October 14, 2015

Last Word: A Close-Knit, Collaborative Community

Dean TriantisA wooden Testudo statue holds a place of honor on the desk of Mark J. Manoff ’78, Americas Vice Chair at accounting firm EY, and the new chair of Smith’s Board of Advisors.

“I am a Terp through and through,” he told graduates during his commencement keynote on May 21, 2015. “I love the people I met here — the people who are still my best friends, golf buddies, advisers and people who give it to me straight.”

Many students in Van Munching Hall share Mark’s assessment of the Smith experience when surveyed by business publications.

“Students repeatedly mentioned the intimacy of Smith’s campus community and said the school boasted ‘hands down, far and away, the nicest, friendliest MBA program in the country,’” Bloomberg Businessweek reports. “None of this ‘tear down your classmates so you look good’ crap. We are family, and we are each other’s biggest fans.”

The school works hard to build this close-knit, collaborative community — one of four brand pillars described on page 14.

“Everyone in the program is willing to help each other, including faculty, staff, students and alumni,” one student told Bloomberg. Another student said, “This sense of community allows me to take more risks and attempt things outside my comfort zone.” A third respondent said, “Students are competitive but want everyone to succeed.”

The collaborate community takes center stage each spring, when Smith faculty invite MBA students into their homes as part of a Special Olympics fundraiser. Students also pool together during career fairs, case competitions and group projects.

The same culture extends to Smith’s undergraduate, specialty masters and PhD programs.

One example is the Court Classic, a basketball tournament that brings together undergraduate students, faculty and staff. Alumni also get into the action during Networking Night and other events that help Smith students master their dinner etiquette and other soft skills.

Leaders from three Fortune 500 firms visited campus in spring 2015 for the CEO@Smith series, and each one described culture as the key distinguishing factor among firms in their industries.

The same thing might be said about business schools. All accredited programs teach accounting, finance, marketing and management, but the feel is different at Smith. This is what the wooden Testudo represents on Mark’s desk at EY.

Warm regards,


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Greg Muraski
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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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