Students and Alumni Share Their Experiences at Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business
The first MBA was offered at Dartmouth College 116 years ago. Like transportation, communication, global economics, and well, everything – the MBA continues to rapidly evolve. It remains the gold standard aspiring business leaders and businesses alike look to as the essential qualification for long-term success. But like companies and people, not all business schools are created equal. Steve Denning wrote on Forbes.com that some are not meeting the needs of a changing market; “Business schools should be equipping graduates to be leaders of the 21st-century organization that operates in a complex environment, where innovation and responsiveness to customers and society are key …”
Addressing the ever changing and ever accelerating pace of commerce, the Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business has built an international reputation of partnering with business professionals who are at a critical juncture in their career. Strategically balancing personal development with the necessary and often nitty-gritty skill sets of administration, Crummer’s MBA has proved an invaluable investment of time and resources to scores of graduates.
Crummer students and alumni, across the spectrum of their professional backgrounds, all touch on the same outstanding qualities they received: The real-world experience that faculty bring to the classroom that students can immediately implement; access to professors and esteemed mentors; intimate class size; and hands-on leadership development alongside their fellow cohorts. Collectively, these experiences shared between students and faculty forge much more than a lifelong network—it’s more like family.
These qualities are what they say set a Crummer MBA apart from the rest—the faculty understands the importance of developing a variety of skills, resources and connections to ensure students are successful after earning their MBA. By furthering education and strengthening leadership, management and entrepreneurial skills, Crummer adheres to its mission: to educate students for global citizenship and responsible leadership, empowering graduates to pursue meaningful lives and productive careers.
Such attributes have garnered national honors and rankings, most recently being named the #1 MBA program in the country for leadership and organizational development by HR.com’s prestigious Leadership Excellence Awards. “We are honored to earn the number one ranking from Leadership Excellence for our extensive applied learning programming,” says Crummer Assistant Dean Rob Hebeler. “We are proud to have thousands of alumni around the country successfully leading organizations and positively impacting the communities they serve.” In 2015 Bloomberg Businessweek ranked Crummer the #1 part-time MBA in Florida and among the top 20 in the nation. Crummer is also internationally accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which represents the highest standard of achievement for business schools worldwide and is earned by less than 5 percent of 13,000 business programs throughout the world.
Along with the esteemed rankings and awards regarding academia, the Rollins campus was named “The most beautiful college campus in the country” in 2015 by The Princeton Review. With 70 acres of plush greenery, an average weather temperature of 80 degrees and close proximity to entertainment-oriented Orlando and the Space Coast beaches, it’s a hard campus to top in that category. It’s no wonder Crummer alumni and students rave about every possible aspect of the college.
Charles “Chick” Gregg earned his civil engineering degree and worked in business for 16 years before deciding to pursue his MBA at Crummer.
“I wanted a formal business degree and the Executive program’s Friday and Saturday schedule meant I could attend while still running my business.”
Gregg also worked as Commissioner and Chairman of the Lake County Commission while earning his MBA — “a real juggling act,” he recalls. “But a manageable one.” Gregg is the former president and COO of Greater Homes, Inc. After starting a construction business at age 27 and selling it 15 years later, he went on to join Greater Homes. He was part of the team that purchased the company from its founders at a building rate of 250 homes a year and then sold it to Meritage Homes at a rate of 600 homes per year. While Gregg has always considered himself an entrepreneur, he is grateful to all he learned at Crummer and how it served him not only during his tenure in the construction industry, but later in life when he decided to pivot his career, and with a partner launch Air Unlimited Charter Services, a flying by-the-seat service out of Orlando-Sanford International Airport that travels to Marathon, Key West, and the Abacos, Bahamas. Gregg so believes in the value of a Crummer education he not only serves on its Board of Overseers, but endowed a $50,000 scholarship with his wife Lisa for the Crummer Professional MBA program. “The education I received at Crummer opened my eyes to many opportunities,” Gregg says. “My MBA continues to prove its value, and Lisa and I are grateful the scholarship will provide similar opportunities to future students
On April 30, 2016, Robin J. Poole (RJ) and her daughter Taylor Williams will both graduate from Crummer, Taylor with her Early Advantage MBA and RJ with her Executive MBA. Williams continued her education at Crummer right after receiving her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida.
“I chose Crummer because of its top rankings,” Williams says. “Its Early Advantage program also allowed me to forego having work experience first. The application process was quick and efficient—I found out I was accepted within two weeks.”
Following her studies at a state institution, Williams appreciated how Crummer’s intimate class size fostered rapport with her professors and tight-knit cohort. She says the emphasis on soft skill development also sets Crummer apart from the rest, along with the real-world relevance of what is covered in the classroom. With graduation approaching, Williams remains focused on the finishing line: “I am 100 percent happy with my decision.” She’s also proud of her mother, joking that she makes sure she’s staying on track when she sees her studying on campus.
Poole’s motivation to pursue her MBA came from her daughter, who was already enrolled. “Taylor and her team did a consulting project for the company I was working for at the time, and their skills and knowledge were so impressive,” Poole recalls. She soon learned about the Martin Bell Scholarship, which Crummer awards each year to a leader in the nonprofit industry. Receiving the full tuition scholarship, coupled with a need to strengthen her business acumen that had held her back from previous promotions, confirmed it was her time to pursue an MBA. Poole also took advantage of development opportunities offered through Crummer’s Center for Advanced Entrepreneurship, and soon took the leap to launch her own business, Grace Home Health, Inc. “Through my time in the nonprofit sector, I’ve learned the great potential that comes with nonprofit organizations operating like its for-profit counterparts,” Poole says. After graduation, she says learning will remain a priority. “The beautiful thing is, when I graduate I can take advantage of free courses for life. I want to keep learning and growing, and thanks to Crummer, I will.”
Rhonda Bartlett plays many roles: wife, mother of three, grandmother to four, and entrepreneur. Before starting her studies at Crummer, Bartlett was a vice president at a healthcare company. While her skills in healthcare were flourishing, she needed to further hone the business skills her work demanded. She also needed a program that allowed her to balance studies, work and family—a hurdle many professionals ponder before going back to school. “I knew the weekend MBA program was going to be intense, but I made it work,” Bartlett says.
“The coursework immediately proved relevant and applicable to what I was doing outside the classroom, and that constantly validated my decision to go back.”
Earning her MBA fueled two major milestones in Bartlett’s life: she not only decided to launch her own business, but to continue her studies at Crummer and pursue her Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (EDBA) doctoral degree, which she expects to earn in 2018. “The Crummer MBA program helped me realize my full potential and put the pieces together about business avenues,” she says. “I also appreciated that my professors had one foot in the classroom and one foot in the business world, rather than being retired like I experienced when earning my undergraduate degree.” Bartlett credits her husband Don as her motivator and biggest cheerleader. Her children also keep her motivated. “They are the future workforce, and they inspire me to stay ahead of the curve in everything that is happening in the world.”
THINK IT MIGHT BE YOUR TIME TO EARN YOUR GRADUATE DEGREE IN BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION?
Learn more about the four unique degrees Crummer offers at rollins.edu/business and attend one of the upcoming informational sessions.