Orfalea College of Business spent approximately $40,000 on the Masters of Business Administration program for Santa Barbara that is now cancelled, Brian Tietje, dean of continuing education for Cal Poly, said.
The CSU Chancellor’s office suspended the self-supporting program permanently because of objections received from California State University campuses at Channel Islands, Los Angeles and Northridge. Reasons being that Cal State Channel Islands plans to extend its MBA program into Santa Barbara.
Mike Uhlenkanp, spokesperson for the CSU Chancellor’s office, said that a program like this needs to be approved and it wasn’t.
“It’s not in the best interest for these campuses to compete against each other due to the current financial situation,” Uhlenkamp said. “If Cal State Channel Islands didn’t want to offer an MBA program than this wouldn’t have been a problem.”
Orfalea College planned to open its MBA program in Santa Barbara Fall 2010 because there wasn’t one in that area, Dave Christy, dean of Orfalea College, said.
“We were convinced that a variety of programs in Santa Barbara could exist that don’t compete with each other,” Christy said. “Lines of communication simply were clogged.”
Christy said the lack of a business school or an MBA program provided by the University of California, Santa Barbara caused a need in the community.
Yet, Mary Fleck, associate dean of extended university for Cal State Channel Islands, said that Cal State Channel Islands planned on expanding its MBA program as it grew.
Orfalea’s program was cancelled due to the current state of the economy, the failure to reach an agreement between Orfalea College and Cal State Channel Islands, and because the Chancellor had not given the proper approval to Orfalea College.
“A certain set of procedures have to be followed and they weren’t,” Uhlenkanp said. “They did have a conversation but an agreement was never formally reached.”
According to a letter sent from Chancellor Charles Reed to former-President Warren Baker, Orfalea’s MBA program had received interim approval from Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), but hadn’t been authorized by the Chancellors office — which is needed for self-supporting programs.
Reed continued to write that “No such notice was submitted by your campus until we requested it on July 13, 2010, subsequent to our learning from the news media about Cal Poly’s plan to launch this MBA program.”
Orfalea College’s internationally accredited business program was set to launch in Santa Barbara Fall 2010 at the Canary Hotel. Two classes were going to be offered the first quarter, two-thirds would be taught in-person by a Cal Poly faculty member and one-third through the Internet.
“Our goal was to offer a high quality program for our faculty to teach adult students in a different market where we could spread out reputation and learn a lot,” Christy said. “I was anxious for our faculty to learn about effective distance learning.”
Cal State Channel Islands’ plans solidified this year for the MBA program that will launch in Fall 2011, with the approval of the Chancellor’s office.
Director of Smith School of Business for Cal State Channel Islands, William Cordeiro, said that he read about the MBA offering in the newspaper.
“I had a brief phone conversation about the possibility of Cal Poly offering an MBA in Santa Barbara with the Dean,” Cordeiro said. “I had no other conversations with the folks from San Luis Obispo.”
The faculty and staff who were planning on working for the MBA program will have to be deployed to different courses. As for the students, their application and other fees have been refunded.
“I apologize to students who planned on going to the school,” he said. “They need to know that they need to look for other opportunities if they are available.”
The future of Orfalea’s self- sustaining MBA program is undetermined.
“People were excited and now we’re in the process of undoing it all,” Christy said. “It’s our job to move forward.”