On November 11, more than 200 faculty, staff, alumni, students, and industry leaders representing over 150 organizations gathered to celebrate the launch of the University of Redlands School of Business & Society.
First announced last month by U of R President Krista Newkirk and Senecal Endowed Dean Tom Horan, the new school—the first of its kind—enhances the University’s business programs to empower students to positively impact their community and the world.
“I am quite excited that today has come,” said Carlo Carrascoso, director of the School’s Banta Center for Ethical and Purposeful Leadership in the event’s welcome. “A day that we, as an institution, declare our intent to positively influence and guide the minds of those who have been placed in our trust.”
The event’s theme, Business for a Better World, reflected the evolution of business education at the University of Redlands in response to a changing business environment—one in which the societal context of business decision-making often takes center stage. Talks addressed topics including the social responsibilities of higher education, leadership in a changing world, and business applications in sustainability, social responsibility, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
As part of the celebration, Horan announced a $100,000 Redlands-Esri STEM scholarship for underrepresented minorities, also noting initiatives that include additional options for students to earn their degrees fully online and plans for a doctoral program in business administration.
In his remarks, Steve Wuhs, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and senior international officer, described the day as representing a tremendous leap forward because it signals what U of R values. He pointed to the recent creation of 4 + 1 accelerated programs, which provide College undergraduates of any major an expedited pathway to a master's degree in business administration or business analytics.
“[Students] are allowed to become the person they want to be as a traditional undergraduate,” Wuhs said, “and then carry those commitments with them to an MBA program that isn't going to ask them to leave it at the door.”
Highlighting the strengths of business education at Redlands, including opportunities like the 4 + 1 program, Newkirk noted, “We do this while teaching social values, ethics, and the perspectives to succeed in business and as a person in the world. That is our social responsibility as a university to produce—as the sign says—doers, dreamers, and trailblazers.”
The third era
The University of Redlands has offered business education for working professionals for over 40 years. In 1976, the U of R Alfred North Whitehead College of Liberal and Career Studies began offering classes and programs to “non-traditional” students in Redlands and at other locations. In 2001, the business programs were reconfigured into the University of Redlands School of Business. Now, a third era of business education at the University of Redlands begins with the School of Business & Society.
“With the name change comes a commitment to further expand our mission,” said Horan. “We have been evolving so the new name is a rightful description. We are deliberating evolving the programs around several pillars, including purposeful and inclusive management, ethical decision-making, socially responsible practices, data-informed decision-making, innovation and entrepreneurship, global and cultural perspectives, and environmental sustainability.”
The many facets of the school’s new focus were explored by speakers throughout the day. Keynote talks were given by Judy Samuelson, founder and executive director of Aspen Institute's Business Society Program, and Elsa Luna ’04, chief financial and operating officer at KPCC radio.
Samuelson spoke on her belief that businesses are one of the most influential institutions of our day and the greatest tool for our collective survival. While emphasizing that business decision-making must align with the long-term health of society, she stated that employees are the most dynamic force of change and key to accountability—those internal change agents that the new School of Business & Society has pledged to support and equip.
Luna spoke on her roots as “an indigenous Mexican American, native to Los Angeles, with English as a second language” who completed a master’s in business administration at the University of Redlands—with her degree in one hand and her baby daughter in the other. “Every day in my job I make sure that operations are running well, profitability is happening, and that double line return that I was told about is happening,” said Luna, adding, “I wake up every day thankful that I can contribute to the fabric of what makes Southern California so special by [looking out] for people who look like me.”
Other speakers included Cindy Elliott, director for global business and corporate sustainability at Esri; Stephen Bishop ’15, ’20, a healthcare consultant at Accumen Inc.; and De’Artist Odhams ’21, director of business development at Cigna.
Doers, dreamers, and trailblazers
Questions from the audience touched on issues of leadership, higher education, and the pandemic. One alumnus asked how the School of Business & Society will empower trailblazers who will be attacked and criticized for sticking to these issues.
Carrascoso, who teaches business ethics courses, responded with questions he asks his students: “How will you talk to power? How would you voice your decision in a way that is aligned with your values, but, more importantly, aligns your values with that of the organization? Sometimes, you will see a conflict there, but really, managers just need to be reminded about that alignment between the decision that you're making and the values of the organization.”
The event ended with the recognition of the school’s top students, its partners, and supporters, and its active-duty servicemembers, veterans, and military family members. Air Force veteran Keri Then, visiting lecturer of information technology, information systems, and data analytics, reflected on a commitment to service and noted how the nation’s all-volunteer force is represented at the School.
Keith Roberts, former associate dean of the School of Business, gave summaries of the University of Redlands’ chapter of Delta Mu Delta, an international business honor society, and the Whitehead Leadership Society, whose purpose is to encourage leadership and academic excellence.
The dozens of University of Redlands faculty and staff members who helped make the event possible were invited to the stage, where they stood next to screens listing more than 150 participating organizations and sponsors of the School of Business & Society.
“This has been a day of celebration,” Horan said. “We feel so gratified for [partners’ and supporters’] acceptance of what we’re going forward with, because it is rather bold. We appreciate your insights and the participation of the faculty, staff, Board of Trustees, and the larger community to make the idea of business for a better world and business and society a cornerstone to how we operate.”
For more information about new programs, including accelerated master’s programs, visit the School of Business & Society website.