The Lee Business School Evening MBA program is ranked 52nd nationally by Business Week. This is a significant achievement and a testament to the dedicated LBS faculty and staff who create a high-quality student experience with far fewer resources than MBA programs at other institutions. The cost for in-state students to complete our MBA program is less than half that for in-state students at our average peer institution and is less than a third of the cost of places like Arizona State and UCLA.
Even more impressive than our program’s ranking and affordability is the achievement of our MBA students. LBS MBAs have dominated regional as well as global competitions and our graduates have been at the forefront of entrepreneurship. Not to mention that when the Runnin’ Rebels take the floor this month their new coach sports an MBA from UNLV.
But we can and must do better. A city of two million people needs a world-class MBA program to help diversify and fuel its economy. Through a series of cuts that have totaled about 40% of our budget, the State of Nevada has made it clear that it is not going to provide the resources to propel the University and its programs forward. Nonacademic areas have shouldered a disproportionate share of these cuts, but the MBA program has had to scale back staff and services to match our shrinking finances.
The good news is that for the first time in UNLV’s history the State is giving us the opportunity to implement differential fees and have these revenues come back to the University rather than go into Nevada’s general fund. The Board of Regents judged the needs of the MBA programs at UNLV and UNR to be so great that it approved a $100 per credit hour surcharge on all MBA courses at both institutions starting this spring semester. The revenues from this surcharge will not fill the entire hole left by the budget cuts, but it will allow us to invest in some much-needed infrastructure, help recruit and retain the best faculty to teach in the program, and improve graduates’ visibility in the community and with prospective employers.
It is my hope that these differential fees represent the first step on a short journey to self-sufficiency for the MBA program and the entire Lee Business School– a state of affairs where we would be responsible for our own programs, revenue generation, operating budgets and payroll. Risk is inherent to any enterprise, but there is no down side to financial self-sufficiency. Controlling our fate can only help us realize our aspirations: For far too long our destiny has been decided for us. This new approach will require a greater partnership between faculty, students, staff and the business community. But markets work and greater value creation will be rewarded with more national visibility, higher student demand, and greater opportunity for graduates.
So as you pay more for your MBA classes this semester know that it is an investment in your future. Some of the changes financed by the new fees will be readily apparent this spring, with a new MBA student lounge and greater opportunities to meet local employers on campus in the works. Other changes, including a revamped curriculum, higher admission standards, and block scheduling will likely roll out in the fall of 2012. Five years from now, it is my goal to have your degree associated with a top twenty-five evening MBA program. If we can control our own financial destiny, such lofty goals are within our grasp.