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Summer 2000
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Dot-com fever has created another thorny dilemma for Anderson. Many students are not only working part-time for Internet firms in order to gain experience and make connections but, tempted by extraordinary opportunities, some are leaving school to launch or join Internet start-ups. This year's graduating class, for instance, will be shy five M.B.A.s. "A batch of our graduates start these companies in their first and second years," says Carsrud. "I had a student come to me a few days ago and say, 'Alan, I am distraught. My board is demanding I quit school to concentrate on the business.' He said, 'Alan, if I don't get this degree, what's my back up? I'm taking classes that are helping this company. Help me convince the board.' I had to walk them through things."

While many faculty don't especially like this development, they also aren't sure what can be done about it. And some see nothing wrong in the trend. Osborne says that a student's decision to leave school to pursue a promising business deal is no different than Tiger Woods leaving Stanford to launch his pro-golfing career. "If this whole world is opening up, and you have an opportunity, you ought to try it. I think people can be responsible for their choices. We admit bright people into higher education. Our challenge is to not screw them up."

One of those bright people is David Williams. The 27-year-old reflects perfectly the new style of entrepreneurs being hatched by Anderson: Self-assured, outgoing, goal-driven-not to mention extremely savvy about high tech. "Business school is the greatest institution ever," he says. "I've so enjoyed my business-school experience. It's further solidified who I am. I've achieved every single goal I've set."

On this cool spring afternoon in early May, Williams arrives for an interview at Anderson's in-house café starved, having been too busy to eat. He orders a green salad and a baked potato, then apologizes for eating so fast. In addition to his studies, Williams is president of the Entrepreneur Association, the school's largest student organization and, as such, he's been consumed with last-minute details for "Digital Mania," a conference the group is sponsoring this weekend featuring Razorfish head Richard Titus, among other heavyweights in digital media.

A hefty guy with a shaved head and a warm smile, Williams was raised in a Detroit suburb by middle-class parents, who were civil rights activists. "They always said, 'Never let race be an excuse for not getting what you want.' My parents have been my inspiration from the beginning."

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