Ambitious Rebuilding Underway in School of Business - Humboldt State Now

Ambitious Rebuilding Underway in School of Business

Plans Include New Faculty in Sustainability and Entrepreneurship, Online MBA

HSU’s School of Business is in the midst of an ambitious rebuilding effort designed to boost enrollment and respond to a frequently cited need for more business graduates in the regional economy.

Professor Michelle Lane teaches students in her Management Theory class. Lane is one of three recently hired business faculty members with expertise in sustainability and entrepreneurship. Two additional faculty members — in accounting and marketing — will be hired for fall 2012.

The upgrades include hiring new faculty, partnering with local businesses for an expanded internship program and exploring the creation of an online Masters in Business Administration (MBA) program. Made possible by a recent infusion of financial support, the improvements are part of a larger strategy to rebrand the school as a provider of programs in business with a focus on sustainability and entrepreneurship.

“This is a really exciting time for the School of Business as we look to expand and create our signature identity, which is rooted in entrepreneurship and infused in sustainability,” HSU Business School Chair Steve Hackett said.

“The North Coast is known for its sustainability ethic and sustainability is a key part of HSU’s identity,” Hackett said. “Our goal at the Business School is to train students to understand and critically assess green and sustainable business opportunities as well as the social imperatives that underlie them. This way, we can create the next generation of socially and environmentally conscious business leaders.”

Expanding the traditional business school education to include entrepreneurship and sustainable business has become a nationwide trend in recent years as small business owners and entrepreneurs look to cut costs and respond to consumer demand for green and sustainable products. In Humboldt County, consumer demand for green products is particularly high, Hackett said.

Earlier this year, an anonymous donor gave $500,000 to the school. The university has also committed $2 million to rebuilding the school over the next five years and is working with foundations, businesses and alumni to raise an additional $1.5 million.

This new funding has already supported the hiring of three permanent faculty members in sustainability and entrepreneurship. Nancy Vizenor, a nine-year instructor in the school, was promoted to Assistant Professor in entrepreneurship this fall. The school also hired Michelle Lane, who taught at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, to teach entrepreneurship, and David Sleeth-Keppler, who taught at Winthrop University in South Carolina, to teach sustainable marketing. Two additional faculty members—in accounting and marketing—will be hired for fall 2012.

Mirroring a nationwide trend to cut costs and make education more accessible, the school is exploring ways to broaden its reach to include national and international students. Ideas include the possible creation of an online MBA that would be offered by 2013, holding classes in East or South Asia and boosting international recruitment efforts, Hackett said.

The school will launch an undergraduate internship class this spring. Led by Business School instructor Shari Duron, students will gain hands-on experience interning at local businesses, Hackett said.

“Experiential learning is especially relevant and valid for business schools because they balance academic training with hands-on learning,” he said.

Other initiatives set to begin this spring include a “Professor for a Day” program in which local business leaders will be invited to speak to students and a roundtable discussion exploring current business issues. By 2013, the school plans to start a public speaker’s series featuring national business leaders. The program will be similar to existing speaker’s series hosted by the Department of Biological Sciences and the Environment & Community Program, Hackett said.

Humboldt State University’s School of Business offers a bachelor’s in Business Administration and a Master’s in Business Administration. The business school is a leading sponsor of Economic Fuel, a business plan competition for local college students and recent graduates. Winning teams receive starting capital, access to workshops and networking opportunities with local business owners.

For more information on the business school and its programs, visit