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Students in the classroom

With the start of the new academic year, Sellinger School faculty and administrators are acutely aware of the emerging trends in business and business education, and excited about the changes in existing curricula and new programs that will be launched to address them.

Students in the Master of Science in Finance program—which was recently reviewed and revised to offer more flexibility in course choices and to offer classes year-round—will now be able to choose new elective choices to explore more specific areas of finance, said Ann Attanasio, assistant dean for business programs

“Some of the elective choices will include special topics such as Real Estate and Entrepreneurial Finance,” said Attanasio.

Executive MBA (EMBA) students enrolling this fall benefit from a new format and enhanced curriculum designed to better reflect the international travel and other responsibilities common for EMBA students, says Gloria Phillips-Wren, Ph.D., academic director of the Executive MBA program.

Previously, EMBA classes met every Saturday, while the new format meets every other Friday and Saturday, which offers a more manageable schedule—as well as enhanced work-life balance opportunities—for the busy students enrolled in the program.

“We’ve also offered more hybrid courses to increase the flexibility of the program with some online learning and some in-class time, and we’ve integrated the International Field Study into the International Business course to create a stronger relationship between real case studies and international business expansion,” said Wren. Previously, the field study was a stand-alone experience, not tied to a particular course. “We wanted to be sure our students could still balance an international travel schedule, work, family commitments, and school as well as have an international academic experience that they can apply immediately to their careers.”

The Executive MBA program also added a second finance course and now allows students to choose an elective that will allow them to take a deeper dive into an emerging business topic of interest.

“The economic drivers of the business landscape and the overall economic landscape in which our students are working are ever-changing. We wanted to include an increased emphasis on informed, responsible, and sustainable financial decision-making and provide flexibility within the curriculum for students to learn more about emerging business issues,” said Wren.

Wren is also leading efforts to launch a new Cybersecurity Certificate program out of the Sellinger School’s Columbia, Md. campus.

“There is an increasing need for organizations to be able to develop leadership and enterprise-wide strategic thinking in cybersecurity policy development and procedures,” said Phillips-Wren. Cybersecurity is becoming a hot trend in business and higher education—we are filling the niche for business leaders who need to make decisions around cybersecurity and information assurance.

Another new collaboration in Columbia will be with Leadership Howard County on the Leadership Essentials program—a professional development program for candidates (typically under the age of 40) who live or work in Howard County and are viewed as rising stars within their organizations—which will make selections this fall and welcome a new class in January 2012. This six-month program combines skill building and personalized coaching, empowering individuals to clearly define their personal and career goals.

“From a business standpoint, this collaboration made sense for our organizations,” said Attanasio. “Together we are bringing a uniquely collaborative dimension to this successful program now in its fourth year. Two organizations dedicated to enhancing the skill set of leaders from every sector helps to strengthen not only our business environment but the community at large.”

The Emerging Leaders MBA (ELMBA), the Sellinger School’s accelerated full-time MBA program, will be headed to Beijing, China to study new governance and international business on their international field study this year as opposed to Barcelona, Spain, the site of the 2010-11 class’s destination. Assistant Professor of Law and Social Responsibility Michael Runnels, J.D., just completed a summer research grant on the subject and will accompany the students on the trip.

“Michael posed Beijing as a great option for our students to study new governance,” said Andrea Giampetro-Meyer, J.D., academic director for the ELMBA program and chair of the law and social responsibility department. “After reviewing feedback from the outgoing class, there was an overwhelming recommendation that a BRIC country—one of the newly advanced economies in Brazil, Russia, India, or China—might have a more direct relationship to their future careers.”

The ELMBA program has also equipped this year’s class with iPads pre-loaded with coarse materials.

“In addition to saving costs and taking a greener approach than printing out case studies or buying all texts, iPads will also serve to encourage the integration of emerging and mobile technology throughout the students’ internships, presentations, and research,” added Giampetro-Meyer.

Program leaders expect these changes, in addition to bringing renewed energy and excitement to Sellinger School classrooms, to better serve the ever-changing demands of students, their employers, and the greater business community.