In 1995, when Stuart I. Greenbaum was introduced at a press conference in Alumni House as the business school’s new dean, he strode to the microphone and galvanized assembled guests and media types by declaring that he would help the John M. Olin School of Business reach a level second to none.
The son of a New York City meat dealer, Greenbaum graduated from Stuyvesant, one of Manhattan’s most selective public high schools. With degrees from NYU and Johns Hopkins, he pursued an academic and public service career as chairman of the Economics Department at the University of Kentucky, and on the staffs of the comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve.
Before assuming the deanship at Olin, Greenbaum was a distinguished faculty member and academic administrator for 20 years at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. At Kellogg, he was the director of the Banking Research Center and the Strunk Distinguished Professor of Financial Institutions, and from 1988–92, he was Kellogg’s associate dean for Academic Affairs. Greenbaum is founding editor of the Journal of Financial Intermediation and has served on the editorial boards of eleven other academic journals. When he joined the faculty at Washington University, he was inducted as the inaugural Bank of America Professor of Managerial Leadership.
The following story was originally included in the 2005 edition of Olin Gateway, which was published shortly after Greenbaum had announced his intention of stepping down as Olin’s dean.
Stuart Greenbaum: A decade of world-class leadership
In 1995, Stuart Greenbaum came to a small business school with a big idea. The newly appointed dean wanted to reinvent Olin, and he did.
Over the past decade, Greenbaum has driven the transformation of Olin Business School from a regional provider of management programs to an internationally recognized leader in management education. By all accounts, he has succeeded. The overall quality of Olin’s faculty, students, curriculum, and facilities has greatly increased in the past 10 years. Organizations and individuals around the world recognize and respect the school for its research and academic excellence.
Greenbaum, dean and Bank of America Professor of Managerial Leadership, is stepping down from the deanship at the close of the 2005 academic year. His tenure has produced a decade of outstanding accomplishments and has positioned Olin in the global marketplace of management education.
“From the beginning, Stuart was committed to making Olin one of the country’s premier business schools,” says F. Gilbert Bickel III, BSBA ’66, senior vice president and wealth manager for Morgan Stanley. “He has raised the academic bar for our faculty and students and upgraded Olin’s reputation in the marketplace.”
A higher order of leadership
Washington University’s strategy called for a plan to ascend to world-class leadership in the 21st century by ensuring uniform excellence in the institution’s major areas. Working with Olin’s National Council, the dean developed the Project 21 Report for Olin, which spotlighted increasing quality and quantity of faculty, executive education and lifelong learning, individualized curricula tailored to students’ career interests, strategic partnerships with academic institutions and businesses, and interdisciplinary research and teaching. The report also called for a “higher order of business leadership” and the establishment of a center for technology, information, and manufacturing that would support key research areas.
One of the initial mandates was to build executive education. When Greenbaum first came to the business school, executive education was confined to one classroom in Simon Hall. Today, Olin’s executive education is housed in the Charles F. Knight Executive Education & Conference Center, a residential learning facility located north of Simon Hall. Students can choose from three executive degree programs: the Residential Executive MBA, Weekend Executive MBA, and Executive MBA-Shanghai, jointly offered by Washington University and Fudan University in China. The latter course of study signaled a milestone: entry into the competitive global marketplace of management education.
In 2004, Greenbaum expanded Olin’s non-degree education offerings, which provide local, national, and international organizations with innovative solutions to leadership and managerial challenges.
Custom-designed programs have helped clients such as Monsanto, Bunge Limited, Smurfit Scone Container Corp., Spartech, and Tyson Foods forge and master productive change. “We listen carefully to our clients—focusing on what they ask us to do, not simply what we think they should do,” Greenbaum says. “Companies won’t find a stronger service culture than Olin’s.”
The Knight Center may be Greenbaum’s most enduring achievement. The $50 million, five-story, 135,000-square-foot facility was a “tough sell and a tougher buy,” he says. Building it proved to be an inspired decision, though. The Knight Center draws corporations and students from around the globe. Equipped with the latest technology, its conference rooms, classrooms, and breakout rooms optimize learning. Accommodations include guest rooms, dining areas, and a pub, as well as business and fitness centers.
“Stuart has created a world-class business school and executive education center,” says former Emerson chairman and chief executive officer Chuck Knight. “He has done a phenomenal job of providing leadership for the school. Olin has come a long way since 1995. He should be very proud.”
Growing Olin’s faculty was another priority for Greenbaum. Since he became dean, the number of faculty members at the business school has increased from 50 to nearly 70, endowed professorships have risen from 12 to 26, and faculty citations in business and academic journals have tripled. But increased numbers don’t tell the whole story. Olin is recruiting faculty and staff who have studied and taught at the world’s best universities, including Wharton, Harvard, Northwestern, Stanford, the University of Chicago, and the London Business School.
“Olin’s faculty members are renowned scholars and thought leaders who test new theories and publish important work, extraordinary teachers who challenge orthodoxy, enliven ideas, and promote innovation,” Greenbaum says.
Anjan Thakor, John E. Simon Professor of Finance, came to Olin in 2003 from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he was the Edward J. Frey Professor of Banking and Finance. He was one of Greenbaum’s students at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
“Stuart introduced me to important research questions and taught me the value of being creative and collaborative,” Thakor says. “I’m excited about being part of Olin’s senior faculty and having the opportunity to help shape the school’s future. The challenges are great, but we have what it takes to become a top-five business school.”
In recent course evaluations, Olin students from all degree programs—undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and executive—graded their professors’ teaching quality at better than 9.25 on a scale from one to 10. Greenbaum says this is the highest rating in the school’s history and is compelling evidence of teaching excellence.
“An exceptional faculty and impressive academic standards were two of the reasons I chose Olin to pursue my business degree,” says Beth Hunsicker, MBA ’05. “Another factor that differentiates Olin is the school’s cohesiveness and sense of community. This team atmosphere definitely is driven by Dean Greenbaum.”
“I’ll always remember a letter I wrote the dean about what I liked and what I thought needed to be changed at Olin,” recalls Dan Rosskamm, BSBA ’99, a financial analyst at Target. “Imagine my astonishment when he invited me into his office to discuss this in person. He addressed all my concerns and thanked me for my comments. He also asked me to work with him to make Olin better. From that moment on, I was completely sold on his vision for the business school.”
Shaping pivotal performers
Creating a better business school meant revamping the full-time MBA curriculum. Shortly after Greenbaum arrived on campus, mini-courses were developed, the number of electives was expanded, and the advising staff was increased. In 1999, Greenbaum formed a special curriculum review committee of faculty, students, and staff. After researching and debating proposed improvements, the committee condensed core courses and expanded elective and experiential learning offerings. The revised curriculum allows students to design their program of study around their particular career interests. Students begin taking elective courses during the second semester of their first year, gaining targeted skills that boost their marketability for summer internships and full-time positions. Expanded choice is informed by a first-semester course, Managing Your Career Strategy.
Additional curricular improvements were made again in 2003 and 2004 to better prepare Olin students to be pivotal performers in the workplace. Greater emphasis was placed on cross-functional instruction and on the Integrative Case Experience (ICE) course that encourages students to integrate all the management skills they acquire in their first semester. Optional concentration tracks—such as strategy consulting, entrepreneurship, organizational leadership, and supply chain management—were developed to offer a recommended series of courses for specific career paths.
During Greenbaum’s deanship, the number and scope of hands-on learning programs have expanded. Olin is one of the few business schools in the country with a formal Center for Experiential Learning (CEL) that links students with corporations, nonprofits, and other institutions. Students deliver cost-effective consulting expertise, and organizations supply mentoring, networking, and leadership opportunities. To maximize results for both students and participating organizations, the CEL reorganized its programs into four categories: corporate, community, international, and entrepreneurial.
As entrepreneurship flourished, the Hatchery class was formed in 1997, giving students the opportunity to gain experience by working with entrepreneurs to develop business plans or by preparing plans for their own ideas. Through the Hatchery and the Olin Cup Competition, now separate from the course and open to all students and members of the community, more than 70 companies have been created.
According to Mahendra Gupta, senior associate dean and Geraldine J. and Robert L. Virgil Professor of Accounting and Management, the curriculum redesigns “completely changed the way the MBA program looks and feels.” Olin, he says, pioneered the “mini-system,” or halfsemester courses. Mini-courses bring flexibility and variety to the curriculum.
“Stuart’s movement away from a one-size-fits-all program is one of his legacies,” Gupta says. “Many business schools have adopted our structure.”
A restructured evening MBA program is another Greenbaum legacy. Renamed the Professional MBA Program, it was overhauled in 1996 to emphasize a cohort design, where students attend classes with the same individuals for the first four semesters of their education. Results have been resoundingly positive. More than 90 percent of Olin’s evening MBA students complete the program—compared to about 50 percent nationally.
Olin’s undergraduate business program also made advancements. “Average SAT scores of entering students have risen nearly 200 points during Stuart’s tenure, to well over 1400, making the program one of the most selective in the nation,” said Gary Hochberg, associate dean of undergraduate programs.
Passion and partnerships
Another objective outlined in the Project 21 Report called for strategic partnerships with businesses and other academic institutions. Olin responded with three idea centers that generate and disseminate advances in management knowledge and practice: the Center for Research in Economics and Strategy; the Boeing Center for Technology, Information, and Manufacturing; and the Center for Health Policy.
Implementing high-quality programs, faculty, and facilities takes money. By the end of the Campaign for Washington University in June 2004, Olin received $142.4 million in commitments, a figure that exceeded the school’s original goal of $105 million. Annual fund contributions have increased from $1.5 million to $2.3 million in the past 10 years. In 2004, 69 percent of Olin’s graduating students pledged donations—a resounding vote of confidence in the school.
“The success of our capital campaign reflects Stuart’s strategic vision,” says John K. Wallace Jr., MBA ’62, Olin campaign chair and National Council member. “He has moved the business school forward with insight and intelligence.”
That movement has embraced expansion and enhancements on all fronts. Nearly one-third of Olin alumni graduated during Greenbaum’s tenure as dean, a noteworthy fact, given the school’s 88-year history.
“Stuart Greenbaum is dedicated, passionate, and hardworking,” says Washington University Chancellor Mark Wrighton. “He has been tireless in his efforts to promote Olin and has strengthened the university as a whole by serving as a great member of our leadership team. Stuart cares deeply about people and always strives to be inclusive. In his roles as administrator, scholar, mentor, and philanthropist, he has made invaluable contributions to our community.”
Reflecting on his deanship, Greenbaum says the business school “fosters excellence in a culture of caring. If a student is looking for a first-rate management education in an environment that elevates the importance of each individual, no school does it better than Olin.”
Article written by Jill Pfeiffer, a St. Louis-based freelance writer. The content has been lightly edited.Read more stories