Freeman School to Begin Admitting Freshmen

November 12, 2004

Mark Miester
Phone: (504) 865-5714

The last time the A. B. Freeman School of Business admitted a freshman, Lyndon Johnson was in the White House, China was about to begin its Cultural Revolution and the Beatles' Revolver was topping the charts.

mcfarlandThat's soon going to change. By a vote of 38-4 with three abstentions, the the University Senate recently approved a plan to begin admitting students to the A. B. Freeman School of Business as freshmen.

"This is probably as important as any strategic decision made during my tenure as dean," says James W. McFarland, dean of the business school. "Over the long term I think there are going to be some, very positive benefits to the business school and the university."

The change, which will begin in 2006, will bring the Freeman School into line with Tulane's other undergraduate schools and colleges, all of which admit students at the freshman year, as well as peer institutions that offer four-year undergraduate business programs.

Students have entered the business school as juniors since 1976, when the undergraduate program was reinstated after a 10-year absence. The undergraduate program was discontinued in 1966.

According to McFarland, the plan is motivated not by a desire to expand the business school but rather by a desire to reduce the size of its graduating classes. By managing the admission process, McFarland hopes to reduce the number of students graduating from the Freeman School from its current 350 to 300 by 2007.

"We'll have a more selective program," he says. "Our overall objective is to build a top-20 program and we can't do it unless we make some fairly substantial changes."

Among the benefits of freshman admission outlined in the proposal are improved recruiting, retention, class-size predictability and student advising, but McFarland says the most significant benefit is the ability to design a better program.

Courses such as business computing, management communications, managerial accounting, managerial perspectives and organizational behavior can be offered in the freshman and sophomore years, better preparing students for upper-level business courses.

"From the business student point of view, it's going to be a much, much better program," McFarland says. "There are a lot of things we're not doing that can be done when you've got four years."

The area of the university likely to be most affected by the change is liberal arts and sciences, which stands to lose 370 freshmen and sophomore students and approximately $2 million in net income per year based on projected enrollments.

McFarland says the agreement, which was prepared jointly with LAS dean Teresa Soufas, calls for the business school to make a side payment to the Faculty of the Liberal Arts and Sciences of roughly half the business school's bottom-line increase to offset the loss.

While admitting freshmen and sophomores will improve the business school's bottom line, McFarland emphasizes that money was not the motivation. "It's a nobrainer to business faculty, it's a no-brainer to business students, and it's a no brainer to business alumni. It's the right thing to do."

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000