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The Dean's Digest - February 2013

imageDr. Ron Shiffler, dean of the McColl School of Business
02/06/13 -  

Two years ago this headline appeared in an article in U.S. News & World Report: "Top MBA Programs Embrace Online Education." Six months ago this headline appeared in an article in Business Week: "B-Schools Jump on the Online MBA Bandwagon." Less than a month ago (January 26, 2013) Thomas Friedman extolled the potential of "MOOCs" - massive open online courses - in his op-ed article titled "Revolution Hits the Universities" in The New York Times.

What's going on? The answer is that online education has become mainstream, that "top" MBA programs are players, and that a digital tsunami is about to overtake higher education. As mid-career professionals try to juggle work, family, travel and school demands, the flexibility of "going to class online" is quite appealing.

Queens University of Charlotte is venturing into this brave new world with three online masters degrees scheduled to launch fall 2013. The new online degrees include a master of arts in communication, a master of arts in educational leadership, and a master of science in nursing. Our university has partnered with Deltak, a third party provider of online infrastructure and expertise, to deliver distance learning.

In the McColl School, we are moving forward to create and deliver an MBA program online. A faculty task force is working on curriculum design, admissions requirements, and assurance of learning protocols. In addition, we have tapped into our alumni base for their suggestions and feedback. One excellent suggestion, for example, was that some of our PMBA and EMBA alums might serve as virtual mentors to the new class on McColl School students in the online program. Wouldn't that be unique?!

Concerns have been voiced about preserving the McColl brand. For our "brand new" online offering we will be creating a "new brand," one that is unique, emphasizes virtual leadership, is high touch, and differentiates us from other b-schools that are jumping in.

This is a strategic move. To be competitive in three to five years, we have to have a product in the online space. We won't abandon the PMBA or EMBA; we will simply deliver the MBA in a different platform to a different pool of potential students. This is the way higher education is moving as tomorrow's students for our masters' programs are today's undergraduates, and today's undergraduates are as plugged into technology as any generation in the history of the world.

We face a tall challenge to develop a high quality online MBA program. But our faculty, alumni, and advisory board members have signaled that they are on board and ready to extend the McColl School name beyond the borders of Charlotte.

As always, we'd love to hear from you, we'd love to meet you for coffee some morning, and we would love for you to subscribe to the McColl School blog. It's your move.

Ron Shiffler


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