SHEPHERDSTOWN– Shepherd University launched its newest college — the College of Business — on July 1, and on Thursday, a reception was held to celebrate.
The college offers new opportunities for students in business education. Shepherd University Foundation held a reception in the Erma Ora Byrd Hall.
The new college consists of three departments–business administration, economics and finance and accounting. It will also include the master of business administration program.
“One advantage to our students is we can now put in place programs with the integrative and interdisciplinary skills students need in the business world,” said Dr. Ben Martz, dean of the College of Business, in a press release. “Skills such as problem solving, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation are critical in today’s world. The hope is that students will see those skills as supporting their areas of passion, even when those areas may not be a specific business area.”
Martz said he has been working with local and regional business leaders to create the Applied Business Coalition, which will provide student-oriented activities and suggestions to keep the curriculum current and relevant for today’s evolving business climate.
“The role of the COB is to make sure these students are prepared for real life business companies, and to have those work-skills employers are looking for,” Martz said. “Added to the curriculum is a newly formed Applied Business Council, which consists of CEOs and presidents from several companies, that will provide things like an annual curriculum review, lectures, real-world case studies and resources for on-campus student internships.”
Applied Business Council members will also organize and serve as judges for a new Applied Business Case Competition that will take place each spring and will be open to students from nearby colleges as well as high school seniors.
The council members will also participate in a new lecture series class that will bring to Shepherd successful entrepreneurs, innovators, and high-level business people who are interested in sharing how their careers evolved.
“One of the things I don’t think students understand is that careers don’t just march up a ladder, most of you know that is not how all of us got here,” Martz said. “There are a lot of very successful people who ‘bounced around’ in their careers. The lecture series will have a mix of people who can share career paths like these so that students can envision themselves following similar paths.”
Martz said he has found enthusiasm for the new direction Shepherd’s business program is taking.
“Everyone sees the notion of applied business as being very important to the success of our students,” Martz said in a press release. “I think we need to use the curriculum as the linking pin between the COB and the business community. Providing a strong, pertinent curriculum with relevant electives that students can see employers want and having representatives from the businesses come to campus to participate in that curriculum provide a strong pipeline for our students to become future employees.”
An applied business lab is also in the works for students at Shepherd to utilize.
“Having access to this lab will allow a Shepherd student to do an internship for a company while staying on campus. They wont have to commute, allowing them to more easily attend classes,” Martz said. “They will have on campus an open, collaborative workspace. We envision a physical space that gives our students the opportunity to complete an internship on campus with a company off-campus,” Martz said. “They can, for instance, spend an hour working in our lab at their internship, and then head to their class.”
The COB also plans to partner with other departments to create programs that will offer business expertise to students in other majors.
“Think of students graduating with a passion for art,” Martz said. “We want them to succeed and be the best artist they can be. I think it would be good for someone with an art degree to understand enough about business fundamentals to be successful and create a viable career in the area they love.”
Martz is working with the Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Sports to create an entrepreneurial tourism concentration.
“Tourism is an obvious asset of West Virginia,” Martz said. “Entrepreneurial tourism would provide ways for students to learn how to build a successful business in that area.”
Martz said there’s another strong potential partnering opportunity between the College of Business and the Department of Computer Science, Mathematics and Engineering.
“Companies are looking for students who understand both computers and business,” Martz said. “Today, if you have both of those skills in your background, that is better than either one alone. At the end of the day, we are committed to providing a curriculum and educational environment to help students chase their passions while providing the tools and the understanding to find and excel in a career to their liking.”