Loading Up On Southern Charm

Small classes make for intimacy at No. 5-ranked Emory University

Sometimes a little TLC makes a big difference. Last year, Andrea S. Hershatter, director of the undergraduate program at Emory University's Goizueta Business School in Atlanta, invited faculty from three top undergraduate B-schools to provide feedback on her lesser-known program. "They were taken aback by how much hands-on interaction we have," says Hershatter. With class contribution and team projects combined counting for as much as 50% of grades, it's difficult for students to coast. And if they miss more than two classes in a row, it's not uncommon for an administrator to check in. Bringing a human touch to business education has launched Goizueta to No. 5 in the BusinessWeek rankings, nudging it past the three programs that came to advise.

It has also produced some satisfied customers. Emory finished No. 1 in our student survey, winning raves for its intimate atmosphere, where there are only 11 students for every professor, and for the camaraderie it creates in and outside the classroom. Every Thursday, students and professors gather for refreshments on the sprawling, leafy campus in an Emory ritual known as "kegs in the courtyard."

Goizueta walks a fine line between hand-holding and encouraging students to be independent thinkers. A junior year seminar series tackles topics ranging from business etiquette to using technology as a management tool. "I feel like the B-school has geared every person who's here to get on our game," says one student. Part of preparing high-functioning graduates involves encouraging them to explore beyond the school walls. Nearly a third study abroad, and 20% choose a second nonbusiness major or minor.

Another Emory distinction: Undergrads aren't kept apart from MBA students. Goizueta's graduate program, which cracked BusinessWeek's Top 20 in 2004, shares some cross-listed classes with the undergrads, including real estate and accounting. The two groups also share a building that includes a courtyard and café where they can mingle. Next year both groups will participate in a sports management course where they'll consult on projects for the Atlanta Falcons. And the undergrad program has borrowed a page from the B-school's focus on leadership: Six years ago, it launched a leadership conference that has grown to include 35 universities in eight countries and now lures top executives to speak.

Emory encourages such outsize ambition by treating every student like an individual, right down to the nameplates on their desks. "I am not a number," says one student. "I am Ian Dorfman." For Emory, that's mission accomplished.

By Lindsey Gerdes

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