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Region 5: Partnering with Business for Student Success

Posted By Maliha Khan, Monday, October 20, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, February 10, 2015

We all know the world around us is constantly changing. Just ask yourself: how would you have defined student success in 1990? How would this definition differ today? ACBSP’s Region 5 recently held their annual meeting on the theme “Partnering with Business for Student Success,” where they discussed such questions precisely. The conference was held October 15-17 in Kansas City, MO. Park University graciously hosted approximately 50 individuals at the downtown Marriott Hotel, including business faculty, deans, ACBSP staff, corporate representatives, and local politicians.

Attendees raised important questions and discussion points throughout the conference. During the opening session, Richard Stilwell of Insight Management Consultants said, “People tell me they want the next Apple. I say if you want the next Apple, bring me the next Steve Jobs.” Stillwell made the point: in today’s world, education isn’t enough. Students need hands-on experience in the field. Business professors need to incorporate practical reality in their educational concepts and curriculum in order to help students achieve success. 

A Business Discussion Panel was also held to further elaborate on the topic of Internships. The panel consisted of six members from various companies, such as Farmers Insurance and Commerce Bank. When asked about the expectations companies have when considering a student for an internship, the overall consensus amongst the panelists was that a student with a great personality and drive is ideal. Students that dress the part, have a decent grade-point average, and are well-rounded individuals usually will make the cut.

Robert Mayer, from MR Capital Advisors LLC, said he looks for students who have something to gain from the internship and also have something to offer to the company. Surprisingly, when it came to discussing the definition of a “decent grade-point average,” the responses varied. Four out of the six panelists stated that a 3.0 grade-point average is preferred. The other two stated that their company prefers the interns have a 3.2 or a 3.4 grade-point average. Attendees then asked why a 3.2 or 3.4 grade-point average? Why not a 4.0 student? The panel stated that a 4.0 student does not take failure well and often does not know what failure is like. Panelists also stated that sometimes companies do make exceptions if a student does not meet the GPA requirement. However, they look at whether the student was involved in any extra-curricular activities that may have taken his/her time away from studies.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Prema Arasu, CEO and Vice Provost at Kansas State University-Olathe. During the keynote session, Arasu discussed the gap between business programs and the corporate world. 

“When businesses go to educators, educators ask what the business needs. The businesses ask what educators are looking for. However, the dialogue never goes any further,” she said. According to Arasu, educators need to think outside the box and allow their students to have an inter-disciplinary mindset. This inter-disciplinary mindset will allow for students to fit into the workforce easily. Administrators need to allow business educators the flexibility to try new approaches within the classroom environment and also build the bridges with corporate companies to provide students with better experiences. 

Overall, the conference was a great success.  All agreed that there is room for improvement when it comes to businesses partnering with business programs to produce students who are ready to make immediate contributions to the workforce. We hope to see you at the 2015 Annual Conference in Philadelphia, to continue the discussion on “Partnering with Business for Student Success.”

To find out how you can get involved with your region, visit

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