Our history

Torger Reve - Academics

Torger Reve became BI’s president in 1997. He received his doctorate from Northwestern University in the US, and was the former Managing Director of the Centre for Applied Research (SNF). Reve also had a background as professor from the Norwegian School of Economics in Bergen. Under Reve’s management, BI strengthened its education and research activities.

This was exhibited through BI’s international accreditation in 1999, with the award of the European quality approval EQUIS. Reve also introduced the term “bilingualism” at BI. This meant aspiring to both high-quality research and practical education, and speaking both the academic and business language. He was also the first president to establish the goal of BI becoming Norway’s first private university.

Transition from the 1990s to the 2000s

Over many years, BI enjoyed great success as Norway’s most well-known education institution and had done impressive work in both Oslo and the rest of the country. But BI did not have a solid research platform, which was entirely necessary in order to join the university club. Reve’s first task was therefore to build up the research base at BI. This included recruiting academic staff, which was very costly, and further developing the doctorate programme that was approved just before he started his term as president.

The internationalisation of BI started under Peter Lorange, but Torger Reve wanted to go further. BI started competing more and more in an international market, which meant that it became necessary to introduce teaching in English. This was introduced partly for the bachelor level and completely for the master and doctorate levels. BI thus became more open to the rest of the world.

The international effort was also about establishing separate operations outside Norway. Business is international, which means that BI as an education institution must learn from the international market. Following in-depth deliberations, the management decided to establish operations at Fudan University in Shanghai in China in 1995, and at the International School of Management in Lithuania in 2000.

When Reve came to BI, its campuses were spread across three different locations in Oslo and Bærum, in addition to the other regional campuses. Most of the researchers were in Sandvika and were pleased with that. The full-time students were at Schous plass, in an old brewery that had started decaying. At Ekeberg, BI had a castle that was used by the Executive students. This was a marvellous building, but highly unsuitable for a modern business campus. A joint location was therefore prioritised, and Nydalen was chosen as the location, to the dismay of many employees. The building was opened the same day that Reve resigned as president.

Accreditations also played a key role in Reve’s term as president. BI received its first international accreditation from EQUIS back in 1999, and BI received Norwegian approval from NOKUT (the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education) in 2004, in addition to a reaccreditation from EQUIS. This was first and foremost a stamp of quality for the outside world, but was also especially important internally due to the improvement processes that large parts of the organisation had to undergo. International accreditations also made it easier to expand geographically, because the students received a joint reference framework for their quality assessments.

Reve introduced the term “bilingualism” at BI. This was his expression of the aspiration of both high-quality research and practical education, and speaking both the academic and business language. He believed that an institution like BI needed to have an academic staff that could translate the research language into business language and vice versa. Reve believed that this was important in order to make research more relevant.