January 22, 2009
Dear Members of the Babson Community:
Welcome new students, faculty, and staff—and welcome back to everyone returning to campus. I also want to extend greetings at the start of our spring semester to members of our community off campus—alumni, parents, and Fast Track students. I hope that the early weeks of 2009 are going well for all of you.
I sent my last comprehensive community message to you in September. At that time, we were launching a process of community engagement to develop a new strategy for the College. Rather than present a detailed strategy to the community, we offered some initial ideas on how Babson might move forward, and we have been actively engaged in conversations since then where we could listen and learn. After dozens of meetings with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and parents—and one online webinar with alumni around the world—I can say with certainty that we have reached out to include the entire community in the strategic planning process.
Beginning with our faculty, I will send a revised strategy paper shortly, outlining action steps that reflect these conversations. As a community, we have learned from this dialogue that what we do does not have to change as much as how we do it. How we do things has to change not only as a result of our strategy, but also to match the new economic realities we face. By focusing our strategy agenda on “how,” we can build a multi-year operating model which is not only dependable and sustainable, but also attractive to our students, corporate clients, and academic partners.
While we were discussing how the College could or should change, the world around us was changing dramatically. In the midst of a financial crisis and economic times that very few of us have seen before, many colleges and universities are taking drastic “belt-tightening” measures. Fortunately, we do not have the endowment dependence that would cause us to see a major part of our operating revenue evaporate. We have an educational product that remains in demand in the marketplace. So, while our undergraduate enrollments are expected to remain strong, we are closely watching graduate enrollments, particularly Evening and Fast Track, which are most likely to be impacted as corporations trim their expenses on education.
Still, losses in our endowment are significant—amounting to approximately 24% ($45.9 million) for the six-month period ending December 31, 2008—and require us to scrutinize our budget in every possible way for savings. We will continue to act prudently going forward, especially by slowing the growth of expenditures where that is feasible. We are working with managers across the College to update our Fiscal Year 2009 forecast, and we are looking for opportunities to decrease FY 2009 spending at a minimum of 1-3%. This will help reduce the impact of recent endowment losses in future years. And, in addition to cost decreases, we are also looking actively for additional sources of revenue.
At the same time, we want to ensure that there is no reduction in the quality of the student experience and we are continuing to invest in what is integral to that experience inside as well as outside the classroom. We also are maintaining our vision for the longer-term so that we can grow, continue to build on our strengths and, with Babson resourcefulness, adapt to a rapidly changing world.
Babson has long been recognized in rankings surveys for its entrepreneurial teaching, curriculum innovation, and faculty excellence. It is particularly gratifying that in these economic times we have been recognized on yet another front—for delivering great value. Earlier this month we were cited by The Princeton Review as one of the 50 “best value” choices among private colleges and universities for 2009. The selection criteria covered academics, costs of attendance, and financial aid. In the words of The Princeton Review, these schools provide “stellar academics with a modest price tag.” It speaks volumes that our school is considered one of the best values in higher education. We are working hard to make sure that it is affordable to our students and prospective students across all our programs.
We have received recognition on other fronts as well. Last month Business Week published its specialty rankings for graduate programs and Babson ranked #4 for curriculum innovation—right behind Stanford, Chicago, and Northwestern. In particular, we were cited for our integrated modular MBA curriculum. These results take on special significance considering that the respondents to this survey are all corporate recruiters—a testament to the high regard in which our MBAs and our MBA program are held by employers. Also, last fall in Business Week’s ranking of The Best B-Schools, Babson’s faculty was awarded an A for teaching, based on a survey of our graduating MBAs from the Class of 2008.
- Early Applications—early decision (ED) and early action (EA) applications decreased slightly (7%) this year. The quality and diversity of the applicant pool for both ED and EA was strong. Of the nearly 600 students we admitted, 48% are women, 16% international, and 25% multicultural.
- Regular Applications—While the mail is still being opened, Regular Decision applications are down less than 3% to date, due to the combined simultaneous effects of a poor economy and the anticipated downturn in national demographics. In total, more than 4,100 applications have been received to date – the second highest application total in Babson’s history. We anticipate a final applicant pool that is just 4% down from last year’s record total.
- January Enrollment—January enrollment numbers came in ahead of our target with a total of 26 entering students (24 transfer students and two first-year students). By comparison, last year we enrolled a total of 15 students in January (14 transfers and one first-year).
- The incoming Evening MBA class was welcomed earlier this month with a day of orientation activities. The group was energetic and excited about the choice of Babson for their MBA. At the same time, enrollment was down 42% from last year—98 in January 2008 to 57 this year. The reasons are straightforward: companies are extending less money for new employees in MBA programs, and in many companies there are new caps on overall reimbursements. Program quality continues to be excellent and student satisfaction is high.
- Our next Fast Track Class, which begins in March, is in line with enrollment targets at this time. Applications are up 7% and deposits have increased by 24%—confirming market demand for hybrid (distance learning plus face-to-face classes) MBA programs.
Given the realities of a difficult job market in this economy, we encourage all undergraduate and graduate students who are completing their programs this year to use their entrepreneurial skills to uncover opportunity among the current challenges. We can’t overemphasize how important it is to use all resources available to you at this time, including our Centers for Career Development and the entire Babson community. Faculty and staff are ready to help, but it is up to you to take the initiative—and if you haven’t started a job search yet, you should start today.
Faculty Awards and Honors
Since September, our faculty has been recognized on many fronts for their accomplishments:
- Elaine Allen, Associate Professor of Statistics and Entrepreneurship, and Jeff Seaman, a Consultant at Babson, won the best paper award at the European Online Education Research Conference—the only global, and the largest, conference on online education. The paper is Examining the Extent and Nature of Online Learning in the U.S. 2002-2007.
- Tom Davenport, President’s Distinguished Professor of Information Technology and Management; Michael Goldstein, Professor of Finance; Ross Petty, Professor of Law; Anne Roggeveen, Associate Professor of Marketing; and Andrew Zacharakis, Professor of Entrepreneurship and holder of the John H. Muller Jr. Chair in Entrepreneurship, received 2008 Faculty Scholarship Awards. These awards are based on faculty members’ significant achievements in scholarly research in their fields.
- Phil Dover, Associate Professor of Marketing, and Udo Dierk (International Center for Management Learning, Germany) were awarded second prize in an international research competition honoring the best scientific projects from business and administration on the topic of Innovative Strategies for the Sustainable Internationalization of Companies.
- Mary Godwyn, Assistant Professor of Sociology, won the Dark Side VII Case Writing Competition with her case, Hugh Connerty and Hooters: What is Successful Entrepreneurship? The competition was sponsored by the Critical Management Studies Interest Group and the Management Education Division of the Academy of Management.
- Dhruv Grewal, Professor of Marketing and holder of the Toyota Chair in Commerce and Electronic Business, with Anne Roggeveen, Associate Professsor of Marketing, and Ronnie Goodstein, of Georgetown University, won awards for the Best Retailing Paper and the Best Overall Conference Paper at the Academy of Marketing Science 2008 Conference.
- Cheryl Kirschner, Lecturer in Law, received the 2008 Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Undergraduate School.
- Dennis Mathaisel, Professor of Management Science, received a best paper award for Exceeding the Competition by Implementing A Lean Enterprise Approach for Change, at the Applied Business Research Conference.
- Paul Mulligan, Associate Professor of Management, received the 2008 Award for Excellence in Teaching at Babson Executive Education.
- Heidi Neck, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship, with Dennis Ceru, Lecturer in Entrepreneurship, won the Best Workshop Award at the U.S. Small Business & Entrepreneurship (USASBE) for The Adventure of Entrepreneurship: A Video Case of Ernest Shackleton.
- Dessislava Pachamanova, Associate Professor of Operations Research; Ernie Parizeau, Adjunct Lecturer in Entrepreneurship; and Bill Stitt, Senior Lecturer in Management, received the 2008 Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Graduate School.
- Mark Rice, Professor of Entrepreneurship and holder of the Frederic C. Hamilton Chair in Free Enterprise Studies, was named to a blue-ribbon advisory board of the National Business Incubation Association, the world’s leading organization advancing business incubation and entrepreneurship.
The fundraising results for the first half of our fiscal year (July 1-December 31, 2008) are quite positive. Despite the economic times, the Babson community is coming forward, meeting its philanthropic commitments and entering into new commitments. We were 8% ahead of last year on cash receipts (and last year was a record year): $6.47M versus $5.99M. In terms of revenue (new cash and new commitments), we are 17% ahead of last year: $6.08M versus $5.18M on December 31, 2007.
One of our recent gifts is from Fortis Investments in Boston. Fortis gave us $500,000 to establish an endowed scholarship fund, and to provide resources so the scholarships can be awarded beginning in September 2009. The gift was driven by the company’s experience with our students. Last summer they had five of our students as interns, and they are hiring three of them full-time in May when they graduate. It’s a great story—and kudos to our terrific students!
The fundraising team is firing on all cylinders. Many thanks to the Babson team and to all of our donors.
Between July and December 2008, the Alumni Relations team supported over 50 events (in addition to Back to Babson) in locales ranging from campus to Santiago, Chile and Dubai. More than 3,000 Babsonians participated in these events. If we add the attendance at Back to Babson and Inauguration, just under 6,000 attendees were involved in Babson events in the first half of the fiscal year.
The Career Affinity Groups (CAGs) continue to thrive and, in a new trend, are exploring ways to partner with regional clubs. Currently, the vast majority of the CAG programs are held on campus, limiting participation to those who live and work locally. By creating partnerships with the regional clubs, the CAGs will reach a larger population and enrich club programs. Efforts have begun with the Boston, Providence, and New York clubs, with the hopes of expanding over the coming six to twelve months, ideally to both domestic and international groups.
In addition to faculty lectures and professional networking events, family-friendly programs are in demand. We experimented with a larger number of sporting events (Pawtucket Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Falcons, and more), and based on the enthusiastic response, will continue to grow those events. The clubs are also building low/no cost events for families–examples include New York’s free movie nights in Bryant Park, and Providence’s downtown family skate nights.
Among our many global teaching programs, Babson faculty delivered our flagship Symposium for Entrepreneurship Educators (SEE) in Russia during the fall, with support from Banco Santander. In collaboration with St. Petersburg State University, Babson faculty including Heidi Neck, Bill Coyle, Walter Esquivel, and Andrew Zacharakis delivered this intensive four-day program to more than 60 entrepreneurship teachers in the region as well as to Russian business executives.
Undergraduate Dean Dennis Hanno and 40 undergraduate and MBA students, faculty, and staff volunteers spent winter break in Ghana, teaching entrepreneurship and business to over 1,000 Ghanaian learners from high school age to adults. It culminated in a regional business plan competition sponsored by Babson. Babson also signed on corporate sponsors who fully funded new computer facilities at three schools.
Six Babson students are part of a Management Consulting Field Experience (MCFE) consulting team that has been working with business executives and the Rwandan government to develop a business plan that will help to create an English Language and Management Training Institute in Rwanda. Several faculty members and Dean Hanno traveled to Rwanda during Thanksgiving break to present the team’s recommendations.
Other overseas school programs during the winter break included an undergraduate course in London, offshore courses for graduate students in Tanzania and Chile, the kick-off of an undergraduate Junior MCFE in Switzerland, and the kickoff of MBA MCFEs in Chile and Costa Rica
We are currently evaluating requests from Russia, India, and Saudi Arabia about developing a Babson-style college experience in their countries. This outreach to Babson is an indication of how much other countries recognize the value of the curriculum, teaching, and research at Babson. We are also getting inquiries from one of the Emirates countries about our assistance in creating an executive education program based on the Babson model.
Entrepreneurship Research—Global and Local
In mid-January we released the results of the 10th annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2008 Report. The research surveyed 150,000 adults in 43 countries just before the true scale of the current worldwide financial and economic crisis was realized. One of this year’s key findings was that the global economic meltdown is reducing perceived opportunities to start a business, but entrepreneurs are determined to stay in business.
- In December, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick was on campus at a briefing to release the 2008 (and the first) Babson Entrepreneurship Monitor (BEM) for the Commonwealth. This also is the first time that the GEM methodology has been applied at the state level anywhere in the U.S.
The Sixth Annual MLK Jr. Legacy Day will be held on Wednesday, February 18, 2009, at the Sorenson Theater. This year’s featured speaker will be Kevin Powell, a poet, journalist, author, political activist, and social entrepreneur. The day’s activities include classroom discussions, an essay and speech contest, and presentation of the MLK Jr. Leadership Award.
Entrepreneurial Energy Expo (E3): Capitalizing on Cleantech. E3 is the largest annual event organized by our MBA students and their Babson Energy and Environment Club. Please join the rest of the Babson community on Thursday, March 26, for a day of education about emerging clean energy solutions, networking, and celebrating successful clean technology.
We will keep you posted about other upcoming Babson events when their dates are finalized.
Another exciting semester is underway! I look forward to seeing you on campus and, as always, welcome your phone calls, visits, and e-mails.