23 Nov 2011
Innovative business education is abundant at the world’s largest Baptist university (15,000 total enrolment). A profusion of pioneering curricular programmes are found at Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business.
Fostering innovation on a global perspective
The school’s well-respected and recognised entrepreneurship programme benefits students with its holistic approach, which effectively embeds entrepreneurship into the curriculum both in the classroom and through practical experiences. It offers a strong set of core entrepreneurship courses, while also providing students the flexibility to pursue specialised concentrations in a number of important areas including family business, technology, social, corporate and global entrepreneurship, or to tailor their own curriculum to meet their unique learning goals.
“The school seeks for students to understand how entrepreneurship touches the lives of people in a global marketplace,” said Dr. Terry S. Maness, Dean. “Therefore, we place special emphasis on international opportunities for students to gain the experiences needed to develop this broad and diverse perspective.” International study offerings are many, including economic development entrepreneurship in Africa and Latin America, technology entrepreneurship in Asia (a collaborative effort with Baylor’s College of Engineering) and a European entrepreneurship experience.
Enabling enriched understanding
Students’ connections to the business comm-unity are significant and varied. Affiliations extend from the smallest of family business ventures to the Fortune Global 50. These relationships provide students and faculty opportunities to engage in practical learning and research experiences that cannot be gained from textbooks in a classroom.
MBA students gain experience handling real-world problems. Rather than simply going over cases or running through simulations, Baylor offers MBA students an inside view of an actual company with real-time issues by partnering them with an individual corporation through a semester-long Focus Firm course. In previous semesters, teams have worked with companies like AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, Best Buy, Patagonia, Microsoft, Continental Airlines, Briggs and Stratton, 3M and Dell, providing them with insights into everything from potential mergers and acquisitions to strategies for implementing new technology.
The Baylor Angel Network (BAN) is an investor network providing early-stage capital to entrepreneurs with developed business plans, complete products, and early revenue. The BAN provides internships for students who are responsible for most aspects of decision-making and operations. In addition, students analyse potential deals and present analyses to investor members. “The BAN is run by students, coordinated by staff, led by faculty and funded by angels,” said Maness. As such, it affords valuable learning interactions and insight for student interns.
Family focus and high-tech collaborations
For the past 21 years the school has organised the Texas Family Business of the Year Awards through its Institute for Family Business. The programme engages a multitude of family business owners annually, recognising and promoting outstanding family businesses for excellence in many areas of strategy, operation, growth and community service. The Institute’s primary goal is to support the family business through programmes, workshops, and forums that provide educational resources to help businesses survive and prosper through the generations. Faculty research also covers some specific areas critical to family business, such as succession planning.
A new initiative at the Hankamer School of Business is the creation of the Innovative Business Accelerator (IBA), which is integral to the business incubation and research park called Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC), a collaborative effort between a number of regional education and government partners. Senior-level and graduate students and faculty in the IBA will assist BRIC firms with business plan development, technology transfer consultation, legal consultation, marketing and customer service assistance, post-market entry research and consulting, as well as facilities.
Community service yields significance
Indeed, student engagement in the community is deeply integrated throughout most areas of study within the business school. In addition to classes that specifically focus on social entrepreneurship, “Baylor’s business school students find many ways to foster lives of significance in a world of opportunity,” as Maness points out. “Students majoring in any of our disciplines bring their business skills to bear on social problems.”
Baylor MBA candidates volunteer with the Prison Entrepreneurship Programme (PEP). Prison outreach from a business perspective occurs when volunteering business consultants teach inmates the skills needed to run their own businesses once released from prison. “Both students and inmates emerge from this experience immensely changed for the better,” said Maness. Baylor MBA students volunteer their time to meet with prisoners through scheduled visits, edit proposed business plans via email and offer advice over phone conversations. PEP offers MBA students the chance to apply newly learned skills to unique business situations, while simultaneously giving back to society.
Accounting students provide business education and micro-lending consulting for entrepreneurs in Uganda. They also may participate in the volunteer VITA programme, in which Baylor students join forces with students at a local high school to provide a valuable service for low-income families in the Waco community. Through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Programme (VITA), students complete tax returns for families who typically lack familiarity with tax laws and cannot afford professional assistance.
The Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University has managed to create a business programme that gives students a real opportunity to engage in rigorous, accredited academics. However, its well-rounded, holistic approach, which includes real-world global experiences and meaningful values, provides true relevancy. This holistic approach focuses on skills, attitudes and values developing genuine leadership.
The Hankamer School of Business impacts an ever-changing world by developing leaders through engaged learning and scholarly exploration within a community guided by Christian values. With enrolment of about 3,000, the business school is a popular choice for Baylor’s students. Undergraduates choose from 24 majors of study in various disciplines and areas of interest. Masters candidates choose from 12 areas of study, including the Masters in Business Administration (MBA). The school also offers a PhD programme in Information Systems.