In Monday evening’s annual State of the School Address, School of Management Dean Jeffrey Garten outlined what he considers to be the strengths, difficulties and current issues of concern at the school.

Speaking to an audience of about 250 SOM students, faculty and administrators at the Law School auditorium, Garten said the school is making progress in the areas of admissions, alumni relations, course offerings and student life. But he also said the administration has had to address problems, including a difficult job market and student dissatisfaction with a core finance course.

“In a word, I would say [the school] is strong and getting stronger all the time,” Garten said. “For a school that is very young by any standard, for a school that is very small, and for an institution that is operating in a hyper-competitive arena, we have a lot to be proud of.”

Garten emphasized what he characterized as high-quality teaching and research at the SOM, particularly with regard to interdisciplinary research centers such as the International Center for Finance and the Environment Management Center.

He said another success for the SOM is the number of applications it has received this year. Many top business schools nationwide have seen fewer applicants, but Garten said the SOM’s numbers have not fallen. Efforts to recruit women and minorities have also paid off, he said, as acceptances for both dramatically increased at the school this year.

Women currently make up 30 percent of the SOM’s student body, but constitute 41 percent of this year’s acceptances. The number of accepted minorities tripled from last year to 13 percent.

Garten said the SOM has also seen progress in its efforts to further involve alumni with the school.

“We have to raise our own funds, and this is a challenge when you have a small alumni base and a very young one,” he said.

While approximately 10 percent of alumni sent donations to the school when he began his work there nine years ago, he said 53 percent now do so, giving the SOM the nation’s second-highest business school alumni participation rate.

Garten also addressed problems within the SOM, mainly with respect to students’ negative responses to a basic finance course. He said he reads all students’ course evaluations and was deeply troubled by the dissatisfaction he saw. Since he received the evaluations in December, he said the course has already been reorganized and topics it covered will be incorporated into other courses.

“I’m determined never to allow that [dissatisfaction] to happen again,” he said.

In addition to internal problems, Garten said the SOM is still working to address the difficult job market as it begins to improve. He said 43 percent of second-year students currently have job offers, up from 30 percent at this time last year. But he said the SOM will continue efforts to bring more recruiters to the school.

He also addressed ongoing discussions concerning the school’s size and facilities.

“We know that our facilities leave a lot to be desired,” he said, prompting laughs from the audience. “We are working with the University to at least build an auditorium.”

Following the speech Garten took questions from the audience. Students and faculty said they were pleased with the address.

“[Garten] has certainly done a great job leading the school,” Nathan Taft SOM ’04 said.

Taft, who serves as president of the Yale Entrepreneurial Society, said he thinks stronger entrepreneurial programs, a diverse student body and improved facilities are key issues for the SOM.

SOM professor Dick Wittink said he believes the SOM’s future is positive. Administrators should avoid making arbitrary changes solely for the chance to further improve its rankings, he said.

“I feel very good about the school,” he said. “I think the culture is exactly right in terms of the things I care about.”

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