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UW-Madison's School of Business is considering eliminating its two-year MBA program.

ANNA DULMES, UW-MADISON SCHOOL OF BUSINESS

The Wisconsin School of Business is considering shutting down its full-time Master of Business Administration program, officials say, in a move that would make UW-Madison the latest university to stop offering a traditional MBA.

Professor Donald Hausch, the business school’s associate dean for MBA programs, told students in an email Wednesday that faculty are reviewing a proposal that would discontinue the program, which enrolls about 100 students per year.

Current students would not be affected by the change, nor would the school’s executive and evening MBA programs, business Dean Anne P. Massey said Friday.

Closing the two-year, full-time MBA is part of a broader overhaul of the business school’s offerings, which includes growing undergraduate programs and adding some “new and very innovative specialized master’s programs,” Massey said.

“What we’re trying to do … is to strengthen our impact for our students and the greater community,” she said. “We have to do that by being relevant to the changes in the market.”

The business school’s Academic Planning Council and Master’s Curriculum Committee are now considering the proposal; a faculty vote to approve it could come as soon as Nov. 6.

Massey declined to say how quickly the proposal would be implemented.

Several universities have moved away from the full-time MBA model lately — the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business announced in August that it will shut down its program, while Wake Forest and Virginia Tech have done the same in recent years.

An annual survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council found applications for two-year MBA programs dropped for the fourth straight year in 2017, with nearly two-thirds of schools reporting declining applications.

UW-Madison officials did not provide data on MBA applications Friday, but Massey said they have been “pretty flat.”

Online petition begun

Students and alumni expressed surprise and disappointment. More than 260 people have signed an online petition calling on the business school to drop the proposal.

First-year MBA student Rodrigo Stabio said many students are still in the dark about what the proposal could mean after learning about it in Hausch’s email Wednesday. Business school leaders have scheduled a meeting for current students on Monday.

Stabio said he is waiting for more information before making up his mind about whether the plan is a good idea.

But he said he is concerned that shutting down the program could threaten UW-Madison’s membership in the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, which works to improve the representation of minorities in business schools and corporate leadership, and provides fellowships to full-time MBA students. UW-Madison is a founding member of the consortium.

“By shutting (the program) down you’re shutting down a lot of diversity that’s coming to Wisconsin,” Stabio said.

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Nico Savidge is the higher education reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.