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College Spotlight: College of Business


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Teaching the Whole Student Transcript


Dr. Rick Niswander: Welcome to East Carolina University. In the College of Business we realize that the demands of the workplace today are much different than they were 10, or 15, or 20 years ago. We realize that it is critically important that we continue to teach students the technical material that they need, but we also understand that we now need to start teaching students soft skills, the leadership skills, the professional development skills, the job-hunting skills, the communication skills that are necessary to be successful. But don’t just take it from me. Listen to our students, listen to our faculty, listen to our administrators, listen to our staff. They will provide a personal perspective to help you understand the kinds of things we’re doing in the College of Business, and the value to you in your career and your life. Your education starts here. Your career starts here. Tomorrow starts here.

Dr. Stan Eakins: We have been working on developing the center for student success for at least four years, and it’s been an idea in our mind even longer than that. It’s taken all this time to get the component parts brought together for this purpose. The Center for Student Success at ECU is a one-stop shop where students go for academic, communication, and career help. It provides a critical link in our development of the whole student.

Academic Advising Center

Tom: Any time I enter the academic advising center, regardless of who my actual advisor is—if that person is not in the office or at lunch or something like that—one of the other advisiors will be more than willing to help. I ask anything from “Am I on track?” to “What classes do I need to be thinking about for next semester?” “What’s a good elective to take?” Really anything related to classes or what I want to do with my major.

Karen Kus: We are responsible in this center for about 1,800 students. Over the past nine months, we’ve had approximately 4,700 student appointments. It’s important for us to be connected with the college of business. One, it helps the student connection—we’re familiar, we know what they need. We’re able to guide them through the curriculum so your not getting students that are taking classes they don’t need. So they aren’t delaying graduation because, “Oh, I didn’t know I needed Math 1066 instead of Math 1065. No body told me that.” We know. We know what they need so therefore I think students are going to be done in four years instead of that five or six years, and to me it’s just that benefit they get from that stronger connection.

Business Communication Center

Jordan: I used to be kind of shy and I got really nervous and all of that, but now I feel more confident within myself and that is something the business communication center has really helped me with. When you get out into the workplace, you’re going to need to be able to present yourself to groups of people. You’re going to need to be able to communicate your ideas thoroughly and with confidence. I’m going to need to make presentations and I’m going to need to have those skills to communicate effectively. I guess the bottom line is that you need to be an effective speaker in order to get your point across, and for people to rely on you as a source of information.

Richard O’Dor: Effective communication skills are important to learn because they are the lifeblood of business. In the past the emphasis was on performance and information delivery. If this model worked, we would see better speeches at the Academy Awards. In contrast, ECU’s College of Business Communication Center focuses on communication as action. Powerful business communicators do not deliver a speech, they engage people. The power in our communication is the interconnectedness of our actions with the actions of others. Learning depends on this interconnectedness. Communication is sometimes defined as an organized cultural pattern system behavior that sustains, regulates, and makes possible human relationships. It’s the heart of how learning engages students and how students learn to engage others in careers and everyday life.

Business Career Services

Millicent: The College of Business is unique in that it has it’s own Career Services Center. Having a career center specifically for the College of Business presents a lot of advantages. The first thing that career services did for me was restructure my resumé. I had a resumé, but it was a mess. It had a whole lot of borders and different fonts—it was just terrible. So I sent it into them and the next day they had formatted it and it looked just wonderful. It has helped a lot. I have gotten a few job offers, which has been great, and now I have to pick where I want to go.

Scotty Andrews: Generally your career services center serving the whole university is dealing with thousands and thousands of students, and here it could be 25,000 students or even larger. Whereas in the College of Business you get a better chance to work directly with the students. It allows you to get a lot closer to the students to find out from an early stage, what their interests might be. You can interface with the employment community. You can provide students with a little more face-to-face information, or even if it’s not face-to-face, more directed towards their needs across a broader universe. It’s one of those features that makes our students more competitive, especially entering a more competitive work environment.

Strategy First

Tamon: The Strategy First course is really great. It gives students the opportunity to understand every aspect of business. We spent the majority of our time looking at the auto industry and how it’s changed and how GM and Chrysler are failing and exactly what the government is going do to help those companies recover. Before the course, I thought that I wanted to major in marketing, but after taking the course and learning about the financial industry, I learned that accounting is more interesting to me.

Ralph Flanary: The Strategy First course is really the first course for most of our students in the College of Business. The intent of the course is really to cover many, many topics at, say, a 40-thousand-foot level, as opposed to getting deeply involved in the technical areas of any one discipline. The plus, I think, for our students, is that they don’t get stuck in their first course of business in an area they may not like as well as they do other areas. So this one’s designed to really pique their interest in business and help them decide which area they might like and fit best in. Later courses will drill down into the depth of the technical knowledge, but this one will cover all of it and help them decide where they fit best.

Leadership and Professional Development

Dr. Shanan Gibson: Some theories of leadership basically imply that leadership is not something that can be taught, but instead is a series of traits that someone is born with. I don’t agree with that philosophy. I believe that leadership is knowing how to respond in a given situation, to a given set of people, to accomplish a stated goal. Everyone has the opportunity to be a leader every day. And whether you like it or not, every day someone is watching you and taking note of how you behave in that situation. Your opportunity to lead may present itself and you won’t even realize it. What we want you to have are the skills that calls you to go out and engage in a way that when others see you they say, “Wow, that person is a leader!”

Dillon: I was brought up in this business environment. I was involved in Future Business Leaders of America. I learned through that organization and through my parents with their professional lives, that it was imperative to present oneself well. But not everyone is that fortunate to have that sort of upbringing. So it’s very nice that the College of Business is trying to stress that the individual must go beyond mere wrote memory and repetition of accounting knowledge, or of finance formulas, or MIS code, to better themselves in interactions with other individuals, because interpersonal contact is ultimately what’s going to make you the real money in life.


ECU College Spotlight: College of Business Podcast Transcript


Narrator: Welcome to this edition of the East Carolina University College Spotlight.

In this podcast you will hear from students, faculty, administrators, and staff from the College of Business as they discuss the college’s new commitment to teaching the whole student, and how this new philosophy is preparing the leaders of tomorrow

The mission of any reputable business school is to prepare students to meet the challenges of the marketplace. And for many years the ECU College of Business did just that as a successful two-year program. We continually produced capable, qualified graduates, each well-versed in the technical knowledge associated with their chosen field, be it accounting, management, marketing and supply chain management, MIS, or finance.

But as we all know, the marketplace has changed. We now have global economy, that is interdependent and interconnected. And just as the market has changed, so too must the way business schools prepare students. That is why the East Carolina College of Business is now a four-year program that will allow our faculty, administration, and staff to better develop the whole student. Rather than limiting our focus to traditional textbook topics, we will better serve our students, and our community, by going beyond those areas to develop more complete future business professionals.

Dr. Rick Niswander is the dean of the College of Business at ECU.

Niswander: In the College of Business we realize that the demands of the workplace today are much different than they were 10 or 15 or 20 years ago. We realize that it’s critically important that we continue to teach students the technical material that they need, but we also understand that we now need to teach students soft skills—the leadership skills, the professional development skills, the job hunting skills, the communication skills—that are necessary to be successful in the world of the 21st century.

Narrator: At the forefront of the College of Business’s new philosophy is leader development. There is an old saying that leaders are born, not made. At the East Carolina, we are proving that saying wrong with a curriculum focused on leadership.

Niswander: We have a series of courses on leadership and professional development that starts with a course called Strategy First that teaches students using current events, current ideas, the way businesses are doing things today from a strategic perspective to help them understand that businesses do things for a reason. Not just by accident. We follow that up with courses on leadership and professional development. How to run a meeting, how to set an agenda, what fork to use at dinner, all sorts of activities that are associated with what it means to be a leader and a professional the minute they walk out the door.

Narrator: Professor Ralph Flanary teaches the Strategy first course.

Flanary: The importance of students understanding business strategy is something we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about in the college of business. Understanding business strategy is really another way of saying, understanding why businesses do the things they do. A big part of Strategy First is teaching students what the different disciplines are responsible for, how they all must work together, and fit together for success. So the strategy must be understood because it impact organization structure, how you deploy resources, and how you really focus all the efforts of the organization.

Narrator: Tamon Myrick is a freshman in College of Business. He was part of the inaugural Strategy First course in the fall of 2008.

Tamon: This course has taught me to apply business principles and apply them to real life situations. We spent the majority of our time looking at the auto industry and how its changed and how GM and Chrysler are failing and what the government, exactly what the government is going do to help those companies recover.

Flanary: Strategy First differs from the way we usually start our business students, or the way we had started them in the past with a two year school, in that it’s designed to cover many topics at, say, a 40 thousand foot level, as opposed to getting deeply involved in the technical areas of any one discipline. The plus, I think, for our students, is that they don’t get stuck in their first course of business in an area they may not like as well as they do other areas. So this one’s designed to really pique their interest in business and help them decide which area they might like and fit best in.

Tamon: Before the course, I thought that I wanted to major in marketing, but after taking the course and learning about the financial industry, I learned that accounting is more interesting to me.

Narrator: All freshmen are required to take the Strategy First course during their first year. Subsequent leadership courses are required each of the following three years. These courses emphasize the theory and practice of leadership, and also provide formal training in professional development. For the first time, students will be taught skills that previously one had to acquire the course of his or her career.

Dr. Shanan Gibson is an assistant professor in the department of management at the College of Business.

Gibson: The leadership and professional development program represents a major cultural shift within the education of our business students, and is a program unlike any other found in any business school across the country. This new program is designed to reinforce the concepts learned in traditional business classes through active practice and supplement that learning with new experiences that build greater depth of skill. Our new curriculum has a strong focus on topics like business dress, etiquette, dining, international business customs and other business norms. Our students are learning about the business world in ways that will have a direct positive impact on their employability.

Narrator: For sophomore Dillon Godley, learning leadership skills is something he believes will give him an advantage in his future career from day one.

Dillon: I understand that when I graduate with my finance degree, I will not be instantly the CFO of Goldman Sachs. I know that I will be in the ranks, so to speak. And I think it will be imperative for me to nevertheless exercise leadership skills, especially by example.

Narrator: The leadership and professional development program at the College of Business will also help students demonstrate to employers their accomplishments as students, by introducing a leadership portfolio that students will complete as seniors.

Gibson: It’s absolutely like a portfolio that an art student might have, or that a student teacher might create as part of an education program, except that within our portfolio we are asking them to document things that are related to business. So that a student might come in and not only say “I had this experience where I was the leader of my sorority fundraiser, but instead could show them the documentation of what they did, how they did it, what were the outcomes of it.

Narrator: East Carolina University has a reputation for providing students with personalized, one-on-one attention. But now, thanks to new initiatives within the College of Business, student support is reaching new heights. The College of Business Center for Student Success is paramount in this effort, as Dr. Stan Eakins, associate Dean of the College of Business, explains.

Eakins: The Center for Student Success at ECU is made up of three component parts. The first is academic advising. In this area, the students are helped to choose the right mix of courses each semester to balance their workload, meet prerequisite requirements, and make progress towards graduation. They also provide help for students that are finding themselves in academic difficulty, and help work students through these types of issues. The Career Center begins working with the academic advisors to help students choose their field of study and ultimately choose their careers. It also helps students prepare for interviews. The third part of the Center for Student Success is the Communications center. The primary focus of the College of Business is on developing leadership qualities. A critical part of leadership is skilled communication. The communication center will help students hone their communication skills so that they become more effective leaders.

Narrator: As director of the Academic Advising Center, Karen Kus has been asked for her advice on just about everything.

Kus: We run the gambit of students coming in just to say, “I don’t know what class I’m supposed to take. I don’t know how to use Banner. I overslept for my exam, now what do I do?” We even get the “Oh my gosh, I put white clothes in the washer and they all came out pink, what am I supposed to do?”

Narrator: Effective academic advising is crucial for students who wish to graduate in four years or less. The academic advisors at the College of Business can help students maximize their time on campus.

Kus: We are able to guide them through the curriculum so you’re not getting students that are taking classes they don’t need, that you’re delaying graduation because “I didn’t know I had to have Math 1066 instead of 1065, nobody told me that.” We know, we know what they need so therefore I think students are going to be done in four years instead of that five or six years, and to me it’s just that benefit that they get from that deeper connection.

Narrator: For students like sophomore, Tom Howie, academic advising is effective because the office is flexible enough to meet the demands of his busy schedule.

Tom: Any time I come into the Academic Advising Center, regardless of who my actual advisor is, if that person is not in the office or out to lunch, or something like that, one of the other advisors will be more than willing to help. They come out, shake your hand, introduce themselves and address any problem that you might have even though they’re not your designated advisor.

Narrator: The Business Career Center provides students with focused assistance in finding that first job after they graduate, or an internship while they are still enrolled. Scotty Andrews is the director of career services at ECU.

Andrews: Our mission is to prepare them for the competitive nature, particularly of today’s marketplace. We have a two-pronged approach in terms of our mission statement, if you will, is to open as many doors for our students as possible. And that’s the outreach end of it—calling on companies, we send out information to them on a regular basis to let them know how wonderful our students are. And on the other hand is to prepare them to meet the challenges of the marketplace, and that would include their resume. We critique all the resumes in order to apply for a job that we post. We have a format which I found companies generally like. It’s short, to the point, using bullets. And then we take them on to the rest of the process. Types of interviews that they have, behavioral interviews or general interviews. And our services provide things like mock interviews. We bring companies in here, we also provide them with mock interviews. So basically we have the outreach, we have the preparation. Preparation can be one-on-one meetings to discuss some of their career goals, aspirations. We have some contacts so we can lead them into certain areas. There’s a little quiz that they can take, we provide them once in a while so they can determine where their skill sets are. So basically it’s from the beginning of exploring what they might like to do, to opening up some opportunities for them in the marketplace.

Narrator: Millicent Nyakupfukia (nyak-um-fu-kai) is a senior in the College of Business. As she prepares to graduate this spring with a degree in finance, she is thankful for the Career Center, and the opportunities it provided her.

Millicent: ECU has a lot of relationships with businesses that I was not in contact with before I joined the College of Business. For instance, I’d been trying to get into Credit Swiss, Wachoiva, BB&T, but you cannot just walk into a BB&T branch and give them your resume. You need a starting point. And this starting point was created for me by the career services center by having their career fair. I went to the career fair and I got a chance to give my resume to BB&T, Vanguard, Wachovia, Credit Swiss, even Bank of America, which made it so much easier for me to penetrate myself into all of these companies, which I was unable to do until I went to career services. And it has helped a lot. I’ve got a few job offers here and there, which has been great and now I have to pick where I want to go.

Narrator: The third component of the Center for Student Success focuses on improving communication. At the College of Business Communications Center, students learn how to become more effective speakers and writers, and also gain confidence in their abilities to present themselves in public. Richard O’Dor is the director of the Business Communications Center.

O’Dor: I don’t think you are born being a powerful communicator. I think that through learning, people pick up on what’s powerful and what we see is that people who we see and think, “Oh, they were born with that,” have really developed these skills over time. And the way they have organized their actions is powerful. What I attempt to do is to try and bring out what is unique about you and make that more powerful.

Jordan: My name is Jordan Bolick, I’m a marketing major in the College of Business at East Carolina University. I have just recently started using the Business Communication Center to improve my communication and presentation skills. You need to be able to communicate your ideas thoroughly and with confidence and that is something that Richard O’Dor has helped me do. I ran for student body vice president just recently and I’ve been utilizing him for the past three or four weeks. He’s helped me with the skills and the tools that I’ve needed to present myself to different organizations on campus. He’s taught me little tips and tricks. He’s taught me a lot about posture.

O’Dor: One of the ways I do posture, is I’ll have people jump up in the air. When they jump up, they’ll come down and land in a very secure position. They won’t land with their feet like a ballerina, unless they’ve had a lot of ballet training. And they won’t land with their feet very wide unless they’ve just really ritualized that. That would be a secondary movement. And so what that does is it gives them the position that the feet should be placed in from the way the body wants to do it, not from me saying, “Put your feet like this.”

Jordan: It’s definitely helped me not only in a business aspect, but in my whole entire life. I used to be kind of shy and nervous and all of that, but now I feel more confident within myself and that is something the business communication center has helped me with.

Narrator: As you can see, the College of Business at East Carolina University is changing with our world. From a new curriculum focused on leadership and professional development, to new resources dedicated to ensuring the success of its students the College of Business is ready to prepare the leaders of tomorrow, today.

Niswander: I am very, very excited about what we are doing in the college of business. We have fantastic faculty that care very much about their students, that work very hard to ensure that they have the kinds of skills our students need to be successful in whatever their chosen field is. I hope you have enjoyed your time exploring what we can do for you in the College of Business. We can make a difference for you. I invite you to come visit us whether it’s online or in person. We’d be glad to show you around. Your education starts here. Your career starts here. Tomorrow starts here.