Doctoral students at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business faced many unknowns in 1966, but they helped launch a top 10 PhD program that has placed faculty members at more than 200 academic institutions worldwide.
“It was a risk to come here,” Smith School professor emeritus Burt Leete said during a golden anniversary celebration with faculty, staff, students and alumni on May 12, 2017. “But the results have been positive.”
The program’s initial class included nine students who earned job offers from Kentucky, Notre Dame and other prestigious universities. Leete, who arrived at UMD a few months before the first intake, has watched the program grow since then to nearly 100 students.
The program reached a milestone in 1983, when the degree changed from a Doctor of Business Administration to a PhD. Smith School professor Frank B. Alt, who led the transition, said the change was natural because the program already had evolved from a professional orientation to a research and academic orientation. “It was really an easy task for me to make this argument,” he said.
Among other recognitions accumulated during the first 50 years, the Financial Times ranked the program No. 9 in the world in its discontinued doctoral rankings in 2015.
“The PhD program here is on par with the best programs in the world,” said Nataly Lorinkova, a 2010 graduate who now teaches at Georgetown University. She was one of seven alumni panelists who offered career advice to current students during the daylong celebration in College Park.
Sheetal Singh, a 2011 alumna who has taught at Morgan State and George Washington Universities, said the Smith network is what really sets the program apart. “When you go to conferences, the name Maryland matters,” she said.
Brad Greenwood, a 2013 alumnus who is moving from Temple to the University of Minnesota, said the program also provides support with dedicated staff members like assistant director Justina Blanco. “You have somebody who is specifically committed to making your life easier,” Greenwood said.
Other alumni panelists included Debora Thompson, PhD ’06, at Georgetown University; Nevana Koukova, PhD ’05, at Lehigh University; Ted Matherly, PhD ’13, at Oklahoma State University; and Dina Ribbink, PhD ’10, who is moving from the University of Western Ontario to Oregon State University, Cascade.