Philanthropy Creates New Master’s Portfolio for Business Students

Thanks to passionate Badger and philanthropist Patrick Thiele ’72, MS’75 the Wisconsin School of Business (WSB) has established new, self-sustaining offerings, including the redesigned professional MBA program, as well as a master of science in business analytics (MSBA). As part of a collaborative donor effort, Thiele made an experimental seed investment in the school’s market-driven graduate portfolio.

Prior to this seed investment, Thiele also endowed a faculty position, the Patrick A. Thiele Distinguished Chair in Business. Since 2021, this fruitful fund has been supporting Enno Siemsen, associate dean of the MBA and master’s degree programs, helping him to launch and lead the innovative professional MBA degree. Courses are delivered in a hybrid format — online and in person — and students spend one weekend a month on campus taking classes on their own schedule. In addition, virtual classes are offered once a week. The curriculum is designed around a system of badges that allows students to customize their program. Each badge is a set of three two-credit courses focused on topics like financial insights, strategic innovation, or business analytics.

“We know that early- and mid-career professionals have significant demands on their time, in both their personal and professional lives,” says Siemsen. “By delivering half of our content online, we are giving students the flexibility they need to advance in their careers, lead a meaningful personal life, and enhance their education.”

To complement the various MBA offerings in the graduate portfolio, the MSBA program, which launched in 2019, focuses on career readiness. It was created to address a critical need for skilled, data-literate professionals who can help organizations handle the exponential data growth happening in all aspects of business. Students begin with a rigorous bootcamp and build into learning foundations such as statistics, analysis of large data sets, and applied problem-solving.

“One of the things I appreciate about analytics is there are lots of different career paths,” shares Cody Baldwin, program director of the MSBA. “Students can take their existing skills — whether that’s in political science, sociology, math, science, or business — and supplement them with analytical skills.”

Through the support of dedicated donors like Thiele, WSB will continue to prepare even more graduates to tackle the world’s data explosion by delivering in-demand skills for professionals whose work is centered on sustainability and the good of society.