Elevating Business Education

Stuart I. Greenbaum, Dean of the John M. Olin School of Business and the Bank of America Professor of Managerial Leadership

By Judy H. Watts

Back 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, in his New York City patois, 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. Asked recently whether accomplishing that feat remains his objective and his expectation, it was Greenbaum's turn to be startled. "Oh, of course. When I compromise that, it's time for them to fire me."

Still, "it's a long, arduous road," adds Greenbaum—a New York City meat dealer's son who graduated from Stuyvesant, one of Manhattan's most selective public high schools; a distinguished faculty member and academic administrator for 20 years at Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management; and now the inaugural Bank of America Professor at Washington University. "There's a lot of competition out there," says Greenbaum. "At least 100 business schools claim to be in the top 10, or aspire to be!"

The Olin School is well on its way, as this can-do leader with the self-described "frenetic" working style sets the pace of change and builds on the strong foundation that predecessor Dean Robert L. Virgil laid earlier. Olin's sweeping innovations involving people, facilities, and programs are signs of major progress.

Because public perception of institutional quality often is based on reputations that are slow to catch up with changing realities, Greenbaum is making the world take keen notice of Olin's accomplishments. Perhaps most visible is the Charles F. Knight Executive Education Center, dedicated on October 5, which the dean calls "a jewel—a facility technologically more advanced than any other university building of its type." With advantages such as fine overnight accommodations, it will bring increasing numbers of corporate visitors to the Olin School, creating "considerable cachet."


"Our students have excellent classroom training, a wonderful extracurricular experience, and their starting compensation has improved immensely ...," says Dean Stuart Greenbaum.

Another advance: plans for the extension of the Executive MBA [EMBA] program to Shanghai, where faculty and students will interact with the largest multinational companies in the world. The School has also dramatically increased career services, adding hundreds of opportunities and lifelong services for alumni.

Inside Simon Hall, Greenbaum's results-oriented leadership is evident in every area. Among the most improved in Olin's portfolio are its evening and undergraduate programs. In 1995, 55 percent of evening students graduated, taking four-and-a-half years; today, 90 percent earn degrees, in less than three years. And the full-time undergraduate business program is so good that Greenbaum says "there's probably only one such program in the United States that would stack up with ours—that's Wharton. Our application rate has jumped from 850 to 2,850 applications per year for a class of 130." The word is out: "Our students have excellent classroom training, a wonderful extracurricular experience, and their starting compensation has improved immensely—from $32,000 to $55,000 in the last three years."

Olin's flagship program, the MBA, was reinvented in 1995 with an innovative curriculum in which students design their programs of study to closely match their individual needs. The MBA program produces leaders grounded in all the key business disciplines; skilled in teamwork, analytics, and business strategy; and knowledgeable from firsthand experience with the complex corporate business environment. Six experiential learning programs provide students with a broad array of hands-on learning opportunities in money management, entrepreneurship, consulting, community service, and global studies. Student empowerment and a de-emphasis on grades builds leadership skills as well as intrinsic motivation.

The part-time MBA and the EMBA programs—which the dean is quick to point out "are among the finest in the country"—are witnessing enrollment booms. And next Greenbaum will grow the nondegree programs and the Ph.D. programs.


The Charles F. Knight Executive Education Center,
dedicated October 5


Above all, Greenbaum says, Olin is about people of quality who care. "Our faculty is truly distinguished—I have colleagues who are the finest in their fields anywhere—and our staff, many Olin alumni, are managers who would be envied in any corporate setting."

As the School trains tomorrow's leaders, Greenbaum ensures that they become committed to community service. "It's unthinkable that future leaders would be insensitive to the needs of the less fortunate," he says. "We're training them to be role models."

For Olin's future Stuart Greenbaum has no end of plans—and no shortage of the challenges he sought six years ago when he left his comfortable position up north because of "a keen need to be repotted." Olin's internationally acknowledged pre-eminence is only a matter of time.

Judy H. Watts is a free-lance writer based in Santa Barbara, California, and a former editor of this magazine.



The Greenbaum Index

"Stuart has the vision to make the Olin School one of the top business schools, and the energy and perseverance to make it happen. Working with Stuart is a joy, because he is constantly challenging the status quo."

Charles F. Knight, Chairman of the Board, Emerson Electric Co.

"Stuart naturally brings people into the circle—that's very important. He is very innovative, has enormous energy, and will always take you to the next level. I have the highest regard for him."

Donald P. Jacobs, Dean Emeritus, Kellogg School of Management

"Stuart Greenbaum is a true believer in what he says. He levels the playing field, and he cares. And his wife [economist Elaine Wache Greenbaum, A.B. '60] is a wonderful person, too!"

Marcella Gillie, Retired Principal and Consultant to Olin's Total Quality Schools program

"Stuart's commitment to the School and its constituencies gives him great credibility. He has great enthusiasm, which inspires faculty, staff, and students. He is also very creative, constantly seeking and generating new ideas for advancing the School."

Kerry E. Back, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Vernon W. and Marion K. Piper Professor of Financial Economics

"What's most amazing to me about Stuart is his burning desire to elevate the School to new heights; he always has a healthy dissatisfaction! He's a great example to all of us of what we can accomplish working together with the right kind of leadership."

John Danahy, E.M.B.A. '85, Chairman, Famous-Barr Division of the May Department Stores Company

"Stuart is an energetic and creative dean who has shepherded the business school to a leadership position in America. The completion of the Knight Center is a signal achievement in this advancement. He is a great university citizen and an ardent advocate for inclusiveness and diversity on campus. We are fortunate that he serves in an era of such importance to the University."

Mark S. Wrighton, Chancellor, Washington University in St. Louis