Retooling the Nathan M. Bisk College of Business
FIT’s IDEaL’s Hone the Entrepreneurial Edge
by Karen Rhine
Dr. Annie Becker, dean of Florida Tech’s Nathan M. Bisk College of Business since May 2011, has sharpened the focus on educating future entrepreneurial leaders to increase their ability to manage innovation and change. In an effort to identify core values reflective of this initiative, Becker and the business faculty identified Innovation, Diversity, Ethics and Leadership – or IDEaL – as key drivers in preparing Florida Tech students for the challenges in the 21st century.
Under the core value of “Innovation” is a new focus on entrepreneurial thinking. Senior students are challenged in the required Business Planning Research course to be creative in exploring business opportunities. “They apply critical thinking skills across all business disciplines for their planning,” explained Becker. Students in the upcoming academic year will be the first to compete in a business plan competition with the potential to win a cash award.
The Student Business Incubator is a new facility for students with vetted business plans to launch a business with the potential for course credit. Students are provided office space, equipment and supplies, as well as seed funding and mentoring support from faculty and local business leaders. “The incubator stresses honing student skills in leadership, communication, innovation and creativity,” said Becker.
Under the core value of “Diversity,” students learn first-hand the challenges and opportunities of working in a global team environment to achieve common goals. The X-Culture Project, as part of an international business course, has student teams using social media and cloud technology to build virtual bridges for effective collaboration. Becker pointed out, “We bring the real-world into the classroom through these global experiences.”
The core value of “Ethics” has long been an integral component of Florida Tech business degree programs. “The overall objective is to foster a community of responsible leaders through setting high standards of ethical behavior,” said Becker. Several solid, longstanding activities under the “Ethics” banner continue. They include the annual Business Leader Ethics Breakfast, Ethics and Leadership Conference, and the High School Ethics Competition. Starting this year, business students will have an opportunity to participate in an intercollegiate ethics competition.
The “Leadership” core value inspired a new requirement for the senior year: social responsibility. Seniors, who must perform six hours of community service, are coming up with some creative ideas to leave a positive mark on the local community. A spring 2012 team, for example, executed “Paws on Panther Plaza.” Bringing attention to the plight of homeless dogs and cats, the team raised money for a local animal shelter and facilitated a few adoptions.
“Our ultimate concern is the success of our students. To that end, all that we are – from our outstanding faculty to the content of our curricula – reflects our core values,” said Becker.