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Opinion

CBE accreditation benefits UWRF

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October 11, 2007

We are inundated these days by acronyms. From UWRF to MTV and IM to CNN, we see these abbreviations wherever we go.

One acronym that has been very visible on our campus, especially around the College of Business and Economics (CBE), is AACSB (The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, International). AACSB, International is the premier professional accrediting organization for colleges and schools of business throughout the world. Only about 30 percent of the business programs in the United States and less than 15 percent worldwide are accredited by AACSB.

Even before the CBE became the fourth college on the UWRF campus, several faculty and administrators were preparing an initial accreditation plan for our business administration, accounting, computer science/information systems and economics programs.

When Barbara Nemecek became the first Dean of the College of Business and Economics (July 2001), the clock started ticking on our five-to-six year candidacy phase. During this time period, the CBE faculty worked extremely hard. They reviewed all of the majors within the college, increased their research and professional development activities and recruited new, highly qualified faculty members.

After submitting a three-volume Self-Evaluation Report in August 2005 and having a Peer Review Team visit in January 2006, we received confirmation in April 2007 that the UWRF College of Business and Economics was officially accredited through AACSB, International.

So what does AACSB accreditation mean for the future of the CBE?  In my view, we can definitely expect continued growth in the number of students interested in majors within the college. Business Administration is already the largest major on campus (over 700 majors), and Accounting has about 150 majors.

When visiting our campus, many prospective students and their parents ask whether our business programs have professional accreditation. Potential employers prefer to interview students from AACSB schools, since they know the programs of study are high quality. Furthermore, our alumni and area businesses are anxious to partner with the college on a wide range of activities.

There are several opportunities for students and faculty that have developed in connection with our accreditation efforts. For the past five years, the college, with support from Pierce-Pepin Cooperative Services, has sponsored an executive-in-residence each semester. This program brings a prominent businessperson to campus for a day to meet with students, faculty and community leaders.

The executive-in-residence also presents a public lecture on a topic related to their particular industry. Some of the past speakers have included the vice-president of grain operations for General Mills, chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Client Services and the CEO of Phillips Plastics Corporation.

Another benefit to students is the opportunity to participate in new study abroad opportunities. Faculty in the College of Business and Economics have arranged and led several international study tours to places such as Taiwan, Uganda, Vietnam and Turkey. These cultural learning experiences are available to all students and take advantage of the background and expertise of the CBE faculty. They also fit the University’s mission to help students become “engaged citizens and leaders with an informed global perspective.”

Dean Nemecek and I are extremely proud of the hard work and dedication shown by faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, community leaders and students to accomplish this goal. This was truly a team effort that will pay dividends to the CBE and UWRF for many years.

Brian Schultz is in his 29th year as a faculty member in the Economics Department at UWRF. He has been associate dean in the College of Business and Economics for the past four years, and serves as director of the UWRF Center for Economic Education.