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Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at 4pm

Michigan Ross Takes Steps to Enhance MBA Experience: MBA News

MBA students and faculty engagement

It can be tricky to define what precisely constitutes making the most of your MBA experience. Alumni have often confessed to shouldering regrets that they didn’t get involved in this activity or that trip, and so on – they were just too busy. But, with so much going on, both on and off the campuses of business schools around the world, it would seem impossible to take part in it all.

However, fully appreciating the campus population of academic and industry experts, otherwise known as a business school’s faculty, must rank pretty high up the wish list of many MBA students.

Indeed, schools are well aware that their faculty members – and respective specialties - are an enticement for applicants all in themselves, but should this side of an MBA experience be limited to the classroom?

Michigan Ross upping faculty engagement

At Michigan Ross, steps have been taken to allow full-time MBA students to connect with faculty outside the classroom, with the school mindful of the fact that each intake can be 450-strong in number – something that could impact on this aspect of its MBA experience.

Michigan Ross’ plan involves getting faculty into informal settings with MBA students through a trio of initiatives – and the school says that it’s recently launches in this respect have proven highly popular. Here’s an overview of how Michigan Ross has been trying to facilitate faculty encounters:

Faculty mixers – launched this year, each mixer involves inviting faculty from two different academic areas and then just letting them mingle with the MBA students in attendance. Three of these have taken place so far, with the next set for mid-February. “You just never know what’s going to come up in conversation,” the school’s full-time MBA program managing director, Heather Byrne, told Michigan Ross’ news blog.

Faculty lunches – a much cozier affair can be found by attending a faculty lunch, where a solitary faculty member entertains no more than five students. These lunches were reintroduced this year at Michigan Ross and have since seen nine faculty members share a meal with 74 students.

One second-year MBA student, Jennifer Suh, described the conversation with strategy professor, Linda Lim, as “like talking about current events with friends, but one of them happens to be an expert in world economy.” Professors also seem pleased to be taking part, with one faculty member citing the chance to hear how students have been getting on in putting classroom lessons into practice during a summer internship, for instance.    

Dean meetings – slightly more established at Michigan Ross are the school’s invitation-only events that allow a cluster of MBA students to spend some time with its dean, Alison Davis-Blake, over the course of an afternoon.

Enhancing the MBA experience

The faculty mixers idea is one that has taken root at Chicago Booth, where a program known as Faculty Connect was launched in 2012 for students of its evening and weekend MBA programs – intakes that may feel less directly attached to the school because of their part-time nature.

Elsewhere, some schools highlight their preference for smaller class sizes as a means of ensuring that MBA students have ample access to faculty members. The Tuck School, for instance, where class sizes are less than a third of the sizes seen at the likes of Harvard and Columbia Business School (according to figures from the latest Global 200 Business Schools Report) emphasizes its small scale outlook on intakes and classes as an integral part of its MBA experience.

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Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).