I was heartened by the focus on Executive MBA programs in "Back to school" (Cover Story, Oct. 28). For people in managerial positions, the executive format is the most practical and productive way to earn the MBA without disrupting a demanding career.
I'd like to dispel, however, the impression that Executive MBA programs all look "like the virtually all-male, all-white MBA classes of the 1950s." At Baruch College, 41% of our Executive MBA students are women, and nearly 28% come from minority groups.
I'm sure that the positive experience of Baruch students is not unique and that other executive programs reflect the modern work force more faithfully than the quote above would suggest. The image of those 1950s-style classrooms shouldn't deter anyone from exploring the Executive MBA option.
Karen E. Dennis
Director, Executive Education
City University of New York
Bernard M. Baruch College
You report that women and minority groups were not well-represented in nondegree executive programs. But we have found that they like the Executive MBA format. Our 13th class, which graduated last June, included 23% women and 10% minority members. We believe that the degree is an important magnet, worth the demanding pace for 18 months.
Wesley W. Marple Jr.
Coordinator, Executive MBA Program
It is ironic that "big corporations simply aren't committed to helping women and minorities to the executive suite," even though they often set up special programs to recruit them and costly seminars to sensitize managers to work-force diversity.
Considering my own credentials, however -- an MBA from a top-20 school and a decade of experience in the largest insurance and energy companies -- I now agree with your editorial conclusion.
Like many other self-confident and capable minorities, such as Justice Clarence Thomas, I opposed affirmative action, but it nevertheless has opened doors for many women and minorities, qualified or otherwise. Surely, many of us have executive-level capabilities, and it is time to move forward. Unfortunately, large companies, accustomed to being followers, are unlikely to lead the way.
I have a bit of advice for potential MBA students: Consider taking an educational leave, if you can swing it. It is absolutely the best way to learn. But if you do choose educational leave, get a commitment for your return, and get it in writing.
Lloyd F. Copenhaver
Permit me to suggest a few improvements that would better reflect the international situation of executive training. Had you surveyed overseas regional headquarters of American companies, IMD International Institute for Management Development and other European business schools would have figured high on the list. Indeed, 2,500 senior managers pass through IMD's programs each year.
The average annual revenue from executive education among the top 20 schools in your report stands at under $8 million. These figures hardly reflect the total being spent by American companies on management training, not to mention non-American companies: At IMD alone, annual revenues from executive training exceed $20 million.
Prestigious U. S. companies such as Citicorp, Digital Equipment, Dow Chemical, IBM, Du Pont, General Motors, Grace Industrial Chemicals, and others not only send employees to IMD but also support the school through their membership in our Business Associate Network, comprising 100 companies from 26 different countries.
In sum, I believe your survey does a disservice to those forward-thinking American companies that have shaken off their parochial management-training shackles and recognized the value of executive education in a truly international environment.
Director General, IMD
As a publishing executive and a member of Wharton's EMBA class of 1992, I was disappointed, particularly at the characterization of Wharton as the "most pricey program with biweekly sleepover . . ."
For the record, Wharton's sleepover elevates teamwork among students, faculty, and administrators to a level that could not be achieved if we went our separate ways at the end of each day of class. Virtually every sleepover includes evening meetings on team projects or class-review sessions -- the latter often conducted by distinguished members of the faculty.
It is not surprising that Wharton's ratings differ from those of other programs. Ratings are a function of raters' expectations and experiences. Unlike many other programs, Wharton screens applicants through a rigorous admissions process.
As a result, my classmates have distinguished academic records and are leaders in such diverse fields as engineering, medicine, law, banking, and consulting. Their leadership and achievements derive, in part, from their high expectations and an irreverence for the status quo.
Patrick M. Rockelli
We applaud your continued interest in business schools and in particular Executive MBA programs ("The top 20 for executive MBAs," Special Report, Oct. 28).
Rankings, however, obscure the differing missions, objectives, and constituencies of business schools. The dramatic differences between your MBA, Executive MBA, and Executive Education rankings reflect these differences.
Business schools are not unlike the business press: Both have many different target markets and product offerings. While rankings make interesting copy, the market is the ultimate authority -- and by all accounts the market is rating us well.
We at Wharton were pleased at the recognition your recent article gave to Executive MBA programs as an emerging format for graduate business education. We would like, however, to clarify two important aspects.
First, to display the ratings of Executive MBA graduates on teaching, curriculum, and payback using an "A, B, C, D" scale distorts the data unnecessarily. Your survey asked respondents to rank teaching, curriculum, and payback on a scale of 1 to 10 (where 10 = best). Thus, to "grade on a curve" and label a rating of, say, 7 or 8 as a "D" because it falls in the bottom quartile of responses is arbitrary.
Second, to list programs' tuition without acknowledging the wide variety in the type, quantity, and quality of elements that programs include in their charges is misleading. Wharton's EMBA, for example, provides about one-third more instructional content (i.e., class hours) than some of the programs with which it was compared.
Arnold J. Rosoff
Director, Wharton School
University of Pennsylvania