A Message to Alumni
from Dean Joel M. Podolny
Alumni Newsletter, June 23, 2006
Dear Yale SOM Graduates,
Summer greetings from New Haven.
Summer is usually a quiet time here at Yale SOM. Graduates say their farewells and rising second years spread out across the globe for their summer internships. Faculty, working on papers or research or new course preparations, make only infrequent appearances on Hillhouse Avenue. Staff members take advantage of the summer lull to catch up on projects and prepare for the coming academic year. The school settles into a routine of compressed summer work hours, and we all try our best to avoid venturing out into the heat and humidity that typifies summer in New Haven.
But this summer is not like most summers. And it is not because the heat and humidity have dissipated – they are still with us, I’m afraid. This summer, however, Yale SOM is alive with activity, as faculty, staff, and even some students and alumni, work together to develop the courses and other key components of the new core curriculum that we will be launching in August.
I’m pleased to report that we are making remarkable, creative, collaborative progress in all areas of the new curriculum. The senior faculty who comprise the multidisciplinary development teams for the eight Organizational Perspectives courses have already made significant strides in putting together innovative syllabi. Those who have been tasked with developing other aspects of the new curriculum – the ‘Careers’ course or the ‘Mentorship’ program, for example – have also come up with detailed outlines. The faculty meet as a group once a week to discuss and critique the new materials and to offer suggestions, additional readings, and other ideas to enhance the educational value of each new course. The administrative staff will be gathering weekly, as well, to learn about the new curriculum as it develops and to begin the important organizational work that will ensure smooth implementation in the coming year.
Alumni are also taking part in the new curriculum, working with faculty members in the development of new courses and cases. Several of our students have foregone other internship opportunities to assist in the research and writing of cases, and a significant portion of our rising second-year class has signed up to take part in focus groups later in the summer that will respond to the new syllabi and new materials.
The entire Yale SOM community has been galvanized by our new curriculum plans, and it has been truly inspiring for me to see the commitment and enthusiasm of faculty, students, staff, and alumni alike as we embark on this revolution in management education. I am deeply grateful for everyone’s contributions. We are posting regular updates on developments with the new curriculum at http://mba.yale.edu. I encourage you to visit the site for the most current information.
This enthusiasm for our new curriculum is not limited to current members of the SOM community, by any means. I am pleased to report that our admissions yield for the incoming Class of 2008 – that is, the number of applicants who were accepted into the SOM MBA program who actually decided to enroll – increased by an astounding 66% over last year. This amazing statistic is reflective of only the first two admissions rounds; in fact, we found ourselves having to limit the number of individuals we were able to accept from the third round of applications.
This created what my colleague Barry Nalebuff, the Milton Steinbach Professor of Management, called a “high-class problem.” As you know, we had intended to reduce the incoming class size to 180 in order to facilitate the implementation of the new curriculum. But the overwhelming response to the new curriculum, as evidenced by the number of accepted applicants who wished to enroll at SOM, suddenly presented us with a class substantially larger than 180. In order to keep the incoming class closer to its intended size, we resorted to a creative solution to our “high-class problem:” we offered accepted students who were willing to take a one-year deferral from SOM and enter with the Class of 2009 a half-year tuition rebate for their first year. A number of admits have taken us up on our rebate offer so far, so that now the entering class size is back to a more reasonable number. But it is remarkable – and extremely gratifying – to see the excitement that the Yale SOM program is generating in the MBA education marketplace.
While we have been focusing much of our efforts on matters related to curriculum reform, I’m pleased to report that we have been moving ahead on other fronts as well. Just last week, the consultants from Lipman Hearne were in New Haven to provide the senior staff and me with preliminary findings from the quantitative research phase of our branding study. I’d like to thank all of you who took part in the alumni survey a few months ago that provided critical data for this part of the project. In the next few months, Lipman Hearne will be working on the development of specific messaging and creative approaches for the school, and we are looking forward to receiving their final report in September.
We have also made significant strides on another project that I expect will be of special interest to Yale SOM alumni: the development of a new SOM alumni magazine, which we hope to launch later this year. We are fortunate to be collaborating on this project with Michael Rock, a faculty member of the Yale graduate program in graphic design, and a partner in the New York design firm, 2X4. 2X4 has just been nominated for a 2006 National Design Award by the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, and we are very excited about the form and direction the magazine is taking. In this issue of the Alumni E-newsletter, you will find a brief survey about your hopes and preferences for this magazine; we would appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to fill out the survey and offer any thoughts you might have on this project.
So as you can see, we are keeping busy on Hillhouse Avenue this summer – despite the heat and humidity. As I come to the end of my first full year as dean of the Yale School of Management, I would like to thank you for the warmth and encouragement and support you have shown me in the past year. I look forward to continuing the excitement and the momentum we have generated next year – and in the years to come.
Joel M. Podolny
Dean and William S. Beinecke Professor of Management