Almost three decades after being among the pioneers in nonprofit management education, The Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations is making big changes to keep up with an evolution in the sector.
As part of a retooling of programs and offerings at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, nonprofit education will be split among the schools of social work and management in the coming years. There has also been a name change.
Richard Boyatzis has served as interim executive director at Mandel Center during its nearly two-year review of programs. “We decided what we’d do is break up programming that really fit in the School of Management in a nonprofit theme. Since we’re a school of management, not business, with a certain part devoted to nonprofit, that was a good fit,” said Boyatzis.
“We’re pretty excited, moving ahead with what we think is going to be a much stronger set of offerings, for the nonprofit community, now and in the coming years,” he said.
The review is aimed at developing the most cost-effective and strategic way to blend together research, professional development and degree programming. If all master’s programs are up and running by 2013-14, Boyatzis said undergraduate programs will begin in August 2014.
There’s been a move for business schools to move their programs from nonprofit management to social entrepreneurship, according to Roseanne Mirabella, professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J. “As that migration takes place, the business schools become a more natural home for this,” said Mirabella, who has tracked nonprofit programs for the past two decades. In the past five years she’s seen fewer nonprofit management programs in business schools and more social entrepreneur or social enterprise programs.
There was one course on social entrepreneurship during the 1990s, four in the 2000s, and today there are approximately 100 courses, according to Mirabella. She expects more business schools to get involved, as the focus in social entrepreneurship is raising money in a business sense and using it and applying it to a public problem.
“It makes sense that business schools are latching onto that, that’s where instruction is heading,” she said. “From a business school perspective, it makes sense to put the nonprofit curriculum there because their students are attracted to social entrepreneurship,” Mirabella said. While social entrepreneurship is a hot topic of late, she cautioned that it’s only one of several tools to run a public nonprofit program.
“It will be interesting to see how that develops over time. It’s certainly a strong trend within the business school world,” said Dennis Young, a professor in the Department of Public Management and Policy at Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. Young helped to establish the Mandel Center and was its first director.
“What I’d like to see in the long run…is bridging of the two nonprofit programs. Business management programs have kind of developed a little in isolation,” he said.
“The theory and understanding, history of the nonprofit sector and how philanthropy works, a lot of that is missing from what business schools are doing but remains a very important part of the field,” said Young. The Mandel Center building will become the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Community Studies Center, within the School of Social Work, and housing a number of research centers and programs for the Mandel School for Applied Social Sciences (MSASS). “The plan all along was to start placing some of the research centers there,” said Boyatzis.
A new master of nonprofit organizations (MNO) degree and certificate will concentrate on social services and be offered through MSASS, and special nonprofit tracks in the MBA and EMBA degrees offered at the Weatherhead School of Management. The Doctorate of Management (DM) program historically has drawn roughly half of its enrollment from the nonprofit and governmental sectors. Research will continue to be a major focus for MSASS and Weatherhead.
The university will continue editorship and publication of Nonprofit Management and Leadership, while Weatherhead has launched a free, online resource called Leading Nonprofit Organizations. “It meant we could move the journal back into the forefront of research. Over the years, there was pressure from practitioners to get the journal to serve both academics and practitioners,” said Boyatzis. “Part of the idea was to have DM students run it, the way law students run the law review,” he said.
Boyatzis is a distinguished university professor and H.R. Horvitz Professor of Family Business and professor of organizational behavior. He has served as interim executive director of the Mandel Center during the transition period and is expected to continue to serve as program director for the MNO program until fall 2016, when the final class graduates.
“By the time we started the review two years ago, there were more than 325 master’s programs,” said Boyatzis. “The market changed a lot, which is one reason why we had to look at it, and serve it, but in a way that’s distinctive and strong,” he said. Even though the Mandel Center was well-known in terms of rankings — in part because it had been around a long time — it became increasingly difficult under that framework to find that niche, said Boyatzis.
Most stand-alone nonprofit education centers have already evolved, he said. “Of the 325 programs we looked at, almost every one is located either in a school of management or school of social policy,” said Boyatzis. “I wish we had been able to make these changes without a two-year interruption of things. I’m pleased that we finally collectively decided, ‘let’s take a good, hard review and do what’s best for the audience we’re trying to serve,’ which includes offering a wide variety of degree, non-degree, and continuing education to produce research,” he said. The hope is to offer it in a way that reduces the effective cost to the student.
“To me, it’s a sad story. I was a little too close to it to offer an objective analysis, but there are a lot of lessons,” said Young, who served as the Mandel center’s director from 1988 to 1996. He believes the Mandel Center should have succeeded on its own rather than splitting it up between the Weatherhead School and School of Social Work.
“Case Western has lost a lot for not having that center visibility for its nonprofit program. We always had the vision of a national center,” said Young, setting aside funds for scholarships so people could from around the world to study there, bringing in top scholars for lectures series, and establishing a premiere research journal. “To succeed, it really had to be in that niche,” he said.
“We were always aware that there were public universities around that were less expensive that were going to move into the field. It wasn’t going to be just a program for the local community. That vision seems to have gotten lost along the way,” said Young.
Resources were not used in a way that would elevate recognition of the program worldwide, according to Young, in terms of research and the center of discussion for important issues, and getting the best students and investing in the scholarship side of it. “They could’ve had more endowed faculty chairs, more student scholarships, and more interesting things going on than having a new building,” he said.
“A lot of mistakes were made along the way,” said Young. There were problems of governance from the beginning, being set up almost as a confederation of several schools that never quite had a coherent vision for it. “It was kind of an impossible situation, that governance had to be changed, which it did ultimately,” he said, with a direct reporting arrangement to a provost. “They never did get the governance right,” he said.
The Mandel Center lost its way in the late ’90s, according to Young, who stepped down as director in 1996 “partly because of all these governance issues.” He remained a faculty member until being recruited to Georgia State in 2005. NPT