Sally Blount’s 21st-Century Plans for Kellogg

In an in-depth interview published by the Financial Times recently, new Kellogg School of Management Dean Sally Blount shared some of her thinking regarding what’s next for the school. Now that she’s more than 100 days into her job (a period of learning and listening that she chronicled on her own blog), Dean Blount is ready to roll up her sleeves and make her mark on the school.

While it sounds like she’s treading somewhat carefully, it also is clear that Blount is not afraid to shake things up. When asked about Kellogg’s current way of expanding its footprint in new markets, which relies heavily on partnerships with institutions in those countries, Blount described the approach as “a great late 20th century strategy.” But, now things have changed, and she is considering all sorts of new options for how to expand Kellogg’s global footprint, including possibly building Kellogg-run schools in other parts of the world.

Perhaps Blount’s most interesting comment had to do with the school’s one-year MBA program, which is perhaps the best known one-year program among top U.S. business schools. Noting the importance for Kellogg to raise its global profile and the popularity of the one-year program among international students (56% of one-year students come from outside the U.S.), Blount suggests that the traditional two-year program will shrink over time while the school enrolls more students in its one-year program. And, as Kellogg enters or expands in new markets, it is likely that the one-year program, not the traditional two-year MBA, will lead the way.

Some Kellogg students alumni may raise their eyebrows at Blount’s comment that the school has cut down the size of its planned new building in Evanston in favor of investing more in its second U.S. campus, in Miami. One only hopes that the cutbacks for the new Evanston building are not so significant that it will wipe out most of the benefit of the new building to begin with. The school’s current quarters are somewhat dated and cramped (especially given Kellogg’s emphasis on team-based work, which necessitates a lot of open space and meeting rooms for those teams), and hopefully this will finally be addressed with the new building, which is still at least a few years away.

Finally, Dean Blount made some interest comments about being open to the idea of using online learning tools to cut down costs. “Basic courses will go electronic,” she says, again making some wonder if this is really what’s best for the students or if it’s a matter of cost savings coming before curriculum development. However, if Kellogg can strike the right balance and free up students to get more quality face time with professors in classes where such a lecture style makes the most impact, it could take the lead in an area that no school administrator has fully figure out yet.

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