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Meet Amanda Opperman, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
5 questions on ramping up

With nearly a decade in higher education leadership experience and consulting for universities, Amanda Opperman has joined the Graduate School of Management as assistant dean for student affairs.

In this senior leadership role, Opperman oversees MBA admissions and student services, including recruiting and admitting MBA candidates across all four programs: Full-Time MBA, Sacramento Part-Time MBA, Bay Area Part-Time MBA and Online MBA. She also oversees the student experience through co-curricular and extra-curricular programming.

Amanda Opperman

Before joining the School, Opperman most recently served as the senior director of Business, Management & Leadership Programs at the UC Davis Division of Continuing & Professional Education. She was responsible for managing a $5 million portfolio of programs and a staff of 11. She holds a Ph.D. in education from the Claremont Graduate University and San Diego State University joint doctoral program.

We asked Opperman to share more about her background, her career journey in higher education and ramping up in her new role.

HOW DID YOUR CAREER IN EDUCATION BEGIN?

I got my start in education while I was working on my graduate degree in English literature at San Diego State University. I truly fell in love with the world of higher education when as a graduate teaching assistant I had the opportunity to become a lecturer and work alongside faculty in the Rhetoric & Writing Studies and English & Comparative Literature departments. In my three years as a lecturer, I served on several committees and through that committee work, I realized I also had a love for administration and management.

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO MOVE ACROSS UC DAVIS TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT?

The quality of the programs, the caliber of the staff and the sterling reputation of our faculty were among the reasons that attracted me to the GSM. I wanted to be surrounded by the best and the brightest, and I was interested in being part of the School’s exciting future.

“Above all, I wanted the opportunity to work under Dean Unnava, because I was already aware of his reputation on campus for being brilliant, innovative, dynamic and effective.”

Under Unnava’s leadership, the School has grown significantly and launched new programs—including the first online MBA in the UC system, online executive education and custom programs for campus and corporate clients. I’m excited to be a part of that growth moving forward.

WHAT EXCITES YOU THE MOST ABOUT YOUR NEW ROLE?

I am thrilled to support our cohorts of forward-thinking, game-changing MBAs.

I’m excited to be working with a tremendously talented, skilled team that is focused on student success. It’s rewarding to be contributing to the progress of society and to the advancement of our generation’s leaders who are dedicated to using the power of business for good.

I also look forward to strengthening and forging new partnerships with industry, including our MBA strategic consulting projects. We’re building relationships with more international companies to give our students greater global business experiences. The School is also differentiating our MBA programs with five Industry Immersions that fuse UC Davis research leadership with our corporate connections to bring top executives into the classroom and challenge MBA students to solve live case studies.

In addition, this fall I’m looking forward to being part of the team that launches a new Collaborative Leadership Program for our Full-Time MBAs. The yearlong program—with an advanced option in the second year—will help students build their values-based leadership capacity and assess their strengths and growth opportunities. Grounded in the ethos and culture of the School, the program will emphasize the soft skills that companies are seeking today.

“My goal is to put into play a few simple yet powerful tactics that will streamline the student admissions process and enhance the student experience from day one to graduation day.”

HOW WILL YOU APPROACH YOUR FIRST 100 DAYS?

In my first 100 days, I will be listening and learning to look for ways to optimize our student affairs strategy. I have already rolled up my sleeves and begun to immerse myself in the day-to-day operations with our Admissions and Student Services teams, and it’s been fun getting to know everyone.

I will be highly visible and accessible to our students at all our locations by attending events, holding regular office hours and collaborating with student leadership, for starters. I look forward to learning about student’s ideas, needs and ways we can improve their experience

My time will also include connecting and engaging with our faculty and lecturers to gauge input and generate new ideas to complement the curriculum.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE WITH STUDENTS ABOUT YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?

I want students to know that their feedback is essential to our MBA programs delivering value. Our customer’s voice is at the core. This includes current and future employers, too.

Organizations in our region, throughout the U.S. and worldwide appreciate the proven value of the UC Davis MBA. My goal is to ensure that we continue to attract the best and the brightest students and deliver a best-in-class experience to prepare students as game-changers for the future.