Beth Walker on access, excellence and impact of the College of Business
By Jennifer Dimas
Beth Walker became the fifth dean of the Colorado State University College of Business in July 2015. She came to Fort Collins from Arizona State University, where she served as the associate dean of MBA programs and, most recently, as the head of the marketing department. She is the first female dean in the 50-year history of the College of Business.
Dean Walker shares her vision
The CSU College of Business offers an exceptional education that’s all-encompassing, surrounding the students with great advising and mentoring, great classes, an outstanding Career Management Center, and faculty and staff who really care about the students and are here to help them to succeed. We are the number one destination for first-generation students in the state.
I have to say, as a new dean coming in, I have been so impressed by our students. Our students are such solid people who have great values; they’re good people. These are the kinds of people employers want to hire and that’s why I think we do so well in terms of where we place our students. The latest figures show 90 percent of our students get a job offer within 90 days of graduation. This is an exceptional placement rate.
I think about it in terms of access, excellence and impact. We are providing access to an education to those who may have not access to this point. Our impact is providing an education that is relevant. Our faculty do research that is relevant that informs business practice or public policy or make the lives of consumers better. The excellence piece is always so important because we don’t want to deliver an adequate or an okay education, but an exceptional education and do well by all of our students.We know that we have to approach the Millennial Generation differently in delivering that education. I think our faculty evolve and use new learning techniques and are more interactive. There was a time when we didn’t want computers in the classroom, we didn’t want people accessing the Internet, and now that’s part of what we do.
The College of Business is the newest college at CSU — we are celebrating our 50th anniversary this year. In the next 50 years, I see this college as the premier business school in the state and in the West. Students come here now and will come here in the future because of the special things that we do here. Faculty will want to work here because they want to work for one of the best colleges of business in the country.
The future is about building cross-disciplinary skill sets and so many of the students in the sciences will be finding careers in business. When you have that combination with business, you just enhanced your value proposition to employers. Regardless of whatever career students pursue, that minor in business will enhance their degree and help them in their careers.
I would love to build a cross-disciplinary program that combines fermentation science and business. Engineering and business is a dynamite combination, getting business and engineering students together in the classroom, working on projects together. The engineering piece will be to literally build the product and then a business plan will need to be developed and a go-to-market strategy in the course of a semester. This will help train engineers to think like business people and to build things quickly and get them to market. We can be different and unique by leveraging the place and the programs that are exceptional. This is where I see the future of the College of Business.
I was fortunate to be able to meet with Don Dobler, the founding dean of the College of Business, before he passed away. He was a remarkable person and leader. Where we are now is because of his vision 50 years ago, truly. Students always came first and it really started with him. He was also committed to providing students with an education that was relevant that would help them get jobs and be successful in their jobs. We still do that today.
He was interested in a college that valued giving back and being community-centered. That mission and value-system exists today, and those will be the very same values that endure 50 years from now.
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