Tuesday, January 4, 2011

On Campus: What's Up? What's New?

Business schools in these times are always reinventing themselves. They change, morph, and transform to keep up with the times. They revamp courses and curriculum and innovate by sometimes changing the experience 180 degrees. They assess a past crisis and project what's to come. They are sensitive to and try to be responsive to their multiple stakeholders--faculty, students, university leaders and corporations.

And for the most part, it's all for the good. You see steady changes, adaptations and an obsession with making themselves continually relevant on campus--even at or especially at Consortium schools. Take a look at what has been going on on campus the past month or so. Note what students, dean and professors are working on, doing, analyzing, forecasting, or studying--whether it's financial reform, regulation, leadership, accounting principles, or entrepreneurship. Or whether it's the business setting in the Midwest, in China, in India, or Indonesia.

At Yale, second-year Consortium finance student Corey Harrison is currently featured on the school's website in a video discussing progress on the school's transforming approach to teaching business. Yale SOM students don't necessarily study the conventional core courses of marketing, accounting and finance. They study under an integrated curriculum that focuses on the primary stakeholders and participants in business activity--e.g., the customer, the company, the market, the competitor, the investor, and the employee. To hear Harrison's impressions on his Yale experience, go to http://www.mba.yale.edu/.

Washington University's Olin School sponsors "talent summits" for students and alumni around the country. They are specially planned networking sessions, opportunities for students and alumni to learn and update each other on affairs off campus and activities on campus, in the marketplace, in certain companies and in institutions everywhere. A special attraction? Corporate recruiters are invited. January is a big month for its "summits," which are scheduled for the 6th, 11th and 13th in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, respectively.

Many remember Shirley Sherrod, who made news in 2010 when she was fired from U.S. Agriculture Department post for remarks taken out of context in a speech she made. Emory's Goizueta Business School invited her to speak at a forum on diversity in management last fall. The event was co-sponsored by the American Institute for Managing Diversity (http://www.aimd.org/) and allowed students, professors and others at Emory to discuss diversity topics in corporations.

Even as the holidays approached last month, dozens of students from Virginia's Darden School made the annual Week-on-Wall-Street trek to New York (Dec. 13-17) for sessions with top banks, firms and funds. Other schools, including Dartmouth and Michigan, sponsor similar experiences, typically earlier in the fall.

The week of meetings, conferences, networking, informational interviews and a few evening receptions provide fast-track preparation for internships and the latest in Wall Street careers, roles, and jobs. Students also hustle to make contacts that will help during the January interview process or at least help them earn spots on A-list interview sheets.

Darden students, including a few Consortium students, visited JPMorgan, Credit Suisse, Wells Fargo, Stifel Nicolaus, and Nomura.

Many MBA students continue to have interest in private equity, although some feel the doors of many top firms are impenetrable. Many firms don't have formal recruiting and first-year programs; they, however, hire MBAs to fill critical first-year associate posts, often through alumni referrals. In November, Dartmouth's Tuck School invited Carlyle Group's David Marchick, a managing director, to speak to students who want to pursue private-equity careers and to report on opportunities in the area.

Marchick discussed recent trends, including globalization, emerging markets, and the impact of financial reform.

At NYU's Stern, 40 professors contributed to a new book describing a new Wall Street after the crisis, after financial-reform legislation, and with new regulation to come. The book, "Regulating Wall Street," (http://www.wiley.com/) follows a similar collaboration Stern professors published in 2009 related to the causes of the financial crisis.

Many of the professors argue there are flaws in the Dodd-Frank Act, enough to warrant concern that such flaws might trigger another crisis. Many, in fact, protest that the Act is not strong enough.

Fortunately the book isn't a laborious list of complaints. The professors provide solutions and explain them. They also address common concerns such as lingering systemic risks in finance, the shadow banking system, the too-big-to-fail concept, and the flaws of Government guarantees of bank liabilities.

At Michigan's Ross School (and perhaps at Consortium schools everywhere), second-year students speak of fascination and enlightenment in their second-year courses after a tough year of first-year, core-course treading. As they see the finish line, they get to take courses in innovation, leadership, entrepreneurship, and change or explore in depth particular interests in real estate, venture capital, and start-up funding. Many second-year students will acknowledge that the second-year experience (including also opportunities to study abroad) makes business worth the two-year sacrifice.

If it's January at Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School, it's the season for "Meet and Greet." Tepper supports and encourages sessions planned around the world where current students talk to prospective students and interested alumni about their Tepper experiences. This month, the informal social sessions are planned for Venezuela, Baltimore and Colorado. Sessions have been or are being planned for India, Peru and New York. Students discuss experiences, courses, professors, and career planning in an informal, unstructured setting--without deans, recruiters or senior professors peering in.

It may be winter break or the calmer days after a tumultuous 2008-09. On the campus of many Consortium schools, however, nobody's sitting still.

Tracy Williams

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