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HCND Investigates: Mendoza College of Business (Part I)

Aerial view of the Mendoza College of Business

For the fifth consecutive year, Bloomberg BusinessWeek lauded the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business as the #1 undergraduate business school in the country. However, this public praise accompanied criticism from Mendoza undergraduates regarding the college’s academic curve.

Bill Nichols, the Associate Dean for Faculty and Research at Mendoza, commented on the school’s top ranking.

“We don’t change our behavior necessarily to be ranked #1. We do certainly keep in the back of our minds the type of things that go into the rankings, such as the type of metrics and how things are rated, but it’s not as though we are going to change,” Nichols admitted. “We do what we think is right, and if we did something else just to make us a little higher ranked, I think we would be giving up everything that we have going for us.”

The motto “Ask More of Business”  at Mendoza emphasizes to students, alumni, and faculty its mission to promote social impact, values-based leadership and academic excellence.

So how does Mendoza keep its #1 ranking? According to Peggy Bolstetter, Communications Program Manager at Mendoza, this need not be an issue. Earlier this fall, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported they suspended their undergraduate business school ranking for the immediate future.

BusinessWeek is reevaluating how they handle the survey and gathering of data, such as the questions they ask and the methodology they use, so we’re not at all certain that there will be a ranking in 2015,” Bolstetter said.

In September, Bloomberg BusinessWeek brought in a new business education team to assess the evaluation process: the questions they ask, how they ask them, how they measure what the methodology is, and what the ratings are.

With this new information released, Bolstetter intended to concentrate on Mendoza’s main objective.

“We are not going to be focused on maintaining our ranking, but rather on maintaining excellent education for our students,” Bolstetter said. “We will let the chips fall where they may.”

Nichols offered a unique metaphor concerning production to elucidate how he views Mendoza as a successful undergraduate business school.

“If you think of the normal production process: you have raw materials, manufacturing, and then marketing and sales. The raw materials that we have are our young men and women,” Nichols explained. “The data of incoming freshman is remarkable. They have high ACT/SAT scores, leadership in high school, and exceptional GPAs. So one thing is that we just have are really bright and motivated individuals.”

In comparison to manufacturing, Nichols described several factors, including Mendoza’s strong faculty committed to educating, contributing to the growth of successful business undergraduates.

“Notre Dame has a reputation for faculty of ‘if you don’t teach well in the classroom, then you’re not going to earn tenure at ND.’ So we weigh much heavier on teaching than some other schools do,” Nichols said. “We also have clinical faculty, or faculty who aren’t on tenure track that we hire because we find them to be outstanding teachers.”

Mendoza professor teaching a class of students.

Moreover, Nichols attributed Mendoza’s current curriculum as another factor of manufacturing.

“Being so well funded, we spend a lot on resources on developing new courses,” Nichols said. “One example is our foresight course, which is completely unique to Notre Dame and is now a set requirement to graduate from Mendoza.”

Finally, Nichols reported on the final aspect of marketing and sales in the Mendoza manufacturing equation.

“When it comes to costumers who buy our products, they absolutely love Mendoza,” Nichols admitted. “We can look at the numbers as a way to market ourselves.”

Analyzing placement data from the Mendoza College of Business Class of 2014, there are only 2% of students that are still seeking employment six months after graduation. 20% of Mendoza students who graduate go on to graduate school, law school, and medical school, while a number of students go into service. 

Mendoza College of Business graduates singing the Alma Mater.

For Bolstetter, Mendoza benefits from supportive alumni eager to hire recent graduates.

“Additionally, employers who hire our students say very positive things about the quality of work that our students do.” Bolstetter said. “So Mendoza alumni really help us in the marketing and sales department.” 

Check in next week for HCND Investigates: Mendoza College of Business (Part II), where the controvery behind the curve will be discussed.


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