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Mendoza earns No. 1 ranking once again

Kristen Durbin | Thursday, March 22, 2012

Move over, Notre Dame football. There’s a new Fighting Irish dynasty in town.

For the third consecutive year, Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business was named the top undergraduate business school in the country by Bloomberg Businessweek magazine.

University President Fr. John Jenkins commended the College for its focus on academic excellence and social responsibility.

“To achieve the No. 1 ranking even once is outstanding, but three straight years is truly remarkable,” he said. “The high academic standards of our faculty and students in combination with our particular focus on using business to impact the greater good is what makes Mendoza stand out.”

Roger Huang, interim dean of Mendoza, said he attributes the school’s continued excellence to the unique “Notre Dame spirit.”

“I think [the Notre Dame spirit] is the ‘secret sauce’ we have here,” he said. “It’s the spirit that faculty has for helping students, the spirit of career services and student services at the University level and ways they go out of their way to help students, the spirit of Mendoza students to work hard and the spirit of alumni and friends of Notre Dame for the College.”

These intangible qualities of the College’s undergraduate business program do not directly factor into Businessweek’s ranking system, which includes surveys of senior business majors and employers, median starting salaries for graduates, the number of alumni sent to top MBA programs from each school and a calculation of academic quality.

Of the 142 undergraduate business programs included in Businessweek’s 2012 rankings, Mendoza ranked No. 1 based on student surveys and No. 2 according to recruiter surveys.

Huang said he believes that “secret sauce,” combined with the mission statements of both Mendoza and Notre Dame, provides the real key to the success of the undergraduate business program.

“Our mission statement is to educate students to be good academically, prepare them for professions and hold them accountable for what they do,” Huang said. “Since the school was founded, we have been teaching students not only what they need to know how to do but also how to go about doing that in the right way.”

This consistency in the College’s teaching mission also applies to its emphasis on promoting ethical business practices among its students, Huang said.

“The focus on how to do [business] in the right way comes through in courses in business ethics, corporate social responsibility, sustainability and social entrepreneurship,” he said. “We’ve been teaching that forever as part of our mission and our views of our position here.”

Although the College appreciates being recognized for its excellence, Huang said maintaining the No. 1 ranking comes second to doing the “right thing.”

“We’ll keep doing whatever it is that we believe is the right thing to do for our students, the College and the University, even if it has a negative impact on our ranking,” he said.

With increased national attention on Mendoza’s undergraduate business program comes increased student interest and enrollment, but Huang said the College is equipped to handle short-term spikes in those areas.

“In the short run, I think we’ll be able to accommodate the increased enrollment demands set by the ranking,” he said. “But if enrollment increases unabated, we might need to address more permanent long-term solutions by working together with the University as a whole.”

At the same time, national recognition of Mendoza’s standard of excellence also places a sense of responsibility on the College, Huang said.

“Being No. 1 is a responsibility because we are in the limelight,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to show the world who we are and what we stand for, which is that you can be good professionally and academically while being true to your values and traditions at the same time.”

Contact Kristen Durbin at [email protected]