University MBA program celebrates 50 years

By Rachel Scott, Chattanooga, TN— The Masters of Business Administration  program celebrated 50 years of being an established graduate program in the College of Business Oct. 22-27.

Keeping up with the numbers
Keeping up with the numbers: Students pay attention to their teacher as they go over graphs. Business graduates need various skills in finance classes.

The University planned the event to attract not only alumni, but students and faculty as well.

The week was filled with events ranging from a golf tournament, miniature business school courses, an event at Big River and a large tailgate Saturday at Finley Stadium before the Mocs football team took on Georgia Southern.

“This is a real opportunity for us to reflect where we’ve been and what has changed,” Dr. Robert Dooley, College of Business dean, said. “I think, in a sense, the celebration reaffirms our commitment to graduate education, the community, and to the region. It is a chance to look back. It is also a chance to say ‘we are still committed as we look forward to providing top-level graduate education.’”

During the last 50 years, the MBA program has experienced many changes, Michael Owens, College of Business assistant dean, said.

The first class in 1962 had a mere five students. Now, the program has almost 300 in it, he said.

There are roughly 2,400 alumni from the MBA program to date.

The golf tournament was hosted at the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club. This event had the largest turnout with close to 80 players participating.

There were three “mini” business school classes offered Tuesday that drew in a crowd of around 40.

Mark Mendenhall, J. Burton Frierson Chair of Excellence in Business Leadership, taught a session on leadership.

Robert Becherer, Clarence E. Harris Chair of Excellence in Business and Entrepreneurship, taught a segment on entrepreneurship. Concluding the sessions, Dr. Dooley spoke about strategic management.

Thursday, the Executive Masters of Business Administration (EMBA) alumni network hosted “A Chattanooga Story” at Big River downtown.

Attendees had the opportunity to enjoy the story and taste the proof of how two local flavors, Big River and Craftworks started, collaborated, and have now grown into the successful national food chain they are now.

Both Dooley and Owens expressed that while faculty and alumni participation was good, they found themselves to be surprised and disappointed by the lack of interest from students.

“That just tells me we’ve got some work to do with getting the current students to understand the value of these kinds of networking opportunities,” Owens said. “The alumni would love to talk to them.”

Dooley said that alumni relations were not maintained as successfully as the College of Business would like and that he hopes this will improve with the 50 year celebration as well as years to come.

Both Dooley and Owens hope that by gaining new alumni relations and improving existing ones, alumni turnout will increase and in turn, boost student participation.

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