GSB: Success Breeds Success in the Banking Community

One of the pleasures that I enjoy as a result of my position with the Indiana Bankers Association is a seat on the board of trustees of the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin in Madison (GSB). This outstanding banking school was founded in 1945 by a group of bankers, and I am proud to have been a 1987 GSB graduate. Like every other graduate I have ever visited with, the school had a profound effect on my career and life. I am honored to have been elected chairman of the board of trustees for the 2014-15 board year, and more honored still that I am the first of 20,000 GSB alumni to serve as chairman in the school’s 69-year history.

GSB is unique among other graduate schools of banking, with much of the board made up of the state bank trade association executives from the states centrally located in the United States. It also is the only school of its type that has a full-time staff, which has led to the provision of many other educational services delivered in concert with those state bank trade associations. Another facet separates GSB from similar schools: the establishment of two groups which have been integral to its success. First is the Curriculum Advisory Committee (CAC), made up of the section leaders for each discipline taught at the school. This committee meets annually to review every aspect of the curricula and to review the performance ratings of each instructor. Every person who sits on this committee is interested purely in providing the best learning experience for the banking students who are the future leaders of the banking business for the next 30+ years. The candor of CAC members regarding what needs to be changed, and how, is thoughtful and thorough ‒ as it must be to attain the goal of providing the best learning experience for GSB students.

The other group that sets GSB apart is the Banker Advisory Board (BAB). This board is made up of one alumnus banker from each of the 17 states whose state bank trade association is a sponsor of the school. The charge of the BAB is to help with the marketing of the school to the banks and interested students in each state. This dedicated group of alumni work diligently year-round to discuss with other bankers the attributes that are unique to GSB. They encourage current students to complete assignments and to stay on course to graduate. The BAB met late last week and was kind enough to include me in its deliberations. The enthusiasm of these board members for GSB is contagious, and no doubt contributes to their success in helping students to succeed.

There are about six graduate schools of banking throughout the United States. All of them are dedicated to providing a broad management perspective to young bankers. All of them provide outstanding programming and instructors to deliver to students. It is very important that young bankers who aspire toward a lifelong career in banking attend one of these graduate schools to round out their preparation to become industry leaders. While I will admit to being biased toward GSB, what is important is that these opportunities exist, and that many talented individuals dedicate hours beyond count to ensure that the curricula remain relevant. These volunteer professionals also make the effort to reach out to potential students, so that the future of the banking business remains in good hands. Thank you to the GSB staff, CAC, BAB and my fellow trustees for their dedication and hard work to keeping GSB integral to the success of banking!

 – S. Joe DeHaven

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