The Biggest B-School Scandals Of 2021


Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management designated its one-year, two-year, and Tech MBA programs STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math — in 2020. That was good news for future MBAs, including those in the Class of 2021. But between 50 and 60 MBAs from 2020 were left in the lurch, needing the designation to help them stay longer in the U.S. and therefore have a greater chance of obtaining a coveted visa.

“The STEM designation is important because it grants international students 2 years of additional stay in the USA without having an employer to sponsor them for an H-1B Visa,” 2020 MBAs wrote to Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management Dean Mark Nelson and University President Martha Pollack on April 29. “Without this, 50+ of us will have to leave the USA in the next few months, many of whom secured a job recently or are jobless with 150k-200k dollars in student loans. This will have a strong negative impact on their careers and livelihoods. We have a very limited window to act, and In these unprecedented times, we urge you to please consider our request on an urgent basis.”

Despite searing criticism and petitions by many newly graduated MBAs — particularly from India, which was in the throes of a coronavirus surge over the spring and summer — Cornell refused to make its designation retroactive, a move other B-schools have made, saying that “after a very careful review, the university concluded that we could not appropriately reclassify the degrees of students who graduated in 2020 or prior and grant STEM designation.”

A similar drama played out in another top-25 B-school, when 2020 graduates of Emory University Goizueta Business School asked for retroactive STEM designation for their degrees after the school announced its MBA would be STEM in late 2020. “While I believe I got everything I could have asked for and more to develop my skill sets from the alums, professors, and my peers at Goizueta Business School,” one Emory MBA told P&Q, “unfortunately the program office has failed me miserably in delivering on the core values that are pillars of our school and its community.” Said another: “I have over $120,000 in student debt which I took to sponsor my MBA and fulfill my dream of making a life for myself in USA, in an industry/career profile I like. With Emory’s decision to not implement STEM retroactively and me not being picked in the lottery system, I will have to move to India and go through huge financial distress as it will be near impossible for me to pay off my debt timely with Indian salary pay scales.”

But once again, the school refused to budge.

An autopsy found that Abhishek Gupta, who graduated from CMU Tepper in 2020, was strangled


A Hawaiian getaway among a trio of former MBA classmates from Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business culminated in a fight that led to the violent death Class of 2020 MBA.

Police reported that Abhishek Gupta, a senior consultant for Deloitte Consulting, was strangled to death in Kailua-Kona vacation rental allegedly by a former classmate, Benjamin Fleming, who had graduated with him from Tepper in 2020.

It’s not yet clear how the argument started or what it was about. But a third Tepper MBA, Alexander Germany-Wald, 31, who also works as a Deloitte consultant and a classmate who also graduated in 2020, was initially arrested for manslaughter but later released with no charges filed. His mugshot, taken shortly after his arrest, showed bruises under and over his left eye apparently from the fight.

In late March, Fleming pleaded not guilty to manslaughter. His trial is still pending.


In February, the Harvard Crimson reported that Harvard Business School suffered a data breach in December 2020. The report was based on a February 10 email from Chris Pringle, HBS information security officer and managing director of IT compliance, to impacted students, who noted that Social Security numbers had been accessed by one or more “unauthorized third parties,” and that several pieces of personal information may have been stolen, including “names, contact information, date of birth, course enrollments, and exam submissions.”

In a followup story in April, the Crimson reported that “The HBS breach occurred when a third party exploited the secure file transfer system Accellion File Transfer Application and downloaded students’ personal information. Other affected institutions using the system included the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Washington’s State Auditor Office, Canadian jet manufacturer Bombardier, and Jones Day Law Firm, which represented Donald J. Trump’s administration and reelection campaign.” Lauren Zabierek, a cybersecurity expert at Harvard’s Kennedy School, told the student paper that “People looking to use that information could range anywhere between criminals through potentially nation-state actors. So it’s not only just a question of personal security and data security and company security as far as all your data is concerned, but it’s also a national security issue as well.” 

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