Message from President-Designate Sunder Ramaswamy

The current decision was taken after quite a bit of thinking and after looking at lots of data (across the 4 schools for enrollments, placements over the years), and in talking with past students, trustees and other professionals in the field. As Clara mentioned, these decisions are never arrived at lightly.

* The primary purpose of the improved operating model at MIIS is to create more meaningful opportunities for MIIS students by increasing access to courses and faculty while providing a comprehensive professional skill set in both policy and business. Combining these two areas, which have become increasingly interrelated (as seen recently by the historic financial crisis in the U.S.), will better prepare MIIS graduates to meet today’s global needs and strengthen MIIS’ leadership position in international graduate studies. Alums have not just been placed in the ‘private sector’ as you note in your letter; During all of our discussions, never was this seen as a “policy school that also teaches ‘business’ — it was and is to be seen as a “School” — that teaches “international” policy, business and other combinations. The idea is to create a ‘whole’ that is truly ‘bigger then the sum of its parts’ — much like the MIIS integration with Middlebury itself (The same analogy holds true for the other “combined” school).

* All degrees will plan to remain accredited, including the MBA. We have spoken with the Exec Director of AASCB at length, with the donors and other professionals in the field — as long as the business program maintains a level of autonomy, standards (having a GMAT entrance for instance), the particular administrative structure in which a business degree is housed is less of their concern. (As an aside, he also mentioned that the MBA is not the only degree accredited by AASCB and we could think of various other options — however, our intention is to keep it as an MBA). I also had a long meeting with the exec director of WASC (the Institute’s accredting agency) and did not hear a word of concern. Of course, we will undertake a ‘substantive change’ visit — but that would be similar to what is happening at the highest levels — WASC — the Western Association of Schools and Colleges — seceding authority to NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges) as part of the larger integration with Middlebury. As I mentioned to the community during the 18th September town hall, we passed that review with flying colors and I anticipate doing the same with the AASCB substantive change visit as well, which would have to be done anyway as a result of the larger integration with Middlebury.

* Following the reorganization, MIIS faculty will be able to teach and collaborate more effectively with students and one another both in the classroom and through research and professional opportunities. Students will also benefit from superior academic advising support and centralized career advising services throughout their studies at MIIS. Here again the purpose is to enhance current advising and placement services that students will get from their school structure. Students will get both specialized advising but also benefit from cross over advising on academics, career placement etc. As the reorganization will first take effect during the next academic year (2009-10), existing MIIS students will remain unaffected, particularly as the curriculum and degree programs will not change. We do hope that students in the graduating class of 2010 will benefit from even stronger academic and career advising services in their second year, while maintaining their existing degree programs.

* The improved institutional changes at MIIS will be additive, where the pool of academic resources and professional opportunities will be both broadened and deepened. “Change” is always hard, but will be carefully and thoughtfully managed with the professional success of MIIS’ students as the key driver.

Our intention is to keep and strenghten the business program, but also allow it to evolve in a natural fashion with the intellctual proximity of the policy school to create niches that would distinguish MIIS for years to come (think “green business” as just one example). Finally to give some historical perspective — if one goes back in time, there were no “schools” at the institute and even now students graduating from the Institute have the name of the institute on the diploma etc (and not the relevant school).

What I would like from the community — faculty, staff, students, and alums — is to work on preserving and enhancing what makes MIIS special and distinct from other programs — from an academic, professional standpoint for many years to come. Please share this with your friends and other colleagues and I would be happy to meet with them when I am back in Monterey next. Also, feel free to get back to me if you have additional questions.

with best wishes



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