The Context of “New and Improved” Dr. Michael C. Porter, APR February 1, 2011 A few weeks ago, the Opus College of Business received recognition of its excellence in delivering management education to undergraduate and graduate students. I choose the word “recognition” carefully, because this is not an award for reaching this achievement, but acknowledgement of what has been going on for a long time. The AACSB seal on our web pages and printed materials has been called “a hallmark of excellence in management education.”As a product of the UST Evening MBA (’97), I would be disappointed – and on my way out the door – if the critical elements of my graduate business education were missing in order for OCB to wave the AACSB banner.You would feel the same way if you bought the “New and Improved” version of a trademarked product only to find that the improvements eliminated the benefits for which you had become loyal. If the starburst on the label reads “No MSG” or “Gluten-free,” it is immaterial whether the product had those ingredients in older packages. Your brand loyalty hinges on fulfillment of the expectation that the product still tastes the same as in the last can. Whatever the marketing “stamp” says, customers hold expectations of receiving everything they paid for in the past, in addition to the benefits touted in the promotion – and those must provide real added value.For OCB students, alumni and prospective members of the St. Thomas community, the AACSB indicia does deliver something important – context. It tells everyone who cares that the education offered in every OCB classroom meets rigorous standards, and provides resources and experiences available at only the top 5% of business schools in the world.When it comes to delivering business communication education, AACSB recognition specifically positions the UST MBC degree as the ONLY accredited graduate-level business communication degree in the region. This status speaks to the uniquely business-focused curriculum for corporate and marketing communication professionals interested in building strategic and tactical expertise.But most importantly, the addition of the AACSB seal doesn’t change the highly student-oriented atmosphere at this university. That element specifically attracted me to UST for graduate work, and clinched my involvement as an instructor and administrator. Many of the new faculty members cite the ability to be a teacher-scholar as central to their decision to come to UST. I am glad they did.