmental sustainability and social justice issues within a framework of sound business skills,” Miller said. “Businesses must be financially sound, but should also be socially responsible. The program provides a setting where students can discuss and consider what that reality looks like for them in their current organizations and roles.”

The mostly online coursework enables a global emphasis: resulting in classmates from around the world joining students from the U.S. and Canada. Students also come to the program from a variety of professional fields, including manufacturing, health care administration, ministry, nonprofit management.

The online format employs small cohorts participating in synchronous classes, “a significant shift” from other programs, Lehman said. “A number of our May grads found they were becoming a resource to their organizations and communities because of their extensive experience with online learning technologies.”

A key contributor to the program’s ideation more than a decade ago, Lehman was “the catalyst who brought the partner schools together for exploratory conversations,” said Professor Michelle Horning, who leads the program at Goshen College.

She called Lehman a “wonderful colleague” who also cared for his students, collecting and integrating their feedback into program improvements.

Professor David Brubaker, dean of EMU’s School of Social Sciences and Professions, met Lehman in 2016 when he came to EMU to welcome a first-year cohort and teach a five-day residential course. “What most impressed me about George was that he clearly cared as much about the community that these new students were building as he did about the content of the course that he was teaching,” he said.

Professor Melissa Green, director of the program for Bluffton University, thanked Lehman for providing a “solid cornerstone” and “for his tireless work and enduring dedication to this wonderful innovative initiative. “He has provided outstanding leadership and exceptional support toward the students, faculty and program,” she said.