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It’s Not Personal, It’s Business

Cal Poly Told to Abandon Santa Barbara MBA Program


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

On Friday, July 30, Cal Poly announced the permanent suspension of its plans to launch a Santa Barbara-based master’s of business administration (MBA) program.

The termination came at the request of CSU chancellor Charles Reed, a decision prompted when CSU Channel Islands expressed interest in serving the Santa Barbara market for its MBA program, according to Cal Poly’s press release.

Cal Poly’s program had, in fact, been ready to launch earlier, but on July 21 the Chancellor asked Cal Poly officials to delay admission for at least a semester. They had already recruited applicants and assembled a faculty when, a week later, the office ordered that the program be cancelled, as the Dean of Orfalea College of Business Brian Tietje told the Pacific Coast Business Times.

The chancellor reportedly said that having two MBA programs in the same area would be fiscally irresponsible. Deciding between CSUCI and Cal poly was determined based on CSUCI’s closer proximity to Santa Barbara, according to the press release.

The decision is met with disappointment, ending two years of development and marketing, according to Bradford Anderson, Associate Dean of Cal poly’s Orfalea School of Business.

Anderson described how the Cal Poly program was not devised to preclude other programs, but designed to complement and supplement other local opportunities. “Nobody else in the Santa Barbara area offers an internationally accredited MBA program that has a component of the face-to-face time rather than just the pure online,” he said, adding that at least two-thirds of the course material would be delivered in person and the rest delivered online.

Is there a potential market in Santa Barbara for internationally accredited MBAs? Cal Poly’s informational meeting drew about 72 people, cited Anderson. And while Santa Barbara may not have the industry power of larger cities, Anderson said, “because of the economic times that we’re facing, a lot of the savvy local businesses — which may be small to mid-size — recognize the fact that one of ways they can compete and survive is to have bright you minds.”

Cal Poly’s program would have been based in the Canary hotel downtown and was reported to be entirely self-supporting, financed without state support and created to adapt efficiently in today’s tight economy.

CSUCI’s program will be based out of Goleta and begin in full force in 2011. CSUCI also announced the launch of a Bachelors Degree in Nursing program in Santa Barbara earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Cal Poly will be refunding application fees and continuing to move forward at their San Luis Obispo campus.

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