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College of Business & Economics Plays Active Community Role

By Brian Hogenson

APRIL 6, 2007--One of the goals of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls College of Business and Economics is to create and maintain strong links to the local business community and provide a collaborative learning environment where students, faculty and business leaders can learn from each other. Several of the college's ongoing initiatives are designed to do just that.  

Among the CBE endeavors that accomplish this goal are the Executive in Residence program, Young Entrepreneurs' Conference, several program-related Student Organizations and advisory boards, the Small Business Development Center and St. Croix Valley Angel Network, the Center for Economic Education, and the Center for Economic Research.

Once a semester, the CBE presents invites a successful business executive to visit with students and give a speech that is open to faculty, staff, and community members. Fall semester's Executive in Residence was Richard "Dick" Pettingill, president and CEO of Allina Hospitals and Clinics.

The Young Entrepreneurs' Conference, which will take place April 13-14 on the UWRF campus, joins students and faculty from UW schools together with a number of entrepreneurs from the region for a gathering of speakers, workshops, panel discussions, and a business plan competition among teams of students.

  "The conference is important for students as it gives them the ability to network with entrepreneurs," says CBE Dean Barbara Nemecek.

Student organizations provide an opportunity to reach out to the community while strengthening their skills related to their chosen field. These include the Accounting Society, Business Association, Society of Human Resources Managers, Student Economics Society, and Association for Computing Machinery provide students an opportunity to work with other students on a shared interest.

In March, the Accounting Society help low-income community members file tax returns. "It's good practice and experience for us," said Accounting Society president Rosalie Flatland.

Three CBE advisory boards (business, student, and alumni) play an advisory role and provide a real-world perspective to the college's projects, programs and activities. In addition, advisory boards help review CBE policies, and provide assistance with strategic planning among other roles.

The student advisory board, for example, put together a series of Dean's forums to keep CBE students informed on the college's ongoing application for accreditation.

In order to maintain a strong relationship with River Falls and neighboring communities, CBE faculty are involved in business and economic development assistance. Nemecek is the head of the Pierce County Economic Development Corporation, and professor of management Claire Kilian works with the River Falls Leadership Corporation. The CBE has provided help to communities such as Amery and St. Croix Falls with strategic planning.

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is another part of the college's outreach into the community, providing business counseling and small business workshops in Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix counties.

"We counsel people who have business ideas that they want to get started," Steven Dewald, SBDC director, said.

As part of the SBDC program, a 12-week course is offered at UWRF to help with creating a business plan and provide guidance in other areas of running a business including taxes, accounting and finance.

"One goal of the SBDC is to involve business students and faculty in businesses outside of the University," said Dewald.

The SBDC also works with to help link investors, or "angels," with start-up businesses. The St. Croix Valley Angel Network provides funding when individuals or organizations have an idea and are ready to take the next step.

"The idea is to provide the funding, contacts, management, experience and expertise that those organizations might not have," Dewald said.

The Center for Economic Education, headed by CBE Associate Dean Brian Schultz, works with K-12 teachers to provide workshops, training and other resources to help them begin or expand on emphasizing economics concepts in courses. Recently the CEE worked with New Richmond schools in developing portions of curriculum. CEE is associated with the National Council for Economic Education. "The main objective is to promote economic education in K-12 schools," Schultz said.

The Center for Economic Research, directed by Hamid Tabesh, exists to "assist and encourage research that supports economic development of the St. Croix Valley and the mission" of the CBE and UWRF.

CER hosts a series of seminars each semester to give faculty and others a chance to present their research findings and receive effective feedback from their colleagues.

"The seminars bring faculty together in very informal setting to present and discuss research," Tabesh said. He added that the outcome has been a "growing culture of research" in the college.

For more information on the College of Business and Economics, visit


Students Named to CBE Advisory Board  

APRIL 6, 2007--The College of Business and Economics at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, in an effort to foster student involvement in their educational institution, works with a student advisory board to support the college and its goals.

The student advisory board allows for students to have a forum for voicing their comments, questions and concerns to CBE Dean Barbara Nemecek.

Nemecek said that in addition to bringing up issues and concerns, the student advisory board contributes ideas for development of the college. The board recently conducted a series of forums for students to be informed of the college's accreditation process.

The board has been in existence since November 2004. College of Business and Economics advisory board members for 2006-07 include:

Ellsworth: Amy Delamater, business administration and economics double major, senior.
Elk Mound: DiAnna Steines, business administration, senior.
River Falls: Tracia Gimbut, accounting, senior.

Burnsville: Kurt Erickson, business administration, sophomore.
Lakeville: Ben Simonsen, accounting, senior.
Saint Paul: Elizabeth Barnett, business administration and economics double major, junior.



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