Crain’s Cleveland Business
March 21, 2005By SHANNON MORTLAND
Dean Myron Roomkin has a new mantra for the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University - recommit, rededicate, refocus.
He believes that's what the school needs to do to increase its clout locally and in the worldwide academic community. "I want to put us back in the leadership position we once had in management education," Dr. Roomkin said. "For various reasons, we fell off the bike. Now we're back on the bike and pedaling as hard as possible."
Dr. Roomkin last fall became the fourth dean in seven years at Weatherhead, a school that saw its national ratings slip while a local reputation of not living up to its potential cropped up. He previously was the dean and a professor at the Kogod School of Business at American University in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Roomkin himself called Weatherhead an "underperforming asset," but he hopes his plans will help to change all that.
He already has redesigned the executive MBA curriculum, and he said Weatherhead soon expects to allow students to attend classes via the Internet in real time.
"We're trying to move this organization up the food chain very rapidly," Dr. Roomkin said.
Retooling the EMBA
The EMBA next fall will relaunch as an 18-month program in which students attend classes on campus only a few days at the beginning of each semester and one two-day session each month. Core areas such as finance and accounting won't go away, but the EMBA also will focus on managerial problems such as how to assess and deal with risk, he said.
"It's more student-friendly. It takes into account that students are more pressed for time than ever before," Dr. Roomkin said.
Another way he hopes to push Weatherhead forward is by creating four "schools within a school," which he envisions becoming the focus of ideas and teaching at Weatherhead and Case. The four "schools" are health, global business studies, entrepreneurship and innovation, and business as an agent of world benefit, or BAWB.
"We've created these theme-based research and teaching initiatives that will offer degrees, majors and minors, and become the focus of attention on this campus," Dr. Roomkin said.
While health, global business studies, and entrepreneurship and innovation are pretty self-explanatory, business as an agent of world benefit might leave some scratching their heads. The crux is businesses adopting social responsibility - an idea that companies and students are embracing worldwide.
Goody-goody no more
"The historical view is that (social responsibility) is the goody-goody stuff, the soft side of business, (but) a lot of businesses are beginning to recognize that they do not live in isolation," Dr. Roomkin said.
One example is Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc., a Waterbury, Vt.-based coffeemaker that pays coffee bean growers fair wages and supports education, health care and housing programs in supplier countries. Through business as a world benefit, Weatherhead is creating a public database of similar stories of business-in-society and will support research and outreach initiatives on social responsibility, Dr. Roomkin said.
Meanwhile, Weatherhead has gained some international attention for its ideas on social responsibility, he said. Weatherhead professor David Cooperrider last June spoke to 500 CEOs from around the world at a United Nations summit on how to work together to diminish poverty, support human rights and fight corruption. The U.N. next fall will hold a similar conference at Case, which is expected to draw up to 350 global business and governmental leaders, he said.
Weatherhead also was one of 11 schools chosen by the Aspen Institute to find more ways to involve corporate citizenship in the college curriculum.
Weatherhead on Roomkin
Dr. Roomkin has found a believer in Al Weatherhead, the school's namesake and a long-time adviser. Mr. Weatherhead was among some local business leaders who in recent years criticized the business school.
Weatherhead struggled to find the right dean after the much-admired Scott Cowen vacated the post in 1998 to become president of Tulane University in New Orleans. Mr. Weatherhead thinks the school finally has found a good successor in Dr. Roomkin.
"I think Myron brings to the school stability and leadership, which they really need," he said, adding that Dr. Roomkin's ideas for the business school seem to be on track.
Weatherhead already has made a positive stride in the 2005 MBA rankings in the Financial Times of London, which in January ranked Weatherhead's MBA program No. 49 in the world. That's a 35-step improvement over its No. 84 ranking last year.
Curriculum changes aside, Weatherhead still could face stiff competition from other local EMBA programs, especially when price is a factor.
The University of Akron offers a 10-month International EMBA that focuses on global business, Cleveland State University soon will announce a restructured EMBA program, and Kent State University also is updating the curriculum for its 19-month EMBA program
While the curriculum at each school might differ, for some students, it comes down to cost. Weatherhead charges $80,000 for its EMBA program, but students can get the International EMBA from Akron for half that price. CSU and KSU are even less expensive at $28,000.