U of I falls short providing MBA scholarships above and beyond state grants for vets
Note: The following is a guest post by esteemed former fellow blogger "Huck Finn".
The University of Illinois Executive MBA program is breaking a promise of scholarships to Illinois vets and squandering an opportunity to build the premier EMBA program in the state. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) Exeutive MBA (EMBA) program is in a building across the street from the Sears Tower in Chicago. Students meet every other Friday and Saturday while they continue to work full time elsewhere and bring about 10 years of professional experience to the classroom.
The UIUC EMBA program is so overshadowed by Northwestern and U of Chicago's very highly-regarded MBA programs that I had no idea the program even existed until April 28th, 2006 when, during a Pentagon briefing, SECDEF Rumsfeld announced that the program would offer full scholarships to Illinois vets. The Illinois Veterans Grant program (IVG) provides returning Illinois vets with the equivalent of 4 years of tuition and fees at Illinois state schools. Since the UIUC's 21-month program is $72,000 (including a trip to China as part of the program) it exceeds the max amount the IVG will pay. The U of I had promised 110 scholarships to cover what remained after the IVG was paid out.
Here's a story from CS Monitor.
What a great deal, I thought. So I asked for some info and received a great package and a letter from Robert van der Hooning, the Assistant Dean. I called him one afternoon just to see if I got the story right and see if I was the kind of person he'd be interested in admitting to the program. It was true, 110 scholarships offered for the 2006-2007 academic year and expected to continue. He was building the program, and he envisioned that it would quickly become one of the best in the county. Since he was previously at Kellogg, I figured he knew how to make that happen. So, I put that idea in my hip pocket, and I've told countless other Illinois vets about it.
About a month ago, I was a guest at an event at Naval Station Great Lakes. I spoke with a young lieutenant who was one of our hosts. He told me that he planned to get out of the Navy at the end of his commitment, and I asked what his plans were when he left service. He told me he was a student at the UIUC EMBA program and he planned to stay in the Chicago area and look for work, since that's where he grew up. I was excited to meet someone who was in the program and asked him all about it. He enjoyed the academics and the others in his cohort, but he explained that there was a big stink with the veteran's scholarships for program and Mr. van der Hooning had left as a result. After hearing about it, I was shocked that such a great deal for vets was being cut at such an early point; and I was disappointed personally since Mr. van der Hooning and I had talked on the phone about what a great program he planned to build. I told him that he was lucky to be in the program and wished him the best of luck on his transition.
Since then, I've found out much more about the "stink" from some other vets that applied......and it is pungent! What at the surface could easily sound like a "misunderstanding" of expectations is clearly a case of broken promises. The best reporting on all of it comes from John Ruberry, who writes Marathon Pundit. John's post tells about the dirty details of how U of Illinois administrators went back on promises of scholarships and admissions, and how Mr. van der Hooning fought to do what was right...and lost his job.
You can read about it here.
Every part of it matches the stories I've heard from others, who all very clearly understood the process and what was being offered to them. Some chose to go elsewhere and some have fought back.