Nowak becomes interim dean of Quinlan
At an early age, Maciek Nowak, PhD, was already a world traveler. When he was one, he and his family left their home in Poland to join his father who was working in Canada. Soon, the family moved to the U.S. and settled in Michigan, where his father joined the University of Michigan faculty and became a highly regarded professor.
The academic life suited the younger Nowak, too. Growing up, family friends called him “Little Professor,” as he loved to learn and teach. Limited chemistry skills derailed his plans to save the world by inventing an inexpensive and effective desalinization method, but he soon found supply chain management. “Supply chain management focuses on increasing efficiency and making things work better and that’s how my brain works,” says Nowak. “It just clicked for me.”
Since 2008, Nowak has held a number of leadership positions at Quinlan, including associate dean, department chair, and professor of supply chain management. On July 1, 2021, he became Quinlan’s interim dean.
Below, Nowak discusses his vision for Quinlan as interim dean, the leadership philosophy that inspires him, and more.
Quinlan is a great school with faculty and staff doing incredible things both inside and outside the classroom. I’ll always remember the day in 2007 when I saw the posting for a supply chain professor at Loyola. It was my dream job—in Chicago, at a mission-focused university, and part of an up-and-coming supply chain program. I’m honored to now serve as Quinlan’s interim dean.
What leadership philosophy inspires you?
I’m a big fan of legendary college basketball coach John Wooden. In many ways, his Pyramid of Success philosophy is very operations research oriented with a focus on continuous improvement. His target was never to win championships. Instead, he challenged his teams to work on improvement and to do their best to reach their potential.
Likewise, my hope is to provide the resources for faculty and staff to think about how they can be better researchers, better teachers, or better staff members than they were the day before. Small, continuous improvements eventually build up to something really great, like they did for John Wooden and his 10 national championships at UCLA.
What will you focus on as interim dean?
I want us as a business school to really focus on driving conversations, policies, and business practices that support all Chicagoans, with the goal of a stronger city by 2030.
There’s a lot of work to be done in our city. We need to become a more equitable city. As just one example, the wealth gap between Black and white families is just shocking. We need to become a more sustainable city, and Loyola has great expertise between Quinlan and the School of Environmental Sustainability. Also, we need to continue to help students who have been historically underrepresented in higher education. Quinlan already partners closely with Arrupe College, and I’d like to explore how Quinlan can help make Arrupe’s model more broadly accessible.
Over the next year, I want the Quinlan School of Business to develop a vision and metrics for helping move Chicago forward.
And finally, what’s one of your favorite hobbies?
I love to travel. I’ve visited six continents, and I think I’m in a pretty special club as I’ve been to the northernmost and the southernmost towns on the planet. I visited Longyearbyen on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, which sits in the Arctic Circle, and Ushuaia on Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego archipelago. They are very different towns: one is an old mining town with polar bears, and the other is a resort town near penguin colonies.
For where I’ll go next, Japan has been on my bucket list for a long time. I was set to go to Japan in 2020, but then COVID-19 hit. I’ll make it there eventually.
For more about Nowak, see his faculty profile →