U of M News
Customer-Driven Full-Time MBA Program Will Begin Fall 2009 at the U of M University News
For release: May 21, 2008

For press information, contact Curt Guenther or Bobby King

In collaboration with local businesses and with the support of several individual donors, the Fogelman College of Business and Economics at the University of Memphis today announced the creation of a new, full-time program leading to a master of business administration degree.  The only one of its kind in the nation because of its corporate sponsorship,  the program will focus on education for managers at mid-level and above in the collaborating companies, with a particular emphasis on the biomedical, logistics and distribution, retailing, and services marketing areas for now, with others to follow.

Dr. Rajiv Grover
Dr. Rajiv Grover unveiled the new program at the Fogelman College of Business and Economics kickoff luncheon held on Wednesday.
The program benefits from generous gifts from several businesses and organizations in the local community.

Dr. Rajiv Grover, dean of the Fogelman College, calls it “customer driven,” in that it will help answer a need for managers in local companies who are educated in the classic curriculum of an MBA program as well as in certain disciplines that are particularly needed by those companies.  Students will be recruited locally, nationally, and internationally, and the companies will be involved in selecting the students for acceptance into the program.

The program will encompass globalized business core courses with an emphasis on developing essential skills in (1) governance and ethics, (2) emotional intelligence, teamwork and leadership, and (3) critical thinking, creativity, innovation, and problem-solving.

A key component of the two-year program will be part-time internships with the sponsoring companies during the main academic year, September to May, and full-time during the summer.  Additionally, students who complete the program will be employed by their sponsoring companies at competitive salaries for at least two years following graduation.

“Workforce development is a key concern of local business leaders,” Grover said, “and this program will address that concern.  It will bring well qualified employees into the local business community and be a factor in their remaining in Memphis.”

Fogelman College of Business and Economics Luncheon
 Donations to the program were presented at the luncheon from venture capitalist Bob Compton (left), AutoZone founder J.R. "Pitt" Hyde III (center) and Wei Chen (right), logistics entrepreneur.

Plans call for the collaborating companies to support the program financially, and students will each receive tuition payment, plus a stipend, for the duration of their enrollment.  Upon graduation and full-time employment at one of the companies, the MBA degree-holders will not only have broad and specific knowledge of business concepts, but will be familiar with the operations of their hiring companies.  Thus, they can be even more valuable to the companies, and the companies will see a quicker return on their investments in the students.

 “Knowledge of a company is what we call ‘embedded’ knowledge,” Grover explained.  “It is the sort of thing that takes time for a new employee to learn.  Graduates of this MBA program will go to work having that knowledge from their first day on the job, and that will enable them to begin making significant contributions to their companies more quickly.”

The biomedical track (of particular importance to Memphis and the Mid-South area), for example, will offer four customized courses that have been developed with the help of top professionals.  These courses include health care economics, buyer (e.g., hospitals, surgeons) behavior, global supply chain management in the biomedical field, and new product development.  These courses will also be available to all MBA students at the University, and to students in other disciplines.  Additionally, the new program will call on the expertise of faculty members from throughout the University, and classes will also be co-taught by leading professionals in the community.

Grover characterizes the program as a “win-win-win” situation.  “The University will get very good students,” he said.  “The students will get a very good education and on-the-job work experience virtually free of cost, and the businesses involved will get very good workers who can make significant contributions to the company very quickly.”

The program will start in the fall of 2009.  An initial enrollment of about 30 students is expected, with that number to increase as the program gains prominence and knowledge of its existence spreads.

 More information is available from Dr. Greg Boller, MBA program director, at 901-678-3698 or from Barbara DeVivo, Fogelman College director of relationship management, at 901-678-3633, or via email at customer-drivenmba@memphis.edu

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