We’re Innovating at Fuqua, Again

September 18, 2017
Students gathering in Fuqua mallway

It doesn’t take long in a conversation with Dean Bill Boulding to recognize the genuine passion that exists for evolving business education to meet the needs of today.

“The business world students are entering is complex and volatile. We have a moral obligation to make sure we are preparing students for those challenges,” Boulding says.

That means constant innovation in Fuqua’s programs.

“We are continually going through a process with our faculty and students to figure out what’s working and what we can improve. We are also in conversation with industry and our alumni about what’s needed in the world,” Boulding says.

Industry partners and advisory boards were hugely influential in suggesting and refining the concept behind the new Master of Quantitative Management (MQM) degree program, launched this year. 

“We were hearing from companies that there was a skills gap between being able to identify insights from big data and translating that information into business functions,” Boulding says, “This was a no brainer for us in leveraging our faculty’s strengths to train analysts in how to use and communicate data to influence decision making in companies. We are thrilled by the feedback we’ve been getting so far about the strength of the new MQM curriculum.”

Daytime students will now also have a chance to dive deeper into opportunities and challenges related to big data. Faculty recently approved a new certificate in the Daytime program in “Management Science and Technology Management.” The certificate is available to current Daytime students and will require the completion of eight electives from a menu of qualifying classes.

“We are very excited to be offering more robust programming in an area of study that is so important to business today,” says Senior Associate Dean for Full-time Programs Russ Morgan. “Every aspect of business is being enhanced by analytics in some way. People who can identify insights, explain the business implications effectively and put action behind that information have a huge competitive advantage.”

This will be the third certificate offered for Daytime students, following certificates in Health Sector Management and Financial Excellence. Fuqua expects the “Management Science and Technology Management” certificate to qualify for designation as a program specializing in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) which could have visa implications for students who graduate with the certificate and go to work in STEM-related jobs.

“It could mean students who are eligible could receive an additional 24 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT),” says Morgan.

Fuqua also announced innovations in its executive MBA programs, largely based on student and alumni feedback stressing the importance of flexibility for working professionals. Fuqua will be merging its two global working professionals programs while making format changes to its weekend program.

Beginning with the classes matriculating in 2018, Fuqua will be offering two executive MBA programs:

  • Global Executive – This program will merge the current Global Executive MBA program with Cross Continent MBA program. It will adopt the popular Cross Continent format of six terms with four international residencies, blending it with the more rigorous leadership curriculum of the current Global Executive program. Executive coaching will be optional for an additional fee.
  • Weekend Executive – Residencies in this program will continue to be based in Durham. Students will attend a three-day in-person residency every month. For the classroom sessions every two weeks between the in-person residencies, students have the option to participate virtually or in person. Executive coaching will also be offered for a fee.

“We believe these changes are going to increase accessibility to our EMBA programs and ultimately increase the diversity of our cohorts. That is extremely important given our deep belief in the value of students learning from each other,” says Mohan Venkatachalam, senior associate dean for executive programs.

Fuqua has been a leader in pioneering distance learning in EMBA programs with the launch of the Global program in the 90s. 

“The technology we use to deliver these programs is representative of the way people work these days. The distance model helps our students learn how to collaborate efficiently and effectively when they aren’t in the same physical space,” Venkatachalam says. “Over the years we’ve come to understand this aspect of their education is just as critical to their professional success as the academics.”

Dean Boulding was part of a White House initiative in recent years which looked for ways to make business education more accessible for working parents.  He says he’s proud some of these changes will help achieve that goal. Boulding also points to innovations at Fuqua that have been increasing the representation of women in programs. Women make up 58% of the class in the new MQM program.

“That’s the kind of statistic that really gives me energy. I love seeing students with a wide range of backgrounds exposed to the top notch business education we provide. There is such power in diversity of thought, background and experiences,” Boulding says. “The more ways we innovate to bring different people into our community, the stronger we are and the more likely our students will become the kind of leaders who will not just succeed in business, but who will ultimately solve some of the world’s toughest challenges.”

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