Spring, Summer 2015 Newsletter
Message from Dean Asghar Sabbaghi (continued)
This year's ceremony is particularly special in two respects. First, this is the inaugural class of bachelor of business and MBA students who, in the 169 year history of the University, graduated from a business program accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International. This accreditation is the hallmark of excellence in management education, and designates our School among the top 5 percent of business programs in the world! Second, this year we had the first commencement ceremony exclusively for the GSM. Our School's commencement speaker was Ms. Ana Dutra, a local executive with global impact as president and CEO of the Executives Club of Chicago. In her speech, Ms. Dutra highlighted the important role mentoring plays for success in one's college and professional career. She encouraged graduates to not only search for good mentors, but also to be generous in mentoring others, stating: "Never underestimate the chance to help others, and never think that any role is too small for you. Because, you never know what small role may lead to your next opportunity. Whatever you give to the world it will be back to you at some point in your life."
President Wiseman's powerful remarks to the GSM graduates conveyed the important message that their higher education at SXU not only made them thought leaders, but more importantly, thought leaders of conscience, educated to serve wisely and compassionately in support of human dignity and the common good. These remarks underscore our School's fundamental goal to serve others wisely and compassionately. Our student commencement speaker, Daniel Palanyk (bachelor of business administration in marketing and management), eloquently articulated his educational experience in a testimonial of the unique education provided by SXU and the GSM: "Saint Xavier has given me all of the tools I need in order to succeed both professionally and personally. I thank SXU for making me the well-rounded person that I am today, and for giving me the chance to let the true Dan Palanyk show. I will be leaving Saint Xavier with so much more than the acquired knowledge and degree I have received from the Graham School of Management."
The GSM held its Award Banquet on April 12. During this event, 86 students, two faculty, and an alum were inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS) for the first time in SXU history. Beta Gamma Sigma is an organization that recognizes academic excellence in business studies and high performing business leadership. Membership in BGS is the highest recognition a business faculty/student/alumni or business leader anywhere in the world can receive in a business program accredited by AACSB International. In addition, 82 of our students were recognized for their academic achievements, and 14 received individual awards, scholarships, and discipline awards. Laura Shallow received the Alumni Service Award, Deborah Rapacz received an adjunct faculty teaching award, and Joe Cherian, Ph.D., professor of marketing, received the Teaching Excellence Award.
Progress in the Center for Experiential Education (CEE)
Following the CEE's creation in fall 2014, we successfully continued to integrate internships, field projects and service learning activities into our curriculum during spring 2015. Our students continued to serve as terrific representatives of the GSM and SXU, as evidenced by the excellent reflections and evaluations received from the participating organizations (most of our students were rated 5 out of 5). Students also wrote reports reflecting on their internship experiences, most of which were very favorable, describing their internships as rewarding. Several were offered full-time positions, including at a number of prestigious accounting firms and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, following their internships, and some have already accepted their offers. A number of students were able to have their current employer make their job into an internship by enhancing their job descriptions and management responsibilities. This enables the students to keep their paying job while tying their academic learning to the real world.
Student-Managed Hedge Fund
As part of experiential education in finance, we are in the process of creating a Student-Managed Hedge Fund to manage a derivatives portfolio valued at $40,000. This program mimics the typical structure of a hedge fund. Finance undergraduate and graduate students who completed derivatives and investments courses will be eligible and considered to help manage the fund. Using cutting-edge financial software in the Financial Trading Lab, student analysts pitch an investment idea each week, which is then submitted to an Investment Advisory Board for final approval. This experiential education initiative will help our students keep tabs on the fast-paced financial industry, and gain practical knowledge that will make them more competitive in the job market.
Students' Field Projects
Our marketing faculty developed relationships with 14 local businesses and collaborated to design real-world consulting projects for our student-led marketing teams. Students conducted community assessments and audits of digital content, improved their skills in identifying market opportunities, and developed and implemented marketing programs. SERVPRO® of Evergreen, Standard Bank and Trust Co., Annie's, Ltd., KC Homes Realty, and Immanuel Christian Academy were among the local businesses who contributed to our student's growth through these consulting projects.
A Successful Service Learning Experience
Dayo Akinlade, Ph.D., assistant professor of management, partnered her spring 2015 undergraduate human resource management class with Feed My Starving Children (FMSC), a non-profit organization dedicated to providing nutritionally fortified meals to malnourished children in over 70 countries around the world. The primary objective of this course was to provide students with an appreciation of how human resources contribute to an organization's mission and performance. The partnership with FMSC allowed students to gain this appreciation by applying course concepts to FMSC, while serving the global community.
Vision Statement and Strategic Planning
As reported earlier in the Fall edition of our Newsletter, GSM faculty have been working on the School vision statement, Vision 2020. After incorporating feedback from various constituencies, including faculty and the GSM Business Advisory Council, Vision 2020 was unanimously approved on January 26. The GSM faculty are currently developing strategic priorities based on the University Mission/Vision Statements and strategic directions, and the new AACSB accreditation standards. We kicked off our planning efforts by dividing our faculty into groups to start with SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis. Monica Gavino, Ph.D., associate professor of management, is facilitating the entire process. Our faculty were advised to build up the foundation from the University Vision 2017, University Core Values, SXU Mission, GSM Vision/Mission, and AACSB 2013 Standards for re-accreditation, particularly in regards to innovation, impact and engagement, as well the earlier GSM Strategic Plan 2012. We look forward to sharing our planning documents with our Business Advisory Council and GSM Alumni Advisory Board, and welcome their feedback in building up the foundation for our strategic priorities over the next five years.
Economic Summit in Partnership with Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
The GSM teamed up with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and presented on March 6 at the Metropolitan Club in the Willis Tower the first economic summit entitled "Seeing Tomorrow: Insights About the Global, National, and Regional Economy for 2015." Panelists included: William A. Strauss, senior economist from Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Reza Varjavand, Ph.D., associate professor of economics, and Song Wang, Ph.D., assistant professor of finance. Monzurul Hoque, Ph.D., professor of finance, served as moderator of the discussion. Strauss set the stage with expectations of economic trends and the macroeconomic environment in terms of employment, inflation, and growth. Based on our theme "Seeing Tomorrow," Varjavand discussed the implications of the energy sector for the U.S. economy. Wang focused on companies (both publically-traded and privately held firms) headquartered in the Chicagoland area as well as those residing in the state of Illinois. I am delighted to inform you that we will continue to partner with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and our 2016 economic summit is currently scheduled for February 26, 2016. On behalf of the GSM, I wish to express our sincere thanks to Roger O. Crockett, Saint Xavier trustee board member, president of R.O. Crockett Leadership Advisory and former BusinessWeek magazine deputy bureau chief, for all his support and encouragement at every step in the process of organizing this event.
Online Seminar Program for Students and Alumni
We implemented a series of webinars called Career Pathfinder for Students and Alumni of the Graham School of Management, which were requested by our Graduate Student Advisory Board. These webinars, moderated by Tom Wogan and Deborah Rapacz, focused on the job market and career preparation. Each webinar featured a panel of experts currently working in fields under discussion. They were held on February 17 (The Best Jobs in Finance and Financial Fraud), March 24 (Moving Ahead in the Healthcare Industry), April 14 (Getting in the Door in Internet Marketing), and April 28 (Management Opportunities in Human Resources).
American Marketing Associate Student Chapter
The GSM formed an American Marketing Association Collegiate Chapter in spring 2015. Our marketing faculty led the effort in establishing this chapter, forming the Graham School AMA Collegiate Chapter Board of Directors and carrying out elections for all required positions.
We kicked off our GSM Spring Mentorship program on February 12 with keynote speaker Darrell Jackson, president and CEO of Seaway Bank and Trust Company. In attendance were our GSM full-time faculty, a number of our adjunct faculty and 115 undergraduates. These students were divided among full-time faculty for lunch and mentorship after the keynote speech. Both the students and faculty expressed a great deal of positive feedback on this event, particularly in regards to seeking advice and persistence for success. I am pleased with the impact of this mentorship program on the retention of our freshman students. A reflection from one of our students, Bonnie Simmons, is included in this newsletter.
Our School is in the process of initiating the Business Executives for Students Transformation (BEST) Mentoring Program to build meaningful professional relationships for the purpose of sharing knowledge and experience between a selected group of business students and seasoned business professionals. In our BEST Mentorship Program, selected junior and senior business students are matched one-to-one with successful business executives from the local community. Their assistance in this program will naturally increase the student's awareness of professional opportunities and ability to cultivate successful career opportunities. There is no expectation for a mentor to find jobs or internships for their mentee. While each mentoring pair is encouraged to establish their own specific goals for the relationship, it is expected in general that mentors will assist their mentees to:
- Advance the student's understanding of their effective interpersonal and communication skills, both verbally and non-verbally;
- Expand the student's career-based knowledge and awareness of professional opportunities;
- Assist the student in building their own professional network; and
- Foster student's understanding of respect and responsibility for stewardship, and of integrity in successful business management and effective leadership.
We are excited to launch this program in fall 2015, and are very grateful to learn that many of our successful alums are interested to participate in this rewarding undertaking.
And as we look forward to the 2015 - 2016 academic year, I envision even greater opportunities for our school on the horizon. We enter the new academic year with newly created positions of Associate Dean Kate Watland, Ph.D., director of the Center for Experiential Education, and Director of Undergraduate Programs Tom Wogan. Watland has been with SXU as management faculty for many years, and recently as the management department chair and director of the GSM Graduate Programs for the Chicago Police Department. Tom has been the interim associate director for the Graduate Programs.
We continue to focus on our Vision 2020, "transforming students through academic excellence, experiential education, mentoring and strategic community partnerships for successful leadership and professional careers". We are grateful to our alums, friends, and corporate and business partners for their contributions to the success of our students and the School through providing internship and employment opportunities, and participating in our business executive mentorship programs and other initiatives.
Asghar Sabbaghi, Ph.D.
Dean and Professor
Graham School of Management
Spring Banquet Awards Ceremony
On April 12, the Graham School hosted its annual GSM Awards Banquet. The GSM Awards Banquet was held at the Silver lakes Country Club in Orland Park. Students and faculty were honored for achievements made during the 2014-2015 school year, as well as, new members were inducted into the International Honor Society Beta Gamma Sigma. The Outstanding Student Award was given to an undergraduate and graduate student in the areas of accounting, finance, management and marketing. The Excellence in Teaching Award was awarded to faculty members. Recognition was given to the students who received the Crain's Chicago Business Award, J.K. Hwang Award and Elizabeth Hunter Service Award. The Jim McCabe Scholarship, Tim Eber Scholarship and Alumni Service awardees were recognized as well.
Alex Walters' Story
Class of 2015, Magna Cum Laude
My time spent at Saint Xavier University's Graham School of Management can best be described as both challenging and rewarding. During my time enrolled in the AACSB accredited Graham School, I had the privilege of being instructed by many experienced and knowledgeable professors. Graham School professors not only teach the fundamentals of their respective fields, but also prepare their students for their future professions through the use of intensive case studies, critical thinking exercises and stimulating group work.
The Graham School of Management's diverse student and faculty base allows for more interesting class discussions with valuable insights from different cultures that are too often overlooked when considering an institution. Saint Xavier's Graham School primes its students to be responsible leaders and effective managers in a diverse and ever-changing global society while always putting an emphasis on ethical management. As I move onto my future endeavors, I will always be proud to say I graduated from an accredited business school that embraces the diversity of a changing world and prepares its students for life after college.
Laith Jabra's Story
When I first decided to attend graduate school, I was torn between three schools: DePaul University, University of Illinois at Chicago and Saint Xavier University. In all honesty, I decided to attend Saint Xavier solely on the fact that it was the shortest commute, in turn that decision turned out to be the best decision I have ever made in my career. I fell in love with the University. I knew this school was different when I first met Mrs. Rapacz to set up my classes. She treated me with respect and compassion, not just another student she had to get through for the day. This culture was consistent throughout the University. My professors did not treat me as if I was another face in the crowd; the University had a very intimate and compassionate culture which I feel bigger schools lack. Saint Xavier really wants their students to do well, not just in school but in life. They are constantly offering scholarships, internships and career opportunities. They offer students help with their resumes as well as tutoring opportunities.
Saint Xavier is constantly making steps to improve their school anyway they can. They recently are AACSB accredited and have a student advisory board set up for graduate and undergraduate students to meet with the faculty and staff to see what the University is doing well and how and where they can improve. I was lucky enough to meet the right people to help me in my career. I was a graduate assistant in the Graham School of Management and was lucky enough to participate in helping the school better itself. Mr. Wogan and I launched a new webinar to help students talk to a professional in their field, which turned out to be successful. I personally know in the Finance department, Dr. Hoque and Dr. Chishty are very bright and are more than willing to help you with whatever questions you may have. They do not hesitate to make sure their students understand what is going in the course and what is expected of them and are making the necessary steps to improve the graduate program in the area of finance. I could not be more proud to say that I am a Saint Xavier alumni and will do everything I can in my career to help Saint Xavier be recognized as a great school to be a graduate from.
Michelle Quiroz's Story
The story of Michelle Quiroz, a senior accounting and finance major at Saint Xavier, illustrates this emerging importance of connections throughout the entire community. In particular, Quiroz's experiences demonstrate how the connections that Student Affairs has worked to establish have supported her on a successful journey through college.
Quiroz came to SXU the fall of 2011, after spending a great deal of time searching for the perfect college in the Chicago area. Visits to urban campuses such as UIC and DePaul, were not appealing. Quiroz felt as if these institutions were just too large and impersonal - she was afraid of getting lost in the shuffle. She discovered SXU through a family friend and instantly found the place she belonged. Her family, thrilled that she had chosen a more community centered, faith based institution, agreed.
Looking back on that time in her life, Quiroz truly believes she made a great decision. Since "day one", she reports that so many Saint Xavier community members have served as mentors to her, helping her and guiding her along her journey. As a first generation college student, she had a great deal of support from her family, but obtaining guidance on specific career paths and options was a bit more of a challenge. The Achieving Career Excellence Program, a strong partnership between the Graham School and Career Services, emphasizes the importance of developing career related skills and knowledge early on in students' academic careers. With this kind of support, Quiroz felt well equipped to make the decision to study accounting. Quiroz has also relied on career panels featuring alumni professional speakers, networking events and employer visits and presentations to receive the information she needed to make informed decisions.
Quiroz has grown and matured a great deal over the past few years and has become a leader and mentor to her fellow students in many ways. Leadership positions in registered campus organizations such as the Accounting Students Organization, Association of Latino/a Accounting Students and the Financial Management Association have helped her become a person who is not afraid to speak up and stand up for her values and convictions. Her student employment positions as a student worker in Financial Aid and Records and Advising have not only helped her to offset the cost of her education, they have taught her what it means to be a part of a team of people all working towards the same goal. She's not afraid to ask for help when she needs it because her time here at SXU has taught her that there are people here to help - professionals who truly want to connect with her, as much as she needs to connect with them.
All of these experiences on campus have prepared her to take advantage of high impact off campus internships in accounting at Mother McAuley High School and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago where she was offered a full time position. Quiroz would like to begin her professional career with the Federal Reserve because she finds the corporate culture and people extremely supportive. She feels that they "truly care about their employees." It's not surprising that Quiroz would be attracted to this sense of community, given her experiences here at SXU. She reports that another "high impact" experience for her has been the opportunity to form close friendships with a very diverse group of people. Her experiences at SXU have helped her break down barriers and pre-conceived notions about individuals from other cultures and backgrounds, thus allowing her to form relationships and connections she never thought were possible. Quiroz commented that "it's the small things that really matter." Sometimes these "little things" end up having the greatest impact on one's experience.
Quiroz has taken advantage of so many resources offered to her as a Saint Xavier student. Multiple jobs, internships and scholarship opportunities have helped her finish college with minimal dependence on loans. This year, she is planning to participate in a spring break service trip in Glenmary Farms, Tennessee. She is in the process of establishing the first Alpha Chapter on campus, which will help support her fellow business students in making connections with hiring employers. In the spring 2014, she earned a spot in the Delta Mu Delta Honor society for high achieving business students. She was also the recipient of the Jim McCabe Scholarship, where during the Celebration Dinner in September she had the pleasure of meeting the founder of the Graham School of Management and was appointed to the advisory boards of both Career Services and the Student Advisory Board of the Graham School of Management.
Looking towards the future, Quiroz plans to sit for the CPA exam and hopes to continue working at the Federal Reserve. Aside from that, Quiroz would like to start her own business one day, perhaps a non-profit organization aimed at supporting and mentoring those who are in need of resources. As a participant in the Chicago Future Leaders Program sponsored by The Chicago Network and organized by Career Services, her eyes were opened to the level of need present among her fellow Chicagoans. In particular, the site visit to the Greater Chicago Food Depository provided some examples of how a service-related organization relies on a variety of professional talents to help those in need. Quiroz also entertains the idea of starting her own accounting firm with her brother, who will begin his business studies at Saint Xavier in fall 2015!