College News

Business school will not suspend MBA program

A petition is now in circulation against a proposal that would eliminate the Wisconsin School of Business's full-time MBA program.

Image By: Betsy Osterberger

The business school announced Wednesday it will not suspend their MBA program after hearing from shocked students and alumni.

While UW’s program will continue without disruption in 2018, Wisconsin School of Business Dean Anne P. Massey said discussion will move forward on how to grow and alter business school graduate and undergraduate programs — this time inviting community members to guide the conversation.

“We moved too quickly without the broad consultation and discussion that our stakeholders can and should expect,” said Massey in an online post.

Joseph Robele, a member of the 2018 MBA class, said he was “very relieved” to hear the decision. Robele commended the dean for not making a hasty decision and said he was proud of how the community rallied to support the program.

Students first learned of the proposal in an email last Thursday evening and were told the administration was “considering the future of the Full-Time MBA” but many sources inside the school said administrators were considering ending the program entirely.

Alumni immediately leapt into action and began circulating a petition, which gathered 672 signatures over the weekend and on Friday, leaders hosted a town hall meeting with students but did not allow any press inside.

“We all see the value in continually updating and modernizing the full-time MBA program, but we disagree with the decision to discontinue the degree,” the alumni petition read.

The announcement came only a few months after UW-Madison’s Big Ten peer, the University of Iowa, announced it would end its MBA program. Other universities have considered eliminating their two-year MBA degrees as well after declining student interest outside of top-tier schools.

“Higher education, like business, is in an unprecedented period of accelerated change along several dimensions, including technology, globalization, digitalization, and the changing expectation of students at all levels,” the business school said in the post. “To advance out standing as a leading business school, we must respond to this reality.”

U.S. News & World Report ranked UW-Madison 34th among national full-time MBA programs in 2018, and in 2016 it was ranked number one for “return on investment.” The petition pointed to alumni networks and support as a reason for this and didn’t want to see their investment diminished if the program went away.

“We believe that a public MBA is an essential ladder for future business leaders who may not have the financial means to attend the Harvards of the world,” the petition reads. “We all see the value in continually updating and modernizing the full-time MBA program, but we disagree with the decision to discontinue the degree.”

While the proposal to suspend the program was met with resistance, students are not opposed to future changes.

“We are ready to take on the challenge of finding ways to keep Wisconsin innovative and one of the best places for a public MBA business education in the country,” Robele said. “Today I am very proud to be a Badger.”

Maggie Chandler and Noah Habenstreit contributed to this report.

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