UW-L College of Business Administration earns national award

Jan. 22, 2013

Ryan White teaching class.

Assistant Professor of Marketing Ryan White leads a class in Centennial Hall. UW-L's College of Business Administration received the Council for Higher Education Accreditation Award for Outstanding Institutional Practice in Student Learning Outcomes. The award recognizes the college “for its use of outcomes assessment to improve student learning in its undergraduate program, using a faculty-driven team that directs a strong assessment culture.”

Council for Higher Education Accreditation cites outstanding processes for assessing student learning

UW-La Crosse business students can rest assured they have the right business plan for college and their career.

The UW-L College of Business Administration is the first university or college in the state — and only the second business school in the nation — to receive the Council for Higher Education Accreditation Award for Outstanding Institutional Practice in Student Learning Outcomes.

The award recognizes the university’s college “for its use of outcomes assessment to improve student learning in its undergraduate program, using a faculty-driven team that directs a strong assessment culture.”

Other higher ed institutions being recognized include Drake University, Des Moines; Harold Washington College, Chicago; and St. Luke’s College, Sioux City, Iowa.

Bruce May photo.

College of Business Administration Dean Bruce May

The national honor is “a distinctive badge of honor,” according to Bruce May, dean of the college. “It attests to the high quality of our programs and the great emphasis our faculty place on student learning. The award is a source of pride for both faculty and students.”

May says while the college has always stressed learning outcomes, it has made great strides in the last four years developing high quality processes to measure success. “Our assessment processes measure whether our students are learning what we hope they are learning — it is a quality control mechanism,” he explains. “This award indicates the success of our efforts.”

External judgment that the college has outstanding processes to ensure quality falls in line with graduates performing well on national benchmarking exams and finding jobs, says May. A 2012 national exam by Educational Testing Services indicated UW-L CBA students performed better on knowledge of business concepts than 94 percent of students at 685 other institutions. The college had a 99.3 percent graduate placement rate in the latest survey following the 2010-11 academic year.

“Our very high job placement rates show our graduates are valued by employers,” notes May. “Putting test scores and placement together, it shows our quality processes have reaped very successful results.”

The college doesn’t plan to rest on its laurels. It has a faculty task force that continuously re-evaluates goals and educational practices. By having faculty from throughout the college come together, they can more easily see the big picture of a CBA-wide education.

“As faculty we tend to look first to improve learning in our classrooms,” explains Betsy Knowles, coordinator for the college’s program assessment. “But this assurance of learning process helps to remind us that our courses fit together into a curriculum that is the basis for a business degree.”

May says the prestigious award, high exam rates and stellar graduate placement show that the task force’s work is not only helping faculty improve, but also helping students succeed. “The task force has been very successful in working with all instructors to enhance the learning process and ensure our program is equipping graduates with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed,” says May.

More about the award:

The CHEA Award was established in 2005 to recognize institutions that have been exceptional in developing and applying evidence of student learning outcomes to improve higher education quality and accountability. A committee selected from among 3,000 higher education member institutions, accrediting organizations and the public judged the entries on four criteria: articulation and evidence of outcomes; success with regard to outcomes; information to the public about outcomes; and use of outcomes for educational improvement. The formal presentation of the CHEA Award takes place Jan. 29, 2013, during the council’s annual conference in Washington, D.C.