By Steven Lilybeck
Some 20 years after joining the St. Ambrose University faculty, Professor of Management Arun Pillutla, PhD, considers it one of the best decisions of his life.
"This is just a terrific, terrific place," Pillutla said, noting the professionalism and ethical standards displayed in the hiring process by colleagues Monica Forret '88, PhD, and David O'Connell, DBA, were key to his decision to join the SAU College of Business.
"They both are still here and have always conducted themselves with the highest ethical standards imaginable," Pillutla noted.
A native of India, Pillutla is among a number of faculty members who help create a diverse and global learning environment at St. Ambrose. He said he felt at home under the oaks since he first arrived after earning a Doctor of Strategic Management and Organization Theory degree from Washington State University in 1999.
"The atmosphere here permeates the entire campus," Pillutla said. "Dawn Hayes, who works at the coffee shop, took it upon herself to learn the names of students from India and other countries when they came to campus. She asked why they came to the US. and learned about their aspirations and their families."
Pillutla came to the United States with four years of experience working as an industrial engineer in India. For several years, he oversaw the American Collegiate Experience (ACE), a monthlong summer program that brought students, many from India, to St. Ambrose to learn how business gets done in the US.
Although the program is currently on hiatus, Pillutla said exposing visiting students to St. Ambrose was among the most gratifying aspects of the ACE program.
You can call it the culture or you can call it something else, but it's my observation that this school has the ability to bring out the best in people. I've been to a lot of other campuses and it's not the same there as it is here. There is something this university does. It's real.
"There is something about this school," Pillutla said. "You can call it the culture or you can call it something else, but it's my observation that this school has the ability to bring out the best in people. I've been to a lot of other campuses and it's not the same there as it is here. There is something this university does. It's real."
Pillutla serves on a number of community boards, consults for several local businesses and serves on the Higher Learning Commission, evaluating other schools as a member of the HLC Peer Review Committee.
His visits to other campuses, combined with a lengthy list of consulting experiences with domestic and international businesses, provide a rich and multi-faceted approach to the classroom.
"One of the great values St. Ambrose has in place is to be a good teaching school," Pillutla said. "St. Ambrose believes that to be a good teaching school you must start with a Liberal Arts background, and I completely agree with that value. With that value, you are able to think more clearly and you are able to gain and appreciate a better understanding of the world.
"Once you have that ability," Pillutla continued, "you are better able to help your own community and build a business. I firmly believe that in today's classroom we must teach students how to remain true to their own tradition, but also to be open to other parts of the world and the different culture and language systems. You have to know what's happening in other parts of the world."