The week of Monday, Aug. 20, 2007, Reinhardt College will welcome graduate students-- a first for the almost 125-year-old institution. Reinhardt will launch a Master of Business Administration, or MBA, at its North Fulton Center in Alpharetta, Ga., this fall semester. This entry into graduate education comes 13 years after the College added bachelor's degrees. Until the mid-1990s, Reinhardt only offered two-year, or associate, degrees.
Reinhardt's President, Dr. J. Thomas Isherwood, said College faculty has taken the time to build an MBA program at Reinhardt that is "consistent with our values of personal attention for every student."
"This graduate program, which I hope is the first of many, emphasizes one-on-one interaction with faculty in a quality program that is targeted to develop each individual's strengths," Isherwood said. "Because we expect our graduates to immediately put their learning into practice, the program places emphasis on practical leadership. Students will come from different undergraduate degree programs and have different life experiences, but they will all discover the challenge and support that are hallmarks of a Reinhardt College experience."
Isherwood also said the timing was appropriate. "Adding the MBA now is good for Reinhardt because we have the faculty to offer a truly distinctive program with depth and quality. It is also good for the area because it will meet community needs," he said. 'Expanding into graduate education is part of the College's strategic plan, and our students and alumni, especially those in the North Fulton area, have been asking for such a program."
Reinhardt's business faculty has spent two years designing and fine-tuning the program approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools at its summer 2007 meeting. Isherwood received official notification of SACS' approval on Tuesday, July 10.
Isherwood said the MBA approval will open the door for other graduate programs. "We're looking at education and music, with others to follow. We are eager to explore master's programs that respond to educational needs of working adults and that can have the unique personal touch and quality inherent in a Reinhardt degree," Isherwood said. "We are also eager to explore offering our MBA in additional locations. Student interest will be a critical factor in making those decisions"
The MBA students who enroll this August will be part of the program's inaugural class and will pay the reduced tuition of $300 per semester hour for the entire program, a savings of $3,600. Isherwood anticipates that many in this first class will be Reinhardt alumni. "Many of our former students have been waiting for the program, and we wanted to reduce the tuition for this important group as a way of saying 'thank you' for their loyalty," he said. Those who enroll after August 2007 will pay the tuition rate of $400 per semester hour.
College administrators and faculty are busy recruiting students for the inaugural class. Reinhardt's Dean of the McCamish School of Business, Dr. David W. Chown, said classes will meet one night a week in the 36-semester hour program. Students will study human resources, communication, quantitative methods, marketing, management, law and ethics, finance, quality assurance, global business, and strategic management. Each will fine-tune his or her experience by selecting an existing or hypothetical company upon which to focus assignments. For five consecutive semesters, students will take one seven-week course, a second seven-week course, and then a practicum session.
Chown said the program is very similar to others in terms of the 10 basic courses, "but almost unprecedented in terms of the faculty cohort advisor-led practicums, the ongoing threads throughout the courses, and interwoven assessments, including the portfolio and development plan."
Each group of students will stay together as a group throughout the program and will work with one faculty cohort advisor. After each set of courses, students will meet with this advisor and industry leaders to present projects that apply what they have learned to their selected businesses. During the presentation, question and answer and discussion, students will hone their consultative, persuasive, entrepreneurial, and critical thinking/problem solving skills. The advisor will also present each self-assessment phase.
By graduation, students will compile their five projects -- a strategic human resources plan, a communication plan, an ethics handbook, a balanced scorecard, and an online simulation in strategic management -- into a portfolio. They will also assemble their self-assessments into a five-year personal and professional development plan.
Isherwood said these outcomes will be exceptionally useful for graduates. "These exercises, and their end results -- the portfolio, the personal and professional development plan, and all the lessons they have learned and demonstrated -- will leave our MBA graduates well prepared to take the next step in their business or organization. They will be able to use their knowledge in innovative, creative and persuasive ways."
Chown also cites faculty quality and experience as a strength. "All five hold terminal degrees, and together, they have more than 100 years of private sector business and consulting experience," he said. "They will bring extensive practical business knowledge and a genuine concern for students and the learning process to the classroom. They know that if their students can't use what they have learned in their careers, they haven't truly learned it. We will focus on practical, hands-on experience and pragmatic projects and assignments."
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