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Business school will require MBA students to bring laptop (Released: 6/9/97)

by Richard Veilleux, Office of University Communications.

STORRS, Conn. --The University of Connecticut's School of Business Administration MBA program is joining a select group of universities nationwide that require incoming, full-time students to bring a laptop computer to class.

The requirement becomes effective in September, with the next round of new, first-year MBA students enrolling in the program, said David D. Palmer, executive director of MBA programs at UConn. Business school faculty decided to make the leap because "the effective use of technology has become such an integral part of all fields in the business world", Palmer said. "Our students, to be among the best, must have high-level skills in the use of computers and computer software, and in their ability to use those tools to analyze data. Today, in several fields, the complexity of analysis requires top-end skills with computers and sophisticated software."

MBA officials developed a set of recommended features for the laptops, but will not be involved in the actual purchase. The recommendations establish minimum characteristics -- a Pentium processor, CD-ROM capability, Windows '95, and 16 megabytes of RAM, for instance.

The September move to laptops marks the second consecutive year major improvements have occurred in the full-time MBA program. Last year, a new curriculum featuring major team projects was introduced.

UConn, named the third most wired public university in the nation -- and 17th overall -- in rankings published in the May issue of Yahoo! Internet Life magazine has during the past year upgraded to high-tech capability four classrooms that will be used by MBA students. The rooms include power and data jacks at each students' seat, among other enhancements.

The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College will join UConn in requiring laptops in September. Last year, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and, two years ago, Columbia University instituted the requirement in their business schools. Wake Forest University and Rollins College made it a requirement the same year. The latter two schools supply the equipment, and add the cost of the computer to their fee package. The other four require students to own their own machines.

UConn has required students enrolled in its Executive MBA program to use laptops since the program began in 1990. In that program, however, the laptop -- and a 10-day international business trip -- are included as part of the $31,500 tuition package.

Palmer said student reaction to the requirement has been positive.

"More and more, students already have their own computers," Palmer said, estimating that about half of the 100 students about to enter their second year own computers. They also realize that, to be competitive, they must be fluent in the use of computers before they begin seeking jobs that involve information management, accounting or finance.

UConn's MBA program has for several years been ranked among the top 70 programs in the nation by editors of The Princeton Review, and has also been listed as among the best in New England in The Best Graduate Business Schools, published by ARCO .