A couple of days ago I received an announcement about the upcoming groundbreaking ceremony, scheduled for May 15, for MIT Sloan’s new facility, called either the New Eastern "Gateway" or more simply "Building E62." The new building is slated for completion in 2010 and will provide MIT Sloan with a "209,000 square-foot, multi-purpose management center." With this building MIT joins the recent building craze at top schools. Wharton, Chicago, Cornell are just a few of the top programs with new facilities. Columbia and Michigan Ross are also building new homes for themselves.
It is not coincidental that Dean Richard Schmalensee has chosen this June to retire. In "At MIT, a Time of Transition," an interview in The Wall St. Journal with Ron Alsop, Dr. Schmalensee discusses his previous nine years as dean of MIT, trends in management education, his achievements, and the challenges to be faced by the new, as yet unnamed, dean. A few highlights:
- "First, I wanted to stay on the job until I got our new $150 million building started. When I became dean, it was obvious that we needed to provide more and better space and to unify the faculty under one roof, but it took longer than expected. At the same time, we have begun some very interesting conversations and experiments to make curriculum changes and possibly add new degrees, such as a master’s of finance and an executive M.B.A. I’ve started this ball rolling and either need to hand it off early on or stay the course until it’s completed. I decided I wasn’t game to stay four or five more years."
- "I find it troublesome that some students are not persuaded that the hard intellectual work in the classroom is worth it. They think it’s just important to learn the business basics and buzzwords, network with other students, and get their M.B.A. from a brand-name school."
- "At Sloan, we are encouraging our professors to spend more time with executives, not just to do consulting but to use their intellectual horsepower to improve the way businesses are run."
- "We don’t want to go back to the 1940s and 1950s when schools had businesspeople come in and just talk about how they solved yesterday’s problems. We still want to give students theory and conceptual frameworks to manage and lead people. But we are blending with practitioners more to bridge the gap between theory and practice."