Faculty

Get to know Professor Ira Harris!

Professor Harris teaches in the area of strategic management and strategic mergers and acquisitions. At the beginning of the semester he taught our GCOM 7010 Global Strategy and Systems class with Professor Barbara Wixom, and now he focuses on our current class GCOM 7070 Seeking Authenticity and Thinking as a Leader (SATL). He is the General Faculty Director of the M.S. in Commerce program so I decided to take some time and ask him a few questions!

GIE 2011 in Barcelona

Professor Harris teaches in the area of strategic management and strategic mergers and acquisitions. At the beginning of the semester he taught our GCOM 7010 Global Strategy and Systems class with Professor Barbara Wixom, and now he focuses on our current class GCOM 7070 Seeking Authenticity and Thinking as a Leader (SATL). He is the General Faculty Director of the M.S. in Commerce program so I decided to take some time and ask him a few questions!

What are some of the differences you see between M.S. in Commerce students and their undergrad counterparts?

“The undergrads are a bit narrower (not in a negative way) because they have been focused on business since high school. The M.S. in Commerce students are relatively new in their thinking about business because their decision to study it came in their final years of college. It has an impact in the discussions of the grad students, in a more general and healthy way. The aspirations of the grad students are also broader, and they are interested in a wider variety of companies and industries.”

Aside from Run-D.M.C., who is another of your favorite music artists?

“If it doesn’t matter old or new, then I would say Miles Davis is my all time favorite. More specifically, the ‘Kind of Blue’ album.”

What are some of the perks of teaching at McIntire?

“I really enjoy the strong interaction between students and faculty. That is something that McIntire is known for. McIntire tends to be a smaller business school, so there is more of a family/community feel in terms of colleagues and the learning community. At the university level, it is special to be at such a historic university, especially because I am from Virginia. It’s much more enjoyable teaching bright and motivated students, and it’s something that can easily be taken for granted by faculty.”

Where is your favorite place to eat in C-ville?

“Milan, an Indian restaurant on route-29 near the Holiday Inn. I often go for the sampler, but if I had to name my favorite dish it would be the Tiki Masala.

In your opinion, how does the M.S. in Commerce degree compare to a typical M.B.A.?

“The two degrees can very easily be confused because there are subtle differences. But I would say there are three main differences.

Our program is narrower, in that it is a lock step program. The typical M.B.A. program has broad course options which gives you the opportunity to specialize in a variety of areas.
This program has a much stronger global outlook [think GIE] than the typical M.B.A., because most programs don’t have a required international element.
The instruction is different because of the student profile. In a strong M.B.A. program the students have had several years of experience, while the M.S. in Commerce is a pre-experience program.”

Is there anything on the U.V.a bucket list you haven’t done, but want to do? Like streaking the lawn for example?

“Going tubing on James River is something I should have done, and would still like to do. Something else I plan to do is to enjoy an afternoon watching the horses at Foxfield. Every year I say I will, but I never seem to make it there.”

What would you say is the most challenging project assigned in your current class, SATL?

“I think it’s the ‘problem paper’ assignment because it forces you to see gaps in the market and find problems that haven’t been solved. Fundamentally it makes you think about what we mean when you talk about fixable problems.”

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