ROCHESTER, N.Y., SEPT. 1 -- The University of Rochester is planning to reexamine the close relationship between its graduate business school and Eastman Kodak Co., which persuaded the school to rescind the acceptance of an employe from rival Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd.
Dennis O'Brien, the university's president, said today that the William E. Simon Graduate School of Management will have to reassess some of its teaching methods and educational programs that are closely oriented toward Kodak.
"We are very closely integrated with Kodak managerial strategies. ... We have access to a database at Kodak Apparatus Division. These are the kinds of things we have to look at," O'Brien said.
Kodak officials told the university they were apprehensive that the Fuji employe would learn some Kodak secrets through normal class work.
O'Brien said Kodak expressed a legitimate concern about the university's acceptance of Tsuneo Sakai, an employe from Fuji, who has since enrolled at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"We don't want to be in the position where we're closing our classrooms, but we don't want to create a situation that endangers a company's proprietary strategies," O'Brien said.
Henry Kaska, a Kodak spokesman, said Sakai's enrollment would have made it difficult for Kodak executives to talk freely in class discussions.
He said that had Sakai been allowed to enroll this fall, the company would have considered pulling out some of its employes from the university's business school.
In a memo to professors and students that will be published next week, O'Brien called the incident an extraordinary case.
"The university accepted in good faith the judgment of Kodak about a situation which the company believed to be potentially very harmful," O'Brien said in the statement.
He said Kodak, which earlier this year pledged $10 million to the school for the next five years, did not threaten or bully the university into its decision.
Kaska said Kodak's main concern was "protecting our business interests," adding that if a similar action should arise next year, Kodak, which has its headquarters in Rochester, would not hesitate to do the same thing it did this fall.
A Fuji spokesman in Tokyo refused to confirm the incident and said only that Sakai had transferred schools "due to circumstance at the University of Rochester."
The sparring between the two companies, which produce most of the photographic film sold in the world, is nothing new.
Fuji threw one of the first punches when it embarrassed Kodak executives by successfully negotiating to become official photo sponsor of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Kodak had held that or a similar role since 1896.
Blimps from both companies have flown in each other's respective home town cities since then.
And earlier this year, Kodak angered Fuji by introducing a disposable camera called the "Fling" the day before Fuji had scheduled a press conference to announce its own disposable camera called the "Fujicolor Quick Snap."
Now the battle has moved into the classroom, and university officials are concerned about the issues it raises.
"The problem of proprietary interests is a complex and difficult one in university research laboratories. The issue of proprietary interests in the classroom, and the possible compromising of the open classroom at American universities, is novel and disturbing," O'Brien wrote.