Michael Goodman: Enhancing Corporate Communication at Baruch
“It was a match that I found personally and professionally extraordinary,” says Michael Goodman about becoming a full-time faculty member at Baruch in 2007. For the corporate communication professor and director of Baruch’s MA program in corporate communication, the transition from Fairleigh Dickinson University -- where he’d been a professor for 21 years – also involved moving the former Corporate Communication Institute, now Corporate Communication International (CCI), to Baruch College. This transition has been as beneficial to the College and its students as the addition of Goodman himself. Both CCI, which he founded and directs, and the MA program have thrived here under his leadership.
Though he’s quick to note that prior to his arrival at Baruch, “The faculty had -- with no advertising, no marketing -- created a strong [MA] program that attracted students from all over the world,” under his directorship the average GPA of incoming students has risen to 3.7, with GRE scores up about 20%. “Part of what I did was institute a process among my colleagues to vet students; try to make a good fit,” says Goodman. Additionally, he increased the program’s academic requirements, adding an exit requisite in the form of a master’s thesis or master’s capstone project.
As a result, the program -- the only one in the northeast to focus exclusively on corporate communication -- has become more selective, competing with schools like NYU and Columbia. “I always say ‘it’s a bargain, but the quality is the same or better,’” says Goodman, noting that two incoming students this fall are Fulbright scholars from Germany, who “could have gone anywhere in the country, but chose Baruch.”
The College’s stellar reputation in the field of corporate communication is due, in large part, to CCI. Its research center, devoted to the theory and practice of corporate communication worldwide, originally began in 1999 as an outgrowth of an annual conference hosted by Goodman while at FDU, through which he first became acquainted with Baruch faculty participating in related events from the Weissman Center for International Business. With the blessing of FDU’s president, Goodman brought CCI with him to Baruch.
Though the transition was complicated, necessitating a new name and funding model due to CUNY regulations, Corporate Communication International – now funded by memberships, conference fees, and corporate sponsors – is a success. (Its most recent annual conference drew over 100 attendees representing 23 countries.) “We’re leveraging the master’s program and the research center of CCI to become what I had originally proposed to our board of advisors: the best program of its kind,” says Goodman. “Nobody has disputed that yet.”
In addition to teaching at Baruch, Goodman has been a visiting professor at Bangkok University, Hong Kong Polytechnic, the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, and the Arhus School of Business at Denmark’s Arhus University (where he taught last summer). He has published widely, with the second edition of his most recent book, Work with Anyone Anywhere: A Guide to Global Business and Corporate Communication for Executives soon to be issued.
Though he considers himself a New Yorker, having lived in the area his entire adult life, Goodman originally hails from Texas. His undergraduate degree at the University of Texas at Austin was in English, as were his MA and PhD from SUNY Stony Brook. “The ’70s were really tough for English professors to get a job,” he explains of his move to business. While writing his dissertation he taught a continuing education course at Stony Brook in business communication (“My family are entrepreneurs,” he says. “It came naturally to me.”) One of his students, a senior manager at Grumman Aerospace, invited Goodman to write business proposals for the corporation. The ensuing 15-year consulting engagement ended when the company became Northrop Grumman and moved to California. Says Goodman, “I consider that my post-post-graduate education in business because the proposals had to look at the management side, the finance side, and the technical side.”
He enjoyed working with Grumman, and has since consulted for several other corporations, but Goodman has always been firmly planted in academia. He finds it especially fulfilling “when students come back and tell me how they’re doing, when they publish, when they send me pictures of their weddings. There are several former students on the board of advisors for the MA program; it’s a gratifying thing to have a positive influence in their lives, professionally and personally.”