When you think of New York City’s business schools, the big ones — Columbia Business School and NYU Stern School of Business — are probably first to come to mind. But as graduate business education responds to a gradual but undeniable shift in the interests of students and needs of employers — toward more diversity, more sustainable practices, and greater social responsibility, and away from shareholder primacy — some of New York’s smaller schools are making news and trying to get into the conversation.
Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business surprised some observers last fall when it appeared prominently in a Bloomberg Businessweek poll attached to the magazine’s annual ranking. On the separate questions of which B-schools are best at incorporating ethics and which exceed their peers in emphasizing corporate, social, and environmental responsibility, the Gabelli School — ranked just outside the top 50 in the United States by Poets&Quants — was second in the former and first in the latter.
Now Fordham’s B-school is joining another great change in graduate business education that reflects the demands of industry: This month, the school announced that its full-time MBA program has received STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math — designation. Just like those New York powerhouses Columbia and Stern.
‘BUSINESS WITH PURPOSE’
In November, when Bloomberg released its annual ranking of the top MBA programs, it also announced the results of a massive survey gauging student, alumni, and employer views of B-schools’ efforts in three areas: fostering teamwork, incorporating ethics, and emphasizing CSR, or corporate, social, and environmental responsibility. In two of those three areas, Fordham excelled, ranking second in adherence to ethical principles, and first in CSR. In the latter, Gabelli — part of a network of Jesuit schools that propound service to the needy and action to address social dilemmas — scored a perfect 7.0 average from survey respondents.
“As I looked more into it, I liked the Jesuit part of it,” said Zachary Hands, a survey respondent who will graduate from the Gabelli School this spring. “My admittedly limited understanding is that the Jesuit mission is to educate students with a focus on instilling them with good values. These educated individuals will then enter the world in hopefully influential places and use their skills and values to make the world a better place. As someone who served in the military with the hope of doing my part to make our country and planet a better place, this really resonated with me.”
The Gabelli MBA has adopted a “Business With Purpose” philosophy throughout its programming, Dylan Mosenthal, associate director of MBA programs, said in a 2021 interview with P&Q. “Simply put, ‘Business With Purpose’ means that we want to train mindful business leaders who are passionate not only about making a profit, but also making an impact on their communities and society,” Mosenthal says. “Gabelli students want to develop business acumen and become agents of societal change, and beyond the students, this philosophy is a part of our identity, from the board of trustees and administration down to the faculty and staff.”
GOING STEM: A CHANCE TO INCREASE INTERNATIONAL INTEREST
Fordham's full-time MBA Class of 2022 that will graduate in two months includes 76 students. The class averaged a 592 GMAT (600 median) and a 3.2 undergraduate GPA. One-third of the class is comprised of women; underrepresented minorities make up 17%. Another 28% of the class hails from 15 countries outside the United States.
In going STEM, the Gabelli School is clearly looking to bump up that last category, as well as its academic markers and the 5% and 3%, respectively, of the last cohort with undergraduate degrees in engineering and the sciences. Going STEM will accomplish all of it by drawing more interest from international applicants — and the school's location in one of the world's most vibrant (and job-filled) cities could well seal the deal.
The new designation will apply to all students entering fall 2022 and beyond; it comes two years after the school announced STEM concentrations in FinTech, Information Systems, and Accounting. Of course, like all B-schools that have established STEM pathways, concentrations, or more in their MBA programs, Fordham Gabelli is focused on what the new designation offers its students — not what it gains the school.
“Technology continues to play an increasingly central role in how business is conducted. Advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics are shaping approaches to finance, marketing, operations, and beyond,” says Alex Markle, program director for the Gabelli full-time MBA. “The STEM designation demonstrates our commitment to produce students with the future-proof skills that are most in-demand by employers in the modern business world.”
Adds Barbara Porco, associate dean of graduate studies at the Gabelli School: “Future business leaders need to comprehend the competitive socioeconomic landscape through the lens of environmental, societal, and governance business models. Our new STEM designated full-time MBA program educates and prepares future executives to strategically anticipate risk and respond to environmental and social sustainability concerns to ensure the creation of long-term value.”