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September 2001


  Bullet To examine McIntire’s core strengths, distinguishing qualities, and unique capabilities
  Bullet To identify barriers to further progress
  Bullet To articulate immediate needs and long-range aspirations

Core Strengths and Distinguishing Qualities
In the Envision McIntire discussions, a picture emerged of a School that is energetic, ambitious, and nimble, a School that can adjust quickly to changing conditions, from emerging technologies to major shifts in the global marketplace. McIntire also appears to inspire great loyalty — in its faculty, its students, and its alumni. This loyalty grows out of a culture of excellence that places considerable demands on students and faculty but also reaps many rewards. They aspire to be the best in all that they do, and they can realistically pursue this goal because of the school’s distinguishing qualities: focus on core missions; a strong sense of community and shared values; an abiding openness to change and innovation.

Focus on Core Missions
McIntire does not attempt to be all things to all people. Its primary focus is undergraduate business education with complementary graduate programs in select areas. A high premium is placed on the quality of students admitted into the undergraduate program and the quality of the teaching they receive once they enter. Faculty members are productive scholars in the McIntire School, but never at the expense of their teaching. Indeed, the School’s innovations in curriculum and instruction are viewed as valuable contributions to new knowledge in themselves and could be a significant export to the greater academic world.

Other factors that give McIntire a competitive advantage:
Without an MBA or doctoral program and its attendant demand for faculty time and resources, the School can focus its attention on its undergraduate education.

In contrast to many other major business schools, classes are kept to manageable sizes. This promotes healthy student-faculty interaction, both within and outside the classroom, and in turn leads to alumni loyalty and engagement. Students value the faculty’s dedication to good teaching, which further strengthens their ties to the school. By keeping student numbers in equilibrium with faculty resources, the School is able to maintain exceptionally high standards.

In addition to going through the University’s admissions process, McIntire students are selected a second time. This reinforces their sense of being part of an exceptional community and fosters both camaraderie and the desire to excel. They take pride in being part of the McIntire School, and they take pride in the University, with its Jeffersonian heritage and its tradition of honor and student self-governance.

Students enter McIntire after two years in the College, which gives them a strong liberal arts foundation. Once they enter, they receive a broad business education, rather than being pigeonholed into narrow concentrations. As a result, faculty members are not narrowly compartmentalized, and students enjoy wider career options after graduation.

Due to their success, alumni feel a lifelong obligation to the school, and they give back not only with their financial contributions but also by helping students with their career choices, by teaching classes and delivering lectures, and by adding a real-world dimension to McIntire’s programs.

Sense of Community and Shared Values
Although it is serious about its purposes, and although it is part of an institution that is steeped in tradition, McIntire offers a comfortable informality that makes it welcoming to new faculty and students.

Both new and longtime members of the faculty appear to be largely in sync with one another and with the current direction of the School. They share a strong dedication to McIntire and its students and a willingness to go the extra mile on their behalf. Their culture seems to be one of collegiality, openness, and candor. One gets the sense that they truly enjoy what they are doing and take pleasure in the School’s student-centered approach to business education.

Openness to Change and Innovation
McIntire values its entrepreneurial spirit and its willingness to take risks. One example cited is the M.S. in the Management of Information Technology Program, now one of the School’s recognized strengths. McIntire’s approach to this Program is highly flexible, enabling it to adapt quickly to emerging technologies and changes in the marketplace.

A more recent example is ICE, the Integrated Core Experience. Introducing this groundbreaking curriculum required significant changes in the way faculty organize their courses and conduct their classes, but they demonstrated that they are not afraid to break out of established structures. They see ICE as a successful innovation that other schools should consider adopting. It is a product of McIntire’s extraordinary maneuverability.

As one participant noted, the faculty are servants to a business world that is constantly changing, and the key to success is staying one step ahead of everyone else. Another pointed out that, except for the School’s commitment to students and excellence in teaching, all else is subject to change.

Goals and Aspirations
McIntire would like to give greater exposure to its innovative approaches to business education and to position itself as the standard setter among schools with undergraduate programs.

Faculty would like to make greater contributions to research without diminishing their teaching efforts. This will require having the resources to give faculty time off from teaching to pursue their scholarly interests. The School takes pride in having faculty who are gifted both as researchers and as teachers, but it recognizes the dangers of sacrificing one activity for the other. Providing more time for academic inquiry will raise the stature of the School and will increase its ability to compete for distinguished scholars who are also devoted to the classroom.

Faculty expressed a strong desire to build new partnerships with alumni and their businesses to bring more real-world elements into McIntire’s programs. In addition, they would like to offer more opportunities for alumni to come back to the School to update their training or to prepare for new career moves. This would require not only new programs but also improved facilities. Faculty also expressed trepidation about putting too much emphasis on executive education, noting that it could draw attention away from the School’s core mission of undergraduate education. They called for developing programs that lever off of existing strengths.

McIntire is open to expanding distance learning opportunities, but only if they meet the School’s current standards, both in terms of students’ qualifications and the quality of instruction. "If we’re going to do it," said one participant, "we’ve got to be the best. It has to be something we can be proud of." Another pointed out the risk of "cheapening the degree," and called for maintaining the same quality of students "regardless of where they are." Still another wondered if it is even possible to offer the McIntire experience through distance learning, given the importance of student-faculty interaction in the School’s culture. He suggested instead that technology be used to increase contact with students on Grounds.

McIntire, which has the largest percentage of international students of any school at the University, would like to develop more opportunities for students to spend time abroad. Current programs are modest, but they offer very rewarding experiences. There is also a strong interest in being part of new University-wide efforts to create programs in Europe and Asia; these could be valuable bases for research and case-writing activities.

Other aspirations voiced by the faculty include:

  Bullet For alumni to achieve highly visible leadership positions at the national level — a McIntire graduate in the White House, for example.
  Bullet To attract top-level graduate students from around the country, not just from Virginia and the mid-Atlantic region.
  Bullet To be a major source of new cases and other instructional resources for business schools nationwide.
  Bullet To find ways to make faculty research relevant and available to real-world practitioners, not just the academic community.
  Bullet To use the Web to make McIntire’s curricular innovations known and available to other business schools.

To see the University establish a reputation as a major contributor to cutting-edge knowledge.

Concerns and Barriers to Progress
Faculty members are acutely aware that continued progress is not assured, and they wish to make every effort to stay on a positive trajectory.

They feel especially constrained by the School’s facilities, which do not compare well with those of peer institutions and thus hinder McIntire’s ability to compete for the best faculty and students. Installation of new technology added valuable tools for teaching and research, but it exacerbated the School’s space problems. As one faculty member put it, "What’s special here are the students and faculty; we’re embarrassed by the facilities. It’s a tribute to our colleagues that we can do what we do in this setting."

The School fears complacency. Administrators and faculty members want to stay hungry and ambitious, always striving to make improvements.

As the School changes and moves in new directions, it must ensure that each faculty member has the opportunity to contribute in ways that draw on his or her unique strengths and abilities. None should be left in the cold.

Several participants voiced concern about sustaining the School’s resources. Appropriations from the Commonwealth now represent less than half of the School’s funding, and they worry that the downturn in the economy will endanger other sources of support, including alumni and corporate philanthropy and specialized executive education programs. One solution is to build up the School’s unrestricted endowment, which would buffer the School from the vagaries of the marketplace.

The School finds it difficult to recruit minority faculty, especially those with spouses in established careers.

Collaborations between the McIntire faculty and colleagues in other schools are productive but ad hoc. No University structures or incentives encourage this kind of interchange, leaving it up to individuals to take the time and initiative to build these linkages. There are many promising possibilities for cross-disciplinary work with faculty in such fields as economics, environmental sciences, urban planning, systems engineering, psychology, and statistics, as well as the arts and humanities. Noting that undergraduates on their own combine commerce with other majors, faculty raised the possibility of joint degree programs, such as a tax program that involves the law school.

Those who must deal with the University’s administrative areas expressed frustration that they often experience a lack of cooperation and a lack of responsiveness to the School’s needs. In some cases, the University’s bureaucracy, in their view, stymies risk-taking and entrepreneurial spirit.

The Envision McIntire discussions revealed a School that is dynamic and forward thinking. Faculty talk openly and often about how they can improve what they do, especially in the classroom, and there is a strong sense of shared mission. There are worries that hard-won strengths may be eroded, both by current deficiencies (particularly inadequate facilities) and by loss of funds due to the contraction of the economy. Faculty members clearly have the drive and creativity to overcome such problems, just as they have the flexibility to adjust to changing needs and conditions in the marketplace.



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Last Modified: Thursday, 16-Feb-2006 08:37:37 EST
Copyright 2003 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia


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