Maryland's MBA Melee

A joint MBA program creates a controversy. Plus: A study on businesswomen, an MBA student of the year, and Harvard goes to India

A decision by the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) to allow the University of Baltimore (UB) to offer a joint MBA program with Towson University is bringing objections from Morgan State University, a historically black college also in Baltimore. Morgan State President Earl S. Richardson says the creation of the joint program between the two public schools will divert state resources from Morgan State's MBA program, which is struggling with just 28 students. Richardson adds that the joint program undermines federal protections offered to historically black colleges and universities.

Towson President Robert L. Caret first approached Richardson to interest him in offering a joint MBA degree, but the presidents couldn't agree on certain points, and the program never took shape, the schools say. Towson, which has more than 2,600 undergraduate business students, then struck a deal with UB, an upper-division school, which already had a nearly 200-student MBA program.


  In March, 2005, Maryland Higher Education Secretary Calvin W. Burnett approved the UB-Towson program. Morgan State appealed the decision, contending that the joint program was unnecessary, as evidenced by Morgan State's existing MBA program, and therefore didn't deserve state support. Civil-rights activists also took issue with the approval because it defies an agreement Maryland has with the U.S. Education Dept.'s Office for Civil Rights. This accord is supposed to prevent public colleges from unnecessarily duplicating offerings of historically black colleges so that they don't lose potential white students to other schools.

Next, MHEC called in federal civil-rights officials to determine if it could recommend the approval of the joint program. After attending months of hearings, the officials could not definitively decide whether they should advise the commission to approve or reject the program. Therefore, in November, the commission went ahead and approved the joint program despite Morgan State's opposition.

Should the state create new programs before building up existing ones? Morgan State's Richardson says no -- especially not at the expense of historically black colleges that already get a smaller share of students now that many other schools heavily recruit African Americans (see BW Online, 3/16/05, "Building a Fire Under the Melting Pot").


  But Towson's Caret says there's a demand for the Towson-UB program, because it will offer two tracks, Sports Management and Business Security, which aren't offered in any MBA program in Maryland. He also says since MHEC statistics show that public universities garner only 20% of Baltimore's MBA students, these schools need new approaches to make their programs more appealing (see BW Online, 5/25/05, "How Alternative Is This B-School?"). The UB-Towson MBA is one way to do it, he adds.

Since Morgan State and other historically black colleges went without government funding for years, their programs are generally less developed than those at other colleges, Richardson says. That's why he argues that schools like his need more money. Richardson says he wants to further integrate his school to increase enrollment and bring about more enhancements. But he adds that the UB-Towson program could stand in the way.

Meanwhile, Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., is encouraging a collaboration among all three schools. Towson says it's open to that idea. Richardson is currently drawing up requests solicited by the governor to determine what Morgan State believes is necessary to level the playing field.

Women-Led Businesses

Good news for women MBAs: Businesses run by highly educated women are more successful, according to the most recent Woman-Led Businesses in Massachusetts study conducted by the Center for Women's Leadership at Babson College and the Commonwealth Institute, a nonprofit that provides women in business with resources to grow their companies (see BW Online, 10/30/05, "What Women MBAs Want: Role Models").

The researchers of this study, the fourth in a series conducted since 2000, looked at 215 businesses in Massachusetts with female chief executive officers, and found a direct correlation between the amount of education the CEOs have and the companies' annual revenues. The study also showed that women CEOs are driven more by a thirst for challenge and achievement, and less by economic necessity. That means companies withholding challenges from women have an important lesson to learn, says lead researcher Nan Langowitz, who is also a management professor and director at Babson's Center for Women's Leadership.


  Nearly 90% of the women in the study have children, and the 43 woman-led businesses that have participated in all four studies have seen revenues grow by nearly 27% from 2000 to 2004. How did they achieve these gains? Ninety-seven percent of the participants cited customer and employee satisfaction as the most important factors in doing business.

"It's not that they don't care about financial performance, but they believe that taking care of customers and employees is the most effective way to achieve solid business performance," says Langowitz. More than half of the businesses in the study grew at a faster rate than the national average from 2003 to 2004, and nearly three-quarters of the businesses experienced some sort of growth during this slow economic period, says Langowitz. Therefore, she adds, focusing on people involved with the business is linked to success. And that's one thing just about all women want.

MBA Student of the Year

The Association of MBAs recently named Stephen Koepplinger, 36, as student of the year. A 2005 graduate of the University of Strathclyde Graduate School of Business in Glasgow, Scotland, he was nominated by his peers. Koepplinger won the competition against representatives of 95 other MBA programs. Jeanette Purcell, CEO of the Association of MBAs, says Koepplinger's obvious passion for social justice set him apart from the others.

A former Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana, Koepplinger is highly involved in mentoring young people in his community. He says Britain's lack of after-school activities for kids is an unacceptable product of excessive bureaucracy. To remedy that, Koepplinger has started a charity for secondary-school kids, called ASAP -- After School Activities Programme. It promotes extracurricular activities of all sorts, especially team sports like soccer and volleyball.


  Although the prize includes £1,000 ($1,752) and a year's free membership to the Association of MBAs, Koepplinger values the award more for the access he's gaining to public officials who can help his cause. "It gives me a lot of status and legitimacy for the work that I'm doing," Koepplinger says.

Raised in a small town in Ohio, Koepplinger currently lives in Glasgow and is a dual American and Scottish citizen. Before business school, he was a professional water-resource engineer with W.S. Atkins, a large British engineering firm. As MBA student of the year, Koepplinger hopes to engineer a brighter future for Britain's children.

Harvard Business School Goes to Mumbai

Harvard Business School opened the India Research Center in Mumbai, India, on Nov. 2. Headed by Executive Director Ajay Mookerjee, the center's research will focus on globalizing Indian companies, expanding opportunities for outside companies within India, and helping policymakers create a competitive environment that will facilitate the country's growth. The center also will feature selected executive-education courses taught by Harvard faculty members, including one on negotiation and another on family-owned businesses, already slated for January, 2006.

Although several Indian cities were vying to be the center's home, Mumbai won for its role as a hub. "The team chose Mumbai because it's like the New York of India," says Richard Vietor, senior associate dean at Harvard Business School. "All the major businesses are headquartered there." With globalization moving as fast as it is, Mumbai could one day become New York -- and Harvard wants to be there.

By Meredith Bodgas and Jeffrey Gangemi

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