On Fisher’s Difference – A Reflection

Reflecting on my first three semesters here in the Fisher FTMBA program, I find the question that I’m most often asked by family, friends, and applicants to the program is: “What differentiates Fisher from other MBA programs?” Over time, I’ve realized that my best answer is not really my answer; it’s Dr. Tony Rucci’s.

Dr. Rucci is a clinical professor of management here at Fisher, and all first year students in the full time MBA program take his Leadership course as a part of the core curriculum. His impressive resume contains stints in the C-suites of Cardinal Health and Sears Roebuck and Co, and Dr. Rucci is actively involved in the community through several advisory roles and multiple philanthropic ventures.

Dr. Rucci could have continued his successful career in the private sector, but he chose to teach at Fisher.

Dr. Rucci could have gone and taught at any business school of his choosing around the country, but he chose to teach at Fisher.

During the first week of Dr. Rucci’s core leadership course, while leading a class conversation on a project concerning the development of our team’s purpose and values statements for Fisher, I recall asking him, “Why Fisher? What makes this program special to you?” After a contemplative pause, Dr. Rucci replied:

At many other MBA programs, students go to class against their competition, fighting to take their next step in life over the fallen body of their vanquished foe. Here at Fisher, students go to class with their friends, and everyone works to take their next steps in life together, arm-in-arm.”

Three semesters later, I can still remember Dr. Rucci answer my question as if it had just happened yesterday. I think part of the reason why this memory has remained so fresh is that I see this message in practice every single day in the interactions among Fisher students. “How firm thy friendship” from Ohio State’s alma mater Carmen Ohio and “Go Beyond” from Fisher’s branding campaign seem like nice sentiments on a page, pamphlet, or computer screen. But seeing them lived out in person packs a potent, palpable punch so powerful that even previously cynical me has become a believer in Dr. Rucci’s words.