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Column | On Campus

Meera Komarraju: College of Business and Analytics at SIU Carbondale: The dawning of our future

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In the face of numerous challenges external to SIU, the College of Business has been busy reshaping itself for a new and exciting future.

Analytics

First, the college pivoted into analytics, in a big way! Following in-depth discussions with analytics professionals in six major corporations, we launched four analytics programs, including a BS in Business Analytics, an MS in Strategic Analytics, an online MBA concentration in Analytics for Managers, and a certificate in Analytics for Managers. We hired seven new tenure-track professors, experts in their home field (e.g. accounting, finance, management and marketing), as well as technical expertise in analytics. Analytics is where the future is, in every sector of the economy! Accordingly, we changed our name to the College of Business and Analytics (COBA)!

Unique and Distinctive

Second, following SIU’s academic reorganization, the College gained three new synergistic programs: Economics (ECON); Hospitality, Tourism and Event Management (HTEM); and Public Administration (PADM) that strengthen and complement the College in several ways. For instance, while these new programs are not unique to colleges of business, they are rare.

For example: The University of Chicago’s Booth School has an ECON program; the College of Business at Michigan State University has an HTEM Program; and the Business School at Drake University has a Masters of Public Administration (MPA) program. We now have all three along with four traditional programs: Accounting, Finance, Management and Marketing. Our College has gone beyond “plain vanilla” and we have differentiated ourselves from our competitors. In a crowded market, differentiation is one of the keys to success.

Interdisciplinary Synergy

Third, the three new programs in the College have created new synergies. The HTEM program, previously housed in Animal Science, now connects with many of COBA’s alumni who have risen to prominence in the gaming and hospitality industries. HTEM’s programs and students have gained the visibility and access that the College of Business can provide in those industries.

The MPA degree is similar to an MBA degree, but designed for people seeking careers in the public sector, managing hospital systems, school districts, municipal airports, and so on. Because of similar course requirements in MPA and MBA degrees, we have gained efficiencies. Finally, ECON, formerly in the College of Liberal Arts, has a strong doctoral program and is closely aligns to the work we do in Finance. It draws from some of the same course requirements, including Econometrics, making both programs more efficient.

Student Engagement and Success

Finally, enrollment is responding to our new look! In Fall 2021, we have 774 undergraduate students and 152 graduate students (130 masters, 22 doctorate). Of these, 377 are brand new students, including freshmen, transfers, and re-admitted students. All in all, our new residential freshmen are up 26.14% over Fall 2020 (And let’s not forget that Fall 2020 was up 62.96%)!

Success rates for COBA students are phenomenal, with 96% of our students graduating, with an average starting salary of over $50,000 for our undergraduates.

Most of our students do internships while in the college (e.g. at Caterpillar, Ernst & Young), before being hired for that first job. Our students find success in their first professional placement in every sector of the economy. Recent placements include AT&T, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Caterpillar, J.P. Morgan, the Chicago Bulls, the FDIC, and Edward Jones.

All together, the transformation of the College of Business and Analytics places it on much firmer ground to face its future. The College is stronger and better equipped to train our students, from a smorgasbord of new offerings, all laced throughout with an analytics perspective. Our students will be prepared to enter any industry and work alongside graduates from any program, anywhere in the world.

Meera Komarraju is the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

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