Education

Case Study: How to Build a B-School


How do you create a business school from scratch? Yash Gupta, dean of the Carey Business School at Johns Hopkins University, is about to find out. The world-renowned research university received a $50 million gift from real estate mogul William Polk Carey in 2006. After three years of curriculum design, fund-raising, and faculty recruiting, the first class for Hopkins' new global MBA program arrives in August.

To distinguish the Carey school, Gupta has created a program focused on entrepreneurship, innovation, and global business. Students will spend winter break tackling a business problem in a developing country. They'll go to the medical school to study research and inventions; in their second year, they're expected to take one to market.

With specializations that include life sciences, energy, and the environment, it's a safe bet the program will not attract aspiring consultants or investment bankers. Gupta doesn't mind: "Since we are the new kids, we don't have to change culture. We're trying to change the mold."

The challenges will be huge. It may be several years before Carey wins accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), without which many students won't give it a second look. Faculty at elite B-schools will be in no hurry to defect to a school with no track record and no building (it leases space in a Baltimore office building). Fund-raising and finding jobs for grads will be tough.

Robert Sullivan, who launched the University of California at San Diego's Rady School of Management in 2003, says his toughest tasks included launching an executive education program and raising $110 million for a new building and other expenses "It was really kind of Band-Aids for the first year," he says.

Gupta has recruited 31 full-time faculty members from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, Purdue University's Krannert School of Management, and other schools with the goal of having 90 in five years. The Global MBA program attracted 500 applicants for 80 spots, allowing it to enroll a class that is more diverse than most top American B-schools. Half the students arriving in August will carry foreign passports; half will be women.

The bottom line: The Carey school faces big obstacles, but its innovative focus and the Johns Hopkins reputation may set it apart.

Damast is a staff writer for Bloomberg Businessweek.

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