WRITTEN BY VALENTINE J. BRKICH
Heinz knows it. So do Bayer, PNC, UPMC, BNY-Mellon, Highmark, and U.S. Steel, and many other major corporations who employ Robert Morris University alumni. And now the rest of the world knows it too: RMU means business.
In April, RMU’s School of Business joined 559 other schools worldwide accredited by AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. It’s a highly coveted recognition, and one that represents the peak standard of achievement for business schools.
“This is a great honor for RMU’s School of Business,” says Dean Derya Jacobs. “Only about one-third of all U.S. business schools have earned this important accreditation. It shows how committed we are to meeting and exceeding the highest standards of business education.”
Receiving this sought-after accreditation signifies the end of a long, sometimes challenging process that began back in 2002, and it makes RMU’s School of Business only the fourth such program in Pittsburgh to achieve this credential, along with Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University and the University of Pittsburgh.
“AACSB accreditation only confirms what we at the university have known for a long time,” says RMU President Gregory G. Dell’Omo. “When it comes to getting a solid, engaged business education, there’s really no better place than RMU.”
AACSB International, based in Tampa, Fla., is an association of educational institutions, businesses, and other organizations. Founded in 1916, it is recognized worldwide as the premier accrediting agency of collegiate business schools and accounting programs.
In granting accreditation, AACSB International assures that the school is:
• properly managing its resources to achieve a vibrant and relevant mission
• advancing business and management knowledge through faculty scholarship
• providing high-caliber teaching of quality and current curricula
• cultivating meaningful interaction between students and faculty
• producing graduates who have achieved specified learning goals
RMU’s effort to attain AACSB accreditation for the School of Business began in 2002. Each year sSince then, the School of Business has submitted five annual reports reported on its progress in meeting 21 specified standards, and the AACSB Initial Accreditation Committee has reviewed the annual reports and suggested areas for improvement. InLast July 2008, the school submitted five volumes of data demonstrating how they had met or exceeded the accreditation criteria. “Although it took several years to complete, this process really benefited the school,” says Jacobs. “It helped us establish processes made us able to systematically better monitor and assess monitor our educational and support programs for our students aligned with our missionourselves,. I andt it taught us to become efficient and effective in us to improve how we addressing problem areas and contiuously improving our school.”
The final AACSB review team came in February for threewo busy days of assessments. They visited classrooms; met with faculty, administrators, students, alumni, and trustees; toured campus extensively; and reviewed documentation and other data. Team members included chairman W. Randy Boxx, dean of the business school at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va.; Kjell R. Knudsen, dean of the school of business and economics at the University of Minnesota-Duluth; and Maling Ebrahimpour, professor of management and former business school dean at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I. The review team was also joined by AACSB International Accreditation Services Manager Maria Baltar, an observer who is involved in developing the association’s new standardsthe accreditation process.
AACSB International voted on the School of Business’ application in March and officially announced the school’s accreditation in April. Overall, it was a gleaming recommendation.
In their report, the peer review team stated that “the School was extremely prepared and organized for the Peer Review Visit resulting in an effective and efficient use of time.” They also reported that the “hospitality and professionalism of the student ambassadors resulted in a pleasant experience for the team.”
The team was especially impressed with the university’s level of student participation. During the review team’s visit, various RMU During the team’s visit, business student organizations set up tables in Massey Hall to display pictures and information about their individual group participation in professional and community activities.s. “Prior to the visit, Wwe emphasized to told the students that this accreditation was for them and it was their time to shine show,” says Jacobs. “It was important for the review team to directly interact with our students as much as possiblethem.”
“Our business students are engaged in so many professional activities including participation in knowledge and skill competitions nationwideso wonderful, They are passionate about their discipline and school” says Jacobs. “During their interactions with the team members, they demonstrated how well they are prepared for the business professions, and the They are so active and engaged…the team members couldn’t stop talking about them.”
TheHis team reported that RMU’s board of trustees, president, and provost are strongly committed to “building and sustaining a high quality business school.” They recognized Dean Jacobs’ outstanding leadership and the school’s “high quality and caring faculty,” and they noted the school’s emphasis on communication and its strong relationship with the regional business community.
The team singled out RMU’s focus on “professional development and active student engagement through internships, co-op experiences, and research projects.” They were also pleased with the level of support given to students through the Career Center and the Early Success Program, which has resulted in “great success and an admirable graduation rate.”
In their report, the review team said the following:
• The school prepares students with strong communication skills through both required and elective classes. Businesses highly value such skills.
• The university’s separate Student Engagement Transcript allows students to showcase their accomplishments outside the classroom.
• Strong collaboration between the Career Center and the school’s faculty and administration leads to a high number of internships.
• A climate of collegiality, collaboration, and pride permeates the daily operations and the overall environment of the school.
“We couldn’t be happier with the AACSB’s findings,” says Jacobs. “This entire process has been a wonderful learning experience that will help us continue to improve and provide high-quality programs and opportunities for our students.”
Along with the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) accreditation that the School of Education and Social Sciences received last July, the AACSB International accreditation completes the university’s goal under its strategic plan to have all of its professional programs of study accredited.
Seventy-five percent of RMU students are enrolled in professionally accredited programs, and every program for which a discipline-specific accreditation exists has earned it. RMU also is accredited as an institution by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Accreditation is a part of a banner year for the School of Business, which soon will break ground for its new PNC Trading Center and U. S. Steel Videoconferencing and Technology Resource Center on the Moon Township campus. Both will be housed in a new 8,000-square-foot building next to Massey Hall across from Lafayette Center, completing a School of Business quadrangle that will surround Rudolph Gardens.
When it is constructed, the PNC Trading Center, which was made possible by a $520,000 grant from the PNC Foundation, will be a state-of-the-art facility offering students dynamic, hands-on experience in financial trading strategy. The U. S. Steel Videoconferencing and Technology Resource Center, made possible by a $500,000 grant from the United States Steel Foundation, will enable the School of Business to provide distance learning and corporate training, and will link the school’s undergraduate programs in Moon Township to its graduate programs in downtown Pittsburgh.
“These exciting new additions, made possible by the generosity of the PNC Foundation and the U.S. Steel Foundation, along with the AACSB accreditation, will help us take our School of Business to the next level and further enhance our ability to provide our students with a top-of-the-line business education,” says Dell’Omo. “Together, these improvements demonstrate our commitment to remaining the premier business institution in the region.”