B-School Plans To Revise MBA

May Admit More Out of College

Ending several weeks of media scrutiny and speculation, the Business School yesterday officially released a draft version of a plan to restructure its flagship MBA program.

The plan, which restructures the MBA curriculum and deemphasizes the school's celebrated case study method, earned immediate praise from a top official of the major accreditation body for management schools,

Bill K. Laidlaw, executive vice president of the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business, called the proposed overhaul "very significant." But he suggested that the plan might have been developed at least partly to keep up with changes at other business schools.

"Some of the other schools have made changes of the type that Harvard is talking about, so some of these changes are needed to keep up with the changes at other places," Laidlaw said. "The impact of these kinds of changes would be to incorporate elements into the curriculum that I see other schools experimenting with."

According to the plan, the purpose of the overhaul is to focus instruction at the Business School on "developing business leaders" rather than simply training general managers.


Major points of the plan include:

. A revision of the school's academic calendar from a two-term to a three-term, 30-week system. School will start on Sept. 1, with a four to six week orientation session, called "Foundations," that includes short classes designed to enhance basic skills.

. A consolidation of the 11 semester-long courses, required of students in the first year, into four comprehensive, year-long courses taught by groups of faculty. The new courses are tentatively titled "Leading People and Organizations," "Managing Products and Services," "Managing Finances and Financial Controls" and "Understanding and Managing the Business Environment."

. A revision of admissions requirements, to include more students right out of college.

. An emphasis on teamwork. In the first year, roughly 25 percent of course work will consist of group projects.

. More room for elective courses. The first year will include two electives and the second year's course load will consist solely of 11 electives.

. A reduction in class size. Currently, the roughly 800 members of each Business School class are divided into nine sections of about 90 students each. Under the new plan, students would be randomly divided among 12 sections of 72 members each. Foursections would be grouped together to form acluster, with groups of faculty members assignedto oversee each cluster.

An overhaul of the grading system, so thatperformance would be graded as either"Satisfactory" or "Needs More Work." Satisfactoryperformance would be further divided intoquintiles, with the best students earning specialhonors.

Other significant points of the plan includeits emphasis on expanding the internationalcontent of courses, with special "Theme Days"scheduled once per month.

In addition, the proposal stresses theimportance of technology, urging the networking ofall student dorms, faculty offices, classrooms andlibraries. The report suggests that a BusinessSchool computer network ultimately be madeavailable to the school's alumni.

The plan also recommends a Graduation Week ofactivities, scheduled for the week beforeCommencement, designed to be a "capstoneexperience" that signals "the beginning of...aformal, lifelong relationship between students andthe school."