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Alumna discusses what it was like to be in the first graduating class of UB's Online MBA program.

Donna Williams, MBA '01

"I would not have been able to complete an MBA without this program and the support of my cohort and the faculty.”

Donna Williams may not have set out to be part of the new-wave of higher education modality methods when she first enrolled at the University of Baltimore, but she, and seven other students, one of which was her husband, certainly did when it became pursuing their MBA degrees, “online.”  

In 1999, Williams and her classmates enrolled the world’s first AACSB accredited fully-webMBA at the University of Baltimore.  The World Wide Web’s rise offered opportunities to a plethora of new business ventures in brand-new industries, of course some of which crashed during the Dot-com Bubble. Nonetheless, there were vast possibilities to be found in higher education to usurp itself into the online marketplace. To seize the opportunity, a core group of Merrick School of Business faculty with and with startup attitudes, seized the opportunity to help more working professionals earn their degrees and balance their day-to-day responsibilities, by investing in the Web.

Fast-forward to present day and the UB “Online” MBA may have slightly changed its name but the core essence and features of the original program remain true to the first iteration — the Online MBA curriculum remains identical to the Face-to-Face curriculum and several faculty teach in both modes each semester. 

As for Williams so she was unable to enroll into a traditional on-campus MBA program because of professional and personal constraints. She required a program that allowed her to balance her commitments which included earn her degree while working, raising children and traveling.  She was working at DuPont while attending graduate school. She credits UB’s webMBA, especially the faculty and the challenging courses, with her ability to move from a position in information technology to a customer-facing leadership position through the years.

“UB’s program was unique in 1999. We had a small cohort of students, and we interacted frequently for both academic and personal reasons. Those connections were vital. I would not have been able to complete an MBA without this program and the support of my cohort and the faculty,” Williams says. “To succeed, I needed to be disciplined about the assignments.  My husband Alfred and I often did our homework at the kitchen table with our children.  I think we were good role models for them.”

Both she and her husband earned their degrees in 2000.  Williams is currently the vice president of customer success for Mendix, a young company based in Boston that offers mobile and desktop platforms. She continues to be a role model for individuals who are on a quest to succeed. 

When asked if she had a job search secret to share, she offered this advice.  “Connections!  If you are good at something, and no one else knows it, you won’t get very far.  Connections are essential to your career.”