Attention alumni: Your stock just went up. With the announcement of a new Graduate School of Business campus in Singapore to teach an international executive M.B.A. program, Chicago now has campuses on three continents.

Chicago is the first business school to offer a “globally integrated executive M.B.A. program on three continents taught entirely by its regular faculty at permanent campus locations,” said Dean Robert S. Hamada at a press conference in Singapore on January 25.

Consequently, the value of a University of Chicago M.B.A. has increased, said Gary Eppen, deputy dean for part-time programs.

“Any time the international representation of the school is improved, it’s not just current students who benefit. We all gain,” said Eppen. “Alumni are winners–their stock just went up.”

Eppen said going global in the truest sense of the word is the only way to remain on top. “As competition evolves, there will be a relatively small set of schools that will be recognized around the world, that will achieve that level of brand equity. If we want to continue to attract the best students and faculty, we have to be one of those schools. And we can’t achieve that by sitting securely here in Chicago.”

Alumni apparently share such sentiments. “Almost from the time we announced plans for our campus in Barcelona, alumni in Asia have been saying, ‘Why not here?’” said Bill Kooser, ’81, associate dean of executive M.B.A. programs. More than one thousand alumni are located in the Asia-Pacific region, including two hundred in Singapore.

Two alumni who played critical roles in bringing the GSB to Singapore were on hand for the announcement: Jack Wadsworth, ’63, chairman of the W.L.S. Spencer Foundation and of Morgan Stanley Asia Limited, and Cheng Wai-Keung, ’73, chairman and managing director of Singapore-based Wing Tai Holdings Ltd. Cheng’s company heads the consortium that owns the House of Tan Yeok Nee, the historic building that will house the school, and Cheng arranged the school’s use of the building. Jack and Susy Wadsworth, through their W.L.S. Spencer Foundation, will help fund the cost of outfitting the classrooms.

“This is not just another business school. This is one of the world’s leading graduate business schools whose faculty have had a major impact on creating present day global capital markets,” Wadsworth said. “Given the questions that are currently being raised about the role of capital markets in the continuing development of Asian and world economies, the timing could not be better for Chicago to spread its wings in Asia.”

The House of Tan Yeok Nee

One of the oldest structures in Singapore, the building will undergo extensive restoration and renovation as it evolves into the school’s Asian campus. Click here to learn how this national historic landmark will become the GSB's home in Asia.



Singapore Facts

Think you know Asia? Click here to get the facts on Singapore.

"Given the questions that are currently being raised about the role of capital markets in the continuing development of Asian and world economies, the timing could not be better for Chicago to spread its wings in Asia."–Jack Wadsworth, ’63
The International Executive M.B.A. Program (IXP) in Singapore will be taught in sixteen one-week modules spread over nineteen months. This allows business executives to continue working full time and to travel from throughout the Asia-Pacific region to Singapore and the GSB’s other locations to attend classes. Classes will begin midyear 2000 and will be taught by regular faculty. Enrollment will be limited to eighty executives per year.

The program will provide participants with “a truly global immersion in the fundamentals of business,” Hamada said. Four weeks of the program will be joint IXP sessions. Students in the Asian program will join students in the North American and European programs for joint sessions in Barcelona, Chicago, and Singapore. The program adds a global dimension to all GSB classes, Eppen pointed out, with advantages extending to all current and future M.B.A. students. Since regular faculty teach IXP courses, they bring the benefit of intense interaction with international executives back to classrooms in Chicago.

“All GSB students will encounter faculty who will be much more attuned to what is going on around the world,” said Eppen, Ralph and Dorothy Keller Distinguished Service Professor of Operations Management, who noted that he was “not the same person” when he returned from teaching in Barcelona. “Our teaching materials here had been too North American­centric, I think. Before we opened our Barcelona campus, most of our classroom examples were of North American companies, for instance. Since then, we’ve worked with companies–with alumni at ING Bank, for example–to develop European-based teaching materials, including cases.”

The Singapore campus adds a further dimension, introducing faculty to Asian companies and ways of doing business. “I can testify that firsthand exposure to the unique cultural, social, and historical factors that are special to Asia provides an invaluable overlay to conventional wisdom,” said Wadsworth, who has lived and conducted business in Asia for twelve years. Wadsworth points out yet another benefit: the Singapore campus introduces the Chicago school of business to the Asian economic community.

“It is more apparent than ever that macroeconomic success at the local and regional level requires a precise understanding of the global forces that result from global capital markets,” Wadsworth said. “Coming out of the Asian financial crisis is growing recognition that capital markets will favor governments and companies that are well managed and transparent with investors. Since the GSB’s academic tradition and research are central to capital market development, a better-educated business community in these disciplines will help Asia to compete effectively. A generation of managers and owners better equipped to deal with the efficient markets of the future will get the ‘Asian miracle’ back on track and keep it on track.”

The government of Singapore is especially interested in a better-educated business community. With a national initiative of becoming the “knowledge center” of Asia, the country has welcomed the GSB with open arms. Part of its support is financial, with the Singapore Economic Development Board providing start-up funds for the restoration of the House of Tan Yeok Nee.
Cheng Wai-Keung, ’73, who played a prominent role in bringing the GSB to Singapore, is among one thousand alumni located in the Asia-Pacific region, including two hundred in Singapore.

Chicago’s presence will help Singapore increase its competitiveness and business capabilities, said Teo Chee Hean, Singapore’s minister of education. “It will also help us harness the skills and forces that will successfully propel us into the knowledge era of the twenty-first century,” he said.

In addition to its stance on education, Singapore was chosen for the GSB’s Asian campus for several logistical reasons: its central location in Southeast Asia (just four to six hours away from major cities in Australia, China, Hong Kong, southern India, Japan, Korea, the Phillipines, and Taiwan, and much closer to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand); its strong infrastructure, including good transportation within the city and a modern international airport that is easy to reach from campus; and state-of-the-art communications. “In addition, everyone speaks English,” Eppen noted. All things considered, Singapore can be summed up in one word, Eppen said: “It’s easy.”

It helps, he added, that “they want us.” The country’s Economic Development Board has been aggressively recruiting prestigious educational institutions to teach in Singapore. In addition to Chicago, Georgia Institute of Technology, European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD), Johns Hopkins, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have also announced plans to teach classes in Singapore, although the only other institution to establish a permanent campus there is the France-based INSEAD, which will offer a full-time M.B.A. program.

As for considerations of academic freedom, the Singapore government has guaranteed full academic freedom to Chicago. A statement of the university’s policy on academic freedom was given to Singapore authorities, who “agreed that they could live with that,” Hamada said. In the event that something unexpected should occur that violates university policy, a faculty committee would be formed to determine a course of action.

With all logistics worked out, the next step is selecting the first class. “One of my first jobs as head of this program will be to select participants for the first class that starts in mid-year 2000,” Eppen said. “It shouldn’t be too difficult, because there are so many well-qualified executives throughout the Asia-Pacific region.” And as has been demonstrated, he added, “We know we will get great support from our alumni.”–C.N.



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