May 10, 1996
School of Business & Economics Formed
A new School of Business & Economics at UW-River Falls was approved Friday by the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents.
The School will continue to emphasize the University's dedication to a liberal arts-based education as it provides a stronger coordination of faculty and students within four departments or programs: Accounting, Business Admininistration, Economics, and Computer Information Systems.
"Educationally, this is a very sound decision," said Chancellor Gary A. Thibodeau, who outlined the new School during a presentation to the Regents.
Thibodeau noted that the School will enable UW-RF to expand its activities in addressing several needs, including:
Provost Robert Milam, UW-RF's chief academic officer, said the formation of the School is a reflection of the prominence of business-related programs within the College of Arts & Sciences.
He notes that some 800 students are majoring in the four departments or programs, which makes it UW-RF's largest professional studies area.
The closer collaboration between faculty and their programs also should enable UW-RF to admit additional students into business-related disciplines at a time when Wisconsin is expecting an upsurge in the number of high school graduates who will seek a college education over the next five years with little likelihood of additional state funding.
College of Arts & Sciences Dean Neal Prochnow said the new School will be unique in several ways.
The School's education approach will be to provide a professional education that reinforces the core values of a higher education institution to provide a liberalizing education, encourage critical thinking, effective communication and problem solving skills, as well as to prepare its students for a leadership role within society. That differs from many business schools which emphasize professional courses over general education offerings.
Prochnow notes that private sector employers are encouraging a return to approaches like UW-RF's. The School will be aided in that effort since it will be housed within the College of Arts & Sciences, Prochnow said.
"Liberal arts should provide an education for the complete person," Prochnow related. "That means its graduates should have a knowledge base that is different from or greater than their discipline. The School will allow us to address what the definition of 'complete' should be."
Its fundamental goals will be to ensure that its graduates are educated for useful citizenship, receive professional training that will allow greater opportunities to be productive, and provide training in life-long learning skills so graduates will be capable of adapting to a rapidly changing society.
The School's structure also will be unusual in that it will regularly provide contact between unit heads to ensure there is an interdisciplinary relationship between academic programs. That also should provide faculty with the collaborative environment that could lead to developing additional innovative academic minors, Prochnow said.
"The future lies in interdisciplinary programs," Prochnow said.
The dean noted the School also will provide a better administrative structure for the University to respond to recent Board of Regents directives that UWS business programs be more responsive to business and industry.
Prochnow noted that over the past few months, as faculty and administrators have sought advice from business and industry leaders about the School, "simply the name 'School of Business & Economics', with minimal publicity, is generating more contact."
As the School takes form, Prochnow noted, he expects that it will develop more avenues for student internship experiences, as well as the potential for "externships" that could place faculty in the private sector over summers to help them keep abreast of developments in the application of their disciplines in business and industry.
Building those networks, Prochnow predicted, also will enable the School to build multi-disciplinary faculty or student teams that can respond to business and industry requests for technical assistance.
Over the long term, Provost Milam added, the School will add an important component to the University's off-campus outreach. These include meeting the needs of business and industry, education, and government through educational programs through Continuing Education Extension, the Rural Development Institute, the Agricultural Resources Center, Office of Conferences & Events, the Extended Degree Program, and the Weekend & Evening Degree Program.
"When you look at all of these programs together, the School adds a major complement to outreach activities," Milam said.
Students: 145 Majors
Faculty & Staff: 4
History: Program founded in 1970; became unit in 1992
Business Admnistration, Marketing, Finance
Students: 497 Majors; 85 Minors
Faculty & Staff: 7
History: Major founded in 1967; became unit in 1992
Computer Information Systems
Students: 50 Majors; 25 Minors
Faculty & Staff: 2
History: Major founded in 1979
Students: 39 Majors; 31 Minors
Faculty & Staff: 8
History: Major founded in 1958; separate department since 1970.