Collaborative MBA

New Collaborative MBA program opens at Bluffton

A one-week residency featuring author Bill Grace will kick off the new Collaborative Master of Business Administration program started by Bluffton and Eastern Mennonite universities along with Goshen (Ind.) College.

The first cohort of about a dozen students will gather at Bluffton for a start-of-the-semester residency Aug. 11-15. They will participate in an orientation to the program and take a class on “Leadership for the Common Good” with Dr. George Lehman, the Howard Raid professor of business at Bluffton, chair of its business studies division and director of graduate programs in business.

Joining the class for one day will be Grace, author of “Sharing the Rock: Shaping Our Future through Leadership for the Common Good.” Published in 2011, the book sums up 25 years of study on how businesses and other organizations develop leaders.

“We want the residency at the beginning of each semester to be intellectually provocative,” says Dr. Jim Smucker, director of the Collaborative MBA and dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies at Eastern Mennonite, in Harrisonburg, Va. “We also want to build a strong sense of community.”

“The rock” in Grace’s book title refers to a place near Jerusalem that he encountered as a backpacking student from the United States. It is supposedly the spot where Abraham almost sacrificed his son. The rock is sacred to both Jews and Muslims, and they have fought over it for centuries.

“Sharing the Rock” introduces seven practices focused on advancing the common good through business, politics, government, education, health care and community service organizations. “The book teaches aspiring leaders how to choose their personal values, embrace the wisdom of the margins, craft a vision, create gracious space, claim their voice, receive hope and act with courage,” Grace says.

The author worked for 15 years in higher education before launching the Center for Ethical Leadership in 1991. He later founded Common Good Works, which takes him throughout the U.S. for seminars on leadership development.

The Collaborative MBA offers most of its courses through interactive video conferencing and projects in which students talk with their professors either via technology or in person. The curriculum is based on the concept of “leadership for the common good,” emphasizing six values—spirituality, community, leading as service, justice, sustainability and global citizenship.


Story by Steve Shenk, Eastern Mennonite University