-Interim president off to London to make case for infrastructural improvement
The thirst for education, economic development, youth empowerment and improving the overall quality of life in the world, especially in third world countries like Liberia, has never been greater. In this regard, education is at the pinnacle of all efforts in achieving those—and in recognition of this, business schools, the world over, are being called on to address the needs of the students they educate and the industries they serve.
It is against this backdrop that The United Methodist University finds itself fortunate to be one of only four institutions of higher learning on the African continent that is currently collaborating with Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the leading Business School Accrediting Body in the United States and the world to improve its business programs.
For the past few years, UMU Interim president, Dr. Albert B. Coleman, said AACSB has been helping UMU in upgrading its programs at the College of Management and Administration.
The collaboration with AACSB, Dr. Coleman said this is a vision for a future where business schools, like what UMU has, are the drivers of change—where business schools change the narrative about the role of business education, and of business, in society.
“With AACSB, we are exploring how to best prepare our business leaders and innovators of tomorrow. We, as an institution, are glad to be a part of such noble endeavor,” said during an exclusive interview at the campuses of the university on Tuesday.
UMU is one of four (4) universities on the African Continent (University of Ghana, University of Morocco, and the University of Kampala) whose Business Schools have been accepted by the prestigious AACSB upon reaching all of the required benchmarks.
The College of Management and Administration faculty over the past two years, have been working with the AACSB, through a mentor relationship with the Dean of the School of Business and Acting Provost of the Tennessee State University in Chattanooga, Tennessee Dr. Robert Dolley, on the accreditation process.
“Faculties of this College have attended several seminars in Europe and other parts of the world learning how to advance quality management education worldwide. This is helping to empower and improve those staff work here at UMU,” Dr. Coleman said.
The AACSB focus he said is to get Universities to align their curricula to the need of the work force and ensure that they (member universities) have qualified instructors, equipment and materials. “And they (AACSB) will help drilled you in the process,” the UMU head said.
He added that since the process with AACSB, “our business school has now realized the importance of curriculum mapping, developing students learning outcomes, and having core courses. This led us to doing things differently”.
“I have been able to work with the senior group of the AACSB to secure funding so that UMU can continue to send professors for different training programs. Besides being a member, when we get to that meeting we will network with bigger Universities”, he added.
AACSB is endeavoring to take a new vision for business education into this new age. With its many collaborating partners, it serves as catalysts for innovation, co-creators of knowledge, hub of lifelong learning; leaders on leadership as well as enabler of global prosperity. It is these share visions that UMU is currently tapping into, Dr. Coleman noted.
UMU is also a part of the Global Improvement Network (GIN) Pilot Quality Improvement Initiative in corporation with the Global Business School Network (GBSN).
It is no secret that Infrastructure is cardinal not just to gain full acceptance in the AACSB’s program, but very critical to achieving academic excellence. And it is in this vein that UMU has included in its 12-year development, the relocation of the institution from its Ashmun Street campus to a state-of-the-art campus in Doeman Town, on the RIA highway.
Fortunately, Dr. Coleman has been invited to AACSB Annual Spring Meeting in London, United Kingdom. This is where Presidents of leading Universities, Business School and Industry Leaders from around the world will gather to discuss best practices; and new and emerging trends in the business and academic communities.
It is at this gathering that he intends to make a case for UMU’s vision for the relocation.
“The opportunity provided me to be part of the Senior Management of AACSB to open the London Stock Exchange, is an opportunity for UMU to be showcased,” he said.
He noted that the facility here on Ashmun Street is inadequate for the growing number of students we have “so we are planning on relocating.” “We will start with a multipurpose building that will have around 80 classrooms. And we are hoping that as a result of that, we will move the first set of students,” he said, adding, “This is the vision we will be selling that to other members of the AACSB and we are hoping to see how they can help us.”
The university also has a capital campaign to raise funds for the relocation, he said.
“With this space and talking about academic excellence, it is impossible to do what we want to do here. But for now we are trying to improvise and manage the best way possible. It is our hope that in the next two years, the first multipurpose building on the new site will be completed, he mentioned.