Purdue graduates Germany's first class of MBAs
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. In Germany, students graduating from college don't wear caps and gowns as American graduates do. Nor do German students generally receive MBA degrees in Deutschland.
That changed on July 7, when 21 students walked across a stage in Hannover, Germany, and received master's degrees in industrial administration from the Krannert Graduate School of Management at Purdue University. It was a fitting celebration of the completion of the first year of Purdue's five-year contract with a German foundation to establish the German International Graduate School of Management and Administration (GISMA). One of the early and strong supporters of GISMA was Gerhard Shroeder, then prime minister of Niedersachsen, now chancellor of Germany.
It was announced at a news conference in conjunction with the graduation ceremonies that the state of Niedersachsen will match contributions to GISMA up to 25 million Deutschmarks over the next five years.
Faculty members from Purdue's Krannert Graduate School of Management have logged lots of frequent-flier miles traveling from the West Lafayette campus to teach eight-week "modules" of practical, case-study oriented, American MBA fare in lower Saxony.
"We do everything at GISMA that we do back on the Purdue campus, but we do it in an international context," GISMA dean and long-time Krannert faculty member Dan Schendel says. "While other stateside schools have weekend and summer business programs, GISMA's first class graduated from the first full-time, American-style MBA program in Europe. GISMA is an international school whose common language is English."
German and international students from GISMA have spent time at Krannert and six American Krannert students, who had been studying in Hannover, stuck around for the graduation ceremonies of the first class.
Speaking at the graduation ceremonies was Heinrich von Pierer, CEO of Siemens, the 440,000-employee worldwide electrical engineering and electronics company. Representing Germany were Sigmar Gabriel, the prime minister of Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony, Hannover's state), and Klaus Stuhr, a founding father of GISMA and the CEO of the GISMA Foundation.
Sharing the stage was Juergen Grossman, CEO of the German steel-making company Georgesmarienhutte Gmbh. Grossman is a Krannert Graduate School of Management alumnus who was instrumental in the establishment of GISMA and remains active in its growth and governance.
Also on hand were Purdue President Steven C. Beering, Krannert Dean Richard A. Cosier, Schendel, and Gerald J. Lynch, GISMA associate dean.
Purdue isn't alone in overseas MBA programming. A who's who of American universities Harvard, Northwestern, Duke, Chicago and Michigan have established international educational beachheads not only in Europe but also in Asia and Latin America. The Purdue-German partnership offers both residential and executive MBA options, aims for an international student body that is one-half German and one-half from other nations, and incorporates interchanges of students and faculty on the West Lafayette and Hannover campuses. GISMA's first five years of operation are funded by a $27 million contract provided to Purdue by a foundation supported by German corporations.
Twelve members of the first graduating class are German citizens. Students also hail from Canada, China, England, Estonia, Greece, India, Mexico and Turkey. All of the members of the class have at least one job offer.
One of the graduating students, Ingo Marxsen, is a graduate of a German business school, the University of Erlangen in Nuremberg. After completing his first semester in Hannover, Marxsen spent January and February as an exchange student on Purdue's West Lafayette campus.
Marxsen says the practical, case-study approach in American graduate business education differs profoundly from the classical model that is the standard at European universities.
"The sheer quantity of the work required makes for a great deal of pressure," Marxsen says of his American-style business school experience. "They told us when we started that there was so much work that we'd have to team up to do it."
The four- to six-student project teams get one grade, he explains. The deadlines are much more stringent than those of his German university. And the whole experience is as competitive as the slim, fair-haired tennis enthusiast could want.
"You win together and lose together," Marxsen says. "If there are people on the team who aren't contributing, you have to figure out how to motivate them." He acknowledges that this part of his educational experience is a very short distance from what he terms "real work."
There is also more work to do to establish the MBA degree in Germany. "The heads of German corporations will have to see results before they don't think you are talking about the National Basketball Association when you say 'MBA,'" Marxsen says.
Schendel says he is confident in the long-term prospects for the MBA in Germany. "While Purdue professors are teaching the classes for the first five years of the program, in 10 years we will have built a resident faculty and made this a self-standing school."
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Kirsten Meyerhoff of Gremany is one of the 21 master's degree graduates of the inaugural class of the German International Graduate School of Management and Administration. The graduates' degrees are from Purdue University's Krannert Graduate School of Management, which has a five-year contract to set up the first full-time, American-style MBA program in Europe. (Photo courtesy Tim Newton.)A publication-quality photograph is available at the News Service Web site and at the ftp site. Photo ID: Schendel.gisma