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MBA program listed as one of nation’s top 16 for “green” industries

Kristen Durbin | Friday, March 25, 2011

Notre Dame prides itself on its top-ranked undergraduate programs in the Mendoza College of Business, but the University has more than just its programs to be proud of —the sustainable reputation of the College’s MBA program has also grabbed nation-wide attention.

In its April article “A Sustainable Degree,” Entrepreneur magazine listed Notre Dame among 16 of the nation’s top business schools for MBA students seeking careers in “green” industries.

The magazine selected MBA programs based on a survey of administrators and students at 325 graduate schools of business during the 2009-10 school year, Director of MBA Admissions Brian Lohr said.

“Even though this is a listing, not a ranking, of graduate business schools, our selection means that we are one of the best programs in the country for students seeking careers in sustainable industries,” Lohr said.

The selection process took several factors into account, including the availability of courses on sustainability and career center guidance for students interested in “green” jobs. Notre Dame’s varied course offerings and career planning resources qualified the MBA program to be considered for Entrepreneur’s listing, Lohr said.

“We offer courses like Ethics in Finance and Banking, Sustainability in Business, and Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability, all of which relate directly to sustainable business and industry,” Lohr said. “The Career Center also provides students with access to opportunities in ‘green’ industries and to Notre Dame alumni who work in those fields.”

General Electric Co., a major “green” industry leader, is the No. 1 recruiter of Notre Dame MBA students. Their current work in developing sustainable energy technologies ties in with the MBA program’s recently recognized “green” reputation, Lohr said.

Lohr said GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt spoke to Notre Dame MBA students at the GE Live Forum in October 2009 about the company’s strong relationship with the University.

“He said the company is attracted to Notre Dame students because they bring an excellent skill set and ethical business decision making to the table,” Lohr said. “They are able to consider how business decisions impact not only the bottom line but also the local community and ecology.”

Companies value the strong ethical mindset of Notre Dame students, especially in relation to issues of sustainability, Lohr said.

“What company wouldn’t want to be part of a relationship with Notre Dame?” Lohr said. “The ethos of this place is one that people want to be around because we do things the right way, and we’re ethical in practices of business.”

This week, Notre Dame contributed to the discourse on sustainable business by hosting a conference titled, “The U.N. Millennium Development Goals: The Global Compact and the Common Good.” Aspects of the conference focused on sustainability and global citizenship on the part of multinational businesses and investment, topics that reflect the growing interest in sustainable business, Lohr said.

“This generation is really in tune with sustainable, ‘green’ practices within organizations and how they can impact the world,” Lohr said. “If we can show we’re a leader in that area, that will impact our applicant pool in a positive way.”

The availability of sustainable research opportunities also factored into Entrepreneur’s selection of “green” MBA programs, Lohr said. MBA students at Notre Dame have the opportunity to participate in research through elective courses, and several professors are conducting research related to sustainable business.

Assistant professor of Management Corey Angst is currently studying the functionality of paperless classrooms through the use of e-readers, Lohr said. Associate professor of Management Matt Bloom and visiting assistant professor of Management Ante Glavas studied the effects of working for “green” companies on employee motivation and job satisfaction.

Director of MBA Program Initiatives Bill Brennan said the program distinguishes itself from other MBA programs by offering interterm intensive courses to students prior to midterm break each semester.

These four-day, two-credit experiential learning courses offer students the opportunity to solve real problems for major corporations in small groups, learn cutting-edge, critical skills and apply their time and talents to resolve social issues in cooperation with nonprofit foundations, Brennan said.

“Every year, I poll the new class of MBA students about the interterm intensives, and roughly 70 percent of them chose Notre Dame partly because of that aspect of the program,” Brennan said. “Few schools do anything like this, and it’s an innovative part of our curriculum.”

Brennan said the interterm platform ties directly into developments in sustainable business, especially when students work with companies like GE, IBM, Boeing and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters to solve real-life problems related to sustainability and corporate citizenship.

“It’s a win-win situation because companies get a fresh perspective while students get great experiential learning opportunities,” Brennan said. “The people we partner with value the experience, and we work with them to develop new business strategies, especially in the area of sustainability.”

In one of several interterm intensive courses offered in the past, a group of students worked with Dairy Management, Inc. to develop a sustainable process for incorporating waste from dairy farms into sources of energy, Brennan said.

He said he believes Notre Dame’s reputation as a “green” business school can only improve the prospects for the future.

“There’s no doubt there will be more focus on sustainability and corporate citizenship in society as a whole, and we are very well-positioned as a business school to participate in that area because of things we are already doing,” he said. “It fits into the Catholic character and mission of the University, so I can only see that being enhanced and continuing to evolve in the future.”