Another Banner Year for Executive MBA

Another Banner Year for Executive MBA

This September the Oregon Executive MBA achieved a significant milestone: the largest student body in its 31-year history. With 51 students returning from last year's class and this year's entering class boasting a headcount of 41, the grand total of currently enrolled executive MBAs rose to the record-breaking number of 92.

But jumbo class size is just the start of the story when it comes to these two cohorts. Taken together, the first-year students of Class 31 and the second-year students of Class 30 embody some of the program's most distinctive traits—ones that enable the Oregon Executive MBA to stand out from its peers year after year.

Multiple Perspectives, Years of Experience

Alumni and students report that peer learning is one of the most powerful aspects of the Oregon Executive MBA experience. For this to be truly effective, it's essential that the student body represent many different perspectives and also bring to the classroom substantial work experience. As in previous years, the students of Class 30 and Class 31 have both these areas covered.

With a classroom composition of 30 percent women, the Oregon Executive MBA exceeds the average of 25.4 percent for similar programs around the world. And its two current classes bring nearly a year more of work experience to the classroom: an average of 14.6 years, compared to 13.7 years among peer programs.

The program draws students from leading organizations of all sizes throughout the Pacific Northwest. Nike, Adidas, Intel, D.A. Davidson, Oracle Corporation, Oregon Health and Science University, Kaiser Permanente, American Red Cross, and Boeing are just a few of the larger organizations where current and former students hold positions. Over the years, students have also come from closely held firms, such as Benchmade Knife Company, Henningsen Cold Storage, and Consolidated Supply, among others, as well as timber-related firms like Stimson Lumber Company, Boise Paper, Merrill and Ring, and SDS Lumber Company.

The fact that students hold a variety of mid- to senior-level positions also amplifies the program's professional diversity.

“Our goal has always been to fill the classroom with a vibrant mix of high-achieving professionals. A typical cohort may include executives, doctors, lawyers, sole practitioners, entrepreneurs, healthcare leaders, and nonprofit leaders," said executive director of admissions Julianna Sowash.

Nonprofits in the Mix

Further enhancing the program's range, a full 17 percent of Class 31and 16 percent of Class 30 hail from the nonprofit realm. For Sowash, nonprofit leadership is a crucial element in the mix of disciplines found in the Oregon Executive MBA classroom. Very often, according to Sowash, students enter the program wondering what nonprofit and for-profit organizations have in common—only to discover that when it comes to business essentials, the two types of organizations share quite a lot.

“Ultimately the issues around strategically leading an organization are the same," said Sowash. “What's more, many of our alumni end up on a nonprofit boards—or even founding their own nonprofit organizations. Our goal is to develop skills that will serve them over the entire course of their careers."

In fact, the program values the contribution of nonprofit organizations so much that the Oregon Executive MBA offers a $7,500 scholarship to leaders of nonprofit organizations.

Change Is Constant

Like any healthy organization, the Oregon Executive MBA continues to evolve and grow in response to the changing needs of its core audience of top-tier professionals throughout the Pacific Northwest. This academic year will usher in a number of noteworthy developments.

New Executive Coaching

Topping the list of exciting changes is the executive coaching program launching this fall. Each student will be able to take advantage of up to four hours of individual consultation with one of three executive coaches. The four sessions are included in the program tuition, along with discovery sessions that will enable students to find the right match among the available coaches. This leading-edge service will benefit program students in many ways, according to executive director David M. Boush.

“Executive coaching can empower individuals to analyze and refine their thought processes so that they can make strategic decisions, break through obstacles, and implement their accelerated potential," said Boush.

Alumni Milestones

This June will bring the program to another important milestone. When Class 30 graduates, the number of alumni will top 1,000. To help facilitate connections among this ever-growing group of business leaders, the program as of June 2015 has its own official chapter through the University of Oregon Alumni Association.

Goodbye and Hello

Class 30 and Class 31 will be the final groups to attend class in the program's current location in Portland's 200 Market Street building. Starting in September 2016, Oregon Executive MBA will offer classes in its new home across the street from the UO White Stag Block in Portland's Old Town/Chinatown neighborhood.

New Class Schedule Sets Sail September 2016

Class 31 also has the distinction of being the final cohort to follow the current weekly class schedule, which has been in place since the program's start in 1985. Starting in September 2016, students entering the Oregon Executive MBA will attend classes twice a month on consecutive Fridays and Saturdays. Friday classes will feature a 1:00 p.m. start and run through 8:00 p.m. In another change from previous years, those who begin the program in 2016 will participate in its Global Study Trip right before the start of their second academic year.

Poised for Ongoing Success

As it steps into its fourth decade, the Oregon Executive MBA is well-positioned to continue evolving the tradition of excellence begun with the program's founding in 1985. Here's to Class 30 and Class 31—and all the future classes to come.