School of Business hosts town hall

Myki Dee Kim, Staff Writer


Just as the mist began to rise from campus on the chilly morning of Nov. 5, all students and faculty from the School of Business were called at 8 a.m. to the third floor of Cebula Hall for the annual School of Business Town Hall. Upon arrival, students signed in, were greeted with pastries and coffee, and were provided a course catalog for all spring 2020 courses in the School of Business. After opening remarks from Interim Dean Jeff Crane, Ph.D., updates and exciting innovations were provided about the School of Business. From the development of a new data analytics concentration, to a healthcare administration concentration and certificate program within the MBA program, and an official update on the continual Dean search, students were provided with an in-depth snapshot of the inner workings of the School of Business. 

Following Crane’s remarks, business faculty and students conducted short presentations in regards to their specific focuses and activities within the department. Donald Conant, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Business, conducted the initiation of students and faculty to Delta Mu Delta. Delta Mu Delta is the National Honor Society for Business Majors, and inductees are members for life. Undergraduate recipients must earn a minimum of 60 credits and no more than 90 credits, along with a minimum grade point average of 3.67. Graduate recipients must earn a minimum of 18 credits, along with a minimum grade point average of 3.76. This semester, the School of Business inducted nine students and two new business faculty members. 

Professor of Accounting and Finance, Diane Bingaman, was formerly the person that oversaw business students pursuing internships for credit. At the town hall, Bingaman stated that roles have slightly shifted, as she will oversee accounting and finance internships while Assistant Professor of Business Elisabeth Power, Ph.D., would oversee management and economics students. She also stated that the department was bringing back government accounting, as well as the implementation of the Student Advisory Council. The Student Advisory Council was a self-nominated program where students could help implement innovation within the department based on feedback from the town hall meeting. 

Heather Grob, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Business and Economics, provided tips for students to utilize during advising week. She encouraged students to think of more flexible courses during their time in college, including study abroad and interdisciplinary studies. Grob also noted the importance of taking courses in order of level due to the structure of the department. Grob advertised the Saint Martin’s Investment Club that is open to all Saint Martin’s students. With a generous endowment of $50,000, students are able to use that money to make investments in stocks and bonds. The Investment Club meets every other Friday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.  

Following information regarding the Investment Club, Power provided information regarding the Saint Martin’s Business Club. The Business Club is attempting to provide more social activities to get to know students within the School of Business. The club is participating in events such as cookie baking, bracelet making, and go-karting. The club also hopes to be able to start using the Lacey Makerspace this Spring. The Business Club meets every other Friday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. 

Director of the Career Center and Business lecturer, Ann Adams, spoke to students regarding upcoming events and assessments for the university. Adams noted that the Spring Business Fair would occur on March 25, 2020, on the first floor of Harned Hall. She also noted that the career center is attempting to create an online assessment based on career competency that is open to all students to utilize. She asked students to stay tuned. Adams concluded by reminding students to make sure that they participate in the Saints Have a Plan program to not only get a free t-shirt, but to prepare for a professional life outside of college. 

Following remarks from professors and peers, open table discussion began with six prompted questions from the School of Business. Tables were separated based on earned credits (0-59 credits and 60+ credits) with roughly seven to eight students and one faculty member present at each table. Questions ranged from likes and dislikes within the department and changes that students would like to see. Facilitating professors took notes on what students said within table discussion and towards the end of the event, left the tables so students could talk freely amongst themselves of problems they may not want to talk about while a professor was present. The day concluded with prompted clicker questions facilitated by Angel Lyons and Power where students provided anonymous feedback for the department to utilize from that moment on. 

Ensuring the annual town hall is a success, student engagement and feedback is accepted and taken into serious consideration. Two students from the class of 2020, Jenna Gerber and Alex Gonzalez, had both attended two town hall meetings prior to the fall of 2019. Gerber is pursuing a Business Administration degree with a concentration in finance and Gonzalez is pursuing a Business Administration degree with a concentration in marketing. 

Gerber believes that the town hall this year was slightly less prepared than years prior, and due to a late start, students were unable to see the polling data after the conducting of clicker questions. To Gerber, it is important to address ways for the school to improve as well as faculty hearing concerns about issues within the department so they are able to address the concerns and receive direct feedback from students. She hopes that change will continue to be implemented as the years go on to ensure that future students will not have to deal with the current issues with classes as there are now. Gerber stated, “I think problems are inevitable, so they should continue holding the town hall meetings to receive students feedback after the changes have been implemented.”

Along with attending the town hall, Gonzalez contributed to the event as a student speaker, along with Business student Tony Porter, who spoke about their experience attending the Japanese Cultural Exchange Program (JCET) last summer. Reflecting on former years, Alex believes that the town halls have been consistent over the past few years. He appreciated the new implementation of faculty being present at table discussions to talk about issues within the School of Business. Gonzalez believes that the town hall “is a great opportunity for Business students to meet other students pursuing their same degree. It also helps us connect outside the classroom with our faculty and learn about the new changes in the School of Business.” Looking into the future, Gonzalez hopes that the School of Business strengthens their leadership within the department, a heightened focus on internship pools, have more spaces for students to utilize useful tools, the opportunity for international development, and an overall better scheduling system for classes. He also hopes that new “fun and fresh” business classes will be offered as electives to develop creativity and technical skills. 

The School of Business is continuing to innovate and adapt with their student body. Through the business town hall, students were able to receive transparent information about the department, speak with peers and faculty, and provide their feedback for what they hope to see in the future. The School of Business has also taken social media platforms by storm. If you have not already done so, make sure to follow the School of Business on Facebook (Saint Martin’s University School of Business), Instagram (@SMUSOB), and Twitter (@SMUSOB). 

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