WMU supply chain program is No. 5 in the nation

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Photo of Schneider Hall.

Schneider Hall, home of WMU's Haworth College of Business

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's integrated supply management program is heralding a national accolade that puts it among the top such programs in the country.

The celebrated WMU program has been ranked No. 5 on Gartner's Top U.S. Supply Chain Undergraduate University Programs, 2014. In addition to the overall No. 5 ranking, Gartner lists WMU as the leader in its program scope category, a nod to ISM's unique combination of supply chain management, engineering, information technology and business education that prepares graduates for challenging and high-paying careers.

"Program rankings such as Gartner's have a very positive and long-term impact on our supply chain program," says Dr. Robert Reck, professor of marketing and co-founder of the program, which was established in 1993. "Employers use the rankings to identify the best programs in order to recruit the best supply chain talent, and managers use the rankings to determine where to develop industry relationships, send their employees to complete their education and invest in scholarships."

According to Reck, more interest in the program will impact the number of opportunities available to the students and faculty. "The quality of our students continues to improve as we move up in the rankings and more recruiters and companies are coming to campus," he says.

Up seven spots

Gartner, the definitive organization dealing with industry supply chains, began ranking universities in 2009 as part of an industry effort to promote the supply chain management field. The two biggest upward movers in the ranking since the previous report in  2011 were Tennessee, moving up eight places, and Western Michigan, moving up seven places, notes Dana Stiffler, vice president and head of Gartner Research.

This marks the second time WMU ISM has been ranked in Gartners top 25 programs. In 2009, the ISM program earned an honorable mention in the ranking for its use of SAP/ERP business software in coursework and then was ranked 12th in 2011 alongside Stanford.

Of the 40 programs evaluated this year, only Michigan State University, Penn State University, University of Tennessee and University of Texas at Austin ranked higher than the WMU program. In the study, institutions were ranked according to three criteria.

Ranking criteria

  • Industry value (highly recruited schools).
  • Program scope (students have a broad understanding of industry concepts.
  • Program size (number of students and professors in a program).

The study found that programs had a high industry value when students have real-world experience, such as internships and classes that make use of industry projects and experiential learning. According to the study, "Programs that require internships and have curricula that reflect a broad supply chain span of control performed best in our assessment." The WMU ISM program has near perfect internship placement and requires several experiential classes and industry projects to address the critical component of industry experience so central to the field.

"Gartner's methodology included surveying more than 400 industry leaders to see where they recruit and which programs they hold in high esteem. More than 40 university respondents were also asked to provide information on internships, starting salary, professors and the number of students majoring in the specialty. Gartner also sought to measure the extent to which a school's curriculum aligns with current industry needs," says Dr. Sime Curkovic who, as a professor in the program, collected the data for the ranking.

"I am very proud of our ISM program at Western," says senior Michael Penn. "I believe our ranking reflects the hard work and dedication of our faculty and students. Most important, I feel that when I graduate I will be well prepared to make an immediate impact for my employer, and that makes me very proud to be a Bronco."

About the ISM program

WMU's integrated supply management program has been recognized nationally by several organizations and publications for its leadership in preparing students for careers in supply chain management. Each year, more than 80 students graduate from the WMU ISM program with nearly all finding positions in the profession. Most students participate in industry internships during their college career. They also earn some of the highest salaries among business students, with top students starting at more than $60,000. To learn more about the program, visit wmich.edu/supplychain.

The complete list

Top 25 undergraduate programs in supply chain management

1. Michigan State University and Penn State University
3. University of Tennessee
4. University of Texas at Austin
5. Western Michigan University
6. Brigham Young University and University of North Texas
8. Auburn University
9. Arizona State University and Rutgers University
11. University of Wisconsin
12. University of South Carolina
13. Texas Christian University
14. University of Houston
15. Northeastern University
16. Marquette University
17. The Ohio State University
18. Lehigh University and Syracuse University
20. University of Oklahoma
21. Georgia Institute of Technology
22. Miami University of Ohio
22. Texas A&M University
24. North Carolina State University
25. Rider University and University of Kansas