Lundquist College of Business at the University of Oregon offers a rare firsthand look at what it's like to sit at the helm of a large corporation.
Launched spring term, the CEO Leadership Series allows 20 students to meet, interview, and consult with the chief executives of four Fortune 500 companies. Chuck Lillis, former chairman of MediaOne Group, and Gwen Lillis, Ph.D., a former faculty member at the University of Colorado, developed the class and serve as its instructors.
The executives, most of whom hold the additional titles of chairman and president, are Timothy P. Boyle, Columbia Sportswear; Jeff M. Fettig, Whirlpool Corp.; Stephen J. Malcolm, Williams Corp.; and Jeffrey Noddle, SuperValu Corp.
The students break into four teams of five, each team focusing on a single corporation. The teams then interview CEOs and senior managers at corporate headquarters, analyze the challenges facing the companies, and finally prepare a report on their findings, which they present to the CEOs during a class visit.
Although it's common for CEOs to visit business school classes, it's highly unusual for executives to commit to the intense involvement required by this 10-week graduate-level class, said Rick Mowday, professor of management and CEO class coordinator.
"The class is certainly a first for us -- and possibly for any other business school in the country," Mowday said. "It's a chance to really sit down and have some high-quality time one on one with the CEO and top executives."
Students said they appreciate the perspective the class provides as they move into corporate careers.
"It has given us rare exposure to CEOs and a unique opportunity to hear about key issues they're dealing with," said Heather Lynch, a second-year graduate student from Los Altos, California, who worked on the Whirlpool team.