Release Date: Sunday, February 27, 2011
by George Hohmann
Daily Mail Business Editor
Charleston Daily Mail
The University of Charleston's Graduate School of Business has steadily grown since its August 2008 launch, said Dean Bart Morrison.
The school has had three classes of Masters of Business Administration and Leadership, or MBAL, students to date. "The first cohort of 10 graduated in spring 2010," Morrison said. "We have a rising class of 13 students who will graduate this coming May. The class that will follow - the class of 2012 - is a group of 15 students. We anticipate inviting a new group of 20 students this coming September. They will be the class of 2013.
"Since 2008 we have experienced a steady, thoughtful growth towards an ideal number of about 25 for each class in our full-time day program, the MBAL program," he said.
The MBAL is a two-year program that includes a summer international practicum between the students' first and second years of study.
"The first year, students studied in China," Morrison said. "The second year, they studied in Italy. We have initiated a relationship with a business association in Italy and anticipate an ongoing relationship so our students can study how business is done in the European Union and how businesses in the EU can do business in the United States, specifically in West Virginia and Charleston."
Morrison said most MBAL students are recent undergraduates in their early to mid-20s. "They come from close by here in Charleston and from far away - China, India, Africa, Thailand," he said. "We have a student coming from Columbia next year.
"We have recent graduates who are from West Virginia University, Marshall University and from other colleges and universities in the region - the University of Tennessee, Clemson.
"We believe that in the three years of its existence, the MBAL program is beginning to fulfill the promise of developing the next generation of business leaders for Charleston, West Virginia and beyond," Morrison said.
"Our first group of graduates is gainfully employed locally, regionally and nationally. We have recent grads who have won jobs of choice here in places such as McJunkin Red Man Corp., in marketing; at BB&T Corp., in portfolio management; and at Triana Energy, Gibbons & Kawash, and Service Wire Co."
The graduate who went to work for Service Wire Co. was hired as a sales representative in Charleston but in four months was promoted to regional sales manager and moved to Houston, Tex.
"Service Wire is poised to hire more graduates from this coming year's graduates," Morrison said. "We have a pattern with companies who are hiring our grads - they're coming back for more.
"We have one student who has started her own business, so entrepreneurship is occurring for some graduates as well.
"Not only are we fulfilling our promise here to the community to create the next generation of business leaders, we're also fulfilling our promise to students, which is to enable them to win jobs of choice upon graduation. Fulfilling these promises is no longer an aspiration. It is becoming a reality."
The school has a faculty of three full-time educators.
"All three represent a different set of skills, knowledge and experiences," Morrison said. "Phil Pyburn is deeply experienced in the quantitative discipline of business, which is finance and accounting. I am deeply experienced in the more qualitative disciplines of business such as business ethics and leadership. Nora Myers is quite experienced with embedding students within businesses and working with them to make the most of those experiences."
"Collectively all three are committed to experiential education - learning by doing," he said. "They're focusing our students in real-life situations where the students can learn a wide range of highly relevant skills and knowledge and develop attitudes and habits that will enable the students to make a significant difference on Day One when they begin work upon graduation."
The MBAL program provides learning-by-doing experiences in two situations: the professional practice, when students - usually as individuals - are embedded in a business for one or two semesters, and in the international practicum, when they work in teams with businesses in Italy.
The experiences gained in the international practicum "have been particularly exciting and have really exceeded my expectation for how much the students can learn and make a difference," Morrison said.
"For example: Two students working with Italian companies in Italy last May are now working here in West Virginia to help establish a new company, Insubria Export. As a result of working with Italian companies over a month-long period, they were tapped by the business association in Italy to establish a company here that will help represent Italian companies as they try to do business in West Virginia.
"Their practicum, which was field experience in Italy, led to a professional engagement outside of the classroom, beyond the auspices of the program that equates to not only their own professional development but to the potential economic development of the area.
"These are two students who are not from West Virginia but who are beginning to imagine a professional life here and actually launch their careers in Charleston," Morrison said. "I find that to be very exciting - that the program has facilitated experiences that attract new young innovative business talent to our community. This is why I feel very strongly we are beginning to fulfill our promise."
Tuition is $18,000 a year for each of two years and there is a $6,500 fee for the international practicum, which is one month abroad, all-inclusive. "We believe the program is of great value to the student," Morrison said.
"I'm very excited we're going to offer a fellowship for incoming students in the fall," he said. "It will be announced soon. It will provide real, meaningful support for particularly talented students who demonstrate an interest in entrepreneurship and perhaps in launching a career in West Virginia."
Prior to the establishment of the graduate school, the University of Charleston had several master-level executive programs including the Executive Masters in Business Administration or EMBA program, for working professionals.
"Since 2008 the executive programs, primarily the EMBA, as well as the other primary executive program, the Executive Master of Forensic Accounting or EMFA, have been integrated into the Graduate School of Business and moved from the main campus to the downtown campus," Morrison said.
Morrison has been dean since mid-2009. He succeeded Charles Ryan, who retired after helping to establish the school.
Cheryl Fout is the administrative assistant to Morrison.
The Graduate School of Business is on the second floor of the Equities House building, 900 Virginia St. E.