Special Report: The Ten Stories That Shaped 2017

 

Wisconsin School of Business

Questions About The Two-Year MBA Cause One School To Try To Kill It 

Months after the University of Iowa announced that it would shutdown its two-year MBA program, a new dean at the University’s of Wisconsin Business School attempted to do the same thing. But Dean Anne Massey, in the job as dean for little more than 50 work days, was forced to back down and ultimately to resign her job after a backlash from alumni and students. The story behind her failed leadership of the school is a fascinating tale of the heavy politics in academia.

Dean Massey admitted that she had moved too fast, without building consensus for the change among the school’s shocked students and alumni. “We have heard from our community of students, alumni, and friends; therefore, we are going to stop further discussion of the one-year suspension of the full-time MBA,” she said in a statement. “We moved too quickly without the broad consultation and discussion that our stakeholders can and should expect.”

Ultimately, though, her deanship had been wounded, and the announcement in December that she would step down at year-end indicated she never recovered the confidence of the students or staff after the misstep. The embarrassing reversal will, no doubt, give other deans pause when considering whether to end their flagship MBA programs.

 

Wharton Commitment Project

Wharton MBA graduates at 2017 commencement

Wharton’s Ascension In The MBA Rankings Game

Little more than a year ago at a crowded town hall meeting on the Wharton campus, Dean Geoffrey Garrett found himself addressing the concerns of Wharton MBA students who peppered him with questions on a number of thorny issues. Among all their worries, one especially loomed large: The school’s deteriorating performance in rankings.

Ever since Aussie Dean Garrett’s arrival in July of 2014, the school has lost ground in every major ranking with only one exception: the Financial Times where it eked out a one-place gain. Even more disturbing for Whartonites, Chicago Booth has outranked the school on six of the past eight Poets&Quants’ lists, giving rise to conversations that a new Big Three has emerged with Harvard, Stanford and Booth in that category. Last year, the Poets&Quants’ composite ranking saw Wharton tied for fourth place with Kellogg.

Just 13 months after that October session with students, Garrett has delivered the goods. For the first time ever, Wharton claimed the top spot in Poets&Quants’ composite ranking in 2017, narrowly dislodging Harvard Business School which lost the No. 1 honor for only the second time in eight years. The only other time HBS failed to win top honors was in 2014 when Stanford’s Graduate School of Business nudged it aside. Wharton accomplished the feat by moving up a combined 21 places in all five of the most influential rankings used by Poets&Quants to construct its annual list of the best full-time MBA programs in the U.S.

To celebrate the building’s lakefront location, Kellogg’s new 415,000 square foot Global Hub pays pays homage to the environment in two ways – the curved exterior walls reflect the wave movement on the lake, while the glass reflects the blues of the water as well as the sky.

The Arm’s Race In New Modern B-School Buildings Heats Up

2017 was yet another year when the arm’s race for new modern business school facilities heated up yet again. Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management debuted a stunning new 415,000 square foot Global Hub on the shores of Lake Michigan. Kellogg’s $250 million marvel on the lake has transformed the school with an expansive interior that is a mix of sweeping sight lines, wide corridors, and natural light. The building’s exterior boasts curves galore, with each floor lined differently to reflect the wave patterns rushing off Lake Michigan.

UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business opened the doors to the $60 million Connie & Kevin Chou Hall, a new six-story structure that is entirely devoted to Haas students. There’s not a single faculty or staff office in the 80,000-square-foot building, but rather 850 new classroom seats in eight tiered classrooms and four flat flexible classrooms. There are 28 student meeting rooms, a top floor convening space capable of hosting 300 people, and finally a cafe with an outdoor terrace that will soon serve sustainable, locally sourced food (this is Northern California, after all).

And Cornell University’s launched Cornell Tech on New York City’s Roosevelt Island. Built on a two-mile-long strip of land in the East River, Cornell Tech represents New York’s attempt to compete with Silicon Valley and become a global leader in technology and innovation. The campus was built from scratch on an island that once housed a prison, a lunatic asylum and a women’s workhouse that at one time hosted Mae West. A major beneficiary of the ambitious project is Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management, which has some 20,000 square feet of space in The Bridge, the building meant to connect academia and industry for startups and job creation. The business school space includes two tiered classrooms, eight breakout rooms, and work space for mor ethan 20 faculty and staff.