Chicago has become the center of the business world after Business Week magazine ranked Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Business and the University's Graduate School of Business first and second in the nation, respectively, in its biennial report.
The last time the schools went one-two in Business Week's rankings of full-time M.B.A. programs was 1992.
"This is a good strong barometer of student satisfaction and happiness," said Anne McGill, deputy dean of the full-time M.B.A. program. "Recruiting firms will be more likely to hire them. This helps the student job search."
The rankings are compiled from the opinions of 219 corporate recruiters and 11,518 business school students around the world and the magazine's measure of each of the business schools' intellectual capital. The GSB moved up from tenth place in 2000, taking over Kellogg's old number two spot.
McGill downplayed to some extent the significance of the rankings.
"The rankings make it seem like we're competing like football teams. They make us sound like a consumer product," McGill said. "That's not how we want to be. We're students and teachers."
McGill denied the existence of any significant cross-town rivalry with Kellogg. In fact, Edward Snyder, dean of the GSB, and Dipak Jain, dean of Kellogg, have worked together extensively since being appointed at their respective schools a year and a half ago.
"It's a good professional and personal relationship," Jain said. "We think that we both started a journey together."
Both Snyder and Jain were appointed deans in May 2001. One of the first things they did as deans was a joint interview for the Chicago Tribune, where they met and hit it off. Now the two are working together to forge a close relationship between their schools for the betterment of the city in general.
"It's very important for the city of Chicago to acknowledge that they have the two best business schools in the country," Jain said. "We should see what we can do together for the city."
If the reputations of the two schools hold true, graduates at both schools will be competing for different types of jobs, as the GSB is known for its rigorous theorizing and number-crunching while Kellogg stresses management and interpersonal skills. The GSB usually produces more CFOs and investment bankers while Kellogg is known for putting out marketing managers and CEOs.
"We both produce M.B.A. degrees, but the way we do it is different," Jain said. "Chicago has its own style and we have our own style. It's important to see what fits for the student. The city is large enough for two more [top-ranked business schools]. I don't think we're taking each other's share.
The GSB will simply try to improve the quality of its program, as a rigorous training seems to have ensured a successful job placement rate for its graduates.
"We're not a vocational school," McGill said. "The end goal is to provide good training. If you don't do that the rankings aren't worth much."
"Our efforts pay off. Our students don't wait for recruiters to come to them," McGill said. "It's the internal measure of success that's important. I think we did a good job of aligning people's expectations with the school's reputation."