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Dividend The official online magazine of the Carson College of Business

A Message from the Dean – March 2023

Dear friends,

Watching our students walk across Beasley Coliseum’s stage during graduation is a highlight of the academic year for me.

For some students, earning that diploma was a real struggle, while others never doubted they would graduate. Whatever their circumstances, witnessing students’ joy and sense of accomplishment reminds us of how the Carson College of Business influences lives through education.

As I write this message, we are just seven weeks away from WSU’s spring commencement. This year, I’m proud that we’ll be graduating the first class of The Next Carson Cougs.

Seven years ago, I asked our faculty what it would take for the Carson College to become the No. 1 choice for undergraduate students seeking a business degree from a Pacific Northwest university. Faculty members responded enthusiastically to the challenge, taking ownership of the question and pushing for changes in our undergraduate business education. The result was The Next Carson Coug program.

Revising our curriculum was not a top-down process. A taskforce of faculty and staff led the work, and we repeatedly reached out to alumni and industry partners for feedback on how we could increase students’ professionalism and career readiness while continuing our strong academic reputation.

Besides the valuable input, many of you also have contributed to the Carson College Fund, which supports undergraduate education. Among other things, the fund has helped us reduce class sizes, resulting in higher student expectations and class participation.

In this issue of eDividend, you’ll hear from graduating seniors Dan Mauk and Brian Patrick about how the Carson College prepared them for careers. You’ll also meet Paulina Gastelum, who talks about her family’s migrant roots in agriculture and how her executive MBA studies prepared her for a chief executive role in the agribusiness industry. In addition, we’ll take you into a classroom for a look at faculty-written business case studies.

We recently took the pulse of the region’s business community with the 2023 Business in the Northwest report. Last year, the business community combatted inflation, supply chain, and labor issues, while employees prioritized a desire for higher salaries and better work-life balance. Despite these challenges, our report found both business leaders and employees are cautiously optimistic as they look toward the next three years, though less so compared to pre-COVID levels.

Whether you’re in Pullman on May 6 for the spring commencement, or elsewhere, I hope you’ll take a moment to remember your own graduation day and celebrate the value of an education from WSU and the Carson College of Business.

Go Cougs!

Chip Hunter, Dean

Business in the Northwest Report – 2023

Last year, the business community combatted inflation, supply chain, and labor issues, while employees prioritized higher salaries and better work-life balance. Despite these challenges, our 2023 Business in the Northwest Report found that business leaders and employees are cautiously optimistic about the next three years, though less so compared to pre-COVID levels.

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Online MBA Allows Professional Soccer Player to Study and Compete

As a member of a professional women’s soccer team, Celia Jimenez Delgado spends lots of time training, traveling, and competing. But the Orlando Pride’s right-back still makes education a priority. Delgado is earning her online MBA through Washington State University. The program was “the perfect fit for my lifestyle as a professional athlete,” she says.

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PhD Corner – Director’s Message – March 2023

Dear friends,

As we reflect on the first graduating class of The Next Carson Cougs, we are reminded that Carson PhD students play a significant role in their journey. From teaching assistant duties to serving as the sole instructor for courses, our doctoral students impact the undergraduate student learning experience greatly. To support that responsibility, all PhD students take a teaching course and have the opportunity to participate in a number of teaching development activities sponsored at both the college and university levels. And to ensure a quality learning experience, all international teaching assistants must pass an oral English teaching examination before being allowed to teach courses on their own.

An important element in the revised undergraduate curriculum has been the introduction of the Carson Career Amplifier Program designed to enhance career readiness. As a member of the curriculum revision task force at the time, I supported this major new requirement. Employers have been sending a clear message that college graduates from all over the country have been lacking critical “soft skills” that lead to long-term successful professional careers.

While not quite as formalized, our PhD program has similar soft skill requirements. People often think of PhD holders as highly technical individuals with deep knowledge about a particular subject, but that skill set is hardly enough to land a coveted professor job at a university. While technical skills may help get a research paper published, the daily life of a professor is often filled with soft skill activity, from teaching courses to contributing to meetings, writing recommendation letters, chairing committees, advising students, and communicating research results.

A big part of the PhD job market process involves the hiring faculty attempting to determine if the candidate would be a good fit for the department. Will the candidate teach effectively, become an active contributor in service activities, and get along well with students, staff, and faculty? Nobody is interested in hiring new professors who will be locked in their office all day long, no matter what level of research is being produced.

After four to five years of working informally with faculty mentors to build professorial qualities, our PhD students partake in several formal soft-skill development opportunities. First-year students take Research and Professional Development, a colloquium where they learn about preparing an academic vita, being a good college citizen, time management and working with coauthors, university service activities, and interviewing tips, along with several sessions on research and teaching. Every semester, we have each PhD student make a formal research presentation in front of a peer group and receive constructive feedback on presentation skills. The teaching course is usually taken during the second year. Finally, the Carson College has begun offering weekly “Lunch and Learn” sessions covering a wide variety of topics important for university faculty, and the WSU Graduate School offers a series of soft-skill sessions as part of its professional development initiative.

By the end of year five, we believe that most of our students have transformed into well-groomed professionals suited for faculty roles at universities around the world.

Chuck Munson,
PhD Program Director