I’ve got my eye on Holcomb…

JULIAN WYLLIE | jwyllie@butler.edu | Opinion Editor

In 2000, Butler was just the eighth-ranked regional university in the Midwest, according to the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment.

But in the last 14 years, Butler has risen to second place on the U.S. News and World Report’s rankings. Creighton University in Nebraska holds the coveted first-place position.

Multiple factors likely contributed to the surge in national recognition, but the College of Business is an example of how quickly fortunes can swing.

Now, Butler is nudging for its place as a top-50 undergraduate business school, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Still, it won’t be easy for Butler to maintain its impressive run going forward.

Bloomberg

Photo courtesy of Bloomberg Businessweek

On one hand, the COB has seemingly distinguished itself from the crowd.

Undergraduates are required to complete two internships before graduation, while most universities don’t even require one.

At the same time, Butler has amassed an impressive network of over 2,000 employers to supply students with the thing they want most: a job.

This is all great news to hear, but who is to say that another school with more resources, more money and more students cannot replicate the Butler model and do it far better?

In the world of business, and higher education, it is not just about being innovative: It’s about maintaining your competitive edge.

If the university wants to surpass Creighton, and climb the Bloomberg rankings, the COB will have to pick up the pace, because there isn’t any time to waste.

More importantly, students have to take advantage of the opportunities they have been given, and the administration must explore more creative ways to expand its initiative.

QuickStats

Photo courtesy of Bloomberg Businessweek

This mission will not require more funds or generous donations. It will, however, take some time to truly get right.

One asset the business school has already is its self-motivated students. Junior accounting major Gretchen Graber is just one example.

She said Indiana University’s higher-ranked Kelley School of Business and Butler were her final two college choices.

But when she visited Butler, she said it was an easy choice to make.

“They talked about how the professors and the students worked together to make this learning environment,” she said. “It seemed a lot more welcoming.”

Graber said IU made her feel like she was just a number.

I too felt that way when I visited IU. I have no personal issue with IU, but I definitely feel larger institutions have a harder time personalizing the experience for each student.

That’s just one competitive edge that the business school can maintain going forward.

Another edge the business school has goes back to its extensive career development program designed to build a student’s network, communication skills and value to potential employers.

In short, every university or business school cannot give so many students a career mentor, resume sessions or mock interviews.

Butler is already ahead of the curve. Students should take advantage of the tools in place.

Nevertheless, I think the business school has more room to expand.

For one, there is a gender gap between male and female business majors on Butler’s campus.

Only 39 percent of COB students at Butler are women, academic advisor Julie Quigley said. The national average is about 44 percent.

I believe that Butler, a liberal-arts school with a sound history in promoting equality across multiple facets, can have one of the first business schools to close the gender gap among business majors.

Josh Owens, a professor in Butler’s College of Business, also said universities can do more in this particular area.

“The business world, particularly, and executive ranks (are) male-dominated,” said Owens. “It is changing quickly, but I don’t think it is changing fast enough.”

I think there are even more ways the business school can advance its position. The plan may consist of eliminating the gender gap, introducing more online courses or providing more business-related study-abroad programs.

If Steve Standifird, dean of the COB, and his staff choose to push for these specific improvements, I doubt they would fail.

Going forward, I will be keeping my eye on Holcomb, hoping that the College of Business rises in the ranks of the best business institutions in the country.

Photo by Marko Tomich

Photo by Marko Tomich

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