Business Week magazine will pay special attention to GW when calculating its annual business school rankings because of a controversially worded letter from University administrators encouraging students to participate in the magazine’s survey.
The magazine sent individual e-mails to all seniors in the School of Business last week, asking them to participate in an online survey about the school. The survey asks questions about the students’ overall experience in the program.
The student input comprises 30 percent of the final ranking, said Business Week Staff Editor Geoff Gloeckler. The magazine told schools they could encourage student participation but not influence the results.
The e-mail, sent Tuesday by two deans, explains the importance of the Business Week rankings for future employers and recruiters – adding that many people are unaware of the “strong” programs offered in the School of Business.
“The higher The George Washington University School of Business is ranked, the more valuable your degree will be perceived to be,” wrote Susan Phillips, dean of the Business School, and Larry Singleton, associate dean for undergraduate programs, in the e-mail.
“As a member of the Class of 2008, you have an opportunity to affect the way that current and future employers and students will view The George Washington University, our students and our alumni,” the e-mail stated. “We encourage you to complete the survey promptly with that thought in mind.”
“The purpose of this ranking is that prospective students know what they’re getting into at the school,” Gloeckler said. “And it blows my mind that they would (send) out a note like that.”
He said the magazine would pay special attention to GW when it reviews the data. If GW’s student approval improves drastically, the magazine will know it was likely the result of the letter – and will take action based on that information.
Singleton said he did not receive an e-mail the magazine sent regarding the appropriate way of encouraging participation in the survey. The message was meant to garner involvement in the survey, which only a quarter of seniors participated in last year, he said.
“We were trying to get students to fill out the survey more, all with the best intentions,” Singleton said.
He continued, “I thought we were doing something good for GW and good for the school.”
Singleton also endorsed the survey this week when he introduced himself to various business classes. A senior, who is being granted anonymity for fear of retribution from the school, said some professors were angered at Singleton’s apparent catering to ratings.
“(Singleton) basically said if you are bashing the school, you may be venting, but you’re harming your degree,” the senior said.
Gloeckler said he rarely deals with this type of incident because universities encourage students to vote objectively.
Senior Matt Cohen, a senator for the business school in the Student Association, said he helped Singleton emphasize the rankings this year. He said he felt the letter properly advertised the survey.
“I truthfully do not think that any bounds were overstepped in the terms of (the e-mail). As administrators they should make us aware of the importance of certain things,” Cohen said. “I think they have accurately illustrated the importance and the audiences that the rankings touch.”
– Nathan Grossman and Jake Sherman contributed to this report.