Your Education is Our Business
“Your education is our business,” said Stetson University President, Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., in a presentation to the Transitions I: Self Ownership and Direction (BADM100) class. When Madhu Rao, Ph.D., associate dean of the School of Business Administration, extended an invitation to her, Libby enthusiastically accepted the offer to teach students the parallels between running a university and running a business. The course, normally taught by Diane Erickson, is designed to, “Focus on the transition into an area of study in a major within the School of Business Administration.” Libby’s lesson plan was tailored to demonstrate to students how all of the majors offered in the School of Business Administration are actually related to the various careers campus-wide that keep the university running daily.
Libby personally connected with the students by giving her own educational background: a bachelor’s in Biology, M.B.A. in Finance, and noted that she began pursuing her doctorate in Educational Administration at age 38. She related the course’s required text and reflection skills to the class members by revealing her own StrengthsFinder traits: Communicator, Activator, Relator, Achiever, Strategic.
Once the students were engaged, Libby kept the focus on skills, talents, and careers needed in many on-campus jobs. These are jobs, largely unnoticed by students, but are necessary to keep a university running. Libby compared her role as university president to that of a corporate CEO. “My chief responsibilities are to oversee the success of our strategic map and communicate where we are headed, raise funds to support the university’s most important needs and assure our financial stability, work with our board of trustees, and supervise our vice presidents and athletic director to enhance their success.”
Libby added, “There are no shares, no shareholders” noting instead, “our private university is governed by 34 Trustees.” Libby even cited a few new vocabulary words including, ‘fiduciary’ which means a person who helps assure the public trust, oversees the financial well-being of a non-profit organization and assures the university delivers on its promises. “We must be good stewards with all university funding. We must practice good stewardship with your finances as well as ours,” Libby explained.
The President continued by reminiscing with students, walking them through the steps they themselves journeyed to be admitted and enrolled at Stetson and the campus-wide skills the staff they undoubtedly encountered must possess. “In Enrollment Management for example, our staff must understand strategy, finance, accounting, auditing, communications and public relations.” Libby further explained, “The university’s Office of Finance manages many functions including finance, auditing, investments, all technology, physical assets, contracts, travel and purchasing.”
When she asked the students, how many are interested in the Roland George Investments Program (RGIP), nearly 50 percent of the group emphatically raised their hands. Recently recognized in U.S. News and World Report, RGIP is a student-directed investments fund program that manages stock and bond portfolios of approximately $3.5 million in real money. Stetson’s RGIP is one of the nation’s first and best performing student-managed programs.
Libby also highlighted areas such as: Academic Programs and Student Life, Marketing and Public Relations, Athletics, Alumni and Development and noted that there are about 1,000 employees university-wide, with necessary training and skills critical to run those departments.
Libby said that she integrates all areas and employees of the university by meeting and strategizing with the vice presidents of each area on a regular basis.
It was obvious that one after another, the students’ reflections on the President’s visit reverberated positively.
To find out more about Stetson University’s School of Business Administration, the majors, and the real life jobs they produce, visit www.stetson.edu.
By Caroline Skinner