February 6, 2006

Johnson School Rank Drops From Last Year

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The Johnson Graduate School of Management dipped sharply in the Financial Times’ 2006 Global MBA rankings, released Jan. 30. The business school, which was 10th worldwide in 2000 and 16th in 2004, dropped to 36th this year.

Robert J. Swieringa, the Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean of the business school, sent an e-mail to all students early Monday morning notifying them of the rankings and promising to investigate the reasons for the school’s poor showing.

“We are disappointed with the results,” he wrote. “While we know that the points separating the schools are few, we still are very unhappy with the trend and the impact this has on our reputation.”

The Financial Times’ rankings were based on data from the graduating classes of 2000, 2001 and 2002- years that had significant difficulty with job placement across all schools because of the economic downturn after Sept. 11.

The business school fared significantly better in other major rankings, a number of which considered the same years, which made Swieringa call the FT results “uncharacteristic.”

In the 2006 U.S. News & World Report ranking, the Johnson School came in 15th place. They ranked 18th in The Wall Street Journal’s 2005 and 2004 rankings. And they showed even better in Forbes’ 2005 ranking (ninth place) and Business Week’s 2004 ranking (seventh place). Business Week will have its next report this fall.

Swieringa said despite the business school’s mixed ratings, “we’re still in a very competitive group.”

He said peer institutions include the Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School, Dartmouth College’s Tuck School and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School.

The FT’s rankings are based on 20 categories of criteria, most importantly weighted salary, salary percentage increase and research output. Johnson School graduates showed a 112 percent salary increase over their pre-MBA jobs, receiving an average salary of $119,442 within three years of graduation.

While this number was comparable to those for top-ten schools, other factors were much less impressive. Only 80 percent of alumni respondents said they achieved their aims through the MBA program and the Johnson School ranked 23rd in the alumni recommendation category.

Swieringa admitted that alumni response was relatively low. “We have to do a better job reaching out to alumni,” he said, noting that a high response rate, especially from high-salaried alumni, could help boost future ratings.

Karin Ash PhD ’99, director of the career management center, said a number of students were more interested in lower-paying jobs like those dealing with the environment, sustainable business and social responsibility. Entrepreneurship is also favored among graduates, although careers in finance, marketing and consulting are still the most popular. Because of the business school’s small size, she explained, even a few graduates going into lower-salaried fields impacts the overall salary number for the graduating class.

The FT rankings also considered the role of international exposure in MBA programs. The Johnson School ranked 73rd in international experience.

Still, Dean Swieringa said he liked that the FT ranking looked at “global measures