“We’re the best-kept secret in Cobb County,” said KSU interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ken Harmon, who served for one year as dean of Coles College before being called up last year. “We’re the second-largest business school in the state of Georgia … We carry an entrepreneurial mentality and look at everything as a possibility. This is the most exciting business school I’ve seen.”
Harmon said he has not applied for the permanent provost post, but has not ruled out the option. Professor of Information Systems Dr. Kathy Schwaig is serving as interim dean of Coles College.
The college has 5,000 students, employs 150 staff members and offers undergraduate, certificate, masters and doctoral degrees through the university. The college also has a research data tank called the Econometric Center, which houses business experts who generate public reports on industry, manufacturing and macroeconomic trends, including the monthly purchasing managers’ indexes for Georgia and Southeast.
And starting today, the 600-student information systems department — including information systems and information security and assurance degree programs with 21 faculty members — will officially move from the College of Science and Mathematics at KSU to Coles College. This will change the next wave of degrees offered through the department from Bachelor of Science to Bachelor of Business Administration.
“Traditionally, IS programs are found in the college of business,” Schwaig said, adding that most of the department’s faculty members have business school backgrounds. Harmon said KSU President Dr. Dan Papp, who signed off on the shift, and the department’s faculty were on board with the change.
Coles College Department Chair for Management and Entrepreneurship and Associate Professor of Management Dr. Richard Franza is interim chair of the shifted department. Schwaig said the college is searching for a new chair, who will likely be in place by next July, when the university’s next fiscal year begins. Schwaig said only about five universities nationwide offer an information security and assurance degree.
“You’ll see a lot more of a synergistic effect with information systems working with marketing people, working with accounting people, working with management people, and there’s just going to be a better fit,” Franza said.
“The students will have more of a well-rounded business education as opposed to a much more technically focused education.”
The college’s newest degree program, the Joel A. Katz Music and Entertainment Business certificate program, has met its goals for the first year of operation, Harmon said.
“The program has boomed immediately, and we have filled what we had for last year with about 50 students enrolled in the program,” Harmon said.
And in 2009, CEO Magazine ranked the college’s Executive MBA program among the best in the U.S. in its “2009 Global MBA Rankings” edition. For the same year, BusinessWeek named the college’s part-time MBA program among the best in the nation.
Harmon, Schwaig and Franza said the university is working to establish more relationships with business partners at home and abroad. Harmon said he and other officials are working to create more partnerships for student opportunities in Brazil and China, in addition to its partnerships with the Mumbai Business School in India and Romania’s Institute for Business Administration in Bucharest.
“There’s no longer anything called international business — it’s all just business,” Harmon said, adding that student exposure to business ideas and operations across the globe makes them better business people. Harmon also said the connections allow KSU to bridge the gap with local businesses and the international community.
But all three said creating connections to local businesses is important for creating immediate jobs for graduates.
“The criticism we get in business education often is that we’re not relevant … so we’re really trying to interact with local businesses here in Cobb County, especially,” Franza said. “When people think about what’s the game in town, people think UGA, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, but we’re really the ones who have the boots on the ground in the local business community. And that’s what we want to be known for … so at the end of the day, people hire our students just to make the economy better.”