BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Russell Hansen's job as a vested, union-protected youth adviser at Boston's community centers kept him financially secure, but ultimately unsatisfied. With his wife offering to support the two of them on her salary, Hansen quit his job and began pursuing an MBA last fall at Boston's Suffolk University. His first step toward a leadership role in nonprofit development coincided with the collapse of Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns, and the ensuing recession. "My finance professor specifically mentioned Lehman Brothers a couple of times because he lost money in the collapse," Hansen said. "There are still students who are all about maximizing profits and getting money for the shareholders, but all my professors have tried to stay in the middle and say that profits are important, but you have to approach them in an ethical way and look at it in the long term." Hansen, his fellow MBAs and his professors are a microcosm of how business schools across the U.S. have dealt with failures in the banking (including bailouts of Citigroup ( C) and Bank of America ( BAC)), automotive ( General Motors ( GMGMQ) and Chrysler) and real-estate industries (mortgage-rate caps), the ethical failings of Bernard Madoff and Allen Stanford and the government's reaction to all of the above. Administrators and faculty are tearing up old lessons globalization and efficient markets in favor of behavioral economics and teachings from the downturn's principals players. Students, for their part, are questioning staff about the mistakes of the past while increasingly engaging their international classmates and turning to career development offices and old-fashioned legwork to ensure their future.
As Hansen and his peers enter the second year of both their MBAs and the financial crisis, they are shaping curriculum and helping their institutions redefine their missions. We asked seven of the top business schools in the U.S. how they and their MBA students have adapted to current uncertainty. Their approaches to addressing the crisis proved as disparate as the forces that yielded it.
Sloan has renewed its focus on ethics by planning a module for curriculum. Jackie Wilbur, the director of Sloan's career development office, says the 30% of MBAs who would normally take an internship related to finance has dropped to 21% off this year's 100 finance-track students. Wilbur says the decline of job opportunities for these students coincides with a "dramatic uptick" in MBAs visiting her office for career advice. "Some years as much as 20% would go to investment banking," Wilbur says. "I don't have it broken out as to how many went this year, but it certainly was a lot less than 20%."
-- Reported by Jason Notte in Boston.