Okla. Business Schools Strive to Find Their Niche

By Caliendo, Heather | THE JOURNAL RECORD, February 25, 2008 | Go to article overview

Okla. Business Schools Strive to Find Their Niche


Caliendo, Heather, THE JOURNAL RECORD


Some may dispute rankings as biased and inaccurate. Just ask any Sooner or Cowboy football fan when the BCS reveals its rankings. They may not agree with the rankings, but like it or not, they have to accept them. The same stands true with business school rankings.

There is a flood of university rankings hitting the market every year. From U.S. News and World Report to Entrepreneur magazine, each uses a different method of defining what makes a top business college. Though they use various ways to compile the list, several schools make rank every year.

Harvard University, the University of Chicago and the University of Texas all rank high on several lists. But what about Oklahoma schools? Look hard because if they do rank, it is at the bottom tier.

Local university representatives and businesses weigh in on the impact of these rankings to their colleges and the state.

Mel Penn, MBA corporate relations executive at the University of Oklahoma, said anyone who is involved with placement of MBA students studies the rankings.

He said he thinks rankings are an intricate part of the decision in choosing schools, but can be hard to grasp.

"Rankings can be a difficult and confusing issue because they are so remarkably different," he said. "That's what makes business schools crazy because there isn't one set standard."

Rankings measure MBA and undergrad business programs and some stretch out to measure part-time MBAs. Many look to U.S. News and World Report because it is one of the most established ranking systems. That report measures schools by a combination of starting salaries, students' entering test scores and assessment scores by deans and recruiters.

OU's Price College of Business ranked No. 63 on the MBA list, in the bottom tier.

"We're always striving to be a top 50 school, that's kind of the war zone, and we are in arm's reach," said Penn.

U.S. News and World Report ranked Oklahoma State University's undergraduate business college No. 83 out of 126.

Sara Freedman, dean of OSU's Spears Business College, said there is a concern that the rankings are not evaluating the complexity of business schools and are trying to turn them into a one-dimensional idea.

"We are not trying to adjust our programs to their criteria, we are just trying to do the best job that we can," she said. "If that results in higher rankings, that's great, but it's not a focus per se."

Prospective faculty members also evaluate rankings.

Vincent Orza, dean of the Oklahoma City University Meinders School of Business, said the rankings can tell faculty members if the research institute has strong ties to a business community.

He said potential faculty members are looking for intellectually stimulating peers. …

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