The City of Maastricht

Maastricht is at the extreme southern end of the Netherlands. We are a one-hour drive from Brussels, one hour from Cologne, and two hours from Amsterdam.  The city’s origins go all the way back to the  Roman Empire. The name “Maastricht” is derived from the latin “trajectum ad mosam” or “crossing at the Meuse,” which refers to a bridge that the Romans built over the Meuse river in the 1st century AD. The bridge was a valuable economic and military tool, and over time, the city became an important religious and cultural center. Maastricht is one of the oldest settlements in the Netherlands.

After getting settled in to our hotel on the first day, some of us went on a tour of the city. We were led by a charming guide named  Marieke, seen here with yours truly. (Her make means “Little Mary.”)




Maastricht’s Catholic roots run deep. Construction on the basilica next to our hotel began around the year 1000. At the beginning of the 13th century, the city was ruled by both a bishop and a prince. This dual authority lead to many disputes between the church and state, both of whom claimed to have temporal authority. The first stop on our tour was an old mill that used to be owned by one of these bishops.




The wheel out back is still turning, but not functional.Image


A small rivers that runs through the city turns the wheel. The buildings in the town are built right up against the river.



This is the old fortified entrance to the town. Men protecting the town would use the three small red windows above to fight off invaders trying to break in below.




Here is a portion of the wall, which now only exists in fragments throughout the city.




St. Servatius was the first bishop to bring Catholicism to Maastricht. The basilica pictured here was built in his honor from about the years 500-1500. His tomb is in the crypt below the church. Blessed John Paul II visited the basilica in 1985.




A community of canons (priests who live in community, a bit like monks) used to live at the basilica and do their daily prayers in the main church. As the more and more pilgrims began to come to the basilica, they decided to build another church for their prayers, so as not to be interrupted by the visitors. The canons constructed St. John’s Church right next door.




The red steeple dominates the landscape of central Maastricht. During the Reformation, this church became a Protestant church. Dr. Bruce Morgan quipped that the road that runs between St. John’s and the basilica is called “Purgatory.”

I can’t say that I was surprised to see two McDonald’s restaurants with a few blocks of each other. I believe the “Dominicain” sign refers to a hotel or apartments above. Most of the buildings in the central city have shops on at the street level, and apartments in the upper floors.




The streets were very full when on Sunday afternoon.




The city is very clever with how it reuses old churches, convents and monasteries. This church was built by the Dominicans. Now it’s a trendy bookshop.




City Hall, in one of the main town squares.




The oldest current bridge, over the Meuse River. The first-century bridge built by the Romans fell into the river hundreds of years ago.




There are TONS of bikes, and riders can only park them in designated places.




Chuck, our program’s recruiter, listens to our tour guide. St. Martin’s Church across the river is in the background.




I hope this gives everyone back home a better feel for the city. I apologize to anybody from the Netherlands if I messed up any of the facts about Maastricht…feel free to add corrections in the comments sections.

I promise, we have been in class! Details about the university and our residency to come.


The Ravens have landed in Europe

Our group left KCI midday on Saturday, and after a brief layover in Atlanta, we flew across the Atlantic Ocean and landed in Brussels Sunday morning local time. (We are seven hours ahead of everyone in the central time zone.) (For those of you who are geographically challenged, Brussels is in Belgium, which is north of France.) After a one-hour bus ride, we arrived at Hotel Derlon in Maastricht.

Hotel Derlon is on one of the three main squares in the city. Two doors down from our hotel is the Basilica of Our Lady, Star of the Sea. Divine Providence would have it that mass was starting right when we arrived at the hotel at 11:30, so some of dumped our bags and hopped next door to attend the liturgy. It was a good way to start the trip…even though the mass was in Dutch and we couldn’t understand a word that was said, apart from “Amen.” Here is a picture of the façade of the basilica.


To the north of the basilica is a shrine to Mary, under her title “Star of the Sea.” Natives and tourists alike frequently visit the shrine to light a candle and offer a prayer to the Blessed Mother. Today someone told me that many local people are more likely to go in and light a candle than to attend mass on Sunday.


Here’s a view down one of the city streets. No shortage of shops and restaurants.


After we all had a chance to grab some lunch and settle in, the university arranged a guided tour of the city. Stay tuned for the highlights.

Executive MBA trip to Maastricht

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Andrew Ochs. I am a second-year student in the traditional MBA program at Benedictine College. I write to you from Maastricht, the Netherlands, where I am joined by three professors, twelve executive MBA students, and one fellow traditional MBA student. We are here for a week-long European management residency at Maastricht University’s School of Economics and Business. The primary focus of the residency is entrepreneurship, while we also learn about Dutch and European culture within the context of an international business school.

Over the course of this week, I will be using this blog share our experience with everyone back home. Along with chronicling our studies, I hope to introduce you to the students and faculty on the trip, acquaint you with the city of Maastricht and the university, and share some of our adventures outside the classroom.

A note of apology: I’m sorry that I haven’t gotten a post up until today. It seems like every time I’ve gone to make a post, another task distracted me or the spotty internet in the hotel went out. Thanks for bearing with me, and stay tuned!

Liberal Arts Business Students

Liberal Arts Business Students

The link here is encouraging if business leaders are all thinking that liberal arts students come out with better critical thinking skills that are needed.  Also, our whole department has been discussing things like problem based learning as a way to do more of this sort of work in the classroom.  I hope my classes make you think critically, but am I doing enough?  The nuts and bolts, as they put it, are also necessary though, so how do we balance this?

Thanks to Andrew Gowasack for the article.

Pace of Innovation in Academia

I was speaking with a fellow faculty member about what seems to be a very inefficient process of innovation through academia.  Admittedly, I am not one for slow pace . . . at just about anything.  My experience in the marketplace tells me that innovation can be substantial and can be done much quicker through a different process.  Competition in the marketplace forces speedy innovation.  Can speed generate risks during the process?  Yes.  Trial and error can be costly and false positives can send one on a series of wild goose chases.  Does the lack of speed generate any undesirable side affects during the process?  I suggest to you that a lack of pace kills momentum.

Having spent a little time with Dean’s from other Schools of Business, many of the Dean’s from traditional research institutions mourn the irrelevance of the research being done by their faculty.  With the world changing very fast around us, doesn’t it make sense the an inefficient and slow process of innovation would render many, if not most academic research projects irrelevant before they were finished?  Are we not better off building on innovations created in the marketplace at a pace that sustains momentum, rather than getting bogged down in academic minutia, trivial challenges, and limited outlets for sharing findings?

What do you think?

The Platinum Coin is Dead. Now About that Ceiling…

So the treasury department has said they will not create a commemorative coin in the amount of $1 Trillion this weekend.  The Atlantic had a great piece talking about the plan, and explaining that we were in fact living out something akin to an episode of the Simpsons.  Click through the link to read more about the platinum coin.  Thankfully this makes it so that our congress can go back to sane discussions of how to fix the debt ceiling.  I was a little worried that Democrats might lord the $1 Trillion coin over the debates as if that might be productive, but the Treasury and Obama have done the right thing and avoided strong hand tactics.  The debt ceiling itself is almost as silly as a platinum commemorative coin for such a crazy amount though.

Why the Debt Ceiling makes no sense:

Our government has a budget.  Whether or not you approve of the amount, or how it is spent, is irrelevant to this discussion.  The people who sign off on this budget are in congress.  If said budget causes the national debt to threaten the artificial, self-imposed debt ceiling, then we go back to congress to ask politely, “Will you please raise the debt ceiling so that we can spend the money on the budget that you said was a okay?”  If congress had a problem with the amount of spending, and the debt that would be needed to fund said spending, then they should have fixed it when they approved the budget in the first place.

That means that our current position is this.  When a democratic president asks for the debt ceiling to be raised the republicans moan and threaten to stop it from happening (see right now, or last year if you need examples).  Also, if a republican president asks for the debt ceiling to be raised the democrats moan and threaten to stop it from happening (see 2006 when Bush wanted the ceiling raised).  In fact, Obama and other democratic leaders voted against raising the ceiling when Bush was president less than a decade ago.

The current situation is crazy.  The United States defaulting on their debt would not be a good precedent to set.  I think that increasing our debt at the rate we currently are is a bad idea, but not paying our current outstanding debt is not the way to solve the problem.  At least we didn’t try a trillion dollar coin.