Stanford GSB | Mr. Irish Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Marine Executive Officer
GRE 322, GPA 3.28
Tuck | Mr. Liberal Arts Military
GMAT 680, GPA 2.9
Harvard | Ms. Developing Markets
GMAT 780, GPA 3.63
Harvard | Mr. Policy Player
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Wharton | Mr. Future Non-Profit
GMAT 720, GPA 8/10
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Tough Guy
GMAT 680, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. CPPIB Strategy
GRE 329 (Q169 V160), GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Chicago Booth | Mr. Bank AVP
GRE 322, GPA 3.22
Kellogg | Mr. Double Whammy
GMAT 730, GPA 7.1/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Infantry Officer
GRE 320, GPA 3.7
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Ernst & Young
GMAT 600 (hopeful estimate), GPA 3.86
Kellogg | Mr. Engineer Volunteer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Kellogg | Mr. Operations Analyst
GMAT Waived, GPA 3.3
Kellogg | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.15
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Indian Dreamer
GRE 331, GPA 8.5/10
Kellogg | Mr. Innovator
GRE 300, GPA 3.75
London Business School | Ms. Private Equity Angel
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
Yale | Ms. Biotech
GMAT 740, GPA 3.29
Stanford GSB | Ms. Global Empowerment
GMAT 740, GPA 3.66
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Apparel Entrepreneur
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Armenian Geneticist
GRE 331, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 1st Gen Grad
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1

Aspen Ditches Its Sustainability Ranking

Six months after five top business schools declined to cooperate with the Aspen Institute’s Beyond Grey Pinstripes ranking, the organization has apparently decided to puts its ranking on hold.

The institute’s decision to “shift gears and pursue new ways to influence business education” was apparently made earlier this year and announced in March to participating schools in a letter obtained by Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

The Beyond Pinstripes rankings, published since 1999, purport to measure a business school’s commitment to sustainability. But many prominent schools, including Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, Duke University’s Fuqua School and the University of Chicago’s Booth School declined to cooperate with it last year (see Why Schools Are Saying No To Aspen).

In all, five of the top ten U.S. business schools dropped out, along with a large number of major business school players that include UCLA, Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue, Southern Methodist University, Brigham Young University, the University of Washington, Michigan State, and the University of Rochester.


For most schools that opt out, it comes down to two basic objections. First, some B-school deans don’t believe the ranking accurately reflects a school’s commitment to social and environmental issues. That’s largely because the ranking fails to take into account a school’s extracurricular activities, institutes and centers, joint degrees and specializations in the environment, sustainability, ethics, or social issues. Aspen gathers this information but doesn’t factor it into the rankings.

Secondly, the Aspen survey requires a tremendous amount of data gathering and reporting. At Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, for example, it used to take three full-time staffers nearly the entire month of December to gather and report all the information required by Aspen for its survey.

“There has been a huge growth in the number of surveys we receive – to the point where we have to triage them in order to respond with the attention to detail they require,” said James Aisner, a spokesperson for Harvard Business School, last year. “The Aspen survey is extremely time-consuming, and having examined it closely, we also have concerns about the effectiveness of its methodology and what it is trying to measure. Rather than focusing on the Aspen questionnaire, we are committed to incorporating topics relating to business and society, social impact, and environmental sustainability, and finding meaningful methods to evaluate our own progress toward those goals.”


The withdrawal by so many business schools dealt a serious credibility blow to the ranking and likely led to a larger number of schools deciding not to cooperate with the ranking this year. In an email response to BusinessWeek, an Aspen official maintained that the decision by business schools to opt out of the ranking was not a major factor in the organization’s decision to shut its ranking down.

“In making our decision, we spoke with many constituents at participating schools and others and took multiple inputs into account,” Nancy McGaw, deputy director of the institute’s Business & Society Program, told BusinessWeek. “We have extensive and ongoing relationships with business schools around the world, including many that have elected over the years not to participate in the Beyond Grey Pinstripes data-collection and ranking. I would say that schools that opted out were not a major factor in our final decision.”


About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.