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Mendoza achieves top school ranking

Megan Doyle | Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Banners hang above the lobby of the Mendoza College of Business that read, “We are number one. It’s a responsibility.”

After Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s March 3 announcement of Mendoza as the No. 1 undergraduate business school in the nation for the second consecutive year, Mendoza Dean Carolyn Woo said this message holds true.

“We really reinforce the message that you need to win with ethics,” Woo said. “We are most proud of the fact that a Catholic school that stands on this message is also recognized as the best business education. … This is a tremendous blessing for us to stand for our mission, to be a witness on behalf of the mission.”

The ranking was part of BusinessWeek’s sixth annual survey of “The Best Undergraduate Business Schools.”

After Notre Dame, BusinessWeek listed the University of Virginia, Emory University, the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University in the top five business schools.

According to a University press release, Mendoza ranked in the top spot due to the school’s 98 percent placement rate three months after graduation. Notre Dame also received the highest rate of student satisfaction.

“Where we stand out is really the students’ experience, the quality of the teaching, the outreach of the alumni and the extraordinary placement office,” Woo said. “The goal is not to optimize our performance on the rankings. We just want our students to be very successful.”

In the past two years, Woo said the college introduced a new course called “Foresight for Business and Society” as a requirement for all juniors in the business school. The course looks at future trends in business and their implications for industry.

“It differentiates our students from the other business schools when they go interviewing [for jobs],” she said. “The way they talk, the topics they can shed light on, the way they can describe their interests are all at a different level.”

While the college excelled in several areas of the BusinessWeek survey, Woo said Mendoza struggles with over enrollment and a high student-to-faculty ratio. The current ratio is almost 20 students to one Mendoza faculty member, while most private schools strive for an eight-to-one ratio.

Mendoza’s ideal enrollment is roughly 550 students per class year, Woo said, but the most recently enrolled sophomore class is around 640 students.

“Our enrollment is going through the roof,” she said. “Right now the next step is really brainstorming about undergraduate enrollment, what is the right size.”

Currently, Notre Dame freshmen can select any college and major. This year, Mendoza students were informed they might not always be able to pursue their preference inside the college.

Woo said the finance major is capped at 250 students, but 290 current sophomores indicated finance as their first choice. The college will evaluate all these students using an algorithm based on academic standing, and they will then select 250 students to fill the finance major. The other 40 students will need to choose another business major.

“We are right now brainstorming about what we need to do,” Woo said. “I think strategically for the University of Notre Dame, having more distribution across the colleges and across majors is a healthier development than having a big concentration or cluster around one or two majors.”

Woo said the University has not reached a conclusion about how to solve the problem.

“Despite the fact that we are completely overenrolled, every year we graduate, including the graduate program, over 1,000 students,” she said. “And so the idea of the impact of having over 1,000 students go into industry and carry this message of integrity and common good as a basis for success really gives me a lot of satisfaction.”