October 25, 2021

Commitment to Commerce for the Common Good

In the current academic year, the Commerce School is taking a deep dive into the undergraduate curriculum. Year in and year out, schools of business make incremental tweaks to the content of existing classes, adding and deleting course offerings to meet the needs of an ever-changing marketplace and crafting new credentials to formalize in-demand areas of expertise. McIntire has always prioritized ongoing curricular updates throughout our 100-year history. This effort has resulted in the design and deployment of new tracks of study across all of our programs as well as minors in leadership, entrepreneurship and, most recently, real estate.

By far, the programmatic innovation that remains the hallmark of the McIntire undergraduate experience is the third-year Integrated Core. It immerses third-year students in most of the business disciplines through an applied approach to a hands-on project question from a corporate partner. The structure of this experience provides students with the opportunity to consider the lessons of their classroom learning within the context of a dynamic business problem. This ideation does not occur in a vacuum; students engage with members of their 50-person block, their small group of five, and an interdisciplinary team of highly engaged faculty. During the process of completing the project, they are exposed to the rigors of formal business disciplines as well as higher-order learning skills—communication, critical thinking, inclusive teamwork, adaptability, creativity, etc.—that are critical for professional success.

Over the summer, a group of faculty and staff went behind the curtain to immerse themselves in the inner workings of the School to examine program management, career services, academic advising, the University financial model, and other areas. They were aiming to better understand the operational alignment that defines effective higher education management, while considering our task of navigating the changing landscape and all that comes with it.

Later, this group began to map out the student journey to and through the Commerce School. They also conducted focus group sessions, surveying students to discover their needs and to learn more about how and why students get on and off the pathway to Comm. During the fall semester, the groups aim to survey our advisory boards to hear from corporate leaders, managers, hiring professionals, early career alumni, and others to better understand the current and anticipated state of organizations across the globe—and to identify skill expectations and gaps. Focus groups will also be conducted with alumni at every step of the career ladder and presented to employers to confirm the results.

Throughout this research process, the groups conducting this work are consistently checking with staff and faculty across the School to ensure that the voice of those who teach and support the academic mission of the School are kept informed while guiding the continued direction of the comprehensive review. The group’s goal for the spring is to provide a set of recommendations to the faculty regarding what and when specific business content should be delivered to students; the group also aims to detail the structure that we should adopt to provide a student learning experience that is academically rich and immersive. This full-scale examination of what we do, why we do it, and how it influences student outcomes across their professional careers allows us to continue offering the unique McIntire experience that sets our students apart from pre-professional students elsewhere.

The promise that we make to the members of the McIntire community and to society as a whole is to uphold our commitment to serve our students better in pursuit of contributing to Commerce for the Common Good. We eagerly elevate this ideal by purposefully examining our programs and processes, and ensuring that every student who attends the Commerce School is prepared to lead, disrupt, and build organizations that are economically successful, sustainable, and capable of lifting members of society.

The work that we do here in the Commerce School is centered on how we actualize the mission of the University of Virginia to be a University that is both great and good. Because commerce influences the lived experience of real people, it is incumbent upon those who work in and lead organizations to develop the multi-stakeholder perspective needed to achieve success in commerce while contributing to the common good of the global citizenry. At McIntire, this is our call, this is our responsibility, and this is what we do every day.

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