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New Dean of NAU Business School Aims to Partner with Local Business

Craig Van Slyke, Ph.D., just celebrated his one-month anniversary as the new dean of the Franke College of Business at Northern Arizona University (NAU). Dean Van Slyke believes the college should develop existing partnerships between the business community and the college and work on creating more connections.

“I want the Franke College of Business to be thought of as the hub of the business community in this region,” said Van Slyke. “I want people to think of the college when they think of business. We are opening our facility to the public in multiple ways and I hope we’ll have community members as speakers, hold small conferences and find more ways for our students to do experiential learning in the community. These partnerships could benefit local business and our students.”

Van Slyke admits he’s still settling into the area, but has great expectations for the program. “I am still just getting to know people in Flagstaff, but I have high hopes for what we’ll be able to do,” said the new dean. “Among other partnerships, we hope that students will have an opportunity to serve and shadow local business owners.”

When asked why he chose to come to Flagstaff, the dean told us his main motivation was the students. “They were just so excited and passionate about the program,” he said. “Also, 40 percent of our undergraduate business majors are the first generation in their family to attend college, as I was. That shows how much potential there is in this school to change families and the community for generations to come. It also means we need to focus on instructing our students how to think professionally, think strategically about their careers and manage themselves outside of the academic arena. Developing professionalism has been a focus of the school and I support continuing and developing that. I believe partnering with community business leaders will help us with this goal, and hopefully we’ll be able to help serve local business needs as well.”

When asked what else is in the works for the undergraduate and MBA programs, Van Slyke told us that he’s still in the early phases for many ideas, but they do have some plans. “We hope to make the transition from a non-business undergraduate major to an MBA easier. A lot of programs around the country struggle with this. We realize that an MBA can make a huge difference in the career of a nurse, journalist, graphic designer, etc., and we hope to make access to the MBA easier for professionals in other fields. It would also be great to add more online/remote course options to the MBA and maybe develop a weekend/evening executive certificate program as well.”

Flagstaff Business News also spoke with Dr. Donald Siegel, dean of the School of Business at the University of Albany. U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review have both recognized Albany’s program as one of the top tier business colleges in the country and the program is known for its innovative partnerships with the local business community. When we asked Dean Siegel about ways this public university partners with local businesses, he discussed many initiatives, including their award-winning Small Enterprise for Economic Development program (SEED), which partners the school of social work with the business school and a local credit union to support local entrepreneurs start new businesses. The program provides many kinds of advisement to would-be business owners along with access to microloans.

He also told us about G3, a program where MBA students advise local businesses about creating new sustainability initiatives. The MBA students do many other kinds of consulting for local businesses, under advisement of their professors, including a year-long field study that includes such internships as working on local businesses’ web security concerns.

“Most jobs in any community are created by entrepreneurs,” said Siegel. “In our grant applications, we’ve told the story that most jobs, even in a high tech community, are in service, nonprofit and public sectors. Through partnerships like SEED, we can work with the local business community to help create jobs in those areas very cheaply.”

Flagstaff is a special community and needs a special approach, but NAU’s new Dean Van Slyke, seems ready to adjust to local needs and expectations. “We are a professional program and we make no apologies about that,” he said. “Everything we do here is to help our students be successful throughout their entire lives in the way they define professional success. Regardless of whether students wants to do local nonprofit work or they want to go to Wall Street and make seven-figure salaries, we aim to help them do that. Individual students aren’t getting lost here.” FBN




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