WILL THERE BE PUSHBACK?
The last top-50 program to drop its full-time MBA altogether was Iowa, whose Tippie College of Business announced the move in 2017; Tippie’s final full-time, residential MBA class graduated this spring.
Before Illinois’ move, though, another Midwestern public business school with a highly ranked MBA program tried to follow Iowa’s example: Wisconsin, whose leadership pushed to phase out that school’s full-time MBA in the fall of 2017. That move didn’t go according to plan: Amid furious protests by students and alumni, the school backtracked, and Wisconsin’s dean resigned.
Is Illinois’ Brown worried about that kind of pushback?
“Any time that we make a decision like this,” he says, “there’s really two aspects to it. There’s kind of the business strategic case for it, which I think is really sound and hard to argue with, and then there’s the emotional side of the decision. And that’s really important. And we recognize that we have alumni who will feel some sense of sadness, maybe, that a program that was so important to them and their success won’t be delivered in the same format it was to them.
“And I don’t want to minimize that. So yes, we do expect we will have some alums that are going to be unhappy who have an emotional link to that program. But I think it’s important for us to stress — and we are stressing with them — that our MBA, writ large, is still doing very well and, in fact, I’d say stronger than ever, just because of the strength of our iMBA program.”