June 17, 2014
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The Executive MBA program at the Fox School of Business has called the Philadelphia suburbs home for nearly 30 years, but in that time Center City Philadelphia and executive education have each undergone a renaissance. In keeping with the evolution of both, the Fox School Executive MBA program is moving to a downtown location – The HUB at Commerce Square, an innovative executive meeting facility at 20th and Market streets.

In addition to relocating the EMBA, the Fox School is launching an Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (EDBA) program at the same location in September. This innovative program will join the ranks of a handful of AACSB accredited executive doctoral programs, fill an increasingly important niche within business administration education, and round out a life-cycle approach by providing an advanced, practice-driven research degree to those who already hold MBAs and are in advanced stages of their careers.

Offering both the EMBA and EDBA at The HUB will allow the programs to take advantage of the innovative executive meeting facility and to expand their market reach. For students and executives in Philadelphia, bringing the EMBA to Commerce Square and launching the EDBA will help strengthen the Fox School’s Center City presence.

“We strongly believe that moving to Center City is going to expand our market, particularly into New Jersey and Delaware, and make us more marketable within the Washington, D.C.-to-Boston Amtrak corridor,” said William Aaronson, associate dean for graduate programs at the Fox School.

The one-weekend-per-month format of both programs, coupled with easy access to Philadelphia International Airport, makes the programs attractive to international as well as domestic students. Already, the EDBA has attracted two students from Mauritania – a small country in northern Africa.

The EMBA Program, ranked highest in the Philadelphia region, next to only Wharton, is specially designed to foster such international connections. The 16-month, one-weekend-per-month format, with courses beginning in January, makes it easy for students in any of the Fox School’s four Global EMBA programs to take courses in Philadelphia or for students based in Philadelphia to take courses in Cali, Colombia; Paris, France; Singapore or Tokyo, Japan. Each of the programs is strengthened by a dynamic curriculum and expert faculty with real world experience.

“The Temple brand is synonymous with Philadelphia,” said Tom Kegelman, director of graduate marketing for the Fox School. “It only makes sense for our flagship program to be delivered in a modern facility, conveniently located for virtually any prospective student.”

Like the EMBA program, the EDBA will have a hybrid format, in which students will complete course material online and attend three weekend sessions at The HUB each semester. The EDBA program is about creating new knowledge, and one of the distinguishing factors to the Fox School’s program is its singular focus on using the tools of academic research to solve practical business problems. The EDBA is primarily looking to help seasoned professionals solve the kinds of problems they encounter in their daily experiences with better tools to break those problems apart, come up with solutions and measure the results.

“We want executives to be able to take what they learn back to the industry and solve complex business problems,” said David Schuff, academic director of the EDBA. “It’s really about increasing their understanding of the world, but it is all motivated by what the students are interested in studying.”

The HUB at Commerce Square

Perhaps as significant as the EMBA’s move is the facility it will call home.

The HUB at Commerce Square is one of three The HUB facilities in downtown Philadelphia, where businesses can rent high-end, cutting-edge and fully serviced executive meeting spaces for short or long term use.

“The HUB has the distinguished aura of a facility designed for today’s leading executive,” Aaronson said. “Everything from the way the space is designed to be bright and flowing, to the modern art and sleek furniture – everything tells you, “This is designed for today’s business leaders.”

The magic of The HUB is in the details.

“We’ve understood from the beginning that people gather in a learning environment or business setting to be productive, but humans do not respond as well to drab environments with maroon drapes and no window lines, no aesthetic appeal, no energy – so we built our facility with that in mind,” said John New, The HUB CEO and founding partner. “It’s very vibrant. It has character and energy that you see as soon as you walk in. That just sets the tone.”

Nearly all of The HUB meeting rooms at Commerce Square have floor-to-ceiling windows, and many overlook a lush Center City plaza complete with restaurants, fountains and a large, LED screen. Bright colors and natural elements, like water features and birch trees, keep the interior from palling in comparison. Breakout areas with lounge-style seating ensure students can step away to digest the course material or just get a change in scenery.

All of these details help foster “state-of-the-art” instruction.

The HUB’s “flat classrooms,” for instance, allow students to gather around flexible pods on a level plane, rather than in fixed seats in a tiered amphitheater.

“In a flat classroom, the focus shifts away from the faculty being the ‘sage on the stage,’ to the faculty being the coach on the sideline,” Aaronson said.

The learning becomes less about faculty-to-student knowledge transfers and more about student-to-student problem solving.

The HUB also takes care of important logistical details.  “We take care of all the headaches,” New said. “We sell productivity on a daily basis, and executive program students demand that we use their time as efficiently and best as possible and that the environment and tools kind of fit into that equation.”

According to Aaronson: “Executives who have traveled the world, and participated in global conferences and international business meetings, will certainly be at ease in this facility – where they know that everything they need in order to learn best is at their fingertips.  ”