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George Vlahakis
University Communications

Kathleen Robbins
Kelley School of Business

Last modified: Tuesday, August 26, 2008

IU's Kelley School names alumna as new director of its 3,000-student undergraduate program

Aug. 26, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Coming out of a high school graduating class of just 18 people in New Harmony, Ind., Kathleen Robbins found a new world to choose from when she began her studies at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business a decade ago.

Kathleen Robbins

Kathleen Robbins

Print-Quality Photo

"While I had tremendous opportunities as a student, the students today have even many more," reflects Robbins, who today has a unique perspective as the new director of the Kelley School's 3,000-student undergraduate program.

"As a student, it seemed like there were many options, but now, really, the options are endless for students who are looking to get into any of our majors," she said. "These days it seems like many students who you meet are doing two or even three majors and a minor on top of it. It's neat to see that they have those opportunities to combine all of their interests, rather than having to choose just one thing that will help prepare them for their career.

"It's very rare to meet a student who doesn't know where he or she is going after graduation."

Robbins, who has been with the Kelley School since January 2005, previously was the program's assistant director and was involved with student recruiting, admissions and marketing. Before returning to Kelley, she worked in sales and marketing for a safety products company based in New Zealand.

In addition to earning a bachelor's degree at Kelley in marketing and international studies, Robbins also has a master of international business degree from the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. Robbins is succeeding Audrey Morgan, who is retiring after many years.

"All of us who have worked with Kathleen know that she brings a high level of energy and creativity to her assignments," said Dan Smith, dean of the Kelley School. "She has led innovative programs to help attract top students to our school, including overseeing the Direct Admission Program and coordinating the Young Women's Institute. Having received her undergraduate degree here will give her a special perspective on the undergraduate experience."

Robbins noted that the school also has developed many opportunities for undergraduate students that previously had been reserved for their masters-degree level peers.

"For example, there are many more global opportunities, such as our taking students to India or our emerging markets trips over spring break," she said. "None of those opportunities were there. Our students benefit so much from trips like that, as well as the classroom learning that accompanies those types of programs.

"We've really become a forerunner on the international front, and we're talking about forming partnerships with other universities beyond the traditional studies abroad programs," she added. "Now's the time to go beyond that; whether it's more of these short-term experiences or helping students find an internship abroad and take that area of interest to the next level."

M.A. Venkataramanan, chair of the Kelley undergraduate program, said it is important that students see value in their experience there beyond the classroom, but also through academic support services, its leadership development programs and other forms of engagement.

"Kathleen, with her enthusiasm, tireless effort and kind disposition, will enhance student experiences outside of the classrooms and in the professional development dimension. Combination of world-class staff and her leadership will usher in an era of innovation in student services at the Kelley School of Business," Venkataramanan said.

As she moves forward in her new role, Robbins said Kelley's undergraduate program will continue to stress the value of personal connections. As someone who came to college from a small school, she is attuned to the fact it is one of the largest programs of its kind in the country.

"By looking at our numbers, I think it can be intimidating to a number of prospective students. It was a little bit to me when I was in their shoes many years ago," she said. "Just making sure that we provide a personal and engaging experience to all of our students is of utmost importance. We need to keep sight of the fact that this is not a group of students -- it's a collection of individuals, and we need to provide that attention in whatever way to every single person."