Notes from AACSB Conference Call
October 9, 2008
Attendees: Laura Burian, Steve Landry (for Fredric Kropp, Faculty Senate), Sunder Ramaswamy, Ernie Scalberg, Amy Sands, Clara Yu, with Jerry Trapnell of AACSB
Purpose and Context of Call:
A call was arranged by President Yu with the attendees above to discuss the changes underway at the Institute and to identify the reporting requirements for AACSB’s accreditation process. This action was prompted by persistent concerns expressed by students, alumni, and others about the impact of the impending structural reorganization on the AACSB accreditation of the Institute’s MBA program. Mr. Trapnell is the Executive Vice President and Chief Accreditation Officer of AACSB.
During the first part of the call, Jerry Trapnell provided us with a clear and comprehensive review of what AACSB looks for in evaluating business programs. He predicated his remarks on the assumption that we would like to see the MBA program continue to be accredited by AACSB. Next, he pointed out that AACSB is not overly prescriptive with institutions – the organizational structure is up to the individual institution. AACSB’s main concern is that, regardless of structure, a business program maintains AACSB standards and improves its quality. He outlined several items that AACSB would expect to see in our business program as we move forward. Specifically, he mentioned the following items:
an organizational structure or structures to identify and define the boundaries of the business program (school, college, faculty, department(s)), so that they know what to look at;
a primary contact who leads the business program, but may also lead other departments/programs;
a clearly articulated mission, and documentation of the program’s high quality and feedback mechanism for assessing its progress;
appropriate admissions criteria for students;
a sufficient number of appropriately qualified, strong faculty, who have active research agendae;
a curriculum that meets AACSB standards;
sufficient staff to provide service to students in academic advising, retention, and career management;
dedicated human and financial resources.
The last part of our conversation discussed the boundaries of expectations of the AACSB standards. AACSB expects that the integration with Middlebury, and the internal reorganization at MIIS that will integrate the business and policy programs into one school, will not only retain the MBA program, but strengthen it. One of the reasons for this call was that Dean Scalberg had talked with two individuals with expertise in AACSB accreditation, who reportedly expressed some concerns about our new structure. Jerry Trapnell reiterated what he identified as the main concern of AACSB: the delivery of quality business programs. Although he noted that ninety percent of the time, it is easier to have a school of business, other structures are OK, too. Mr. Trapnell mentioned that he was Dean at a school where he oversaw a large range of disciplines, both in & out of business field.
Towards the end of our call with Jerry, he explained what he saw as possible scenarios as we move forward with our substantive change process. First, he reviewed the timeline: we have to submit a Substantive Change Report to the AACSB’s Maintenance of Accreditation Committee by November 1st so they can evaluate it during its December meeting. Specifically, he saw the following possible outcomes:
1) The committee may approve the report, and it will plan to go ahead with the original plan and timing of our business program’s review;
2) The committee may decide that it needs to accelerate our normal review and plan an earlier visit;
3) In a worst case scenario, it may say it needs to review our Business Program now.
We reviewed what AACSB is looking for, namely to make sure that the business program isn’t being harmed by the impending organizational changes. The November 1 Report should be as comprehensive as possible, including details about both the implications of the Middlebury/MIIS merger and the IPS/IB integration. For example, how will we ensure that all of the services and activities AACSB standards require will be provided in our new organization in which advising and career services are consolidated?
According to Mr. Trapnell, while our reorganization appears to be a rational approach to the allocation of resources, AACSB will need to know the details and be reassured that MIIS can deliver on its promise of not only protecting but strengthening the quality of the business program.
Finally, Mr. Trapnell gave reassurances that the November Report is the first opportunity to have a dialogue with AACSB. “No bomb is going to drop on you. We are not going to revoke the accreditation in December. It’s just not going to happen.”