MAKING B-SCHOOL LEMONADE WITH BUREAUCRATIC LEMONS
Of course, a massive accreditation process does not happen easily–especially when the accreditation is being done by an outside agency. “Whenever you have an outside entity judging you, it requires interactions that take your mind and energy,” Ferrari says. “I’m talking about logistical requirements,” he clarifies, before ticking off all the reports, tables, documents, and prepared entries he and the school had to submit. “All of those things take an enormous amount of time and focus,” he says, noting that the school was still able to grow rapidly while dealing with the accreditation process. “We were getting the bus inspected while we were driving it,” Ferrari laughs. “That’s what was going on here.”
For example, he says, meeting requirements for the “assurance of learning” category was an important hurdle to make before graduating too many classes. The category — which Ferrari says many other deans have described as “onerous” — is essentially a way to measure that a school’s curricular design is teaching students what the school says it wants to teach them, then testing the accuracy of the measurements. “It’s a virtuous circle,” Ferrari says. “It takes a lot of effort, and a lot of measurement. It takes a lot of resources to do it.” Also, faculty often consider the evaluation and measurements an intrusion. But the school used it as an important piece to getting things right early in their history.
Ferrari says the school hired “a lot of people” with content delivery expertise to coach professors. “We took something that is usually considered a pain in the neck and turned it around into something that’s quite important to us here,” he says.
In particular for Carey, he says, strict faculty-student ratio standards helped Carey stay “inbounds” while growing rapidly. “I felt that the AACSB has done us a great service by providing those standards in their process, because we had it aligned and geared with our strategic objectives and strategic accomplishments,” Ferrari says.
‘GREAT BUSINESS SCHOOLS ARE BUILT ONE FACULTY MEMBER AT A TIME’
Nonetheless, insists Ferrari, this is just the beginning. “We all recognize that all yesterday did for us was to tell us that we have successfully passed the one-mile pole in a 26-mile race,” Ferrari says. “This is not an end. This is, in fact, recognition by peers that we’ve done some things right. But we have a lot more to do and a lot further to go.”
On the horizon, he says, is continuing to hire top-notch faculty. “Great business schools are built one faculty member at a time. There’s no substitute for faculty excellence,” Ferrari says. “Nothing can be successful if we can’t do that. That’s first.”
Of course, the other side of the coin is making sure students continue to land successful jobs and build successful careers. So far, Ferrari says, he has been “enthused” by the experiences of recent graduates.
SIGNIFICANT TWO-YEAR GAINS IN EMPLOYMENT AND SALARIES
According to Carey’s most recent job report, about 86% of the graduating class of 2016 was employed three months after graduation, with an average salary of $91,667. Not surprisingly, given the parent university’s reputation in the field, 36% of the class took jobs in the broad category of “healthcare” — higher than any other industry. Technology was the second-most popular, with 16% of the graduating class going into the industry. Both average salary and graduates with jobs are significant improvements from the first graduating class of 2012, which saw 76% of the class secure jobs averaging $82,772 per annum. At 26%, healthcare was also the top industry in 2012.
“We have people who have built businesses in rooftop gardens. We’ve done things in guiding people to medical care in Third World countries. We’ve had a number of great experiences,” Ferrari says. “But the most important thing, I think, is how our students treat each other while they are here, how our faculty treats our students, how our staff treats both of those constituencies. It’s driving towards respect. It’s driving towards collaboration and integrity.”
And that’s no easy task, considering the school has students coming from 60 different countries with “very different cultures,” Ferrari says.
“Are we being successful? I think so, but we won’t know for a while.”