By Jeff Lagerquist
The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) has accredited Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management (TRSM). TRSM now ranks among the top business schools in the world according to the longest serving global accrediting body for business and accounting programs.
“It’s like the university itself has earned a degree,” said Ken Jones, dean of TRSM.
Only five per cent of the world’s business schools have an AACSB accreditation. There are currently 633 member institutions in 40 countries, including 18 in Canada.
The AACSB’s 21 standards evaluate a school’s mission, curriculum, student support, faculty qualifications, research and improvement objectives.
Wendy Cukier, the associate dean of TRSM and incoming vice-president of research and innovation, led the effort that ultimately impressed the AACSB review committee.
“It was a truly massive amount of work,” said Cukier.
Requests from the AACSB included copies of every research article published by 120 faculty members over the past five years, as well as a 200-page report detailing their resumés.
While TRSM was accredited, a high failure rate in key courses, a shortage of published research papers and a lack of PhDs in the classroom raised red flags.
“TRSM has what students call ‘killer courses.’ They had horrible pass rates,” said Ben Samms, decision support analyst for TRSM.
In 2005, some essential courses had a pass rate of only 50 per cent.
With changes to course content, improved tutoring and peer study groups, all courses now have at least a 70 per cent pass rate without a reduction in classroom standards.
But the doctorate deficit presented a larger challenge.
“When we started the program, about 30 per cent of the faculty had PhDs. Now it’s close to 70 per cent. That was a huge transition,” said Cukier.
Many of the faculty from Ryerson’s polytechnic institute era received tenured positions when the school became an official university. Now, new hires tend to hold PhDs, and over 20 of the old guard have started doctorate programs.
“We’ve made an incredible effort to pay people to do their PhDs, but it takes a while to turn this kind of progress around,” said Samms.
The comprehensive plan to improve TRSM didn’t account for the considerable increase in student enrollment.
“All of the planning was based on the assumption that we would have the same number of students. Enrollment and faculty hiring dramatically increased throughout the application and review period,” said Cukier.
TRSM increased its annual first-year enrollment by almost 600 students since 2002, when the application was filed.
“It’s really a testament to how well founded our program is that we were able to establish ourselves so quickly,” said Shane Saunderson, president of the MBA Student Association.
The AACSB accreditation increases TRSM’s status and international recognition, but there is still a desire to stay true to Ryerson’s career-ready spirit.
Cukier said, “At many institutions, the reputation is ahead of the reality. I think at Ryerson we are progressing so quickly that our reputation has not yet caught up with where we are.”
“It’s quite startling how our students are able to beat Harvard and U of T at university business games,” said Samms.
To remain accredited, TRSM must undergo a review every five years.
“Any good organization should strive for continual growth and improvement. Having our process evaluated by an external body is a really good thing,” said Jones.