Grant Funds Business Leaders Program

by Jim Amidon

December 8, 2008

Wabash College has received a $375,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., which will help  to fund the establishment of the Wabash College Business Leadership Program.

Wabash President Patrick E. White announced the grant from Lilly Endowment, which will be matched with $1.52 million in institutional funds to develop and sustain the various elements of the Business Leadership Program for a period of five years.

"The excellent liberal arts education of Wabash College has long provided students a valuable springboard for distinguished careers in every walk of life," said President White. With this generous new grant from Lilly Endowment, Wabash will be even more effective in preparing students for exciting and meaningful business careers in a global economy."

The Business Leadership Program will knit together a number of programs that were developed in an earlier Lilly Endowment Initiative to Promote Opportunities through Educational Collaborations grant. The Business Leadership Program consolidates six current academic courses (the Business Sequence) with co-curricular and career development experiences to create a permanent, marketable, coherent, liberal arts approach to developing graduates with business and leadership skills.

"The liberal arts are the artes liberalis, the arts of freedom, the arts that make for free persons, that educate for life," said Gary Phillips, the Dean of the College at Wabash. "Our engagement with these young men is to shape them for a life lived freely to chose a path and a place and a community in which to make a difference. The Endowment grant is recognition of Wabash's effectiveness in preparing and enabling such engagement, one that lasts a lifetime. We are grateful to Lilly Endowment for its confidence in carrying forward that mission."

The program has been developed based on research conducted through the Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash that determined what characteristics businesses were seeking in their leaders, and how a liberal arts campus might enhance the development of those characteristics in Wabash graduates.

"Through the innovative programs supported by this grant, Wabash men will continue to have an enormous positive impact as leaders in the Indiana economy," said President White.

The Business Leadership Program will be administered by the Schroeder Center for Career Development, working closely with faculty and the Advancement Office, and overseen by an Advisory Committee that admits students to the program and tracks their progress.

Kealoha Widdows, who holds the John H. Schroeder Interdisciplinary Chair in Economics, has been involved in the development of many of Wabash’s programs designed to prepare graduates for careers in business.

"I see this Business Leadership Program as working along with Scott Crawford in the Schroeder Center to administer existing programs like the Summer Business Immersion (photo right) and Marketing Immersion programs, as well as the internships, and to develop creative new programs and workshops that will complement the students' academic work," said Widdows. "Our goal is to make sure that Wabash students are at least as attractive to employers as students coming out of undergraduate business programs."

Students graduating from the Wabash Business Leadership Program will:

• Complete a liberal arts major and minor, along with six courses currently comprising the Business Sequence (three in economics, two in accounting, and one in English);

• Study the fundamentals of rhetoric composition and delivery; the research, composition, and delivery of ceremonial and persuasive speeches; introductory principles of reasoning, argumentation, and rhetorical criticism; and the use of electronic media in public presentations;

• Participate in an eight-week summer, non-credit Introduction to Entrepreneurism course (photo left), co-taught by staff and alumni, using case studies and team projects to learn about the spirit of entrepreneurism, leadership qualities, project management, opportunity analysis, business plans, legal issues, marketing, presentation skills, networking, preparation of financial statements, and financing;

• Take a spring break marketing immersion trip, a fast-paced introduction to the concepts and businesses involved in marketing, team-taught by alumni in marketing and advertising agencies;

• Complete at least one eight-week summer internship (read internship blogs here);

• Participate in at least four industry Focus Group (photo right) sessions — dinners with alumni in specific career areas, with individualized conversations about career paths;

• Participate in Schroeder Center for Career Development programs, such as the Job Search Boot Camp, mock interviews and required seminars on interviewing, resume writing, and business etiquette;

• Participate in one networking trip to Chicago, New York, or various Indiana cities;

• Have opportunities for job shadowing (externships) with alumni to provide insights into an area of interest, job type, or organization; and

• Participate in the Wabash LEAD (Linking Education and Alumni Development) Program which emphasizes leadership, goal setting, exploring challenges, recognizing strengths and weaknesses, and peer coaching.

A committee of Economics Department faculty, staff involved with these programs, alumni and student representatives (the WBLP Advisory Committee) will review applications and interview participants for entry to the program, as well as monitor student progress through the program.

"In my opinion, the program does a very nice job of providing a meaningful business experience that complements the liberal arts education students receive at Wabash," said Wabash Economics Professor Frank Howland. "It provides students with a visible roadmap to follow, encourages alumni-student interaction, and facilitates hands-on learning through the immersion programs and internships."


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