We have come a long way from the days of our founding, back when UTSA was on the outskirts of town and faculty and students parked in dirt lots. Today, the UTSA College of Business has one of the 30 largest undergraduate business programs in the country. More important than the size of our school is our portfolio of accomplishments, and the opportunities we have over the next several years. I believe strongly that our brightest days are yet ahead of us.
Our Tier One aspirations encompass all we do, from facilities to faculty to research. But, there is one thing that is at the critical core of Tier One: our students. We are here because of, and for, our students.
We are poised to make remarkable strides. As those that follow UTSA are aware, our cyber security program was named the No. 1 program in the nation by the Ponemon Institute last year. The College of Business had the first academic program in cyber security at UTSA and continues to be the largest academic program on campus in this area. Partnering with the College of Engineering and the College of Sciences, UTSA’s team won the Southwest Regionals of the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition and was one of 10 teams who advanced to the national competition. This is a strategic area of high priority for the college, and we will continue to invest in this program and the faculty and facilities necessary to continue to deliver excellence.
The business world is dynamic, and we must accordingly be agile in responding to market needs. For this reason, we are thrilled to launch two new graduate programs this year. Our new data analytics program is designed to meet the needs created by Big Data, which is perhaps the most dramatic change in the business landscape in the past several decades. Advances in information technology have resulted in the digitization of almost all human, corporate and government activity. Big Data is both a challenge and an opportunity. The College of Business will launch in Fall 2016 our first cohort in the M.S. in Data Analytics program pending final accreditation approvals. Graduates will be equipped with practical skills and toolkits to analyze Big Data and aid decision makers through sophisticated analysis and predictive modeling. This area represents the single, highest area of pent up workforce demand in industry.
Another new program addresses a need in our community to assist recent college graduates having difficulty finding attractive and rewarding careers. Many undergraduate majors are not designed to assist with the eventual employability of their students. Weak economic growth has compounded the job prospects for such students. Consequently, the College of Business is launching a new one-year Master of Science in Business degree designed for recent graduates who majored in anything other than business. This intensive, lock-step program will immerse students in the fundamentals of business, enabling them to leverage their diverse educational backgrounds with the knowledge and tools needed to embark on a successful career.
Our vision in the College of Business is to transform our students from the curious and hopeful into confident and career-ready young professionals. We aim to be the best in class by focusing on providing educational programs that provide both applied technical skills in areas of high workforce demand and professional skills that help students integrate into the workforce. Let me share a few stories about our recent graduates that highlight how we are transforming our students.
Mike Stevens is an Air Force veteran and lifelong tech geek. After finishing a degree in political science, he was attracted to our No. 1 ranked cyber security program. Mike was a member of the Collegiate Cyber Defense team and credits the experiential learning gained in our Cyber Security Lab and the mentoring by Dr. Nicole Beebe, The Melvin Lachman Distinguished Professor, for his success. Upon graduating he was recruited by one of the leading cyber security firms, FireEye, in Washington, D.C. His experience at UTSA made this possible.
Our Financial Studies Center has been profoundly instrumental in allowing our undergraduate students to gain hands-on training with sophisticated technology used on Wall Street for research and valuation. This technology is common at many large and prestigious business schools, but what is unusual is that at UTSA the lab is primarily used by undergraduate students, which is access not generally afforded to undergraduates at other institutions.
Two recent graduates are evidence of the value added by exposing our undergraduates to the experiential learning in this lab. Timothy Breidenbach is a Coast Guard veteran who developed a passion for finance while visiting New York City during his shore leaves from duty. After leaving the Coast Guard, he enrolled at UTSA where he pursued his interest in finance and for two years was the president of the Investment Society. This summer he joined Goldman Sachs in New York City. Angeline Mathew was the president of the Financial Management Association, a member of the Investment Society and a protégé of faculty member Ron Sweet. She also went to Wall Street, where she is a fixed income analyst with Deutsche Bank. Their experiences at UTSA made this possible.
This past year we have also benefited from the generosity of business leaders who have seen the value in our programs and students and have reached out to help them realize their dreams. San Antonio real estate icon Walter Embrey Jr. gave $1 million in support of real estate fellowships. The fellowships will be used to recruit more students in the master’s program in real estate finance and development. In recognition of his gift, the college has renamed our program the Embrey Real Estate Finance and Development Program.
Alumni Nancy and Frank Kudla donated $500,000 to establish the Kudla Fellows program, which provides support to graduate students in cyber security. This gift was made because the Kudlas recognized the prominence of our cyber security program and wanted to help make it better. Last month the college dedicated the Kudla Foundation Research Laboratory in their honor, a lab that will house the members of the Cyber Defense Competition team.
And our most recent gift has come from Barbara and Alan Dreeben. Their $250,000 gift will support graduate students with a passion for entrepreneurship. I am humbled to think what our current and future students will be able to accomplish. It is an honor to be associated with the UTSA College of Business at this point in time and to have your support as we continue to improve the social and economic development of San Antonio and make dreams possible for our students.
Paraphrasing the words of one of our recent graduates, “We will never forget where we came from, but we will never let it hold us back!”
Wm. Gerard Sanders
DEAN, BODENSTEDT CHAIR AND
PROFESSOR OF MANAGEMENT