Undergrads: A new
A few weeks before the new school year began, sophomore
political science major Shar Tavakoli decided to revamp his class
schedule with a stronger emphasis on business courses.
"I realized over the summer that humanities classes alone wouldn't prepare me for the challenges of the real world," he said. He soon learned that Hopkins administrators had just approved a new minor in entrepreneurship and management.
It was exactly what Tavakoli was looking for, and he quickly sought to revise his class schedule. "I was very excited," he said last week. "I'm probably going to be the first person to declare this minor. I very much wanted to have some background in business to prepare me for when I finish law school.
"Whether you're going to be a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer, I think everyone ought to be able to read a balance sheet and a financial statement. It's a part of life, regardless of what occupation you enter. Everything is a business today," he said.
Although the new minor is open to all Hopkins undergraduates, including Arts and Sciences students such as Tavakoli, the idea originated in the Whiting School of Engineering.
Most Hopkins engineering graduates possess top-notch technical skills, but they may not be well-equipped to run a small company or supervise a team of employees, the school's administrators concluded. In response, the school decided to let undergraduates bolster their course load with business and man- agement training through this new minor.
The program is designed to prepare students to move quickly into leadership positions in industry and the public sector. It also will help prepare students to enroll later in a Master in Business Administration degree program.
Professional organizations and business leaders have been encouraging universities to supplement their engineering training with more instruction in management and finance areas, Whiting School administrators say.
As many large corporations have "downsized," more opportunities have opened in small businesses, where employers and professionals, such as engineers, need strong management skills and knowledge of marketplace dynamics and international trade.
In addition, many students themselves are hungry for more education in these areas. A three-day engineering course on technological leadership and financial strategies, offered last January at Hopkins, was set up for 40 students. Twice as many tried to register, and many had to be turned away.
By offering the new business minor, said Roger Westgate, associate dean for academic affairs at Hopkins' Whiting School of Engineering, "I think we're answering what seems to be the loud and clear message that's coming from the engineering community. We're near the leading edge on this."
Hopkins students who opt for the business minor will not receive less rigorous instruction in the fundamentals of engineering, however. "I hope it will be an important supplement to the engineering program," said John C. Wierman, the Mathematical Sciences Department chairman, who led the development of the new minor. "It's not replacing anything. We want to improve the education of engineering students."
Although the minor was organized by the Engineering School, students majoring in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences may also sign up. Students will need to complete at least seven courses in five categories: quantitative methods, business and finance, leadership and organizational behavior, operations, and international trade. Students preparing for different professions can customize their course work. For example, an engineering major may select classes in corporate finance and mathematical models for decision making. A student planning a career in human resources may choose business law and marketing for credit toward the minor.
Wierman said a flier announcing the new minor has been distributed on campus, and interest is growing. "We are just getting the advertising started for the minor, and a large number of students have come in to pick up our handout," he said.
The new program initially will draw on courses already offered at the university, including its School of Continuing Studies, which offers a broad array of business courses. Under the program's guidelines, full-time undergraduates may attend up to three Continuing Studies courses to satisfy the requirements of the new minor.
An advisory committee of alumni and business executives will make proposals to improve and expand the program. "It was put together with existing courses," said Westgate, "but it's not going to stop there."
Students can obtain more information about the new minor in entrepreneurship and management by contacting Lorraine Smith in 220 Maryland Hall, or by phoning her at (410)516-7197.
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