It may "only" be a minor, but the new undergraduate business program is a major opportunity for our students and a really big deal for Willamette.
For as long as most of us can remember, Winter Street has divided Willamette neatly in two. On the east side, one of the nation's finest undergraduate liberal arts colleges. On the west side, the Northwest's oldest law school — long a leader in both faculty scholarship and student success — and the Atkinson Graduate School of Management, recognized year after year as the finest private business school in the Northwest.
Except for the growing number of joint degree students who move from east to west as they progress towards becoming double-Bearcat BA/MBA or BA/JD alumni, the two sides of Winter Street mostly do not mix. For many, there might as well be a wall dividing these three outstanding schools from each other.
The arrival of the business minor (formally known as the minor in business, government, and not-for-profit management) takes a sledgehammer to that wall, opening up access for undergraduates to new classes taught by AGSM faculty. This fall, two sections of Introduction to Management have been offered by former long-time AGSM Dean and current JELD-WEN Professor of Free Enterprise, Debra Ringold, who has been honored with Willamette's United Methodist and Jerry Hudson teaching awards. She will be reprising this course in Spring 2020.
Undergraduates who register this month will also find the first offerings this spring of two new AGSM undergraduate courses. One is on Organizations: Design, Management, and Change taught by Professor Tim Johnson, the Grace and Elmer Goudy Professor of Public Management and Policy Analysis and the director of Willamette's Center for Governance and Public Policy and another winner of the Jerry Hudson teaching award. The other is Accounting, taught by Professor Romana Autrey, who was this year's Jerry Hudson teaching award winner from AGSM. Three courses, three award-winning teachers!
Next year, these courses will be supplemented by new courses on Finance and on Marketing to round out the initial five courses for the minor. The classes can be taken in any order, including by students who don't intend to do the full program, though students who complete the full minor will have additional access to specialized career services.
At Willamette, the ability to combine any CLA major with an Atkinson minor is a powerful way to blend the lasting power of a liberal education with the career preparation of a management program. For many students, the 3-2 BA/MBA will remain the "gold standard," offering the very best of both schools with significant savings in time and cost over separate BA and MBA programs. But for others who don't want to commit to a fifth year but who envision working after Willamette in business, or perhaps a mission-driven non-profit, or maybe a government agency, the minor could be a valuable head start.
And with the award-winning faculty assigned to teach the inaugural courses, I think you'll find the new minor both intellectually challenging and world-expanding.