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August 19, 2020

Technology, Engagement Efforts Strengthen the College of Business

New Initiatives Advance College's Mission
Technology, Engagement Efforts Strengthen the College of Business
Despite transitions to limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the College of Business looks to improve student experiences and outcomes through innovative programs and development coinciding with the start of the fall 2020 semester.

Although social distancing at Howard L. Hawks Hall changes how students attend class this semester, the College of Business continued to move forward by rolling out new resources and initiatives to improve educational experiences for everyone. With generous donor support, the college's personnel built on an already strong infrastructure to make technological improvements and create new opportunities with an eye on strengthening student involvement and enhancing efforts for inclusive excellence.

New Technology in Classrooms and via Remote Learning 
To facilitate increased remote learning earlier this year, the college issued more than 50 webcams, 60 monitors and 30 laptops to faculty, staff and other instructors. Multiple home lecture recording kits developed by the college were made available for checkout. Although, faculty already work extensively with instructional designers at the college, the kits provide more autonomy for faculty to lecture at a distance.

“Due to our generous donors, we already had cameras and advanced technology in all classrooms when Howard L. Hawks Hall opened, so we were ready on day one to go fully remote in March due to COVID-19,” said Rik Barrera, associate dean of student services, inclusion and chief operating officer, who believes the changes help students affected by the pandemic whether quarantining, visa issues or personal choice. “We enhanced and fine-tuned some things in the spring and summer, like adding 20 speakerphone devices and 14 wireless microphones to classrooms to facilitate better in-person and virtual student interaction, and creating a virtual help desk.”

To keep professors up-to-date with all the changes, staff created more than 50 classroom tutorials to audit the new technology. The changes already helped facilitate two large conferences and several smaller events that were converted to virtual environments.

Investors with Purpose Program
A new course in wealth management brings together 16 high-achieving students this fall with global investment professionals for a one-of-a-kind experiential learning experience at the College of Business. Doug Waggoner, ’75 and ’77, envisioned the Investors with Purpose program and pitched the idea to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, based on taking risks and trying new things during his own successful career in finance and investment management.

“Our goal is to provide students with the skills and knowledge of asset management with real-world experiences. Industry leaders are excited to be a part of this program, and the students, the College of Business and the future of asset management will all benefit,” said Waggoner, who worked for Ford Motor Company, Rockwell International and several asset management firms, including 25 years as a senior leader and managing director at BlackRock.

While many business schools host guest speakers, the Investors with Purpose program brings business leaders into the classroom, as well as develops community between professionals and students through a mentorship component. Waggoner believes these connections formed through the program will help students develop a great career.

Inclusive Excellence Advisory Board
Nominations are sought for a new Inclusive Excellence Advisory Board of College of Business faculty, staff, students, alumni and external business partners. Board members will assist with formalizing the college's initiatives, priorities and goals to ensure action and achievement. This group will consist of four permanent members and eight members who will have a one-year term. The one-year term members include two faculty, two staff, two students and two alumni or business partners. To nominate yourself or someone you recommend for this role, go to: https://business.unl.edu/CoBboard.

"At Nebraska, we believe in the power of every person," said Dr. Kathy Farrell, James Jr. and Susan Stuart Endowed Dean of the College of Business. "Our community is committed to creating real change through collaboration and creation of a diversity and inclusion strategic plan with identified actions for our college. This new advisory board will help us with this important work."

Inclusive Excellence Gathering Space
One major initiative involved redesigning space formerly occupied by the Huskers Shop to facilitate a new Inclusive Excellence Gathering Space. Barrera worked with others at Nebraska Business to create this space as a hub for conversation, inclusivity efforts and programming in the college.

“The more we talk about the Inclusive Excellence Gathering Space, the more excited everyone gets,” said Barrera. “We want this space to evolve and grow in a direction that energizes students by maximizing their connections. We know networking is fundamental to business success, and this will help create student partnerships that might not have happened in the past. It also facilitates a new space for faculty and alumni to reach students in a non-traditional setting where people truly learn the diverse talents and cultures abundant in our college.”

Located inside the main entrance of Hawks Hall in the northwest corner, the Inclusive Excellence Gathering Space is scheduled to open in September. The Career Closet, originally initiated in 2015, will also move into an adjacent area. Coordinated by the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity, the Career Closet provides free professional business clothes donated by individuals and businesses to help students put their best foot forward when meeting with potential employers.

New LGBTQIA Student Organization
Nine students came together to create the a new recognized student organization called Pride in Business. The organization serves all out and allied business students passionate about advocating for the LGBTQIA+ community and creates a space to discuss successes and challenges facing the community in business environments. Any student majoring or minoring in business is welcome to join by emailing co-advisor Jasie Beam, program coordinator for the Clifton Strengths Institute, at jbeam@unl.edu.

 "In June, many of us celebrated Pride, and that's when the idea for this organization was born. We wanted to empower LGBTQIA+ and ally students and help create a more inclusive environment not only within the College of Business but in business as a whole. We're proud of our students for bringing their authentic selves to class and work every day and excited to provide more opportunities for professional development," said Kim Smith, associate director of Communications, Marketing and External Relations, and co-advisor for the club.

National Association of Black Accountants (NABA)
Efforts from faculty, students and alumni converged this year to facilitate a new student group aimed at increasing excellence and diversity at the college. Andee Capell, ’20, an MPA student at the college, helped launch a student chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) at the College of Business by enlisting help from Donald Neal Jr., ’03, a senior tax manager in development and exempt organizations at KPMG in Omaha, Nebraska.  

“Donald was the former President of the professional NABA chapter in Omaha,” said Capell. “He was a catalyst in making sure Nebraska students had a professional member connection when I attended the Central Region Conference of NABA. He made sure to stay in contact with Dr. Aaron Crabtree (Director of the School of Accountancy) to push for students to attend the conference, which helped in starting the process to develop a student chapter.”

Crabtree urges all students wishing to join NABA to contact him at acrabtree2@unl.edu. More details on meetings and future activities can be found later this semester through the college recognized student organizations webpage.

The changes at Hawks Hall aim to advance the mission of the college by creating opportunities and driving discovery for everyone in the Nebraska Business Community. College leadership encourages everyone, particularly new students, to view the strategic plan to better understand how recent additions support foundational goals at the College of Business: https://business.unl.edu/strategicplan/.