VSB core curriculum to see overhaul

Amanda Hanley

The Villanova School of Business has made strides recently in order to better prepare its students for the global business environment.

Traditionally, the business school’s core curriculum consisted of basic courses in essential subject areas such as accounting and microeconomics.

However, Dean James Danko realizes that these subjects are not completely independent of each other, and often overlap in the real world.

One of his biggest concerns was to eliminate the redundancy that was occurring by blending certain subjects into more integrated courses.

With the goal of preparing students to become creative and innovative problem solvers, able to adapt quickly to changing business conditions, he met with numerous faculty members and a few student representatives to revise the curriculum.

Danko explained the need to measure up with the four pillars of academic excellence: a global mindset, innovation, ethics and technology.

These standards of achievement are not in isolation because the business world is a dynamic environment.

“How can we teach innovation if we are not innovating ourselves?” Danko asked.

The revision team took student feedback into account when building the new curriculum since these changes will directly affect them.

Junior Robert Dormish had input during the process as a representative of student interests.

“At first I was a little hesitant about some of the changes, but having heard the reasoning behind it and just how it’s going to play out, I’m very confident in the ability of the business school and this curriculum to really push our students to a new level and really attract the best employers we can to Villanova’s campus,” Dormish said.

Continually having quality recruiters seeking Villanova students was also a significant motivating factor behind the revised curriculum.

The common thread of the revised curriculum is an interdisciplinary integration, which begins freshman year and continues through senior year.

For freshmen, they have added a six-credit two-semester course with a skills-based multidisciplinary approach to business.

“You cannot compartmentalize,” Danko said. “This will help keep students from seeing things in isolation,” which is a common criticism of business schools.

They especially hope to guide freshmen during their first year in the business school, which is a crucial time in deciding on a major.

“A lot of students come in thinking ‘I’m going to be a business major,’ but they don’t know how everything ties in,” Dormish said. “This is going to be a great way for students to get a glimpse of everything and see how everything works together.”

Students will still major in a specific area, but four six-credit courses will also be implemented.

These courses, taken over the four semesters of the sophomore and junior years, will be a blend of the traditional introductory courses in marketing, management, finance, MIS, DIT and accounting.

The project team has further innovated the classroom experience by proposing that two professors will teach these courses together.

For example, one marketing professor and one MIS professor would teach the Competitive Effectiveness course, which blends management, marketing and MIS.

The combinations are still being worked out, but Danko found nearly unanimous approval when he spoke with each department about the changes.

The revised undergraduate curriculum will be implemented over the next four years, with the class of 2015 being the first to graduate with all four years of the multidisciplinary experience.

“It’s a big change, but I think what we’re doing is definitely going to be a positive thing,” Dormish said.

Danko explained that Villanova has many advantages that other schools lack, making it a perfect candidate for this curriculum makeover.

“We need to be sensitive to the future by connecting theory with practice and having faculty with broad perspectives,” he said.

With its recent ranking as the No. 13 undergraduate business school in the nation by BusinessWeek, VSB is certainly positioned to continue its climb to the top.

Tara Powers contributed additional reporting to this article.