WAS WHARTON A VICTIM OF ITS RIGOROUS DICIPLINE?
As members of the 1991 graduating class of Wharton Executive MBA (WEMBA) program, we read with mild interest your article "Back to school" (Special Report, Oct. 28) on executive education. This letter will briefly address two issues of significance:
First, it seems necessary to clarify a misperception about the "scores" under the "schools graded by grads" section of the top-20 summary. Wharton expects much of its students, and its students expect much of the institution. We have been taught to approach quantitative analysis with brutal objectivity, a disdain for "fudge factors," and a genuine respect for discrete numerical values. We employed this method when responding candidly to the BUSINESS WEEK questionnaire asking us, for example, to rate faculty on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being poor, 10 being excellent). Imagine, then, our surprise in learning that a rating well above the midpoint could result in a score of "D." Based on our comparative ranking, it appears that industries have countless sources of enthusiastic EMBAgrads, but those businesses that want straightforward, uninflated critical analysis might well look to Wharton.
Second, the descriptive comments "pricey program" and "biweekly sleep-over," although colorful, are more likely to elicit visions of a yuppie scout troop than the carefully orchestrated, intense learning experience that was the WEMBA. Students Amtraked in from New York City's financial district, Washington's political and international center, and the many industrial centers surrounding Philadelphia and up and down the East Coast. While simple geography dictated "sleeping over," the biweekly residential approach fostered the exchange of skills, knowledge, and perspectives that exceeded even the demands of the academically rigorous program (requiring almost 700 contact hours, "just like the 'regular' MBAs").
Wharton's advantaged location and commitment to the weekend structure allows it to employ high academic entry requirements and sensitivity in student selection for "mix," resulting in an incomparable combination of WEMBA students, year after year, who are the Wharton experience. The faculty structures the learning opportunity, and many contributed greatly to a "deeper understanding of complex phenomena."
Editor's note: According to Ms. Greenspan, about 90 other 1991 WEMBA graduates signed this letter.