Robinson College Dean Richard Phillips, left, signs the agreement with ASEBUSS Business School Rector Ovidiu Dimbean-Creta as Ambassador Andrei Muraru, right, and GSU's Mourad Dakhli look on. Credit: Trevor Williams / Global Atlanta

A Romanian business school founded with an eye toward boosting free enterprise in the formerly communist country has established a new partnership with Georgia State University

The Institute for Business Administration in Bucharest, known as ASEBUSS, signed a memorandum of cooperation Wednesday with GSU’s Robinson College of Business to pave the way for student and faculty exchanges and the sharing of best practices on business education. 

For the Romanian partner, working with one of the largest business schools in the Southeast U.S. is a way to solidify gains realized three decades since its founding while readying students for Eastern Europe’s still-uncertain future. 

The return of war to the region with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means more economic volatility for the country to navigate, said Romanian Ambassador Andrei Muraru, who traveled to Atlanta for the signing. 

“We share the longest border with Ukraine among NATO and EU members. And, of course, if you’re in such a complicated region, you need more well-educated people well-trained people,” Dr. Muraru said. 

Romania is no stranger to complexity or upheaval. ASEBUSS was founded in 1993 with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, just four years after the ouster and execution of socialist leader Nicolae Ceaușescu

“We started from the scratch with U.S. knowhow and hoped that we would be able to change and to transform Romania to a free market economy, to democracy,” said Ovidiu Dimbean-Creta, a former finance executive for pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly in Romania who now serves as rector of the business school. 

After what Dr. Dimbean-Creta called a “lost decade” in the 1990s, Romania joined NATO in 2004 and the European Union in 2007, benefiting from structural funds that helped improve infrastructure and drive trade upon its accession to the European single market.

While proud of its achievements thus far, the school remains committed as committed as ever to advancing the ideals on which it was built, Dr. Dimbean-Creta added. 

“We are continuously passing through challenges and changes, and we need to further develop the power of the Romanian economy, of the NATO border and of democracy and the free market economy, for the prosperity of our people and democratic systems in the world,” he said. 

Robinson College Dean Richard Phillips gave a nod to this same spirit, noting that prior Georgia State business school leaders were among those that helped USAID set up a network of schools in the former Soviet sphere, in places like Poland, Georgia and Azerbaijan

John Hogan, the late dean who hired Dr. Phillips at Georgia State in 1994, was heavily involved in such initiatives, setting up an executive MBA program with Poznan University that is still bearing fruit and set the tone for subsequent exchanges. 

Thursday’s memorandum builds on that legacy, Dr. Phillips said.  

“This is a moment of pride for me as we look back and think about the impact that these programs have had on the growth of Eastern Europe, the wealth that’s been created, the prosperity, but also the stability and the peace that’s been created. And I don’t think the work is done yet,” Dr. Phillips  said. 

ASEBUSS focuses heavily on project-based learning, helping students gain practical knowledge, networks and soft skills that will help them advance in the corporate world. 

Many graduates from its Executive MBA and other programs have gone on to work for the multinationals that have helped Romania’s economy standardize practices, procedures and a common business language, Dr. Dimbean-Creta told Global Atlanta after the signing. 

One advantage of being in a much smaller market is that students can advance quickly within the ranks of international firms, gaining a “helicopter” view of the enterprise earlier than those stuck in a much larger middle management class here in the U.S.

Because of that, American and Romanian business students often complement each other when working in teams. Unlike in the beginning, when Americans outperformed their Romanian counterparts in many areas, especially in presentations, the discrepancies between them “not so big” anymore, he says.

Yet agreement with Robinson College will continue to challenge ASEBUSS to improve, he said.“We want to be challenged and to become better and better every day.”

Dr. Muraru, the ambassador, praised the schools for spearheading the types of exchanges that have helped benefit him as a scholar of history. These can only deepen the strong friendship Romania and the U.S. enjoy, he said.  

“Government to government relations would not exist without the foundation provided by people to people relations,” he said. 

Mourad Dakhli, who recently assumed the role of Associate Dean for International Student Engagement and Strategic Partnerships at the Robinson College, is the point person or managing the exchange on the GSU side.

He convened the brief signing Wednesday morning along with partners from the university’s Office of International Initiatives

All sides praised Darius Gazinschi, Romania’s honorary consul in Georgia, for helping shepherd the partnership to completion. He was also on hand for the signing.

Viewed by Global Atlanta, the memorandum calls for: 

  • Exchange of faculty/academic staff members for the purpose of research, teaching, and the presentation of special courses in their fields of specialization;
  • In-person and virtual student exchange and study abroad programs;
  • Establishment of joint research programs;
  • Collaboration on third-party funded educational or economic assistance activities;
  • Exchange of postgraduate students with respect to specific research projects or courses of interest and importance;
  • Exchange of scientific and educational literature produced by either or both parties, as well as the exchange of materials on the most relevant and topical research by researchers at both Georgia State and ASEBUSS; and
  • Organization of conferences, seminars, and symposia of mutual interest to the institutions.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary in October, ASEBUSS is also no stranger to Atlanta’s university scene. 

The school has jointly offered a Romanian-American executive MBA program with Kennesaw State University’s Coles College of Business since 2003. In 2016, the partnership was recognized with a KSU international achievement award. 

Read more: 30 Years Later: Kennesaw State’s Role in Romania’s Transition to an Open Economy

Learn more about ASEBUSS at

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...