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Expanding Our BBA Program

By: Marguerite Darlington | Photo By: Alex André

Expanding Our BBA Program

It's official: This year's incoming Wisconsin School of Business BBA class includes 1,025 students—40 percent more students than last year. Beginning in 2017, our graduating class will number approximately 800, offering our corporate partners 33 percent more graduates to recruit and speeding the growth of our alumni network.

Satisfying recruiter demand
Steve Schroeder, assistant dean of the School's BBA Program, explains that the program simply wasn't graduating enough students to fill employer needs.

"Each year, we were graduating approximately 600 students, 100 of whom went directly into our five-year Master of Accountancy program, which left about 500 students in the job market," Schroeder says. "Compare that to the 500 companies who walk through our doors each year to recruit students: It's about a one-to-one ratio."

While this ratio may be appealing to graduates, companies looking to hire multiple candidates were often disappointed. A larger class means a larger, more diverse candidate pool for full-time positions and internships.

Ensuring top-quality applicants
François Ortalo-Magné, Albert O. Nicholas Dean of the Wisconsin School of Business, was determined that we maintain our standards—by admitting highest-quality applicants with exceptional academic records.

"We asked ourselves, what would have happened if we had admitted another 100 Wisconsin residents?" says Ortalo-Magné. "We found that the quality of the applicants was so high that we were able to maintain our admissions standards and at the same time offer a significant number of spaces to residents, fulfilling our mission of serving the state."

Knowing that we could increase the size of the incoming class without compromising our program's integrity was the first step. Next, our leadership team had to determine the best way to grow the School's resources to deliver the same first-class business education to a larger number of students.

23 new faculty hired in seven academic departments over the last two years

Adding innovative faculty
To educate more students, we needed more faculty. In fact, we needed to grow our resources substantially to serve the additional incoming students. This fall, the WSB welcomes 12 new members—for a total of 23 new faculty in the last two years. This infusion of academic talent not only expands our ability to provide more classroom offerings, but also increases our research capabilities.

"They were trained in great places, they have great research potential, and the more senior among them have already established records of research excellence," says Chip Hunter, senior associate dean, who oversees all academic departments and all full-time and part-time programs. "They had other choices, but when they heard what we had to say about our vision and our aim to be an exemplary business school in a public research university, they decided, ‘This is where I want to take the next step in my career.'"

Joann Peck, associate dean of undergraduate programs, points out that professors engaged in research often share their initial findings with their students before publishing them, giving students the added benefit of seeing cutting-edge research before anyone else in the industry.

In addition, the presence of new faculty will allow senior professors to spend more time both in the classroom and pursuing innovative research, a benefit that the School could not have realized without the increase in the student body.

33% more graduates in 2017

More graduates and more research
More students will eventually mean more graduates—more talented, trustworthy Business Badgers for recruiters to place, and more graduates who will support each other throughout their careers
and collaborate on ground-breaking ventures.

The expansion of the BBA Program allows our School, as well as the entire university, to better serve the state, its residents, and ultimately global employer demand. It enables us to better achieve "The Wisconsin Idea," the philosophy behind our state's public university system, which holds that we should be working to improve the quality of life for all citizens of the state through our educational and research initiatives.