Real Life. Real Business.
Jan. 7, 2009
Dear Alumni and Friends,
Happy New Year from all of us at Butler's College of Business
Administration: May 2009 bring you personal happiness and
professional success! Don't be discouraged by the economy. Business
downturns bring opportunities. Applicant pools grow larger and more
talented. Assets, from technology to acquisitions, get cheaper. And
resistant market share suddenly softens as competitors shrink or
weaken. So keep your chins up, your attitudes positive, and your
eyes and ears open to new possibilities and opportunities.
In my last few letters, I've described the details behind the
CBA's mission to provide our students an experiential real life,
real business education. In this month's letter, I'd like to tell
you more about the Butler MBA. The turnaround of our MBA program is
a great success story, one which recently caught the eye of the
Indianapolis Business Journal (see below). Since I always share
this story in my face-to-face meetings, I figured it was time to
share it on a broader basis with you via my monthly letter.
Redesigning the Butler MBA
After several years of declining enrollment due to increased
competition in Indianapolis, the MBA program was redesigned in 2006
with input from key stakeholders. We formed two teams: a core work
group (faculty and staff), and an advisory group (local business
executives, Board of Visitors, alumni, current students and
faculty). In addition, a group of Leadership Development executives
from Eli Lilly & Company reviewed the curriculum and provided
input. The core recommendations from these groups were to: (1)
substantially increase the program's flexibility and convenience,
and (2) add more real business experiences to the
Increasing Flexibility and Convenience
Why increase the MBA's program flexibility and convenience?
Because our market is working professionals, we needed to find ways
to accommodate students' long work weeks, travel schedules, and
family responsibilities, all without sacrificing academic rigor and
This was accomplished by condensing the introductory-level
courses into a sequence that could be completed in one semester on
a part-time basis via six-week and Saturday course modules. This
change shortens the overall program for those who didn't take
undergraduate business courses, which is typically more than half
of our students. Combined with our flexible scheduling policy,
which allows students to progress as fast or slowly as they like,
you have an attractive option for busy working professionals.
Indeed, when I ask our students what they find attractive about our
MBA program, they always mention its flexibility.
Adding More Real Business Experiences to the MBA
At the advice of local business executives, our Board of
Visitors, MBA alumni, current students, as well as Leadership
Development executives from Eli Lilly & Company, we built real
business experiences into the MBA program in the following ways:
MBA Gateway, MBA Capstone, the Butler Business Accelerator, and
course work team-taught by faculty and business
The Gateway Experience course was developed as a one-day
introduction to the graduate sequence and was designed to immerse
the students in a business problem with a local company. Student
teams are given a task in the morning, gather data onsite, and then
make recommendations to business executives by early evening. It's
an intense, challenging and fun way to begin the MBA program. The
inaugural Gateway Experience course was held in August 2006 with
its first partner, Steak n Shake. Since that time, Gateway students
have worked with Aero Technologies, HH Gregg and Adidas. We've
captured the Gateway Experience on video - click here to watch.
An ending Capstone Experience was also added to the curriculum,
resulting in an immersive, semester-long case with a local
business. It's similar to the Gateway Experience as it's designed
to give students a chance to apply what they've been learning.
Capstone students have worked on projects for Second Helpings and
worked with Rolls-Royce in fall 2009 to conduct a market analysis
for its jet engines division.
MBA students also have the opportunity to intern with the Butler
Business Accelerator and provide consulting services to local,
mid-market companies. Many MBA students work with Accelerator
clients through unique collaborations that bring live cases into
Finally, by having specific classes team-taught by faculty and
local business executives, we ensure that our students learn how to
apply business theory to real life business problems. Theory
without application is hypothetical. Solving business problems
without a theoretical framework and understanding is just learning
from experience. Courses team-taught by faculty and local business
executives hit the educational sweet spot by bringing theory and
real business experience together.
Outstanding Results from the Changes
In addition to these changes, we hired a new director of
graduate programs with significant business experience. Bill
O'Donnell does significant outreach into the local business
community to build partnerships. We also launched an aggressive
advertising program in February 2007 that includes radio,
billboards and online ads.
The market is paying attention and the results have been
dramatic. Applications increased 58 percent from the 2006-2007 to
the 2007-2008 academic year and admits increased by 63 percent over
the same period. Total headcount/enrollment increased by 55 percent
from fall 2006 to fall 2007 and by 50 percent from spring 2007 to
Enrollment is now capped at 300, which is current capacity. As a
result, a new, more selective admissions process is in place. The
program is attracting more high-quality candidates than before; the
average GMAT of the entering student has increased from 540 last
year to 590 for the fall 2008 class and to 600 for the spring 2009
class. These are sizable and significant improvements in the
quality of our entering students. For comparison, take a look at
BusinessWeek's evening MBA program ranking and click on
"Avg. GMAT Score." While GMAT score is not the only criterion
used to determine the rankings, the increased quality of our
students as measured by GMAT scores put us among top 15-25 evening
MBA programs in the United States.
Another indication of the quality of our program is that we have
consistently been included on the Princeton Review's Top Business
Schools list. To read , Click here to read what MBA students are
saying in the Princeton Review about Butler.
The turnaround in the Butler MBA was recently highlighted in an
article in the Indianapolis Business Journal. Click here to read
the full article.
While we're very pleased with these improvements and attention,
please know that we are taking additional steps and developing new
plans to further improve the Butler MBA. You'll be hearing about
those in the months to come.
Get Involved with Real Life, Real Business
As you can see, the CBA provides an unparalleled educational
experience for our students - both undergraduate and graduate. To
make this work, we need the involvement of local companies and
dedicated alumni. If you would like to partner with Butler MBA
through the Gateway or Capstone Experiences, or by bringing a live
business problem to an MBA class, please email me directly. I'd be
happy to discuss the ways in which we can involve your business in
the Butler MBA.
Chuck Williams, Dean
College of Business