Sector Portrait: Continuing Education
A Florida Trend in-depth report on the state's top MBA programs.
chair, management programs, College of Business, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton
FAU's new 16-month Professional MBA program caters to a growing number of students with some work experience who are interested in either startups or in bringing an entrepreneurial approach to existing firms. Golden says the program's focus "is on helping students move a product or service idea to the marketplace.''
"One of the strongest trends we've seen nationally is that our talent is seeking ways to introduce new products, new services (and seeking) new ways of looking at existing products and services,'' says Golden.
Another indicator of students' interests is the popularity of an elective titled "Start-Up CEO." Students assess real business pitches from entrepreneurs or faculty members.
University of Florida, Gainesville
Joseph Tysk, 30, picked up some leadership experience before graduate school. He served as an officer in the U.S. Navy, with one full tour in the Persian Gulf. He also worked with an army unit in Baghdad, Iraq.
While in school, Tysk participates in the Navy Reserve. He also was elected president of his school's MBA Association. Among his goals in that role is increasing networking opportunities and social activities. "I want people to enjoy their time here and make the most of their time here,'' he says. "It's more than academics; it's a life experience."
associate dean, College of Business, and director of graduate programs, University of West Florida, Pensacola
Officials in the graduate business program at UWF are experimenting with technology that allows students to access lectures and discussions from remote locations. "We've got to find ways to leverage technology, while at the same time preserving the quality established in the existing face-to-face programs," O'Keefe says.
Remote access, he says, is handy for students in the military who are sent off on temporary assignments and for other students who travel occasionally for work or job interviews. They're able to tune into a live broadcast of the classes or watch a recording.
The video connection, O'Keefe says, also is occasionally used to allow MBA students at the Fort Walton Beach campus to join in — via video conference — a class offered at the main campus. "It allows us to cover two campuses at the same time,'' he says. "It's a more effective use of resources, and it allows variability in class sizes."
University of Miami, Miami
While a full-time graduate student, Nicholas Okoro founded and served as the director of U-Cane Initiative, a service organization designed to offer local youngsters social, educational and athletic activities. In that role, Okoro, 26, and his team of volunteers — primarily other graduate students — set up and ran a program at a local park last year. About 30 youngsters participated.
"We structured the program so that lesson plans were engaging and it was fun for the kids,'' Okoro says. In addition to the mentoring and educational benefits, the program also included basketball.
Okoro, who earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Pennsylvania in biological basis of behavior, previously worked as a litigation paralegal.
The MBA education is useful, he says, for both his professional pursuits in the corporate world and his passion for public service ventures. "I want to influence the greater good of the community, and my way of doing that is creating these social programs."