MBA program does brisk business

By Mary Katherine Murphy - [email protected]

This article is part of an ongoing series on the start of a new school year.

LAURINBURG — In the three years since its inception, St. Andrews University’s Master of Business Administration program has awarded 35 degrees to recent college graduates and seasoned professionals alike.

On Monday, a dozen new students planning to begin work on their master’s met with program staff and faculty in preparation for the first day of classes next week. The program is expected to enroll around 25 students this year.

“A master’s program is taking a huge step: it may not seem so at this point, especially to those of you who have just finished your undergraduate degree, but this is a big step,” said Robert Hopkins, the university’s dean. “It’s a different world, a different kind of course experience, and a different set of expectations.”

St. Andrews added the MBA to its repertoire following the school’s 2011 merger with Webber International University. Over the course of the two-year program, students complete courses in finance, economics, marketing, quantitative research methods, business ethics, and strategic thinking.

“We have people who truly know exactly what they want to do, although they’re a real minority, and then others that don’t really know,” said program director Wayne Freeman. “This is where they come to explore.”

Each class meets for a single three to four hour session weekly.

“Most people take two courses every term, and they come two evenings a week,” Freeman said. “You can actually end up with four terms in a year and get finished in 18 months; once you start, it actually goes by so fast.”

Garrett Todd, a Charlotte area native, applied for the program after graduating from St. Andrews with an undergraduate business degree.

“I’ve always been interested in business, so I thought there’s not any better place or time to do it,” he said. “I’d like to own my own business — it takes a lot to make that happen — and I’ve also bounced around with the idea of the FBI and CIA. They pursue people with business degrees, and that’s something I think would be cool to do.”

In addition to traditional course work, students complete a two-term practical consulting project with a county business or organization before they can graduate.

“Students form themselves into groups and then identify an entity, typically within Scotland County, to work with and solve a problem, engage in the development of a business plan or whatever might evolve,” Hopkins said.

Past projects have involved the Laurinburg-Maxton Airport, Scotland Health Care System, Scotland County Economic Development Corporation, and Scotch Meadows Country Club. Most recently, a group of master’s candidates constructed a capital facilities plan for the city of Laurinburg.

The St. Andrews MBA program has also attracted working professionals who have earned a master’s degree with financial assistance from employers like Service Thread in Laurinburg and Schaeffler North America in Cheraw, South Carolina.

The university also hopes to market the program to those in the horse industry who are familiar with its equestrian programs.

One new student this fall is more accustomed to the role of instructor, having coached St. Andrews’ Intercollegiate Horse Show Association western team for nearly a decade.

“I’ve really wanted to do this since I was in my thirties, and now I’m in my fifties,” said Carla Wennberg, who brought to St. Andrews another 15 years of teaching experience with the equestrian programs at Colorado State University and the University of Georgia.

“As an instructor, and us being more of a business school, it makes sense to be better at what we do,” she said. “It ties in a lot of things that I’ve done in my life: I know backward and forward everything in the barn, and would like to be more effective in the classroom.”

Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.

This article is part of an ongoing series on the start of a new school year. article is part of an ongoing series on the start of a new school year.

By Mary Katherine Murphy

[email protected]

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