Burgeoning Business

From Wall Street to Silicon Valley and from the nation’s capital to Main Street USA, accomplished graduates of Oswego’s School of Business make a name for themselves and their alma mater. 

Oswego diplomas hang on the walls of corporations, small businesses, and public and private entities alongside their Ivy League colleagues — here and abroad.

There is no surprise about that, no accident. We have heart, we are bullish and we are on the cutting edge.

The evidence is everywhere.

 

Twenty years since its founding as a School of Business and a decade after earning its first AACSB accreditation and moving  into a new home in Rich Hall, Oswego’s School of Business is bullish. New programs, student and faculty award winners, a global focus, stellar CPA pass rate and generous, distinguished alumni — like our cover subject, PwC Senior U.S. Partner and Chairman Bob Moritz ’85 — are points of pride for the School of Business.

A steady stream of recruiters comes to campus to grab Oswego’s grads for accounting firms and other opportunities.

Part of that is due to the school’s impressive pass rates in the CPA exams, with 2011 scores that compare very favorably with schools like Pace, Hofstra and Syracuse universities and the SUNY centers at Albany and Binghamton, according  to Professor Chuck Spector, chair of the accounting and finance department.

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Opportunities for students to get involved have blossomed in recent years, including Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), the Financial Management Association, Investment Club and Beta Alpha Psi. Students visit Wall Street, prepare tax returns for local citizens and educate middle school students in financial literacy.

“Students have always been involved in leadership positions within the college,” said Dean Richard Skolnik. “But these increased opportunities allow students to develop their organizational skills, through networking and interacting with their peers.”

And those students are proving all the involvement was worth it, racking up honors and achievements for their school.

Most recently, students in Oswego’s Beta Alpha Psi chapter received one of four $5,000 ethics awards nationwide for their work on the practice of ethical behavior in the accounting, finance and information technology professions. Oswego produced Beta Alpha Psi competition winners in 2009, 2010 and 2011. From 2006 to 2011, the School of Business had a Student Chancellor’s Award winner each year. And the SIFE team has won the regional business projects competition three years in a row.

The school itself has won accolades, and has been included on the Princeton Review’s Best Business Schools list since its inception. In 2009, it was included on the Princeton Review’s list of the 15 graduate programs with the best preparation in accounting.

To keep ahead of the curve and meet the needs of regional businesses, the school is continually developing new programs. The Risk Management and Insurance major was the first of its kind in SUNY when it was launched in 2009.

Always a strong MBA program, Oswego’s new online MBA serves professionals where they live, and currently has 15 enrollees.

They are part of the dramatic increase in enrollment since the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation visit in 2002, with undergraduate students growing from 1,108 in fall 2002 to 1,460 in fall 2011, an increase of 31.7 percent. Graduate enrollments have increased even more dramatically, thanks to a planned growth in the program, from 59 to 112 graduate students, for an increase of 89.8 percent.

New home for school

Alumni who took classes in drafty Sheldon Hall or the campus school facilities in Swetman Hall would be amazed at the transformation of Rich Hall into a state-of-the-art home for the School of Business.

“The facilities would astound people,” said Spector. “They were designed with input from the faculty members” to best serve the needs of students and professors alike.

Lanny Karns was the first dean of the School of Business, and participated in the planning with faculty members and architects. Karns remembers learning about the concept of “floorscaping,” which was becoming popular in academic and business buildings at the time.

“What we did was look at the major traffic centers in the program or unit and designed the building around the philosophy of interaction,” Karns said.

Faculty offices were built in interdisciplinary clusters, surrounded by classrooms and informal spaces designed to facilitate collaboration.

Every classroom is a “smart” classroom, boasting modern instructional technology, and no two rooms are the same. There are tables for accounting students to work at, a horseshoe-shaped classroom and other classes where the desks can be moved to make different configurations.

The enhancements are all thanks to the generosity of alumni and other donors, who supplemented the state funds used to renovate the building, raising more than $1 million to jumpstart the college’s $24 million Inspiring Horizons campaign and adding the technology that took the business school to the next level.

Alumni are key

Probably the most obvious point of pride for the school is its alumni.

Karns praised alumni for their involvement in the first AACSB accreditation process, completed while he was dean.

“Their observations were incredible and their willingness
to be involved and be available during the accreditation — especially during the first accreditation team visit — was
amazingly contributory to everything,” Karns said.

Skolnik enumerated four ways alumni benefit current students:

* Alumni provide students with a model for professional success, inspiring them with the evidence that success is possible through hard work.
* They create opportunities for students to demonstrate their ability through co-ops and internships.
* Alumni give back financially to support the program, endowing centers of excellence and scholarships for business students.
* Finally, alumni enhance the profile of Oswego, providing external validation for the program, the dean said.

“The goal of alumni is to help try to make the school better today than when they went to school,” said Michael Durney ’83, chair of the School of Business Dean’s Advisory Board.

A mural created by Oswego students hangs at the entrance to Rich Hall, showing the paths of commerce leading out from Oswego to the wide world beyond. With Oswego alumni making their mark in the corner offices and board rooms of businesses across America and around the globe, it’s illustrative of a vision to never stop rising, to always be bullish and to keep striving to change the world.

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