The College of Business (COB), Shepherd’s newest college, was officially launched July 1 and offers new opportunities for students and companies interested in what the university offers in the area of business education. 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. “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 has been working with local and regional business leaders to create an umbrella organization, 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.
There is also 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. 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.
“There are a lot of very successful people who ‘bounced around’ in their careers,” said Martz. “You have an idea about your career path, you pursue that path for a period of time, then life happens and you are on another path for several years. In the end, if you are adequately prepared you can have a successful career, but it may not be the path you started out on. 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 has also worked with other Shepherd faculty to organize the curriculum for the business college. 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. “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.”
Martz will also continue serving as director and will help develop Shepherd’s Center for Regional Innovation (CRI), which is listed as a TechConnect West Virginia business incubator and accelerator. The CRI will offer office and collaboration space and amenities to support internships, research partnerships, and case-study sessions with regional industry partners. It will include an applied business lab that will allow a Shepherd student to do an internship for a company while staying on campus.
“We envision a physical space that gives our students the opportunity to complete an internship on campus with a company off-campus,” Martz said. “This will keep students from having to commute, allowing them to more easily attend classes.”
Shepherd’s College of Business 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 Sport to create an entrepreneurial tourism concentration.
“Tourism is an obvious asset of West Virginia,” he said. “Experiences created through tourism are renewable and repeatable. Entrepreneurial tourism would provide ways for students to learn how to build a successful business in that area.”
He 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.”
Martz continues to reach out to businesses for additional support for the College of Business and to look for sponsors for the innovation center. For more information, contact Martz at 304-876-5367 or email@example.com.