Paul Jarley's Blog: Sharpening Our Focus

Paul Jarley’s Blog: Sharpening Our Focus

When you are new to a place, certain things just jump out at you. When I got to UCF in July, I noted we had a lot of different MBA programs. Some were administered on campus, some off-campus. Some targeted seasoned business professionals, others relative novices, some I wasn’t sure who was the target. Most programs didn’t care much if your undergraduate degree was in business or zoology–a few remedial courses could get you up to speed. And the evening program seemed to accommodate anyone at any pace. I questioned whether we were using our resources wisely and whether we would benefit from sharpening the focus of our offerings: in essence doing more by doing less. I asked the faculty whether they were wiling to take a look at these programs and give me some advice. Several people raised their hands, went to work and gave me some suggestions.

This spring, we took those suggestions, combined them with our own administrative assessment and began to work with the Masters Program Review Committee to make some changes. To better coordinate our offerings, rationalize student recruitment, ensure students are admitted into the right programs and have a well differentiated portfolio of programs, I am appointing Dr. Robert Porter director of MBA programs. We will also be consolidating the graduate office, elements of the Executive Development Center (EDC) staff and eventually Career Connections into a one-stop shop for all of our MBA programs under his direction. Dr. Porter will work closely with the MPRC on admissions, curriculum, career services and student performance issues. Greater faculty participation in these areas is key to program success.

We have also made some changes to our on-campus programs. Starting this fall, the evening lock-step MBA program will return to the practice of being an exclusively part-time program. And, our one-year daytime program will only accept students who do not have an undergraduate business degree.

So, if you are a recent graduate looking to diversify your knowledge set by adding a business degree and can commit to a full-time immersive experience, then the One-Year MBA is the option for you. If you are a working professional with an undergraduate business degree and just a couple of years of real world experience under your belt, then the evening lockstep program is for you. You can continue to work full-time and complete your MBA by taking two courses a semester along with everyone else in that program. If you have been working for five years or more and are looking to move into a management position, the PMBA is the option for you. You can continue to work full-time and take courses two nights a week along with a group of seasoned professionals like yourself who are looking to move up in their careers. Finally, if you have ten years of experience, are in a middle management position and are looking to move into a senior management opportunity, then the EMBA is the right option for you.

Note that with these changes our MBA offerings do not provide something for everyone. This is by design. If you have just graduated from a business school and want to jump right into a full-time MBA program, I’m sorry but we don’t do that here anymore. You will need to find a different school. If you are working full-time and want to pursue your MBA full-time, we don’t have an option for you either. In fact, we think that is a very bad idea–you are trying to take on more than you can handle and our experience tells us that when push comes to shove, you will choose work over your education to the detriment of everyone’s classroom experience. If you have just graduated and want to pursue your MBA in the professional or executive format because these are the only ones that fit your schedule, we are sorry but you don’t have the type of work experience necessary to be an effective member of the student teams we are putting together for those programs. It would be a disservice to both our faculty and the experienced professionals who are signing up for these programs to let you in. You will have to wait or go elsewhere. Perhaps the comfort and flexibility of an on-line degree is best for you.

These changes are just the beginning. Moving forward we are going to take a hard look at our daytime MBA offering, explore partnerships with other schools on campus and look to make changes in the curriculum that get students out of their comfort zones and promote effective cross-disciplinary communication, risk-taking, and data-driven decision-making among our students. There is much to be done, but our goal is to have the majority of the changes in place for Fall 2014. Stay tuned.

Paul Jarley, Ph.D., is the dean of the UCF College of Business Administration. He blogs every week at http://www.bus.ucf.edu/dean. This post appeared on February 25, 2013. Follow him on Twitter @pauljarley.