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Executive Education

The students who give back

By Peter Walker for CNN
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- One thing business schools are clearly very good at is producing graduates who are likely to make a lot of money in the future.

Apart from sheer educational vocation, the schools also have a slightly vested interest in this -- they hope grateful alumni will give something back.

Such potential generosity was highlighted earlier this month when the University of Florida's Warrington College of Business announced that a product of its MBA class of 1948 was to give $30 million to its graduate program.

Bill Hough, the founder of a municipal bond company he sold in 2004, intends his gift to support teaching and other work in the school, and also partly to finance a new school building.

"I was moved by the professors I had in graduate school," Hough said. "They taught us fundamentals of the practical securities business and prepared me to be a successful broker and investor."

The school -- now to be called the Hough Graduate School of Business -- was equally effusive.

"Public higher education is about providing everyone the opportunity for excellence in their lives," the university's president, Bernie Machen, said.

"Bill Hough is ensuring that perpetual resources are available so that future generations can receive the kind of excellent academic foundation to which he credits his success."

Haves and have-less

Such gifts, whether to a university in general or a business school, are a common part of alumni life in the United States, but far less so in Europe, where universities have traditionally been state funded.

The wealth disparities this can cause were shown in the recently-released list of global MBAs compiled by the Financial Times newspaper.

Eight of the top 10-ranked schools in 2007 were U.S.-based, and they each had an endowment fund of $200 million or more.

In contrast, the only non-American school in the top 10, the French-Singaporean Insead and the UK's London Business School (LBS) had a pot of around $100 million and $12.5 million respectively.

European schools have been trying to boost their funds through increased endowments, as shown by the fact that both Insead and LBS have recently appointed deans from the business world rather than academia.

Robin Buchanan, UK senior partner with consultants Bain and Company, has taken the helm at LBS, while Insead appointed Frank Brown, a veteran with accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Brown told the FT that increasing the size of the endowment is critical.

"The issue that I see is that we are trying to be the business school for the world. That means diversity of nationality, profession and socio-economic diversity," he said.

"If Insead tries to attract a student from, say, Nigeria, in competition with a top U.S. school, the U.S. school is able to offer a full scholarship. Insead is not."


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Thank you very much: Schools can get big alumni donations.

FACT BOX

FT's Executive MBA Rankings
1. Wharton, U.S.
2. Hong Kong UST, China
3. London Business School, UK
4. Instituto de Empresa, Spain
5. Fuqua, Duke, U.S.
6. Chicago GSB, U.S.
7. Columbia, U.S.
8. Kellogg, U.S.
9. Stern, NY, U.S.
10. Cass, City University, UK
Source: Financial Times 2006

FACT BOX

EMBA SNAPSHOT

Executives taking the top EMBA courses in the U.S., Europe and Asia have average salaries of around $130,000 to $200,000.

A typical EMBA student is likely to be aged in the early 30s, with 6-10 years of working experience.

A top EMBA course can cost $100,000. Customized courses start at a few thousand dollars.

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