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New business, science initiatives

Barry McNamara
The integration of business and the sciences has received a great deal of attention at Monmouth College lately, as a proposed academic complex that would host both broad disciplines has moved steadily from the discussion phase to the drawing board.

So it’s no surprise that business and the sciences are both key components of a series of new academic initiatives announced by the college.

On the business side, several enhancements will be made, including an increased focus on entrepreneurship.

“More and more students want to be entrepreneurs and learn more about it,” explained Mike Connell, chair of the college’s political economy and commerce (PEC) department. “We are going to offer additional entrepreneurism-related courses. One will be an introductory class, and another will feature regular visits by entrepreneurs in the region, including some from Peoria, Burlington and the Quad Cities.”

A special focus within entrepreneurism will be the role of engineering.

“If an engineer solves a problem, someone else has to get that idea or product out there in front of the customers,” said Connell, who noted that one of his department’s new faculty members has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and has started several companies. “In some of our existing and proposed classes, we’ll explore the relationship between the engineer and the businessman in greater detail.”

In addition, the PEC department is exploring seeking accreditation with the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Accreditation would offer many advantages, including greater visibility for Monmouth College, increased credibility when seeking funding from donors and foundations, and more professional development and leadership opportunities for faculty and administrators

“Opportunities” is also a buzzword regarding another academic initiative that will enable chemistry students to annually attend the American Chemical Society Conference. Monmouth chemistry students were able to attend the conference in 2007 when it was in Chicago, but new funding will allow students to travel to the conference wherever it is held in the U.S. Attending the national conference gives the students more opportunities to present research, to network and, ultimately, to find the strongest possible graduate school program.

“These conferences also increase our students’ morale, instill academic confidence and enrich their academic experience,” said assistant professor of chemistry Audra Sostarecz, who added that an average cost per student per year to attend the conference is more than $800.