Bartley in the summertime

Chelsea Woods

Villanova is often identified by its busy campus, bustling with activity at all times. While most college campuses shut down for the summer, Villanova sees no reason to take a break during the summer months. Many campus activities, including athletics, extracurriculars and academics, carry over into June, July and August. This past summer, many Villanova students chose to continue their education by participating in the Summer Business Institute implemented by the Villanova School of Business. SBI is a nine-week program that gives participants a comprehensive overview of the education needed to thrive in the business world. The program is intense, fitting three semesters of course work into the two-month time slot allotted for the program. Per the usual Villanovan approach to academics, the students involved rigorously participated in their assigned classes in order to achieve the best experience possible.

This year, SBI participants experienced a modified program.

“They redesigned the entire program,” says Jen Kellogg, a sophomore from Pasadena, Calif., who attended the Institute this past summer. “One thing I really appreciated was that the administrators really value student feedback. The program was redesigned according to the suggestions of last year’s students.”

This year’s class was comprised of roughly 100 students. Having been split up into sections of about 50, each section participated in class together until the end of the nine-week period.

SBI is designed with students of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in mind. It attempts to connect its teaching of business philosophy with how a liberal arts mind approaches education. The program is separated into three modules. The first module, which lasts an intensive three days, attends to an overview of business in general. Class during this period lasts from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. The students learn the basics of innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership, motivation and the high importance of teamwork – skills which are essential for success in the business world. The second module, lasting for a period of three weeks, highlights economics (both micro and macro) and business law, under the course name of corporate responsibility. Micro and macroeconomics last for a period of 10 days each.

Kellogg especially enjoyed this element of the course. “I really liked that it was included in the program,” Kellogg says.

As an English major, minoring in Italian and peace and justice along with attending SBI, Kellogg appreciated the liberal arts-esque flair of economics.

“I liked that they taught it in the earlier parts of the course,” Kellogg says.

The business law course, however, did not rouse the same success. While the class overviewed the laws of employment, contract and international law, as well as the different types of discrimination in the workplace, many students with no previous exposure to law found it daunting. The textbook used for the course was also found insufficient. Having been designed specifically for SBI’s business law course, the book contained excerpts from another textbook, but some students found the flow of information choppy.

The third and last module of the program eclipsed the last five weeks of the course. Two courses comprised this section. The first, financial management and reporting, covered accounting and finance, while the second course, competitive effectiveness, contained marketing and management education.

After quickly glancing over the SBI course schedule, one can clearly see that the program is not intended to serve as an easy way to another minor. Rather, the course attempts to squeeze a curriculum that would regularly take a student three semesters to complete into a little over two months. Some students found this challenging.

“I feel that [the faculty and administrators] completely overlooked the time constraint,” Kellogg says.

Some students say they felt that the faculty did not respect the length of time allotted and taught as if they had a regular semester to expand upon their respective topics. For example, the students were assigned a project to be completed during the five weeks of the third module, a project usually assigned during the school year to students with a semester to complete the work. SBI students were expected to work in groups to create a marketing and management strategy for an entire product line of Hank’s Beverage Co. By the end of the five-week period, students needed to complete a 50-slide PowerPoint presentation, a 30-minute verbal presentation and a 15-page marketing report.

“We just didn’t have enough time,” Kellogg says. “I think that they disregarded the time constraint and assigned too large a project for such a short period. I don’t think they appreciated [the students’] strengths and weaknesses as different learners, as liberal arts majors or engineers. We are a different kind of thinker.”

Kellogg, however, is happy to have come out of the program with a business minor. “I jumped at the opportunity to do SBI because I had initially wanted to double-major in the liberal arts and business school. SBI gave me the chance to fulfill both of those interests. I’m glad I did it. I feel like I learned a lot.”

While there are some facets of the program that certainly challenge students, it still serves as a fulfilling way for students to pursue all their academic endeavors in an efficient way.