Those of you who regularly follow this space are familiar with our commitment to increasing our presence in Portland. We are pleased to report that the foundation of that presence—the Oregon Executive MBA program—is stronger than ever. With a record-sized first-year class, a reinvigorated alumni association, and a new building in the works, the future of the program could hardly be brighter.
Bigger Is Better
Class 30 (yes, the program started in 1985) is the largest in history. And the record is certainly not the result of lowering standards. The 52 students who matriculated in September are, on average, more experienced (15 years of work experience with nine years in management) than either other executive MBA programs nationally or past Oregon Executive MBA cohorts. One clear source of the increase is a team of five students who attend class in Portland monthly but otherwise participate by two-way live streaming from the UO Academic Extension facility in Bend. Extending our reach through technology in this manner works well for students, and we plan to expand this use in Eugene and Portland.
The Oregon Executive MBA's continued success is especially notable in light of increased competition from online programs, as well as distance-learning programs that meet monthly to facilitate travel. The not-so-secret ingredient is the Portland human factor. Natalie Miller, MBA '14, notes that the connections she made with classmates—especially fellow study team members—is a huge benefit of the Oregon Executive MBA. Not only did Miller use the program to springboard a new business (Apply101) with fellow classmate Steve Baer, she also joined a network of nearly 1,000 alumni—mostly in the region but also worldwide. One alumnus even read about Miller's new venture on the Lundquist College website and contacted her to express interest in expanding to his neck of the woods, which happened to be in China.
Oregon Executive MBA alumni—who include Intel president Renee James, MBA '92, and OHSU president Joe Robertson, MBA '97—have always been a tremendous source of pride. Recently, the Oregon Executive MBA Alumni Association, under the leadership of Jim Paulson, MBA '99, has ramped up its activity impressively. It has organized a regular speaker series, started a newsletter, and joined the UO Alumni Association.
New Home/New Partner
Another major source of excitement is the planned new building steps from the White Stag Block in Portland. Sustainable properties developer Gerding Edlen and founding partner Mark Edlen "75, MBA '76, (also an Lundquist College board member) have been instrumental in making this project a reality.
The Oregon Executive MBA will timeshare classrooms on the first floor of the new building with the Sport Product Management (SPM) program, which is on track to open full-time in fall 2015, pending final approval. The SPM program is being led by alumna Ellen Schmidt-Devlin, MBA '12. The two classrooms will have state-of-the-art audio-visual technology, and the nine breakout rooms likely will change the way many courses are taught. Program staff and other UO offices will occupy much of the second floor. The combined student populations of the two programs would roughly double the number of UO students currently in Portland. A side benefit is that we're part of a true revival of the Old Town neighborhood.
It's Always about Great Faculty
As with all our programs, the success of the Oregon Executive MBA ultimately rests on great faculty. The majority of Oregon Executive MBA faculty members are intimately familiar with the drive up I-5 from Eugene. A classroom full of experienced professionals provides the draw. Associate Professor Nagesh Murthy describes teaching operations and supply chain management in the Oregon Executive MBA program as “a wonderful symbiotic experience."
“For me," he said, “it is as much about teaching, sharing knowledge, and facilitating discussions to enhance learning for students as it is about enhancing my own understanding of the interesting ways in which issues manifest in a gamut of industries represented by the students."
As Instructor Dave Garten added, “Teaching in the Oregon Executive MBA is a marriage of facilitating the experience and enthusiasm of the cohort with the expertise of the instructor. It is a joy to teach motivated, knowledgeable students who contribute to the classroom experience."
The combination makes the Oregon Executive MBA a very special experience.
Cornelis A. “Kees" de Kluyver
Rippey Distinguished Professor