Thursday, January 9, 2014

Yale SOM Gets a New Look

Yale SOM's Evans Hall opens up in January (NH Register photo)
Yale School of Management, one of the Consortium's 18 schools, is opening up a new campus facility, Evans Hall, in New Haven in mid-Jan., 2014.  The school will launch the new state-of-the-art building with receptions, lectures, presentations and celebrations of what has made Yale SOM special and unique among the panoply of business schools. The week's theme is "Leadership in an Increasingly Complex World."

The new campus will feature the marvels of business-school technology and covers 242,000 square feet, at a cost of $240 million, much of which was made possible by benefactor Edward Evans, who was an undergraduate student at Yale and later CEO of Macmillan, Inc., the publishing house. Besides interview rooms and three libraries, it will even have a student gym and entertainment space.

Yale's dean, Edward Snyder, migrated to Connecticut in 2011 from Chicago's Booth School of Business. In the midst of Chicago's Gothic maze, Booth is a modern, self-contained business school campus, the kind of campus Yale SOM students and faculty might have envied.  Once Snyder arrived in New Haven, he spearheaded the completion of a new campus, a new facility featuring the latest business-school bells and whistles. And his experience in helping to open Chicago's new doors no doubt got many SOM faculty, alumni and students excited about a new campus for Yale.

Building modern facilities is a frequent occurrence at top business schools.  They know that to attract top students, schools must pay attention to their physical being. Facilities, campus and amenities sometimes rank as high as innovative course offerings, curriculum, career placement and notable faculty when students decide whether or not to attend.  While Yale SOM attracted top students over the past decades, many alumni and school leaders felt that an impressive, separate campus was necessary to lure the student that might otherwise be more interested in attending Wharton or Harvard.

Yale and Chicago are certainly not the only schools with new campuses.  Stanford now has its new Knight Management Center, home to its business school since 2011, featuring courtyards, magical classroom technology, chic ambience and sunlit, outdoor cafe settings.  Wharton and Consortium school Michigan have also opened new campus facilities.

Yale SOM has had a colorful history. When it was launched in the mid-1970s, it wanted to be different from other schools. It offered a management-education mixture of the public and private sector.  The degree it certified upon its graduates then was the "MPPM"--a master's in public and private management, arguably a combination of the MPA and MBA degree. Graduates would be steered toward Morgan Stanley, the World Bank or Capitol Hill. At one point, the "O" in "SOM" stood for "Organization."

At times, alumni, recruiters, employers and other constituents interpreted the degree in many ways. And at times, new deans pushed the emphasis one way or the other. Eventually SOM settled on the MBA degree, and it has tweaked the definition of what that means from time to time. In its first three decades, Yale SOM didn't have a separate facility, but existed in a pleasant, neighborly network of "houses" on Yale's Hillhouse Ave.

The new Evans Hall reinforces the notion that Yale SOM has become a top business school in a classical way, although the school, more than many others, tends to walk and run to its own drumbeat by remaining small and enjoying experiments with new ways of instruction or new approaches to the MBA experience. Its integrated curriculum is its latest novel approach.

Yale joined the Consortium in 2008 and has graduated dozens of Consortium MBA's since then. 

Yale being Yale, the school and new facility will seek to fit in well with the rest of the Yale campus.  Evans Hall, with blue hues, courtyards and exquisitely selected artwork, wants to be identifiably Yale, circa 2014.

Tracy Williams


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