The Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts placed 45th overall and 20th among public universities in BusinessWeek’s undergraduate program rankings last week.
Up 19 spots from last year, the ranking caps off a four-year period during which Isenberg has seen consistent improvement in its BusinessWeek ranking.
Isenberg Dean Mark Fuller believes that the University is on the path he envisioned when he became dean of the business school in 2009.
“We’ve pushed for enhancing the reputation of the school as a central part of our strategic vision,” Fuller said. “The reputation of the school will help graduates get better jobs and make better connections with alumni.”
A graduate and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Arizona, Fuller worked for the business schools at Baylor University and Washington State University before coming to UMass. Immediately upon the start of his new position as dean, Fuller set his expectations high.
“Our goal since I came on has been to achieve a top 40 ranking for undergraduate programming,” Fuller said. “In any business you have to know what you’re striving for and focus on that goal. So once we established that goal and that vision, we tried to build programming to achieve it.”
Isenberg has gone through some major changes since 2010 when the school was ranked 78th overall
The finance major has been redesigned to include four sub-concentrations within the major that a student can choose from. The operations and information management group, formerly a track in the management major, is now its own major to educate students on technological advancements and how they apply to business. The Dean’s Leadership Seminar, a one-credit course for freshmen, is a weekly lecture that brings in successful alumni from Isenberg to give advice and help prepare students for the challenges they will face in the business world.
The changes have not been limited to in-classroom programming.
In 2011, Professor Stephen Floyd – the Eugene Isenberg Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship – was appointed head of the school’s campaign to raise the job recruiter satisfaction rating to within the top 20 in the nation. As of 2013, UMass ranks 13th.
While Fuller gives partial credit to programming and leadership, he states that it is the Isenberg students that are the driving force behind the school’s success and accolades.
“In my second year here, I did a branding analysis to see what the Isenberg brand was,” Fuller said. “We participated in focus groups with recruiters, alumni, faculty and current students. What we found was that the unifying qualities for Isenberg students are persistence, tenacity, and a strong work ethic. We can teach the business skills, but you can’t teach work ethic.”
“In any business, culture is extremely important,” he added, “and in the four years I’ve been here, I’ve seen a dramatic shift in the culture, starting with the students’ desire to be excellent and the faculty’s willingness to fill that desire. That’s more exciting to me than any ranking in a magazine.”
James Petroskey can be reached at email@example.com.