Polly Bashore, Professor and Business Program Director for Baker College
Welcome to Baker College’s Spotlight feature, a series of brief interviews with notable BC students, faculty and alumni who are making news and reaching new heights in their educational and professional pursuits.
This edition of Spotlight features Dr. Polly Bashore, professor and MBA and DBA program director at Baker College’s Center for Graduate Studies. Dr. Bashore took the reins of the DBA program beginning January of this year. Here we learn more about Dr. Bashore and her professional path and passions.
Baker College (BC): Dr. Bashore, thank you for taking the time to share your story and insights with our readers. Let’s please start with some background on your time with Baker College. How long have you been a part of the BC team, and in what roles?
Dr. Polly Bashore (PB): I have been with Baker College for more than 20 years. I worked in the College of Online and Graduate Studies for 17 years, have been teaching for five years and have been a program director with the College of Business for four years now.
BC: The students and faculty have been lucky to have you these past many years! In your current role as director of both the MBA and DBA programs, what are some of your responsibilities? What might a typical day look like for you?
PB: My days include a variety of tasks and responsibilities, but they can mostly be categorized as teaching, advising doctoral students, dissertation reviews and course and curriculum design.
BC: A full plate for sure. Share with us a bit about your own educational background.
PB: I am a graduate of both Central Michigan University and Michigan State University. I earned a bachelor of science degree in Education and a master’s in Business Administration, both from CMU. I earned my Ph.D. in Higher Adult Learning and Education from MSU.
BC: Congratulations on completing three degrees…no easy feat, to be sure. At Baker, you recently became program director of the DBA program, in addition to the MBA program. That includes Baker College’s DBA-ABD option. What can you tell us about this program, and who is the ideal candidate?
PB: The DBA-ABD program is shorthand for Doctor of Business Administration – All But Dissertation. The ideal candidate is someone who has previously pursued doctoral work at another institution, but became “stuck” or dissatisfied with the program. The ABD option provides a new start for many doctoral candidates to pick up where they left off and complete the most challenging part of getting a doctoral degree – the dissertation.
BC: That’s so true. In fact, according to PhD Completion and Attrition: Analysis of Baseline Program Data, Council of Graduate Schools, 2008, only 56 percent of doctoral students have graduated 10 years after starting their programs. It’s exciting that there’s a program dedicated to helping DBA students finish that final hurdle. Speaking of challenging opportunities…what do you like best about your work at Baker College?
PB: Baker College really allows me to be creative with curriculum and course design, and engage students in the learning process. That is why I enjoy it so much. I am able to work as hard as I want to ensure courses and learning have relevance for students, which is why they are pursuing an education to begin with. It’s not about the degree, as much as it is about adding to a person’s toolkit. I like to focus on what skills are the most relevant in the workplace and work to ensure they have those skills before graduation from our program.
BC: It sounds like your students certainly benefit from your passion and creativity. But higher education isn’t even your first career. What can you tell us about your tenure with General Motors, prior to joining BC?
PB: I started with GM in 1984 as an analyst. I became a supervisor very early in my career and worked to develop leadership skills that would last a lifetime. The best part of working for GM is that I learned what it means for a business to have a good strategy or a bad strategy. Living through GM’s bankruptcy was an eye-opening experience for me, and made me realize that any business is vulnerable. I think that is why I enjoy teaching business strategy the most. It allows me to use tools I used every day at GM, and provide those lessons learned to students.
BC: It seems that your industry experience is certainly paying off. Last year, you received the 2021 Distinguished Online Faculty Award from the Alliance for Excellence in Online Education. Congratulations! How do you feel about the recognition?
PB: I was very proud to receive this award. There are many of our instructors who were equally deserving of this distinction, but it was an honor to receive it for Baker College.
BC: Based on your years of rich experience in both the corporate world and higher education, what trends or changes do you foresee in the near future for MBA and/or DBA education?
PB: I believe it is key to provide students with the skills needed to be leaders in the business organizations we have in our world. Again, I am more focused on doing this because in the end, students must be confident in the workplace. They have to solve problems and provide solutions on a daily basis. They must have managerial courage and compassion. If our model doesn’t promote these skills, we will not be successful. The MBA and DBA degrees are going to be even more important as we improve our global businesses. Most employers are beginning to reinforce that advanced degrees will be necessary for competitiveness in the workplace.
BC: Thank you for those important insights. To take it a step further, what best piece of advice would you share with current MBA or DBA students, or those considering pursuing that path?
PB: My best piece of advice is that students need to push and have high expectations. They are the consumer, and just as we teach in marketing, the consumer expectations must be met. I don’t see education as any different. Push to learn. That is the most important success factor. Try new ideas and challenge old thinking. Students who can critically think about business concepts will be the most successful.
Also, be patient. Students in the MBA and DBA programs will be challenged, so having patience and a plan are key to success. There are so many competing activities (family, work, etc.). The goal is to find balance. Planning is part of balancing the requirements of the program.
BC: Sound advice for current and prospective students, thank you. In looking at Baker College as a whole, what would you want others to know/understand about BC, its programs, staff and students?
PB: Baker College provides excellent MBA and DBA programs. We are in the midst of making substantial changes in both curriculums that will make the programs even more relevant and valuable for students. The instructors are not only skilled in the topics, but also are practitioners who can share real world experiences. But, even more importantly, we have students who are working for many business organizations. Their experiences are equally important to the classroom.
BC: Thank you again, Dr. Bashore, for all of the excellent information and insights shared here today. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
PB: My goal, most of all, is to make a difference in the lives of Baker students. The MBA and DBA programs are all about doing just that.
To learn more about MBA and DBA programming at Baker College, visit our College of Business webpage.