In Focus: Outreach and Engagement
At the School of Business at the College of Charleston, our perspective is that business education and professional engagement should not just intersect, they should be as one.
The School of Business at the College of Charleston takes engagement very seriously, as we believe that it differentiates our graduates from many others. As noted in the AACSB International Eligibility Procedures and Accreditation Standards for Business Accreditation, “… quality business education cannot be achieved when either academic or professional engagement is absent, or when they do not intersect in meaningful ways.” Our perspective is that they should not just intersect, they should be as one. That is, they should not be side by side, but rather on top of one another. The result of this strategy is what we call “Ready to Work” graduates.
When I joined the School of Business in March 2009, I met individually with all 32 members of the Board of Governors (BOG). A common theme was that many wanted to resign from the board because they were not being engaged. Fast-forward six years and not only have we not lost any board members, but we have grown the BOG to 50 business (primarily current or past CEOs and presidents of large companies) and political leaders. There is now a long waiting line to join the board.
This board is the backbone of our school; members provide me with advice, direction, and financial support. They actively serve as mentors, guest lecturers, internship creators, strategists, philanthropists, and employers. Each member also serves on at least one of many essential committees that enable the School of Business to function well.
Our board members work extremely close with us to provide feedback on all new and existing courses and programs that we offer at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The US News & World Report recently ranked our MBA program No. 3 in the U.S. in terms of job placement three months after graduation. We are proud of this ranking—especially given that our program is only five years old. It also validates our “ready to work” strategy that is possible because of our engagement with the business and political communities.
Without the constant interaction with leaders of these communities, our students would not be appropriately prepared to join the workforce, as effective preparation requires more than just classroom learning. In our halls, students cannot tell the difference between business practitioners and academicians, because they are as one. Our network of hundreds of individuals and organizations keep us on top of all happenings in the global business arena. Needless to say, the business community—our students’ prospective employers—is there with us every step of the way to ensure that we provide our students with the optimal educational experience.