Aquinas and Miller College connect for Master of Management degree

November 12, 2010
| By Pete Daly |
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A new collaboration between Aquinas College and Miller College in Battle Creek will make the Aquinas Master of Management program more accessible to individuals in the Battle Creek area, beginning in 2011.

The collaboration will allow graduate students to complete the program as members of an established group or “cohort,” utilizing a hybrid course format that combines classroom and online instruction taught by Aquinas College faculty.

The Master of Management degree will be granted by Aquinas. The 39-credit-hour program, comprised of 13 courses, will take about two years to complete.

Mary Pastore, assistant to the associate provost at Aquinas and administrator of the new program, said it is “very different” from the regular Master of Management program because at least 60 percent of each cohort course will be taught at Aquinas while the remainder will be hosted by Miller College. Some of the classes will be taught online.

Individuals who enroll in the program will spend “probably two to three” Saturdays in class at Miller College with an Aquinas instructor during each eight-week “quadmester,” she said.

Each cohort group probably will have from 10 to 20 students, all of whom will move through the Master of Management program together over the entire two years, with the order and schedule of the required courses to be laid out in advance.

“The important part for us was that they have face-to-face time. We felt that was a necessary component — to interact with one another and interact with the instructor,” said Pastore.

Dave Harris, president of Miller, got the ball rolling on the collaboration when he contacted Aquinas College Associate Provost Nanette Clatterbuck.

"Miller College is excited to have Aquinas College's Master of Management program on our campus. The program will certainly add value to our community," said Harris.

Clatterbuck said some details of the cohort program are still being worked out, but one of the key concepts is to hold some Saturday classes at Miller College “during the bitter, cold winter months … because then transportation won’t be so much of an issue.”

With the hybrid concept of both classroom sessions and online instruction that students can receive at home, it is “kind of experimental,” she added.

“It really is a student-driven program, without compromising the integrity of the program. It gets tricky,” she said.

The Aquinas Master of Management program, which has been offered for more than 20 years, is developed around courses in the fields of accounting, finance, information technology, management, marketing and sustainable business. It imparts sound theoretical concepts, practical knowledge and the critical skills necessary to facilitate organizational success, according to Aquinas. The curriculum, which Aquinas says is “unique” among graduate business programs in Michigan, “assists graduate students to think strategically, understand organizational culture, and effectively motivate the people who power a business.”

According to a news release from Aquinas, the Master of Management program is the second collaborative effort between Aquinas and Miller colleges. The Aquinas College School of Education served as the mentoring partner and recommending institution for Miller College as it successfully sought approval to certify its students enrolled in the Binda School of Education.

Miller College, which is located on the campus of Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, began offering classes in 2005. According to Jenny Andrews, director of marketing and communications at Miller, it offers individuals who already have at least 30 college credits the opportunity to complete their studies for a four-year bachelor degree. Most Miller students have been students at Kellogg Community College.

Miller offers degree programs in education, nursing, business and arts and sciences, with nursing being its largest program at this time.

“I was in the first graduating class (at Miller College) and we had 11 (students),” said Andrews, “so we have grown tremendously.” Miller College now has an enrollment of more than 350.

Andrews, 36, also happens to be one of the graduate students accepted for the Aquinas College Master of Management cohort program. She said she has a long-term goal of earning a doctorate degree. She already was considering Aquinas College for graduate studies, in particular because she likes its emphasis on sustainability.

“So when Miller College and Aquinas started talking about their partnership, I knew that it was going to be a perfect opportunity,” she said.

“The fact that I only have to come on campus two times (in the first quadmester) for class is very attractive because I don’t want a completely online program. There’s a huge benefit to being able to interact with the people in your class. Yet, I have two very active kids and a full-time job and a lot of extracurricular activities, so attending class regularly every week didn’t appeal to me, either,” Andrews said.

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