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 KEEP Learning
Through a combination of distance learning and on-campus residencies, Krannert Executive Education Programs (KEEP) offer a variety of options for participants

By Tim Newton

Jay van Wyk was looking for an MBA-style education with a strong international component. Laurie Sullivan needed an executive program that would allow her to physically separate from her office. Alexander Volyk preferred an option that would let him attend classes on weekends.

Bill Lewellen

Bill Lewellen

Bill Lewellen

All three found what they needed under the same roof.  

Van Wyk is a student in the International Master's in Management (IMM) Program; Sullivan is enrolled in the Executive Master of Science (EMS) Program; and Volyk is a member of the third class in the brief history of the Weekend Executive Master of Science (Weekend EMS) Program. The programs are three of five offered by Krannert Executive Education Programs (KEEP).

KEEP delivers innovative degree and non-degree programs tailored to meet the needs of mid-career professionals. Currently, 330 students are enrolled in the KEEP degree programs, and between 400 and 500 students receive instruction annually through non-degree programs.

Bill Lewellen, the Herman C. Krannert Distinguished Professor of Management and director of KEEP, says those numbers are likely to increase.

We have by nature been an entrepreneurial unit, and we will continue to be that way, Lewellen says.  

GE Genesis

The first conversations about executive education at Krannert took place in the mid-60s under founding dean Em Weiler. The idea remained dormant until the late 1970s, when Keith Smith assumed the deanship. Smith was familiar with executive education structures through his previous position as associate dean at UCLA, and in 1981 he approached Prof. Dan Schendel to put together a formal program.

At the time, most of the successful executive education programs in the country were held in large urban areas with a majority of students commuting to classes. That model didn't fit the Purdue profile, but Schendel says Krannert was able to turn a potential weakness into a strength.

"We knew the population base surrounding Lafayette wasn't enough to sustain a commuter-type program, but we also knew that face-to-face interaction was a key to making a program work," Schendel says. "We also knew that technology and computers were a strength of Purdue."

"So we decided to design a program that would allow students to spend a couple of weeks in-residence on our campus, while connecting them in their time away from campus through modern technology. Of course, at that time, modern technology meant WATS lines and modems, not the Internet."

At about the same time, General Electric (GE) was looking for a program to help train its managers while allowing them to keep working at their current jobs. GE selected Purdue to administer the program over a number of schools, including MIT and Carnegie Mellon, and the first class of 25 GE students began in the summer of 1983.

Later that year, the school started its first open-enrollment EMS class. In October 1983, Purdue dedicated the new Krannert Center for Executive Education and Research, a 30,000-square-foot facility adjacent to the Krannert Building. KEEP was on its way.

Uncommon Commuter

The current Weekend EMS class is Krannert's largest so far, and includes students from familiar Lafayette-area companies, including Bank One, Caterpillar, and Eli Lilly.

However, there's a new company represented in this class - and it's anything but local.

Jeev Trika works for F.S. Systems, an e-consulting business headquartered in California. Trika is helping the company open a branch in Irving, Texas, and he frequently travels around the country from Monday through Friday. On Friday nights, Trika boards a plane in Dallas and heads north to Purdue in time to attend Saturday morning classes at Krannert Center.

Trika earned a bachelor of science degree in computer science from Purdue. He says several factors prompted his decision to fly 78 times over a three-year period to attend a program designed for local students.

"As a Purdue alum, I know about Krannert's reputation, and there is certainly nothing comparable in the Dallas area," Trika says. "I'm too busy during the week to take classes, so this fits into my schedule. And I don't know how my employer would feel about me missing two weeks of work at a time."

A native of India, Trika adds that his visa status would make it difficult to attend classes held outside the United States. With several friends in the airline industry helping him get discounted flights between Dallas and Indianapolis (Trika pays for the program and all associated costs himself), the Weekend Program is a perfect fit.

"I'd like to start my own firm in four or five years," he says. "Apart from the first-class education the professors in the program provide, I believe I will be able to learn about the various industries my peers are currently associated with. This opportunity will allow me to find the cream-of-the-crop techniques my classmates use in their businesses to apply to what I'm doing now and what I want to do in the future.

"So far, it hasn't been too bad. I'm able to do a lot of reading on flights, and I keep up with schoolwork during the week. I fly home Saturday night after classes, and I try to just relax on Sundays."

More Programs

Lewellen, a Krannert faculty member since 1964, succeeded Schendel as KEEP director in 1985. He grew the program through contacts with companies that recruited at Purdue and via advertisements in select publications. He also began to look for more programs to offer to potential students.

Krannert had been participating in a student exchange program with ESC Rouen in France, and the partnership led to the eventual formation in 1995 of the IMM Program. The program is similar in nature to the EMS Program: both are two years long, and both involve two-week on-campus residencies between homework assignments.

The difference is the location. While the EMS Program brings students to West Lafayette for all of the in-residence sessions (except the final one, which is an international trip), the IMM Program began alternating campus stays between Purdue and Rouen. The Budapest University of Economic Sciences and Public Administration was added to the rotation in 1998, and the following year the Tias Business School of Tilburg University in the Netherlands replaced ESC Rouen. Graduates in the program receive two master's degrees: a master of science in management from Krannert, and an MBA from either Tilburg or Budapest.  

"This was truly the first collaborative joint master's program of its kind," says Lewellen, adding that about half of each class is made up of American students and half is from a variety of foreign countries.

The same year the IMM Program became a reality, Krannert offered its first Weekend EMS Program. The Lafayette-area business community and local Chamber of Commerce approached the Krannert School about offering a part-time program that would allow managers to commute to the Purdue campus while maintaining their current workload. The result was a three-year program with classes held each Saturday that school is in session in the spring and fall. More than 50 students enrolled in the first class in 1995, about 45 entered in the 1998 class, and a record 61 are participating in the 2001 class. Students come primarily from the Lafayette area, but some have traveled greater distances from cities such as Columbus and Fort Wayne.  

KEEP also offers an Executive Master of Science in Management (EMSM) Program at the German International Graduate School of Management and Administration (GISMA) in Hannover, Germany. Krannert partners with Purdue's School of Agriculture to offer an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) in Food and Agriculture, geared toward mid-career professionals from the food industry. All five programs are accredited by AACSB, the International Association for Management Education.

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