Colorado State University College of Business: Creating an Inclusive Environment for the Business Leaders of Tomorrow

In the business world, the appropriate use of inspiration and experience often leads to success and wisdom. On the other hand, ill-informed decisions, miscommunication, and the inability to motivate your team to take the right steps are often attributed as the leading reasons why CEOs and business leaders fail.

A world where a badly stated tweet from political leaders can incite panic and fears of military action is where we are living today. And there are many other leadership decisions that do not make the headlines but come at a huge cost, nonetheless. The importance of good leadership is more vital now than ever and something that cannot be overstated.

Preparing tomorrow’s business leaders to perform is no easy business. Enabling students with the right business acumen, skills, competencies and values is a feat that very few institutes ever manage to accomplish. But being able to produce professionals with the aforementioned qualities year after year, for more than half a century is truly a credit to any institution. A Fort Collins-based institute has achieved all that and more, setting a standard of higher business education for the world to follow. Welcome to the Colorado State University College of Business.

The business world and academics will continue to evolve, but regardless of our future, how we use technology, partnerships and funding to extend opportunities to a wider, more diverse student population will guide our short- and long-term planning.

Colorado State University (CSU) College of Business has been educating business professionals since 1966. Inspired by its land-grant mission to expand access to high-quality education to all populations, as well as the rigorous scholarship of a Research I institution, the college has continually innovated to impart in-demand skills with the rigor of research-based insights to the next generation of business leaders.

“The college has been a leader in distance and online education for nearly 50 years, remaining at the forefront of technological advances that provide remote learners with immersive experiences,” said the Dean of the CSU College of Business, Beth Walker.

The college’s undergraduate programs offer ten concentrations across five departments – accounting, computer information systems, finance and real estate, management, and marketing – as well as specialized certificates that support a wide range of interests from entrepreneurship and careers in the music business to marketing data analytics.

The college’s seven Master’s programs include its award-winning Impact MBA, which educates leaders to connect purpose and profit, and its flagship Online MBA, recognized by QS Quacquarelli Symonds as among the top 25 worldwide and top 10 in the United States.

College of Business Online MBA students can select from a variety of options suited to their learning style and lifestyle, whether it’s watching livestreamed lectures and recorded content, or engaging in real-time with their contemporaries on campus or participating via the Mosaic experience which blends several technologies to enable remote learners across the globe to interact with those in the classroom in real-time.

Beyond traditional undergraduate and graduate degrees, CSU’s College of Business provides a suite of lifelong learning opportunities to support professionals throughout their careers. From credit and non-credit graduate certificates to executive education courses and corporate training, the college aims to meet the needs of learners as they grow beyond their core degrees.

Mission and Vision

CSU’s College of Business believes that business can be a driving force for positive change, and organizations play a key role in addressing the world’s most pressing social, environmental and economic challenges. The institute’s mission is to transform lives through business education and its vision centers on providing access to an exceptional business education, excellence in the pursuit of research, and impact to use the power of business to make the world a better place.

For the CSU College of Business, expanding access to a high-quality education remains central to its roots as a land-grant institution, and the college is always innovating to put degrees within reach of more students each year. At times, the college has pioneered innovative technology to bridge geographic barriers. For instance, it created Mosaic – an immersive technology experience that enables students worldwide to participate in real-time with their peers in the classroom.

The college also has key partnerships with community colleges, generous scholarship programs and outreach to connect with students who traditionally face difficulties accessing accredited bachelors or graduate business degree.

Core Values

The college’s values build on Colorado State University’s principles of community (inclusion, integrity, respect, service and social justice) and are furthered with a specific focus on ethics within the college. Through partnerships with the Daniels Ethics Fund Initiative, key ethical principles such as accountability, transparency and fairness are woven into undergraduate and graduate courses. This focus on ethical fundamentals prepares its students to be tomorrow’s principled leaders, adept at making complex decisions with results driven by the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.

“The college has been a leader in distance and online education for nearly 50 years, remaining at the forefront of technological advances that provide remote learners with immersive experiences

A World-Class Education

The CSU College of Business is among only five per cent of all business schools worldwide that achieve AACSB accreditation. The accreditation is conferred to business institutions with a rigorous, challenging curriculum and a high standard of faculty research and teaching. Faculty with a dual focus on student success and research excellence teach many of the college’s courses. The students learn directly from leading minds on topics including data privacy, accounting’s impact on public policy, the physiological impacts of workplace conditions and sustainability and the triple bottom line.

As students today consider the variety of options for their education, AACSB accreditation matters in delivering the quality, rigor and breadth of what they’ll need to thrive in business in the long-term. CSU’s College of Business is AACSB-accredited while also teaching students how they can have a lifelong impact beyond their time with the institute.

Ultimately, for the college, the quality of an AACSB education is proven with the outcomes of its graduates. With these academic experiences and services from the Career Management Center, over 90 per cent of undergraduates receive a job offer or enter a graduate program within six months of graduation.

The Trendsetting Leader

Dean Beth Walker (PhD) became the first female dean of CSU’s College of Business in 2015. Under her leadership, the college developed its purpose-driven focus on the business for a better world, committed to using business education to help address society’s most pressing problems.

Dean Walker continually innovates, and this was most recently demonstrated by the college’s first Director of Social and Cultural Inclusion to lead creating robust diversity and equity efforts supporting Latinx, female, international and first-generation students. Notably, during her years as Dean, enrollment by students who identify as Asian and Hispanic or Latino has also increased by 63 and 58 percent, respectively.

Business and industry organizations have also recognized Dean Walker’s impact. The American Marketing Association (AMA) appointed Dean Walker a 2021 AMA Fellow in recognition of her decades of academic contributions and leadership in the discipline, and she was named among the Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Business in Colorado by the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce in 2019.

When asked about the struggles the college faces, Dean Walker responded: “The largest challenge the CSU College of Business has faced in its 55-year history is shared by the university since its inception in 1870: How can they make education more accessible and affordable to those who deserve it?”

“The business world and academics will continue to evolve, but regardless of our future, how we use technology, partnerships and funding to extend opportunities to a wider, more diverse student population will guide our short- and long-term planning,” she added.

Bolstering Futures with Cultivated Business Acumen

Students graduate from the College of Business ready to become tomorrow’s business leaders, armed with the knowledge and practical experience gained from hands-on learning central to its curriculum. Students learn at facilities and programs developed with a real-world focus. From managing investment portfolios worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in a lab filled with the same Bloomberg terminals that professional traders use, to engaging with companies to develop solutions to real-world business challenges as part of a unique consulting practicum course, students in the CSU College of Business enhance their classroom experience with countless opportunities to hone their skills in a real-world environment.

Learning only begins in the classroom at the CSU College of Business. About 62 percent of its students participate in an internship before they graduate, learning directly from professionals at companies that share the college’s vision and values. Many of the college’s centers, such as the Institute for Entrepreneurship and the Everitt Real Estate Center connect students with industry mentors, host developmental programs and sponsor teams that compete regionally and nationally in case competitions where students apply their experience untangling issues drawn from authentic industry problems.

Engage and Connect

The CSU College of Business is proud to develop partnerships and engage with alumni as well as organizations in local and national communities. Engage and Connect highlights several ways the college is working with its community to share expertise, experiences, and insight.

Most recently, the college partnered with county government in the Pivot Larimer County program to support the long-term stability of local business in the wake of challenges imposed by Covid-19. The free program connects business owners with College of Business faculty in workshops focusing on innovation and adaptation to the changing marketplace. To date, more than 115 Northern Colorado companies have engaged with the program.

Additionally, the College encourages alumni to reconnect with the college to strengthen their programs, whether it’s through classroom presentations and featured speaker visits by its most accomplished alumni to personalized, one-on-one mentor relationships. These connections not only generate professional growth for students and alumni alike, as practical experience and field-tested perspectives further complement classwork while granting invaluable networking opportunities to students, and the development of corporate fellowships and internship positions.

Achievements and Accolades

In addition to the AACSB accreditation that places the CSU College of Business among the top five percent of business schools in the world, the CSU College of Business has received many accolades. Recent highlights include:

  • Top 25 Best Online MBA Programs 2021 – QS Quacquarelli Symonds
  • 29 Best Business School for Veterans – Military Times
  • 35 Financial Planning Program Worldwide 2020 – Financial Planning Magazine
  • 17 Supply Chain Management Program 2020 – Supply Chain Management Journal List
  • Impact MBA – Wharton-QS Reimagine Education silver award for sustainability

College of Business students routinely shine at regional and national level competitions that place real-world results with community impact at the heart of their scoring. Teams representing the college have recently placed third nationally in Deloitte’s Audit Innovation Challenge, second in the Western States Collegiate Sales Competition, and first at the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative Case Competition, the Sherman Miller Case Competition and the University of Maryland’s Colvin Case Study Challenge.

Enduring Hardships and Rising Above

In addition to complying with state and local health guidelines regarding room capacities, social distancing and disinfection protocols, years of expertise in online education made the CSU College of Business uniquely suited to accommodate social distancing during the pandemic. Existing instructional technology smoothed the college’s pivot to socially distanced learning, with classrooms equipped with cameras and microphones to capture lectures for livestream and asynchronous review of classwork.

Using these capabilities, many classes were able to be held in a hybrid format that allowed rotating segments of students to attend in-person classes, while the other segments participated in an online environment.

Online capabilities were critical to the continuation of learning in spring 2021, and the college’s instructional services and IT departments worked closely with faculty and students to ensure they had reliable internet access and the technology necessary to actively participate in online and hybrid courses.

Aspiring to make a difference!

“The CSU College of Business will continue to build on our strengths as we grow,” commented Dean Walker. “As we pursue our land-grant mission to make education accessible, we continue to lead the industry in online education, incorporating additional technologies to overcome geographic obstacles and offer students the flexibility to learn around their personal, professional and family obligations, while allowing them to engage with faculty and their peers however they find most effective,” she added.

Academically, as programs evolve to adapt to employers’ needs, the CSU College of Business plans to continue developing more opportunities for signature, hands-on learning experiences. The college believes in engagement with the professional world that offers students a unique opportunity to consolidate knowledge and skills learned in traditional courses, providing them invaluable experience before they begin their first jobs. The college also hopes to make signature experiences such as practicums and fellowships, a defining piece of every student’s experience in the future.

“Institutionally, the college will continue to lead the world in sustainability-focused business education, and its commitment to impactful research in accounting, computer information systems, finance and real estate, management, and marketing will deliver insights that shape our world,” concluded the astute leader, Dean Beth Walker

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