Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Campus Updates: The Global Imperative

New Cornell dean Dutta: INSEAD import
For more than a decade, most top business schools have made it an important objective to "go global." They've incorporated international topics and issues in all phases of the curriculum.  They've encouraged or even required students to do internships or semesters of study in foreign countries. They've hired professors (full-time and adjunct) to teach courses that address business challenges around the world.  Some schools push students to master a foreign language and/or study abroad at a peer business school.  Students have eagerly embraced these opportunities. It's not unusual for MBA students today to spend a spring break in Tanzania observing corporate activity in East Africa, do a consulting project in Brazil and Peru, or do a summer internship in Indonesia, as some Consortium students did in the past three years.

Business schools, we know, evolve, reassess and reinvent themselves--from year to year. They also observe and dissect what is hip and try to determine what is critically important or what is merely a fad of the times. "Ethics" has been the imperative at business schools in the years after Enron's collapse. "Leadership," "technology" and "innovation" have been priorities at most schools.

"Globalization" continues to be a primary objective, among all.  The best schools want to attract talented foreign students and professors and want to implement programs that take on topics such as the impact of China, the fragility of Europe, and the sudden opportunities in Brazil. 

Cornell (Johnson) announced its new dean in 2011, Soumitra Dutta, and proved to the b-school world that to have global influence it must hire global.  The new dean was a professor of business technology at INSEAD business school in Europe and arrives in Ithaca with an agenda to push Cornell further down the globalization road.  Dean Dutta, educated as an undergraduate in India, received his Ph.d. from California-Berkeley. He was at INSEAD for 22 years.

"Poets and Quants" (, the popular site that chronicles what business schools are doing these days (under the guidance of Fortune magazine), named Virginia-Darden's Dean Robert Bruner its first "Dean of the Year."  It praised Dean Bruner for his globalization push in all phases of the school--from the composition of students to forcing students and professors to think in unconventional ways about international topics.

An App for That

Two professors from Consortium schools teamed up to produce a corporate-valuation app for the iPad and iPhone.  Does it mean financiers can discard elaborate cash-flow spreadsheets and complex valuations? Does it mean first-year associates no longer have to produce sheets with several scenarios and lofty projections? No.

But it's a handy tool that can be as simple as the user wants it or as a complicated as the user needs it (with all those necessary scenarios and assumptions).  The app, uValue, was developed because the professors claim "poor investment decisions start with poor valuations."

Anant Sundaram from Dartmouth-Tuck and Aswath Damodaran from NYU-Stern created the app and made it available for free. Damodaran writes a popular corporate-finance blog that analyzes corporate-finance topics, sometimes with lightweight humor: (He was also named by BusinessWeek as one of the 10 most popular business-school professors in the U.S.)

Most Satisfied MBA Students

In the business media, a cottage industry in ranking business schools has developed. Everybody wants to weigh in.  Many are critical of the randomness, carelessness and whimsy of rankings. Some deans are likely frustrated by them.  But they proliferate.

In mid-2011, Fortune magazine unveiled a variation of business-school rankings that rated MBA alumni satisfaction with the schools they attended. Consortium school Dartmouth was tops on that list. This month rival magazine Forbes rolled out its list of most satisfied b-school graduates, using its own set of surveys and criteria. It measures "satisfaction" based on quality of education, preparation for a career, and happiness in the current job.

In Forbes' ranking, Stanford emerged as no. 1. Five Consortium schools, however, appear in this version of the top 10.  They include Virginia, Carnegie Mellon, Yale, Dartmouth and UCLA.

In yet another ranking (whew), perhaps worth noting because of the importance of the topic, Virginia was selected as the top school in business ethics, because it most ensured the topic is well-embedded and sufficiently covered in the curriculum. Business & Society, an academic journal, prepared that list.

Tracy Williams

For more about Damodaran, see

For more about Fortune's satisfaction ranking of schools, see

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