In the wake of a national report urging reform of master's of business administration programs and the appointment of a new Kansas University business dean, KU will likely take a fresh look at its MBA degree offerings.
Ronna Robertson, assistant dean of the School of Business and MBA program administrator, said she expects the new dean, Joseph Bauman, to review all aspects of the program, which has an enrollment of 400 students.
"NOBODY IS going to come in in the first six months and turn everything upside down," she said. "That would be silly. Obviously, what we have here is a pretty good thing or I wouldn't be getting 600 applications a year for 200 slots."
A report released by the Graduate Management Admission Council called for a rethinking of MBA curriculum, development of new admissions standards and for greater relevance in the research pursued by business professors.
John Rosenblum, a University of Virginia graduate business dean and co-chairman of the commission that wrote the report, said many business schools are "smug and complacent." More innovation is needed in U.S. programs, he said.
"Some of them may have gotten complacent," Robertson said. "I'm not sure that we have. We probably have some faculty who are complacent. Everybody's got that. We have a core group of faculty that are really, really sharp."
KU'S PROGRAM is designed for students who don't necessarily have bachelor's degrees in business. Day classes are offered in Lawrence for 180 students. About 220 part-time students take evening classes at the Regents Center in Overland Park.
The council's report said reform of MBA programs was necessary to prepare managers for careers in a business environment shaped by "globalization" of markets, rapid technological change and growing diversity of the work force.
Robertson, adviser to all MBA students, said KU has been working to add an international flair to its business programs. Faculty have worked overseas and attended seminars to learn ways of internationalizing courses.
"We've added one course permanently to the program, Cross-Cultural Management, and we have pilot courses in international finance and international business strategies. There's good interest in the courses," she said.
ADMISSION to the MBA program is selective, Robertson said. Each year KU receives 6,000 inquiries about the program, approximately 600 applications and enrolls 200 new students. The school turns away "a lot of qualified people," she said.
Robertson said KU should examine the possibility of establishing an MBA program for people who are already business executives. More than 100 U.S. colleges operate executive programs, but none do in the Kansas City area.
"I think there is a need for it in the Kansas City area. Not in Lawrence. But it's going to take quite an investment in dollars and faculty resources to do something like that. Right now we don't have the resources," she said.
Another problem that might receive more attention is the attrition rate of part-time students at the Regents Center in Overland Park. Quite a few drop out because employers transfer students or their spouses to other cities, she said.