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Blanchard: UAS to cut MBA offering

Juneau school will stop offering graduate business degree

Posted: November 20, 2011 - 12:09am

The University of Alaska Southeast is getting out of the business of offering that ubiquitous business credential, the MBA.

This year’s class of seven Master of Business Administration candidates is the last that will enter the Juneau-based school, said John Blanchard, interim dean at the UAS School of Management.

“We’ve just seen a decline in enrollment, and it just didn’t have that critical mass,” Blanchard said.

To run efficiently, the minimum number of students an effective MBA program needs is 25, he said.

While additional prospective students have been admitted pending completion of additional prerequisites, the numbers still aren’t enough.

The program mostly served working professionals, he said, and was entirely done by distance learning. Many of the MBA students were employed in Juneau, often in state government, he said.

UAS’ sister schools in Anchorage and Fairbanks both have traditional campus-based MBA programs, Blanchard said. Those schools are looking to expand their distance education programs, and are likely to be able to fill any gap left by UAS, he said.

“We just felt that people who are looking for that type of program have other opportunities,” Blanchard said.

Another issue for the Juneau MBA program was it never achieved accreditation, Blanchard said.

“The university is accredited, but we do not have a program-specific accreditation,” he said.

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business has accredited both the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ and the University of Alaska Anchorage’s business programs.

Students admitted this year will be the last to be admitted, Blanchard said. While the program also has about 60 students enrolled, it has far fewer active students.

UAS School of Management will “teach out” those existing students, he said.

Many of those MBA candidates, who are generally working full-time as well as seeking their degree, have only been taking a few classes or have lapsed entirely, he said.

Loss of the MBA program will not only be felt by prospective students, but by faculty as well, he said.

Blanchard, also an assistant professor of accounting, said for professors, working with graduate students and advising on research projects is an attractive part of the job as well.

Tuition for the remaining students will be lowered to encourage degree completion in the next few years, but expenses will also go down and the school will no longer have recruiting costs, he said.

UAS continues to offer a Master of Public Administration, Blanchard said.

That’s a program that continues to find better success in Juneau, with its significant number of federal, state, local and other governmental institutions.

They are also looking at the possibility of expanding UAS’ offerings in non-profit management, he said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or at patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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