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[转帖]BW Sojourner's travel, Chicago

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发表于 2003-5-31 08:56:00 | 显示全部楼层

[转帖]BW Sojourner's travel, Chicago

Sojournerˇs Travels, pt. 10 ? Chicago



Chicago Graduate School of Business

The Most Nobel prizes in the World; One of the Premier MBA franchises; A story of how the mighty can rise, fall, and rise again; Flexible program, non-disclosure policy; a mystery . . . solved


Total distance traveled: Approximately 20 miles (32 kilometers)

Key attributes of school: Premier institution with huge base of successful alumni; innovator in finance; highly flexible program; significant recent transformation; no real sections; IMBA; new building in 2004.



I arrived at the Gothic style halls of the University of Chicago, knowing that this place was someplace special.  eople who donˇt know can talk about Harvard, MIT, Cambridge or all the other places in the world all they want ? but the University of Chicago, the school founded with Rockefeller money, is the school with more Nobel Prizes than any other educational institution in the world.  



In fact, Chicago alone has five times more Nobel Prizes than the entire nation of Japan, let alone China or Taiwan.  The GSB is also the school where finance was born.  Any one who has opened a finance textbook sometime in his or her life knows that in the last 100 years, the Chicago GSB basically invented finance.



When Eliot Spitzer criticized an institution for its financial theories ? it wasnˇt HBS, it wasnˇt Wharton ? it was Chicago.  



Chicago has been, without a doubt, one of the premier MBA programs in the world.  The quickest way, for any one to see which MBA programs have historically been the strongest, is to look at the number of students.  The basic reason as to why some programs are larger than others ? is because certain programs have always been in more demand.  HBS, with nearly 1000 students ? has historically been the one most in demand.  Followed by Wharton, Chicago and Kellogg (Note: not in that order).   



How the mighty have fallen, I thought to myself.  Number 10 now?  Bottom half of the top 10?  (This was before the new rankings).  



Anyone who sincerely believes in the endless talk about HBS, Stanford, and Wharton, and how those are the premier institutions and how this will never change or how rankings are meaningless ? should learn a little history.  The Chicago GSB is the best example of how the mighty can fall, and how far it can fall. This story really begins, where the story of Kellogg left off . . .



Fifteen, twenty years ago, when Kellogg was embarking on a transformation that would revolutionize the entire business school community, Chicago basically sat back and did nothing.  In many respects, it was because the school, its students, and its alumni genuinely believed that they were one of the premier institutions and nothing would ever change that.  In fact, in much of the world, the Chicago GSB is still considered the gold standard for financial or business education.  



While other schools formed sections, set up orientations, developed a new core, and basically adopted Japanese best practices to create our modern day b-school systems ? Chicago did relatively nothing.  The school believed that it would continue to attract many of the best students ? and specifically academically oriented students, and that would be just fine.  They were wrong.  



By the mid-1990s, the Chicago GSB became a place of intellectual lone wolves, back-stabbers, and people who didnˇt know the meaning of ¨team.〃  The schoolˇs Gothic style buildings with its stone gargoyles, became known as a place full of self-serving and ultra-competitive intellectuals with no understanding of the value of cooperation.  Chicago was the school of evil nerds.  Needless to say, the reputation of the school declined.  Fast.



Eventually, the GSB realized that this had to stop.  So the first thing that was decided, was that there would no longer be any grades.  Recruiters were forbidden to ask for grades, and students were forbidden to reveal their grades.  In one decisive move, the fierce competition and in-fighting at the GSB was ended.



Chicago then also began adopting many of the key practices already adopted by other schools, and a strongly cooperative and supportive culture began to emerge.   



The new dean, Edward Snyder, pushed the changes further.  He hosted dinners at his home and developed an open door policy ? indicating just how cooperative and responsive the GSB was going to become.  He asked all the professors to do the same.  The students, who for years were characterized by intellectual lonerism and an almost depressing attitude (it got so bad that the Wall Street Journal assessment of Chicago actually said something like ¨show more pride〃), began to exhibit well . . . some of the things we are now encountering on these boards.  Hence, the ¨Chicago GSB Huckster〃 was born.  



Dean Snyder emphasized again and again that Chicago GSB students were second to no one in their abilities, and that given the tradition of the school and the quality of the GSBˇs instructors, they should be proud of themselves.  And today, on many message boards (including this one), there are Chicago GSB students continuously giving rave reviews about their school.  What a difference two years make.





My visit to Chicago began badly but ended well.  I checked into the main building, where they told me to go to admissions (a building several blocks away).  I went to admissions, which then told me to go back to the main building and to a specific room.  I went back to the main building and went to the room, and actually got to sit in on a Student Admissions Committee meeting for a few minutes before they realized I was in the wrong place.  Eventually, someone took me to the right place.  As bad as Kellogg, I thought.



But then things got better.  Fast.  



I went to an information session hosted by one second year and one first year.  The session was very informative, and they answered a lot of the questions I had about the IMBA program at Chicago (which is similar to the Lauder program at Wharton).  In terms of what both students liked about the school, they both emphasized how Chicago was not only supportive and collaborative, but also flexible.  In spite of the schoolˇs many changes, the GSB hasnˇt instituted a cohort/section system where you had to be with the same people, and they hadnˇt instituted a core that you had to go through in your first semester or in youf first year.  Essentially, there is only one required class:  LEAD.  



Apparently, the Chicago GSB has kept some of its academic values and traditional characteristics while creating a new spirit of cooperation.  The school really does have an environment with the best of both worlds.  Certainly a good thing.



After the information session, we proceeded to our respective lunches, class visits, and tours.  Overall, everything was good.  It was made abundantly clear that there are some major stars teaching at Chicago.  Not only that, but the professor I was so impressed by at Kellogg, was actually also teaching at Chicago as well. There are definitely some excellent, excellent professors who will continue the Nobel prize winning legacy of the GSB well into the 21st century.



In many ways, given the nature and tradition of the Chicago GSB, this shouldnˇt be a surprise to anyone.

Chicagoˇs tradition and history has and will continue to attract and develop academic excellence.  It will be an excellence that is very difficult to rival.  When you take this sheer firepower ? add it to the schoolˇs flexibility and new culture ? the combination is impossible to ignore.  A place like HBS will actually never attract many of the best professors because a lot of them donˇt like writing cases.



When I visited Stanford a few months ago (before my big road trip), Derrick Bolton (the guy who runs the admissions show at Stanford) described the Stanford GSB as ¨Chicagoˇs Nobel winning professors combined with Kelloggˇs cooperative, collaborative culture ? in a small tight-knit environment.〃



And for a long time, Stanfordˇs marketing materials said how the cooperative and open culture there allows you to ¨have a chat with a Nobel Laureate, sitting on the grass under the warm California Sun.〃  



Itˇs funny ? because now that I think about it, itˇs almost as if Dean Snyder was paying attention.



With Chicagoˇs new culture and flexibility ? you can have a glass of scotch or coffee in front of the fireplace with a Nobel Laureate (and then play in a band with him later).  And you can do this in your first semester because the GSB is so flexible.  lus, a glass of Scotch or a hot cup of chocolate just tastes better in front of the fireplace in Chicago.  Drinking a hot cup of chocolate or scotch under the warm California sun is . . . different.



A strange thing happened on my trip though . . .  a student mentioned that in the New Product Development class (a real-world project class), they were working on marketing the #1 draft pick of the NBA (who we all know, is Yao Ming).  I asked him who the schoolˇs client was ? expecting it to be maybe Nike or Adidas.  I then got a weird look.  He didnˇt tell me who the client was ? although he did give me the names of other companies involved in the class later on in the session.  I then asked him whether it was possible to secure offers from the class (which is what I really wanted to know) ? and he indicated that it was probably possible.  I left that session feeling a little weird about what happened on that question.   



It was only later, when I got back to Taiwan, that I managed to find out what was happening.  The University of Chicagoˇs client on the project wasnˇt Nike or Adidas.  It was Yao Ming himself.



Apparently, when the negotiations between the Chinese government, the NBA, the Houston Rockets, and the Shanghai Sharks were at a standstill ? Yao Ming and his parents decided to look for help.  So they called up Yao Mingˇs American cousin (born in the U.S. and all) ? who just happened to be a student at the Chicago GSB.  Yao Mingˇs cousin, Erik, aided by Professor John Huizinga (one of Chicagoˇs big names and superstars), then set up a group of 10 students to begin work on the project.  They dubbed themselves ¨Team Yao.〃  



Pretty cool, to say the least.



I left Chicago feeling very positive about the school.  It is a place that has undergone a significant and successful transformation over the course of the last five years.  Overall, it was just a place full of positive momentum and energy.  



In the end, if Chicago continues its stunning academic tradition, and continues to promote the new collaborative culture, along with the flexibility to make the most of both ? the combination of all these factors will put the school back to the very top soon.  



And once the GSB moves into the new building in 2004 ? a shiny, well-lit facility - the schoolˇs transformation may be complete.  It will move from the Gothic style gargoyle filled halls of today into a modern hi-tech facility reflective of the schoolˇs recent transformation.  



I drove away that day feeling pretty good.  At that point, I had to start contemplating which schools I would be applying to.  Something I would have plenty of time to do as I made the 1,800 mile trek back across the corn fields of the cowboy-filled heartland of the United States.  Back to the flat, spread out community of Silicon Valley and then on to the raucous, dynamic cities of Asia.  



. . . and folks, thatˇs the end of the Sojournerˇs travels.  I hope that my journal has been of some help to people.  Best of luck to everyone on their applications ? esp. the 1st rounders who will be hearing from the schools shortly (if they havenˇt already).  On to finishing up the apps now . . .



The End
发表于 2003-5-31 20:21:00 | 显示全部楼层
Great. Thank you Xunjie.

Those essasys were first publized on BW forum. Very informative.

If I were you, I would put them into a single file and uploaded.
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