July 2010 Update
In the spring of 2009, we reached community-wide consensus on a new growth strategy for the College. The strategy was developed around Babson’s competitive advantage—building on what is essential to the Babson experience and accelerating our efforts to strengthen the core of the College, our undergraduate and graduate schools.
Attracting the most talented and diverse entrepreneurial students, faculty, and staff and enhancing what makes a Babson education so distinctive requires funding that exceeds what our traditional financial model can provide. We now have a solid financial model which is fundamental to the success of not only this strategy but our ability to lead for years to come.
Where is Babson heading?
Three goals are central to the College’s strategy going forward.
Goal #1: We want to be known as THE educator for Entrepreneurship of All Kinds®
If any single fact is widely-known about Babson, it is that the College is No. 1 in entrepreneurship education. Many also know that Babson has been the perennial innovator in management education. Our strategy builds on these successes, and the reality that entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial thinking extend well beyond the boundaries of traditional business organizations. After all, our mission is to educate leaders who create economic and social value in all kinds of settings. Some of these leaders start new businesses, others participate in family businesses, some create new products and processes within existing companies, and still others engage in social ventures, services, or movements.
Renewing the curriculum is essential to Babson’s continued role as the educator for entrepreneurship of all kinds. Undergraduate and graduate faculty committees are working on revising our curriculum to ensure that what we teach is totally contemporary and how we teach it fits into our strategic vision—providing the best education that is affordable and educating our students for the jobs of the future.
Their focus is on two areas. First, we are extending our leadership in curriculum innovation to take into account that business solutions must not only generate profits, they must be sustainable and meet desired social objectives. Profit maximization has been virtually the exclusive outcome of the traditional business education model (now called into question by the global financial meltdown), while Social, Environmental, Economic Responsibility, and Sustainability (SEERS) issues have been on the periphery. We are ensuring that these issues are central to a Babson education. The U.N.’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) which the Babson faculty has formally endorsed, provide us with a powerful base to build on. Our students have demonstrated a strong interest in this shift to responsible management.
We already are moving in this direction through the gift of The Lewis Family Foundation, which is being used to connect teaching, research, and practice to social innovation at Babson, to bring new and expanded resources to campus, and to make Babson the “go to” place for those pursuing sustainable practices and new ways of creating social value. The Lewis gift will enable Babson to be the educator, amplifier, accelerator, and communicator for social innovation, ensuring that we are the leader in this expanding realm of entrepreneurship.
Second, the pedagogy underlying business education has always been based on an analytical and predictive view of the world. Babson has an action-oriented, “live with ambiguity and uncertainty” way of looking at the world, which is quite different and which underlies Entrepreneurial Thought & Action (ET&A). The method by which we teach and advance entrepreneurship, ET&A builds on Babson’s longstanding curricular emphasis on action learning and extends it to every type of venture in the broadest array of settings. As part of our curriculum revision, we are integrating ET&A as the umbrella organizing concept across the disciplines taught in our undergraduate and graduate school programs, as well as in Babson Executive Education (BEE) offerings.
One additional point that is essential to understanding both SEERS and ET&A at the College—they do not end in the classroom. They already are an important part of the overall undergraduate experience, and we will further enrich our co-curricular activities with links to classroom and practice-based learning. Although our MBA programs do not involve the amount of time on campus afforded by a four-year residential experience, the number of high quality well-attended MBA events confirms that co-curricular activities also build a highly-engaged MBA community and drive deeper interest in social and economic value creation. And, our collaboration with the F.W. Olin College of Engineering and Wellesley College enables us to capitalize on the strengths of the three colleges to offer a wider array of curricular and co-curricular activities to all our students.
To prepare our students for the expected outcome of an entrepreneurial education—careers that are rewarding personally and professionally—our career development offices at both the undergraduate and graduate schools are responding to the magnitude of the recent shifts in the marketplace. An ever-changing environment, new industries, career paths that are no longer linear, as well as issues of work/life balance, introduce a level of complexity in connecting employers with Babson students and graduates. As we continue to build a strong and active network of alumni and friends of the College around the world, our career services teams increasingly will draw on this network as an additional resource and will utilize the latest technologies in working with alumni and recruiters.
On the technology front, there is a tendency to think of technology opportunities primarily in the context of blended learning through the extension of our MBA Fast Track. While we will continue to evolve that technology, the next generation curriculum will involve embedding technology in all aspects of a Babson education. Whether on or off campus, the educational experience we provide is going to be materially affected by technology.
Goal #2: We want to extend our capabilities to the world.
Our campus has long been global, with a broad and diverse international student population—substantially broader and more diverse for the size of our community than most schools in the U.S. We also have been global in our curriculum, through our overseas electives as well as the new undergraduate Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC) program and the graduate school’s Global Entrepreneurship Program (GEP). Babson faculty, staff, and students are increasingly “on the ground” in all regions of the world, participating in an exciting and expanding portfolio of hands-on projects. A very substantial portion of BEE’s business has always been with global companies and delivered abroad. And, Babson has been positioned globally as the convener and catalyst for entrepreneurship education through our global research projects—the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), the DIANA Project (a study of female business owners and their business growth activities), the Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference (BCERC), the Successful Transgenerational Entrepreneurship Practices (STEP) Project, and the Symposium for Entrepreneurship Educators (SEE).
The newest means of extending our global reach is through Babson Global, created last spring with a focus on global projects and activities that center on consulting, research, curriculum innovation, sponsorship, and policy guidance. Babson is capitalizing on the heightened interest and extraordinary demand for entrepreneurship education and policy guidance. Babson Global provides new opportunities to facilitate the adaptation of our work to different local settings, with significant implications for the global economy. It also provides an important new source of revenues (through consulting, sponsorship, and other fees) for our core, which will be used for ongoing curriculum renewal and faculty development, as well as for facilitating the co-curricular activities aligned with our curriculum. The College and Babson Global share an absolute dedication to continuing to advance Babson’s educational mission.
There are currently five Babson Global projects:
- The Global Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education (formerly known as GEEN) is a network of academic institutions around the world committed to innovating and spreading entrepreneurship education. One part of the Global Consortium—the Entrepreneurial Experience Lab—will develop the next generation of entrepreneurship curriculum and pedagogy by creating and testing cutting-edge concepts in entrepreneurial learning. It already has begun to build a video database of entrepreneurial experiences to be used in developing next generation curriculum. The second part of the Global Consortium will diffuse innovations from the Entrepreneurial Experience Lab to dramatically impact the quality of entrepreneurship teaching and curricula at member schools. All of its activities also will extend and enrich Babson’s own programs. The faculty director for the Global Consortium is Heidi Neck, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship.
- The Abu Dhabi School of Management, a project of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will grant MBA and Undergraduate degrees in business, with a focus on entrepreneurship. Babson will assist in the creation and operation of all aspects of the new school, which will be designed and operated to meet AACSB International accreditation standards. The project is beginning this summer, with a first cohort to matriculate as early as September 2011.
- The Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem is an action research project to develop the entrepreneurial capacity in diverse communities by bringing together the policies, structures, programs, and climate that foster entrepreneurship. As described by Dan Isenberg, Babson Global’s Professor of Management Practice and project director, in the Harvard Business Review article “How to Start an Entrepreneurial Revolution,” the project offers down-to-earth guidelines for leaders who want to foster entrepreneurship. We are now advising several regions of the world on how to create entrepreneurial ecosystems to nurture and sustain new ventures.
- Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses is a $500 million investment by Goldman Sachs to help create jobs and economic opportunity in the United States through greater access to business education, mentors and networks, and financial capital. $200 million will support the educational aims of the project: to provide scholarships to underserved small business owners, build educational capacity, and train both the teachers of these entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurs themselves. Babson is the lead educational institution in the development and diffusion of this new entrepreneurship curriculum that Goldman Sachs will fund as “a gift to the world.” Patti Greene, Professor of Entrepreneurship, is leading a team of Babson faculty who are preparing the national curriculum.
- The Entrepreneurial Planet (ePlanet) website will be the online convening space for participants in the global entrepreneurship movement: entrepreneurs at all stages and in all settings, educators, funders, policymakers, support service providers, as well as suppliers and vendors to entrepreneurs. Co-sponsored by Babson, along with a foundation and corporate partners to be named, the ePlanet site will aggregate content from across the web, provide resources for entrepreneurs, and serve as a place for collaboration. This provides us with a platform to engage opinion leaders and influencers outside of Babson who can showcase the vital importance of entrepreneurship to our economy and society.
As you can see, we have prestigious partners in meaningful relationships, which will translate into better outcomes for our students and for our academic reputation and reach. There will likely be other initiatives added to Babson Global, but right now the focus is on the projects already underway.
As I said at last year’s Commencement, we don’t want to be big, we just want to do big things. Our partnerships provide us with the opportunities and financial wherewithal to realize that aspiration. So do the connections and relationships of our global network of alumni, parents, corporations, and friends of the College who have a “Babson home” in our new office, the Babson Alumni and Friends Network. The greatest global opportunities derive from Babson’s own unique strengths—our top-ranked and globally-recognized undergraduate and graduate programs and our leadership in entrepreneurship of all kinds. And, there are no better champions of Babson than our network of alumni and friends.
Goal #3: We want to ensure a fully sustainable financial model for the College.
As I have said many times, while other institutions are playing defense with extensive cutbacks in faculty and programs, we have shifted to offense. Over the past year we have taken decisive steps to build a multi-year operating model to fund our needs and aspirations and provide for long-term institutional prosperity. As a result, our budget is projected to be balanced for our core activities—the undergraduate and graduate programs—through 2014.
This financial model depends on our ability to continue to manage operations carefully and to keep costs under control, as well as on contributions from the return on our endowment and annual giving to the College. Tuition alone does not cover the high-touch, highly-interactive higher educational model of Babson. The additional revenues from Babson Global and BEE, as well as anticipated philanthropy on a larger scale from new sources and the successful completion of the Babson Rising campaign, will provide the funds necessary to keep our undergraduate and graduate programs innovative and first-rate in all respects. At the same time, it is the reputational capital of our core that creates opportunities for Babson Global and BEE. Indeed, as the following diagram indicates, reputation and revenues together build a self-reinforcing cycle for Babson’s future success.
How will Babson Global impact the work of faculty and staff?
The overwhelming majority of our staff are not materially affected by Babson Global in their day-to-day efforts; they will continue to devote their time fully to the efficient and effective operations of the College, focused largely on undergraduate and graduate degree programs and BEE. Most faculty as well remain focused on their teaching and research work; some will “sign up” to be part of the Babson Global projects, leveraging both the intellectual and reputational capital of the College for these projects. In addition to Babson faculty, Babson Global will draw on a global talent base when the demands of different marketplaces, faculty workloads, and schedules mandate supplementing our in-house capacity.
Making the strategy a success: what does it mean for each of us?
It is vitally important that all of us be able to tell the Babson story and understand our part in making it happen. All members of the Babson community need to recognize how they connect up to where the College is heading.
I welcome your thoughts, and look forward to discussing how together we can deliver on the strategy that is of such great importance to Babson’s future.