WMU’s MBA program celebrates 50 years in Grand Rapids

contact: Stacey Markin
| WMU News

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The Grand Rapids community, as well as faculty, staff, students and alumni of Western Michigan University's Master of Business Administration program, will celebrate the program's 50th anniversary in Grand Rapids this fall.

WMU President John M. Dunn will deliver remarks about the history and the future of the program and the ties between WMU and the Grand Rapids community at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 12 , at WMU-Grand Rapids, 200 Iona Ave. SW.

Long known for providing a relevant and engaging program, the MBA was first offered in 1964 in Grand Rapids after the college of business identified the need for a quality program in graduate business education in the city, spurred in large part by the interest of local companies American Seating and Lear Siegler. The first courses for the MBA were held in the Lear Siegler plant and Godwin Heights High School. Once WMU invested in a regional site in Grand Rapids, the program moved to the University facilities.

WMU-Grand Rapids

Highest caliber

Dovetailing on the success of the Kalamazoo program, University administrators sought to bring faculty well-versed in research and practical application of business best practices to the area to make the Grand Rapids program of the highest caliber—a tradition that continues to this day. A full-time, dedicated faculty for the Grand Rapids location was hired so that professors could engage fully with the local business community.

"The MBA is a vital part of what WMU offers in Grand Rapids," says Dawn Gaymer, associate provost of Extended University Programs. "Our MBA students live and work in Grand Rapids, so we're having a direct and positive impact on the quality of the workforce. By having a presence in Grand Rapids, we've been able to establish and maintain strong relationships with many area businesses, benefiting both the business community and the University."

The MBA program is offered through WMU's Haworth College of Business, which has maintained accreditation through AACSB International—The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business—since 1970 for its undergraduate programs and since 1981 for its master's program. The college is among a group of fewer than 5 percent of business schools that are accredited by AACSB at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Today's program offers a general MBA degree or the ability to concentrate studies in one of seven areas: aviation, computer information systems, finance, health care, international business, management or marketing.

The MBA program was recognized by Find Your MBA as No. 15 on its list of Rising Stars in 2012, and the Princeton Review named the college to its list of the best business schools for graduate education in 2014.

Wide reputation, student satisfaction

A word-of-mouth reputation for the program and student satisfaction are among just some of the reasons that students choose the program, with referrals coming from all quarters—family, friends and the C-suite level of successful businesses.

"People ask me all the time if an MBA is still relevant," says Dr. Kay Palan, dean of the Haworth College of Business. "My answer is a resounding yes for Western's MBA, which provides the ideal blend of theory and practice, allowing students to become better decision makers and strategists as well as giving them tools that they can apply in current roles and as they advance in their careers. We are thrilled to be able to offer this program in Grand Rapids where there are so many companies and individuals who contribute to the vibrancy of the West Michigan region and the nation's economy."