Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Naming gift for NC State College of Management

Wonderful news for NC State University and its College of Management last Friday with the announcement of a $40 million gift from Lonnie C. and Carol Johnson Poole.  The College of Management will receive $37 million and will henceforth be known as the Lonnie C. Poole College of Management.  The gift will be used to build and improve programs in sustainability, ethics, and entrepreneurship.  The remainder of the gift will be used to build the Carol Johnson Poole clubhouse adjacent to the Lonnie C. Poole golf course on Centennial Campus and to build faculty excellence in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. 

Graduate programs will continue to be housed in the Ben Jenkins Graduate School of Management.  At graduation Saturday I introduced the students as the first graduates of the Jenkins MBA program in the Poole College of Management.  Boy, that felt great! 

On the more serious side, the Poole naming gift opens up opportunities for our college while at the same time raises the stakes for improved performance and visibility.  I have been in graduate management education for almost 20 years and have seen a number of schools get very sizable gifts.  Sometimes it makes a big difference; other times the only thing that changes is the name.  My responsibility in the coming year will be to engage with faculty, students and staff to discuss how to best leverage the gift so that the college has greater impact. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

International test scores

Lots of attention given to the poor showing of the US and the high marks received by China in the latest round of high school test results for 65 countries.  The US scores in math, science, and reading were all near the global average, whereas the scores from Shanghai were the world's highest on each dimension.  Of course, Shanghai is the wealthiest city in China and these results are likely to be much higher than those for China overall (remember China is still primarily rural).  Korea, Finland and Singapore were also consistently near the top. 

One finding of this study that deserves further attention is the results for Canada, which placed between 6th and 10th place, again well ahead of the US.  Many commentators blame teachers unions for the poor performance of the US in this type of exercise, while ignoring the fact that a number of states (including North Carolina) are nonunion and manage to have lousy test scores.  Another fact that some countries seem to do just fine (e.g., Finland) even though they have teacher unions.  The Canadian system of higher education shares some similarities, including teacher unions, with the US.  Why are the Canadians accomplishing so much more?  My guess -- and it is just a guess -- lower poverty rates and higher expectations of students. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

How much is a college degree worth in China?

Fascinating symposium on NYT online about the tough labor market for college graduates in China, who make 1500 yuan per month (about $220) compared to 1200 yuan per month (about $176) for migrant workers, an earnings differential of 25 percent.  In contrast, college graduates earn on average about 75 percent more than high school graduates in the US. 

Why is the payoff to higher education so low in China?  The symposium focuses on these factors: (1) a surge in the number of college graduates this decade has not been matched by a surge in white collar jobs; (2) many of the new schools that have opened do not have very high academic standards; (3) access to college is dictated by a standardized test that does not emphasize the skills most demanded by employers; and (4) a job market that continues to be dominated by manufacturing.