US college aims for UK overhaul

五月 17, 2002

An American small college has set out to become the first UK-style business university and has hired a leading academic from the London School of Economics to help.

Bentley College, which has fewer than 4,000 students, hopes to distinguish itself in a crowded field by imitating leading technological universities that blend business education with a foundation in the arts and sciences, all in a small-college environment. Most American business schools focus almost exclusively on a business curriculum, even at undergraduate level.

"The heart of it really is that what we do for students interested in business and related professions is similar to what MIT does for students interested in engineering or science," said university spokeswoman Janet Mendelsohn. "We have a real emphasis on giving students great depth in business fields such as finance, marketing and accounting, but half of their required courses are in the arts and sciences."

Bentley, in Waltham, Massachusetts, has hired Bob Galliers, professor of information systems at LSE, to become its provost and vice-president for academic affairs. He is the highest-ranking of several new officers who are part of the ambitious revamp.

"In order to succeed in business you need to be able to work with people inside your organisation and outside your organisation. If all you know is accounting, you're going to have trouble working with people in your IT division, for example," Ms Mendelsohn said.

While the business university model is common in Europe, Bentley, which was founded in 1917, is touting itself as the first true example in the US. "That's why we're bringing in people from elsewhere, who have seen it work, like Dr Galliers," Ms Mendelsohn said.

Dr Galliers is more modest. "In some senses it's a business university already, in the sense that it combines the wide range of studies that you would expect of any undergraduate institution in North America," he said. "They're doing their business degrees but getting 50 per cent of their education in the arts and sciences. That's already there. That's in place."

What is still to be worked out, he said, is "coordinating the activity that is going on in relation to research and pursuing the possibility, if not the likelihood, of a doctoral programme".

In a world that looks at globalisation differently from the way it did before September, he said, "one needs to understand the culture of different societies. A place like Bentley combines that broader perspective that could really make the place take off."



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