According to a recent report from the Charlotte Business Journal, UNC Chapel Hill is making plans to offer an Executive Masters in Business Administration degree via a new satellite campus in Charlotte.
Some individuals and groups within the Charlotte community have expressed concern that this expansion of Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler School of Business would directly compete with and draw some students away from the MBA program offered by UNC Charlotte's Belk College of Business.
In response, one Charlotte-based Twitter user wrote, "So instead of the North Carolina education system investing in their downtown MBA through UNC Charlotte and making a good program better, they cater to Chapel Hill per usual and push UNC Charlotte to the side." Another user said, "So [UNC Charlotte] already has a gorgeous MBA school in Uptown Charlotte, yet Chapel Hill wants to expand and siphon students away from another *UNC* school?! Why?"
One group speaking out is the UNC Charlotte Student Senate, which passed a resolution on March 11 opposing the expansion. They expressed concerns that the satellite school would interfere with UNC Charlotte's "unique claim to being the only UNC System institution in the city" and its mission statement directly addressing the city's economic needs. Many also worry about the impact this move would make within the UNC System.
"Charlotte belongs to Charlotte," said Student Body President-elect Dick Beekman. "We deserve a chance to develop and grow our program."
He explained that approving the Kenan-Flagler expansion would set a "horrible" precedent for the UNC System's future decisions. Beekman also expressed discontent with several elements of the idea outlined by Kenan-Flagler Dean Doug Shackleford in an interview with Charlotte Business Journal.
Primarily, Beekman refuted a line from the interview in which Shackleford states that he and his team at Kenan-Flagler had "kind of reached an understanding" with UNC Charlotte leaders. Beekman stated that, after his own meeting with senior UNC Charlotte administration members, it did not appear to him that an understanding had been reached between the two universities or business schools.
In a statement to the Niner Times, Chancellor Gaber said, "We appreciate the support from our alumni, students and the community for UNC Charlotte and the Belk College of Business, who all recognize our well-established, nationally ranked part-time MBA program. We continue to work with the UNC System and UNC Chapel Hill to determine the best path forward to meet the needs of our region."
Dean Jennifer Troyer of the Belk College of Business gave a similar statement to the Charlotte Business Journal, in which she highlighted Belk's MBA and its accolades. Troyer also reiterated Belk's commitment to serve the Charlotte area and listen to its numerous businesses and large corporations' wishes.
Neither Troyer nor Gaber referenced an explicit "understanding," as Shackleford mentioned.
Shackleford also told the Charlotte Business Journal that he doesn't see his proposed expansion as a direct competitor with Belk's MBA. The Kenan-Flagler program would be a full-time, Executive MBA aimed at established business professionals. In contrast, Belk's program is part-time and highly flexible, therefore aimed at a wider market.
Additionally, Beekman said he is displeased with the "full-steam ahead" strategy of Kenan-Flagler and its staff to promote the proposed expansion despite its current lack of approval.
Shackleford said he hopes to begin instruction in the Queen City in October of this year, although the school currently has no accreditation or set location in Charlotte. The Kenan-Flagler website even has a page that briefly describes the program and prompts readers to sign up for a mailing list to receive more information about the application process when it becomes available. The webpage does not indicate pending approval for the program.
Other universities run a few MBA programs via satellite campuses in the Uptown area, including the University of South Carolina and Wake Forest University. Queens University of Charlotte also offers an MBA program. However, a Tar Heel addition to the already-competitive Charlotte MBA market would be the first of those sanctioned by the UNC System.