Celebrating 100 Power Moves: Ross School of Business Centenary



The Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan has evolved significantly since its establishment in 1924, adapting to meet the needs of an ever-changing business landscape. Key developments include the creation of the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, the first degree offered at the school, the introduction of Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAP), a pioneering program that offered real-world experience for MBA students, and the establishment of various centers and institutes for interdisciplinary study. The school has also embraced innovation in response to modern business challenges, offering new degree programs, enhancing digital learning capabilities, and consistently ranking among the top 10 programs in the country.

The Evolution of the Ross School of Business

Since 1924, the Stephen M. Ross School of Business has seen several changes, reflecting the transformation of business. Established in the Roaring Twenties, the school navigated a period of prosperity and consumerism that significantly influenced business dynamics at that time, according to History.com.

The Ross School, originally known as the School of Business Administration, was set up to lead future business leaders through a world gaining connectivity and buying power.

The Inception of the First Degree

The Master of Business Administration (MBA) was the first graduate program offered at the school, devised by esteemed economics professor and first school dean, Edmund Ezra Day. It signified a shift in perceiving business studies from a mere trade to an intricate academic discipline.

The Introduction of the First Faculty

In its inaugural year, the school had an academic team comprising of associate professors, assistant professors, lecturers, and instructors. The faculty comprised of individuals from U-M, Harvard, and Carnegie Tech, including pioneers like Margaret Elliott Tracy, the first woman to become a full professor at the school.

The Inaugural Commencement

The first batch of MBA graduates from Ross School made history in 1926, including students from various backgrounds and the first woman MBA graduate, Sih Eu-Yang Chen.

The Initial Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAP)

Ambitious to transform the school’s curriculum in the 1980s, Dean Gilbert R. Whitaker prompted the inception of the Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAP). This program, unprecedented at any business school, provided real-world learning experiences for MBA students. Currently, the MAP has involved over 17,000 students in projects across 98 countries, thereby reinforcing the Ross School as an ideal choice for students seeking practical engagement.

The Creation of the First Centers and Institutes

The 1990s saw the establishment of several learning centers and institutes at the Ross School, such as the William Davidson Institute and the Michigan Joint Manufacturing Initiative. The curriculum also expanded to include interdisciplinary studies, allowing credits for graduate study in other areas of the university.

The Construction of the New Building

With a generous donation of $100 million by alumnus Stephen M. Ross in 2004, the largest ever made to U-M, the business school was renamed in his honor. The funds were used to construct a state-of-the-art 179,000-square-foot building, marking the beginning of a period of impressive growth.

The Current Innovations

Today, Ross School continues to anticipate and respond to emerging business challenges, such as artificial intelligence and climate change. It has diversified its degree offerings, constantly updating its curriculum, and integrated new technologies that facilitate seamless remote collaboration. Consequently, its programs consistently rank among the top 10 in the country.

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