The School's Governance 

External governance

The School’s external governance is organised around three main constituents: the International Advisory Board (IAB), ULB authorities, and international accreditation bodies (AACSB, AMBA, and EQUIS).

International Advisory Board

For several years, the SBS-EM had an Advisory Board (called the Conseil Consultatif, CC) and an International Scientific Council (ISC). In 2014, it was decided to merge the CC and the ISC and create a fully revamped International Advisory Board (IAB). The new IAB provides a forum for intense discussions on strategic issues twice a year. The School is particularly honoured to have gathered IAB members who crystalize a good mix of corporate executives, policy makers, and leading academics. They make up a rich mix of top profiles and show high gender and geographical diversity. This is particularly important for the School, which as a faculty of ULB, is committed to strive for excellence in research and teaching while focusing on the societal relevance of its activities.

The mission of the IAB is to advise the SBS-EM on all aspects of its strategic positioning, leveraging the views of business leaders, prominent academics and policy-makers. Their advice cover the governance of the School, its internationalization and its teaching policy, its research orientations, the corporate network, fundraising policy, and its recruitment policy. The IAB is informed of the yearly budget of the School and plays a role in its governance.

The responsibilities of the IAB are enhanced by the following six committees, internal to the IAB:

  • The Nomination Committee (which appoints new members)
  • The Search Committee (which advices the School for the new Dean and Vice-Dean pair)
  • The Financial Supervisory Committee (FSC, validates the yearly budget)
  • The Scientific Committee (for pedagogical and research issues)
  • The Business and Society Committee (for corporate issues)
  • The Fundraising Committee

IAB members echo the School’s ambition of becoming a reference in Europe as a high quality education and research institution. They contribute to improve the SBS-EM international exposure and gender equilibrium, while further strengthening its position at the interplay between economics, business and technology. IAB members are appointed for periods of three years, renewable twice.

Institutional autonomy within the University

The School’s State-funded education and research activities are operated within the University and its governance system. Since its establishment as one of the Faculties of ULB in 2010, the SBS-EM has a direct representation in all instances of the University’s governance, and its status within the University is much clearer. The School actually enjoys a large degree of autonomy and in practice the University authorities rarely interfere with the decisions of the Faculties, except if they are illegal (e.g. the programmes are not compatible with State regulations), or invalid (with respect to ULB rules).

The bylaws of the University define the framework in which the School operates, which can be summarised as follows:

  • the Faculty Council is the highest governing instance of the Faculty, where all constituencies (faculty, teaching assistants and researchers, staff and students) participate;
  • the Faculty is chaired by a Dean and Vice-Dean who must be part of the School’s faculty and be elected by the Faculty Council, and the Dean represents his/her Faculty in all governing bodies of the University;
  • State-funded academic and administrative positions are distributed to the Faculties by the University, largely based on student registrations, but Faculties are free in their recruitment policy and in the assignment of tasks to its dedicated staff;
  • programme modifications, appointments and recruitments must all be approved by the Faculty Council, and validated by the Academic Council of the University;
  • the University defines the career paths and wages applicable to all employees on its payroll, both administrative and academic;
  • the Faculty can organise itself in research centres or teaching departments or both and each faculty member must be attached to at least one of them.

Involvement of SBS-EM faculty in the governance of the University

The SBS-EM actively participates in the management of the University as well. Not only because the Dean represents the Faculty within all ULB bodies, but also because 9 of its faculty members have advisory or executive functions at University level. It is also worth mentioning that the University’s President, Executive Director (Directeur Général), Chief Financial Officer, and Deputy CFO are all alumni of the SBS-EM.

Accreditation bodies

For many years, international accreditations have been a key element in the School’s development strategy. They are needed to ensure the international visibility and legitimacy of the School and are often considered a prerequisite when establishing international alliances or exchange programmes, especially outside the European Union. Accreditation agencies and more specifically the EFMD, have had a considerable impact on the School’s governance and development in the past decade and have been instrumental in the latest and on-going transformation of the School. In addition, in November 2015 Bruno van Pottelsberghe was appointed as member of the AACSB European Advisory Council (EAC), joining the Deans of numerous top level Schools in Europe (HEC Paris, WU, Maastricht School of Business and Economics, BI Norway, Mannheim University…) and providing a privileged source of information on global trends in higher education.

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Internal governance

Historical perspective and recent transformations

Five major milestones in the past few years are worth mentioning:

  • In 2008, the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management is created
  • In 2010, it takes the form of a Faculty on its own right within ULB
  • Between 2010 and 2014: the vast majority of privately-funded programmes are grouped within a non-profit organisation called “Solvay Executive Education” (SEE), whose Board is chaired by the Dean, and which operates with a high degree of autonomy
  • Between 2012 and 2014: a set of Shared Services are created, the mission of which is to support common functions for the whole School
  • In 2014, the mandate of the Dean was extended to a maximum of 3 renewable two-year mandates

Internal governance and organisation

The School is governed by a council (the Faculty Council), which the Dean chairs, and in which all full-time and affiliate faculty participate, alongside representatives of the teaching assistants and researchers, of the students and of the administrative staff. The Faculty Council sets the strategic orientations and the budget and approves all proposed appointments and programme changes. Academic staff members hold 50% of the votes, students, teaching assistants and researchers and staff members share the other 50%. The Faculty Council elects a Dean and a Vice-Dean and each constituency of the Faculty appoints its representative(s) to the Executive Committee (or ‘Bureau’) to which it delegates the preparation of the Faculty Council. The day-to-day management is under the responsibility of the Dean, Vice Deans and staff Director.

The Dean chairs each of the following bodies:

  • the Faculty Council (main governing body of the SBS-EM as a whole)
  • the Executive Committee (prepares the faculty council, suggest actions and important decisions)
  • the Board of Solvay Executive Education

The Dean appoints Vice and Deputy Deans and Directors to assist him in his mission. In its current governance, the SBS-EM has 2 Deputy Deans (in charge of Executive Education and Vietnam affairs), 3 Vice-Deans (academic affairs, student affairs, and research) and one Director (in charge of programmes). The Dean and Vice-Dean are elected by – and accountable to – the Faculty Council, for a maximum of three 2-year mandates (maximum two 2-year mandates were allowed until 2014).

Research and development is supervised by the Research Committee and chaired by the Vice Dean for Research. It is organised in 5 centres, which host all faculty members and manage their respective budgets and administrative staff. Each centre appoints its representative to the Executive Committee:

  • Centre Emile Bernheim (CEB): centre for Management research. The CEB hosts two smaller thematic units: the CERMi (interuniversity research unit on microfinance) and CEESE (research unit focused on the socioeconomic study of the environment)
  • Département de l’ULB d’Economie Appliquée (DULBEA), focusing on applied economics
  • European Centre for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES)
  • International Centre for Technology, Innovation and Education Studies (iCite): multidisciplinary research at the intersection of economics and management of innovation
  • Business, Enterprise and Society (BES): hosts all affiliate professors and Professors of Management Practice as well as full-time faculty members actively involved in the development of the management practice. BES allows to integrate affiliate faculty members within the School and its governance and aims to foster the links between the corporate world and teaching.

State-funded programmes are managed by the Programmes Committee (“coordination pédagogique”), chaired by the Director of Undergraduate Programmes. It is the place where the overall programmes portfolio is designed and where Academic Directors (in charge of individual programmes), share their views and experience. Its decisions must be submitted to and approved by the Faculty Council.

Faculty Management is placed under the authority of the Dean and the Vice Dean of Academic Affairs, who supervise recruitment, promotion and workload management processes. A statistical tool based on teaching units (representing the different disciplines of the School) was implemented in 2012 to allocate teaching assistant resources and objectivise priority areas for future recruitments. Chapter 4 describes these processes in more detail.

Solvay Lifelong Learning (SLL) is organised as a separate legal entity. Its Board is chaired by the Dean and composed of 5 faculty members appointed by the Faculty Council, 5 members from the business community appointed by the International Advisory Board, the General Director of ULB, and a representative of ULB Finance Department. The SLL Board validates the strategic direction and programme portfolio, controls the budget and delegates the day-to-day management to the Deputy Dean for Executive Education. Individual programmes are managed by Academic Directors, who are faculty members also teaching in state-funded programmes. SEE operates with a high degree of autonomy within the School. Changes to the portfolio of open-enrolment programmes must however be approved by the Faculty Council.

Shared Services were created in 2013. They cover common support functions for both state-funded and privately-funded operations: financial supervision, communication, career services, corporate alliances, accreditations, international relations and the Dean’s Office. These services are transversal to the School, aimed at improving the coordination of the School’s operations. The resources needed are generated by state-funded and privately-funded operations, and by the corporate alliance and career services. The shared services are under the direct supervision of the Dean.

Influence of key stakeholders

The key external stakeholders of the SBS-EM are its employment markets, its sponsors, its alumni, the scientific community, partner institutions and the University. Internal stakeholders include faculty members, researchers and teaching staff, administrative staff and students. Each of these stakeholders exercises substantial influence in the School’s decision-making processes or in the setting of its direction and governance.

Democratic governance is one of the key values of the School. Indeed the SBS-EM has a very strong participatory culture, based on internal democracy. It also has a profound entrepreneurial culture, as witnessed by the very large number of successful student initiatives, such as the Solvay Summer School, the Solvay Business Game, Campus Recruitment activities, the Solvay Economics Group and the Solvay Student Consulting Club. This participative and entrepreneurial culture is fully part of the School’s DNA and contributes greatly to its dynamism, success and reputation and to the qualities of its graduates, as well as to the motivation and satisfaction of its faculty. This participatory culture is also instrumental to the huge amount of affectio societatis the School enjoys from all its stakeholders. The challenge is the effort sometimes required to reach a consensus on sensitive issues and difficult strategic decisions. The recent transformations of the School nonetheless prove its capacity to federate its stakeholders on strategic moves.

Updated on August 16, 2023