April 26, 2001
Since first going global with its Asia Executive MBA program in 1991, the Freeman School has roamed far and wide to fuel the growth of executive education programs. In addition to its flagship New Orleans program, the business school has offered joint-venture executive programs in Santiago, Chile; Cali, Colombia; Guayaquill, Ecuador; and Carmen and Villahermosa, Mexico.
The school's latest EMBA initiative, however, hits a little closer to home. In November, the Freeman School will launch a new Houston-based executive MBA program, the first such program to go head-to-head with a domestic EMBA program on its own turf.
"With the latest census data, Houston is now the third largest market in the country," says Steve Algero, associate dean for executive education at the Freeman School. "You look at the demographics, the per capita income, the number of executives in the tri-county area, the figures are staggering."
The school is currently finalizing the lease on an 8,000-square-foot office in the Galleria area of Houston. The Tulane Executive Center Houston will be staffed by a full-time director and administrative assistant and includes two executive-style classrooms and administrative offices.
The Houston EMBA is a 48-credit, 18-month program ending in March 2003. Classes take place every other Friday and Saturday. The program will be taught primarily by Freeman School faculty with additional courses taught by adjuncts. Tuition is $55,000 and Algero hopes to recruit an initial class of 40 students. According to Algero, one need only look at the numbers to see why entering the Houston market makes sense. "
Houston has gone up in market size every year and the demographics have become very appealing," Algero says. "Not to mention the corporate base is expanding in Houston and shrinking in New Orleans. Houston has more than 2,500 publicly traded companies. When you look at that, you certainly see that the market can withstand another entrant."
Making the case even stronger is the number of Texas-based executives in recent years willing to travel to New Orleans twice a month to take part in the EMBA program. "Every year there is an increasing number of students who commute from Houston and west Texas to New Orleans," Algero says. "Companies are sending folks to Tulane, so there is a brand recognition in the Houston marketplace."
Approximately 300 alumni of Tulane's New Orleans EMBA program currently reside in Houston. For a business that relies heavily on word-of-mouth referrals, a strong alumni base is key to selling the program.
"Very often we'll have alumni in management in key decision-making positions who will identify a person, tap that person for future growth and say, 'You need an MBA.' That's why alumni are crucial. We ask them to help us out with every part of the recruiting process."
The University of Houston and the University of Texas each currently offer executive MBA programs in the Houston area, but Algero views Rice University as Tulane's primary competition. To distinguish the Tulane program, the Houston EMBA will offer three distinct concentrations. A general management track will be modeled on the New Orleans program, a health-care track will target health-care professionals and an energy track will cater to executives in Houston's energy industry.
"Our strategy moving into Houston was we didn't want to look like the Rice program and we didn't want to look like the New Orleans program," Algero explains. "We wanted to differentiate ourselves so that we could justify the tuition and hopefully draw a different cohort."
The Houston program is not the only new executive education program on the horizon. February 2002 is tentatively set as the start date for a Miami-based executive MBA program offered in partnership with the Institute for Advanced Studies in Administration in Caracas, Venezuela, and targeted at executives from across Latin America.
"There's a huge demand out there for executive education, and Tulane was poised for this increase in demand," Algero says. "The vision of Dean McFarland and Associate Dean Trapani over the last 10 years set us up for success. The demand wasn't always there. Now that the demand is there, we have the relationships to fulfill it."
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