Yale Grad School Dropping O.D. Emphasis

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Yale Grad School Dropping O.D. Emphasis

Students protested and held clandestine meetings. They disrupted one of their school's most revered events. They called for the resignation of the dean. Alums expressed outrage.

But the setting wasn't Berkeley in the early sixties and the issue wasn't war and peace. In a standoff that many have said could happen only in the late eighties, students and alumni of Yale University's School of Organization and Management are up in arms over the appointment of new Dean Michael E. Levine and the curriculum and faculty changes he has implemented. Depending on who you listen to, the issues are as petty as hurt feelings or as weighty as intellectual freedom.

The School of Organization and Management, Yale's graduate business school, was created 13 years ago, and until last fall it always represented something of an alternative for graduate business students. Where Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Wharton, and most other B-schools approach business as a nuts-and-bolts quantitative discipline, Yale's SOM infused its program with a heavy emphasis on organizational behavior.

In addition to such traditional offerings as statistics and strategic planning, SOM's curriculum also featured courses such as "Individual and Group Behavior," which employed the principles of clinical psychology to explain how and why organizations work the way they do.

No more. When Yale President Benno C. Schmidt, Jr., appointed Levine on October 27 to head SOM, out went the school's psych-based organizational-behavior emphasis. In came a new curriculum that hews more closely to the usual numbers-oriented B-school agenda.

According to Schmidt and Levine, a savvy marketer who once turned around embattled New York Airlines, the changes were necessary because years of faculty infighting over the issue of clinical versus strategic business thinking had hurt SOM's ability to attract and retain top-notch scholars--including Rosabeth Moss Kanter, the highly respected management authority who defected to Harvard Business School (HBS)--harming the school's reputation in the process. Late last year, several untenured faculty members who championed the clinical approach were told their contracts would not be renewed. …