Sizing Up Syracuse's Downsizing

The upstate New York school cut back its full-time MBA class. Admissions Director Carol Swanberg talks about how it's working out

With a new dean, a new building, a new career-services director, and a new name—the Whitman School of Management— the last two years have been eventful ones for the MBA program at Syracuse University. Although the full-time program is small, Carol Swanberg, the Whitman School's director of graduate admissions and financial aid, has hopes of almost doubling the size of next year's class.

Prior to her arrival at the Whitman School in 2001, Swanberg was director of admissions at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. She spoke recently to reporter Kerry Miller. An edited portion of their conversation follows.

This year's entering class for the full-time class had only 27 students. Why so small?

Well, for a few years our applications were down and so our class profile was not looking as strong as we wanted it to be. The new dean wanted to reverse that and so we consciously over the last two years have had smaller classes than we had in the previous years in order to strengthen the profile and get a good group of kids to work with. This year we plan on growing the class to between 40 and 50 students.

Besides growing the class, are there other changes coming for the full-time program?

There are going to be some changes to the MBA curriculum. Not major changes, but we are adding a communications course that's going to prepare our students to be better suited for the job market and be better prepared when they're going into interviews, so they're better able to talk about what their particular skill set is. We think it might be this coming fall, but we're not sure. We're in the final approval process with the State of New York. Otherwise the core and electives are all going to be pretty much the same, just the number of hours that in some of the core classes might be reduced slightly because we're going to get this communications course in.

In the BusinessWeek survey, a number of students complained that they had difficulty finding a job after graduation. Is the school doing anything to up its placement rate?

We just hired a new director of placement and career services. She actually has nine years of experience at the Simon School and then did a short time as an undergraduate alumni relations person, and we were lucky enough to be able to scoop her up and get her here. She is implementing a lot of programming to better prepare the students for...

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