Leaders from the nation’s top online MBA programs gathered recently at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, forming what is believed to be the first consortium of its kind.
Academic Director of the Fox Online MBA program Dr. Darin Kapanjie invited program directors, deans, and chairpersons from a host of top-ranked online graduate business programs to share ideas and best practices, raise awareness of online education programs, and assemble the foundation of a mission statement for the newly formed group, named the Online MBA Consortium.
Kapanjie said he first appealed to his peers only a few months prior to the proposed gathering, which was held Aug. 5 in Alter Hall, home of the Fox School of Business.
“The feedback and responses we received were overwhelming,” said Kapanjie, the Managing Director of Fox’s Online & Digital Learning team. “The hope is that what we have developed manifests a need to educate, collaborate, and continue to push quality online education forward. I believe this group can serve as a guiding force for best practices for online MBA programs, both nationally and internationally.”
In 2015, U.S. News & World Report ranked the Fox Online MBA program the best in the nation, alongside Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business and University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, all of whom shared the No. 1 rank.. While representatives from all of the online MBA programs ranked among the top 10 by U.S. News had accepted Kapanjie’s invitation, representatives from eight of those programs were available to visit Fox and attend the inaugural consortium meeting.
“Though all the programs in attendance were competitively ranked,” Kapanjie said, “there’s always something to learn and improve upon. Every program has its niche – that one area in which it may excel. One program may have perfected the student engagement or faculty credentials components, while another is working diligently to improve in those areas. These programs are going to remain remarkably different, and we’re going to be competitors with one another in the marketplace, but the camaraderie and collegiality was incredibly rewarding.”
The consortium’s members include, in order of respective program rank by U.S. News:
- Kapanjie, Christine Kiely, Assistant Dean, MBA and MS Programs, and Valerie Henry, Director of MBA and Specialized Master’s Programs, Temple University’s Fox School of Business
- Philip T. Powell, Chairperson of Kelley Direct, Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business
- Susan E. Cates, President and Associate Dean of Executive Development, University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School
- Minu Ipe, Faculty Director of Professional MBA Program, Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business (unable to attend)
- Alexander D. Sevilla, Assistant Dean and Director of MBA Programs, University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business Administration
- Monica S. Powell, Associate Dean of Graduate Programs, University of Texas at Dallas’ Naveen Jindal School of Management
- Kathryn Barraclough, Head of the MBA Program, Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business
- Brian Cameron, Associate Dean of Professional Master’s Programs, Pennsylvania State University’s Smeal College of Business (unable to attend)
- Steven G. Allen, Associate Dean of Graduate Programs and Research, North Carolina State University’s Poole College of Management
- Stanley G. Harris, Associate Dean of Graduate and International Programs, Auburn University’s Raymond J. Harbert College of Business
“Prospective MBA students deserve easier access to well-designed, high quality, and affordably priced graduate business education,” said Powell, of Indiana University. “New technologies enable this, but the industry is stubbornly slow to expand worthy online options in the marketplace. Through collective work of the member schools, the Online MBA Consortium elevates academic legitimacy of an MBA earned online and insures emphasis on high scholarly standards as more business schools offer distance options. This is good for the market as a whole.”
Next summer, the Online MBA Consortium will be hosted by Dr. Monica Powell at the University of Texas at Dallas. Six months prior to their meeting, the participants will arrange a virtual collaborative session for presentations. It’s critical for the success of the consortium to maintain its annual, in-person component, Kapanjie said.
“A majority of the nation’s top online MBAs incorporate residencies into their programs and, while we feel plenty can be accomplished in a virtual format, we feel it is important for us to have an annual meet-up.”