Notes from Beijing

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I have just returned to Chicago Booth’s Singapore campus from attending the opening of the Center in Beijing, the University of Chicago’s first outpost in China. Here’s a write-up on the opening including some pictures of the beautiful Center:

(http://www.uchicago.edu/features/20100913_china.shtml)

The opening was a wonderful celebration of the many connections that exist between the University and China. With a series of events to mark the occasion led by University President Zimmer and attended by several high level Chinese ministers, faculty, University Trustees, Chicago alumni, students and friends of the School I left thinking how far we’ve come.

During one of the many celebratory events held in Beijing, Chicago Booth Interim Dean Harry Davis reminded us of the importance of outreach to the University’s mission. Indeed it was the University’s first President William Rainey Harper, not content with the boundaries of our first campus in Chicago who established outreach as a core value for the University. Read more about the fascinating life of President Harper here:.

http://president.uchicago.edu/history/harper.shtml

While President Harper’s vision only anchored that vision as far as “towns west of Chicago”, with a presence in Booth campuses in Singapore (2000) and London (2005) and University centers in Paris (2004) and now Beijing (2010) - Chicago has not only gone west of Chicago, but also east, north and south. President Harper would be proud.

Of course international expansion by educational institutions isn’t something exclusive to the University of Chicago. One doesn’t need to look too far to see countless examples of how schools have executed global strategies. In pushing beyond home borders a University must face hundreds of practical matters including answering important questions about what kinds of activities to organize internationally.

For many Universities, their business schools and in particular Executive MBA programs have often been at the forefront of this expansion into new markets.

Why is this?

1. The modular nature of Executive MBA programs - First the modular nation of Executive MBA programs lend themselves to allowing University to be efficient with one of its most previous resources - its faculty.

2. The target market for Executive MBA program - Executive MBA programs target talented and seasoned professionals who because of great demands on their time don’t always have the time to cross continents in search of management education. Solutions closer to home are valuable.

3. Advancements in mobility - When President Harper first said those famous words about the importance of outreach a 22 hour journey from Chicago (by train) took someone as far as Hutchinson, Kansas. Now that same 22 hours will take our faculty to Singapore. Students also benefit from relatively easy travel making frequent trips to/from an Executive MBA program possible.

4. The digital age - The rise of electronic communications support distance learning and facilitate academic support that often ease some of the strain of studying part-time while working.

5. Trends in global business - More and more businesses are earning the majority of their revenue outside their home country. They expect their managers to have professional networks - from diverse industries and around the world - just the kind Executive MBA programs offer efficiently and effectively.

While Chicago Booth will be keeping Singapore as the base of our Asian Executive MBA program leaving the University to focus on other activities in Beijing we all look forward to continuing to fulfill President Harper’s vision.

Glenn Sykes
Associate Dean
Singapore