Academic Excellence Initiative: The Darla Moore School of Business

When you look at the challenge facing
the Moore School, we basically have a very sacred task and that sacred task is to
equip our students whether they are undergraduates, whether our graduates,
whether they are PhD students, for the work and the jobs that they will
encounter over their careers and it was pretty obvious to me when I got here
that the fundamental material to do that was here. The only thing that I think was
missing is that we weren’t really pushing our students hard enough. The
nature of human work that is now appearing in front of us demands higher
skills, higher capabilities, the ability to do more complex work and if we are
going to prepare our students to do that, we have to ask more of them.
Fundamentally, the change in the undergraduate curriculum and the move
from a two-year to a four-year program is enabling us to do that. First, we’re increasing the rigor, we’re demanding more from students, not only in their GPA,
but also in the courses that they take so that they actually can handle the
problems that are going to be thrown at them in this new data-driven world.
Two, we’re strengthening the majors we’re giving them exposure to the majors much
earlier and also much deeper exposure throughout the four years so that
they’re gonna be ready once they come out. Three, we’re developing the soft
skills that employers demand, we’re having a four year intensive
communication curriculum so that students are fully prepared to
communicate effectively in a business setting, and four, employability. We’ve
focused on those skills that employers need beyond the technical skills,
professionalism, teamwork, leadership, resiliency, adaptability; we do this
through service learning, working with the community through mentors who can be
a mirror to them and tell them where they need to develop and tell them where
they can shine. At the undergraduate we’re going to start requiring two
semesters of statistics where in the past we only have one,
our elective classes, even our core classes are going to incorporate more
analysis, this is at every department level. When you start out in a new career,
you’re gonna go in and start working with people with five, ten, twenty years
of experience, right? You know in that industry, you’re coming in with basically
none, if you want to make, you know, significant change, you’ve got to back it
up, you gotta have the analysis and numbers behind it of why that you should do
something differently. That’s why we’re putting more emphasis on it both at the
graduate and undergraduate level Students in Moore School are now learning
about data analysis from pretty much from beginning to end, so in the
beginning, taking really messy data sets, learning how to clean them, how to merge
datasets, how to take it and turn it into some sort of predictive model such as
looking at optimization and forecasting regression; what do you do with it and
then how do you get results at the end that could actually impact a company. We also have the new curriculum since the concentrations at the
undergraduate level and the certificates at the graduate level for kind of our
top group of students that excel in this area to distinguish themselves. We want to help our students earlier in their academic careers understand their
strengths and push them, if you will, or guide them, coach them, into a track
that’ll leverage their strengths and allow them the best chance to be
successful in the long term. By adding an experiential learning element to the
program, we go beyond enabling to more empowering the students to take control
of their careers earlier, to be more successful both short and long term and
be confident in what they do every day. The future of rigorous business
education is going to be partnering companies and the classroom together to
create new student experiences. This is a whole new ballgame
for our students and gives them tremendous experience to not just
regurgitate what they’re learning in the classroom, but to actually get in to the
weeds with the data, doing the analysis and learning a tremendous amount that
would not be learned in a traditional classroom setting. The bottom line is companies want to hire the total package. They’re clear that they
get that here academically, so the important part to me is or to my
entire team and the offices, we’re providing services, student services at
that same level, so we are all building a product that the market wants that is
the gold standard. Some of our corporate partners and managers that we have been working with have told me in person we haven’t seen these types of students
anywhere, we can’t believe that they are 20, 21, 22 year old kids, here you can you find
the passion in students at that level and at that age. Ultimately when I made
the decision to come to Columbia, South Carolina it was because I felt I could
make a difference. It felt like I could change lives in a positive way, as they
say the tide lifts all boats and I think we’re doing that with our students, we’re
doing that with our faculty, we’re doing that with our alumni, we’re doing that
across the board and everything that we touch as a school. We have the potential
to put out students who are absolutely on the frontier of what the marketplace,
of what internationally is being called for, we can do it, we owe it to the school,
we owe it to ourselves as faculty, we owe it to the employers and we owe it to the
students to help them be the very best they can be. We are going through a
transformation at this business school that is going to change the lives of
many thousands of human beings over the next numbers of years, I need your help
to do that we cannot do this alone, please help.

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