MBA students take complaints to business school leaders

A group of MBA students say long-ignored issues of organization, advising staff and teaching quality has plagued the GW School of Business this year.

The group will meet with business school administrators Thursday in a push for more transparency, delivering a “bill of expectations” to the school’s interim dean, Christopher Kayes, and Associate Dean for Graduate Programs Liesl Riddle.

Teal Griffey, a first-year global MBA student, said students felt that program directors have ignored their complaints for two years, pointing to late releases of class schedules, syllabi and academic calendars.

“We see administrators not living up to the expectations – and, frankly, the high price tag we’ve had to pay,” Griffey said.

When she and others tried pushing for the final exam schedule to be released, she said administrators fought back. She added that an informal online survey of about 60 students last week found that about 80 percent of respondents viewed the global MBA program’s office unfavorably.

“Typical responses from the administration are, ‘We can’t do anything,’ or, ‘That won’t change,’” according to the bill.

Students are also calling for more academic advisers, pointing to the school employing only one adviser for all incoming global MBA students this year. They will also advocate for more regular teaching evaluations to help improve teacher quality.

Dustin Carnevale, a spokesman for the business school, acknowledged the students’ meeting Thursday and added, “Our students’ academic experience is our highest priority, and we take student concerns seriously and will work to resolve the issues accordingly.”

Doug Guthrie, the school’s former dean who was fired in August, pointed to the school’s low teaching quality when he called for more transparent teaching evaluations in a 2011 report that sketched his vision for the school.

Sean Murphy, president of the MBA Association, said he worries that the recent firing of Guthrie has made it tougher for the school’s staff to complete administrative tasks because there is no permanent leader.

“I think there is some concern that because we’re in a leadership transition, that perhaps the team that’s in place now is less equipped to deal with some of the issues that students are having, more so than they used to be,” he said.

Kayes took over the school’s leadership in September, after Guthrie was abruptly fired over disputes with administrators for $13 million in overspending by the business school.

MBA students also took on the administration last year, disputing an extra $1,000 added to their tuition bills that they claimed came without notice.

The rising costs of MBA degrees has also increased pressure on business schools to satisfy students, as tuition spiked by 33 percent in the last five years, according to a report from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

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