The University of Washington business school will shift its entire academic emphasis to preparing students for the technology industry, the Puget Sound Business Journal reported June 10.
The school is trying to establish itself in a competitive educational niche and to draw on the strength of the local high-tech community.
The change will begin immediately, dean Yash Gupta told the Journal. All of the school’s current programs will be reoriented towards the technology sector.
In addition to changing its focus, the business school has expanded its undergraduate curriculum from two to four years. Around 30 freshmen will enter the program in the fall.
The shift began when it hired two Ernst & Young consultants last October. The consultants convened a working group to look at how the school could better serve its students and local business.
The working group noted that more than half the school’s alumni remain in Washington state after graduation, and suggested that the school’s program should therefore be tailored for the region’s business needs.
The group also concluded that the most successful business schools in the country had developed an area of expertise rather than offering general business education. The school could kill two birds with one stone, it suggested, with a focus on technology.
The school is launching an extensive fund-raising campaign to support the shift. Gupta said his goal is to build a $100 million, state-of-the-art facility for the business school.
The school’s $40 million endowment lags behind other top schools. UC Berkeley’s endowment, for example, is more than twice that size.
The school also pays its faculty 15 to 20 percent less than other comparable institutions. Gupta hopes to create as many as 20 new endowed professorships to help raise pay levels for faculty.
The school raised $9 million last year, a big jump from the $3 million raised in 1998. Gupta is seeking new endowment funds as well — $10 million to fund undergraduate scholarships, $10 million for graduate scholarships, and a $10 million tech fund.
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