New Business Initiatives

University of Wisconsin - River Falls

Sept. 27, 1996

SB&E Outlines New Business Initiatives

Business Administration department chair Glenn Potts has been named to lead an extensive new initiative at UW-River Falls to develop a formal program to provide faculty and student assistance to businesses in the St. Croix River Valley.

Potts was recently named to the position of Director of Program Development for the School of Business and Economics.

The School was approved by the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents in May, and will coordinate the activities of more than 21 faculty members in the departments or programs of accounting, business administration, marketing, finance, economics and computer information systems. The combined programs have some 800 students enrolled as majors and minors.

Dean Neal Prochnow, of the College of Arts & Sciences, said that Potts' extensive academic leadership in the College and business experience made him the logical choice to coordinate program development in the new School.

"Glenn has exhibited the leadership to build our business administration program over the last several years that has led to excellent business program lateral reviews by the University of Wisconsin System, which resulted in our designation as a School.

"We need to continue the growth of our business programs and expand the outreach of our faculty. We need to be proactive in that. I'm very excited about our ability to do that through this new position and initiatives. This is probably one of the best opportunities in the past two decades for UW-River Falls to provide program initiatives to businesses in our service area."

A major responsibility for Potts will be to develop a formal business outreach program between the School and the region's business community. That will be accomplished through a range of activities initiated cooperatively by the School's faculty.

These extensive new activities for interaction between faculty, students and the region's business community "are a major step to creating a first-class business program at UW-River Falls," Potts said. "We are already seeing significant excitement and enthusiasm for this program development."

The initiatives include:

  • Launching an extensive survey in January with the UW-RF Rural Development Institute and the Small Business Development Center in Eau Claire of regional businesses to determine the types of assistance they need.

  • Form a School Advisory Council comprised of business leaders to help provide a more directed review and critique of business outreach initiatives.

  • Purchase and make accessible to service area businesses a "Groupware" statistical software package that helps facilitate strategic planning and group decision-making in such areas as production and marketing.

  • Expand existing international business student exchange programs, particularly in the east Asian region of the Pacific Rim, with an emphasis on Taiwan.

  • Explore creating a graduate degree program in applied business administration targeted to the specialized needs of regional businesses. As examples, these could be directed toward regional business niche target areas such as the plastics industry or tourism, Potts said.

  • Creating certification programs in special needs area, such as certified fraud examiner, among others.

  • Expand nternship activities from the current 45 percent of the School's students. "We want to increase that," Potts said. "These students are really quite talented and bring a lot to the businesses where they intern."

  • Expand short-term faculty business consulting activities or individual projects assistance.

  • Strengthen the School's activities in the University of Wisconsin System Business Consortium Group. This would increase the opportunity for UW-RF students and those from other UWS campuses to participate in each other's international business exchange programs.

  • Launch a School site on the World Wide Web that outlines academic offerings, faculty expertise, and programs. It can be found at

  • Initiate fiber optic distance learning courses in business this spring in collaboration with other consortium campuses. Potts noted this will allow UW-RF to work with faculty at UW-La Crosse and UW-Eau Claire to offer specialty courses that might not generate sufficient student participation on their own campuses to justify the courses. Related to this, Potts will explore articulation agreements with those campuses to ensure that accounting credits earned at UW-RF can be applied to accreditation as a certified public accountant or toward master's of business administration programs offered at the other campuses.

  • Develop articulation agreements with Chippewa Valley Technical College and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College to ensure that business-oriented courses can be transferred to UW-RF for degree credit.
  • "I believe that the creation of the School of Business & Economics will allow for the development of new programs in business administration and accounting that will better meet the needs of the St. Croix Valley," Potts said. "We will work hard to identify where that need exists.

    "That also will result in a significant improvement in the quality of programs for our students in the sense of their ability to interact with the business community because of internships, certifcate programs and international opportunities that don't exist now.

    "We will see a noticeable change in the attitude of students as they approach their studies, focusing more on the practical application of their education."

    Potts joined the economics department faculty at UW-RF in 1976 after earning a doctorate specializing in monetary economics and statistics from Iowa State University. He chaired the economics department until 1992 when he began to serve as chair of business administration department and led it through its reaccreditation process. His University service also includes two terms as chair of the Faculty Senate.

    His scholarly research has included papers on topics such as political influence on monetary policy formation, which was quoted in the Wall Street Journal; the effect of bank structure on credit to local communities; and the economic consequences of international debt for developing countries.

    Potts also has extensive business and entrepreneurial experiences. He directed an international business workshop for four years that brought Taiwan business people to establish investments in American businesses with import and export needs.

    He also is president of GEM International, Inc., a trading company that imports and exports several products, including the Flu-Flu fishing lure produced for OO Lures of River Falls. His other ventures include exporting synthetic rubber and carbon black, and importing exercise equipment.

    His international business travels include Taiwan, Rwanda, and Pakistan, where he is pursuing a business relationship to produce a line of small corporate gifts.

    Potts and his wife Janette live in River Falls with their two children.

    For more information about program development, contact Potts at 715/425-3335 or by e-mail at:

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