MARQUETTE — The College of Business at Northern Michigan University has received a five-year accreditation extension from AACSB International. This distinction demonstrates an ongoing commitment to excellence in teaching, research, curriculum development and learner success.
AACSB stands for Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
“It’s huge for the college and the university as a whole,” College of Business Dean Carol Johnson said in a statement. “Five years of reaccreditation is what we were hoping to gain.”
Because the AACSB process emphasizes continuous improvement, all institutions that go through the intensive review process and site visit are informed of areas they can work on and identify strategies to address them. according to the NMU.
Johnson said many schools struggle with setting program outcome goals related to “the assurance of learning” which means developing a definitive gauge of whether graduates are sufficiently equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the professional sector.
“We made it a priority” she says. “For example, we want to know that our accounting graduates have learned the critical thinking and communication skills that are so important right now, as well as ethics. We want them to be able to solve problems. Rarely do employees receive a rubric on how to proceed with a task; a boss usually says “I want this done” and the employee is expected to get it. We also need to make sure we emphasize international studies because of the global economy.
“The world continues to change, so it is very important to keep our program relevant. This is why the College of Business does not separate itself from the rest of the campus. We work collaboratively to provide quality education. We collaborate with many different departments that offer support courses for our programs. This all adds up to improving our learning assurance. For example, communication skills are introduced in an English course and reinforced in additional courses throughout a student’s academic journey. We also hosted an internal workshop on how to improve outcome measurement after the AACSB accreditation team visited campus. »
Johnson said other “pillars of the strategy” moving forward requires ensuring an appropriate level and balance of staffing and providing support for faculty scholarships and professional development activities that support teaching and learning. The college also focuses on determining its societal impact – how it helps fulfill the university’s outreach mission by improving the region through internships and other activities.
Johnson said improving the student experience and increasing retention initiatives are additional goals.
“The accreditation process is a huge effort,” says Johnson. “The whole college was involved in this effort. It’s very intensive, but ultimately a good thing because it forces you to assess and access your actions and results – what you’re doing well and what areas need improvement. I’m happy to report that our enrollment numbers have remained fairly stable, and our MBA is probably the second largest graduate program at NMU right now due to our 4+1 program which allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting and an MBA in just five years.
Johnson credits the support of NMU’s administration, business faculty, students, external constituents, and colleagues and staff across campus with contributing to the success of the reaccreditation effort.
She instilled an annual theme to guide the actions of the College of Business which they post on the walls as a reminder. At the height of the pandemic, it was “Survive, Relive and Thrive.” In 2021 it was “Connect, support and inspire”: connecting again with students in person, supporting the college internally and externally, and inspiring students to change the world and make a difference.
Johnson was soon to unveil a new theme for the upcoming academic year.
Interim strategic plan under development
The NMU announced that it has embarked on the second phase of developing a draft strategic plan that will provide direction to its next president. Following approval by the NMU Board of Trustees of the initial proposal presented in late April, steering committees representing faculty, staff and alumni are working over the summer to develop action plans to five priority areas identified in the plan.
The work of the committees will also improve the existing language to better define the strategies, which are a set of projects intended to achieve objectives in each area of intervention; the tactics and associated parameters needed to accomplish and monitor the strategies; and clear lines of accountability for tactics and strategies.
“I so appreciate the work of faculty and staff who continue to engage meaningfully in this critical process,” President Kerri Schuiling, who will serve until the NMU completes the nationwide search for her successor, said in a statement. “Their work makes it clear who is responsible and accountable for driving each strategy forward to achieve our goals.”
Jason Nicholas, deputy provost and director of institutional effectiveness, said nearly 60 people make up the focus area steering committees that have been meeting weekly since May.
“The goal is to complete the action plans by the end of the summer and then post them on the president’s strategic planning website,” said Nicholas. “From then on, focus areas will be continuously monitored and updates will be shared regularly with management and the campus community.”
The five focus areas are:
≤ New markets, new supports: identify new recruiting markets and develop new academic offerings to increase enrollment and support student mental and physical health;
≤ Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging: creating and embracing a welcoming university-wide culture, recruiting/retaining students, faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds, and embedding diversity, equity and inclusion in academics;
≤ Rural Roots: Leverage NMU’s unique rural location and expertise to serve as a national leader in related learning and research, and a resource for communities, businesses and residents across the country. ‘UP;
≤ Environmental sustainability: enhance and expand sustainability efforts and education in all aspects of university planning, operations, education, research and services; and
≤ Emergency Response Zone, COVID-19: Ensure the success of long-term emergency planning by reflecting what the NMU has learned during the pandemic.
“Overall, I think the interim strategic plan will be helpful to whoever becomes our next president, and it should make a noticeable difference across all five focus areas over the next two years,” Professor Dwight Brady, a member of the steering committee, said in a statement. “Engaging in this process not only provided the opportunity to implement new strategies and tactics, but it also allowed us to have discussions about past initiatives like international recruitment and consider ways to improve in these areas.
“While the process was not perfect and could certainly be improved, the collaboration that took place between faculty, staff and members of the administration created a good model to follow in future planning efforts. “
NMU held engagement sessions in March to get feedback from faculty, staff and students on the first draft of the draft strategic plan before it was finalized and presented to the NMU Board of Trustees.