If you were to look at the cover of the most recent edition of “Reflections,” the SVSU campus magazine, you would see a picture of Scott Carmona holding the hand of a little boy.
You would also see the words “A Promise for the Future” in fancy lettering.
The promise refers to the $2 million that Carmona pledged to the construction of the new CBM expansion off of Curtiss Hall.
The project boasts of an “innovation lab” and “video teleconferencing tools which will allow SVSU students to interact with sister institutions across the globe.”
The total estimated cost is $25 million.
Of course, this sounds incredibly impressive, but is a new building a wise investment for SVSU?
As a graduating College of Business and Management student, I will use analytical tools I learned from my Executive Strategies and Policies class to assess the expansion.
This class is the capstone of the business core at SVSU that every CBM student has to take.
It would be reasonable to assume that the College of Business and Management would utilize the strategies taught to CBM students, but if that is true, building an expansion onto Curtiss Hall is no compelling indicator.
One of the primary components of Executive Strategies and Policies is the concept of distinctive competencies.
This concept suggests that businesses make decisions based off of what they do best.
If a business has success in a niche market, they will make decisions that continue to capitalize on the niche market.
If they have an incredibly unique product that not many other companies offer, they will try to market the product based off of its unique features.
It makes sense: do what you’re good at and give customers what you promise.
So what does SVSU promise its students?
What makes SVSU unique from other universities?
There are a few primary reasons that
students choose SVSU, and faculty and
staff persuading potential students
to attend never fail to highlight these factors: affordability, one-on-one attention from faculty and staff and an especially rigorous business program.
Does the new business building aid in any of these distinctive competencies?
No, the building will only add to the overall overhead costs for SVSU.
Donors are giving $25 million toward construction, but the costs of electricity, water and heating throughout the year will be taken out of tuition dollars.
This will be yet another factor driving tuition up, since about 80 percent of SVSU’s financing comes from students themselves.
The building will offer new offices for faculty and staff, but it will not come with more tenured professors.
Any student in CBM knows that there are only one or two great professors in any given subject.
The best professors have their classes filled instantaneously on registration day. This is in part because these professors are truly phenomenal, but also because there are not many quality professors in CBM.
$25 million could hire several quality faculty members.
Finally, does the expansion add anything to the business program itself? The “innovation lab,” where students “discuss real life products and real-life solutions,” is a misleading title.
A business “innovation lab” does not need any special equipment like a science lab would.
Business students can discuss products and business strategies in a janitor’s closet if they need to.
Nor do students need a “Bloomberg Trading Room” to look at real-time stock data.
Nor do they need teleconferencing technology – they already have it in the palms of their hands.
This technology won’t build relationships between SVSU and her sister schools or bring opportunities to CBM students.
The expansion does not add anything to the business program itself.
It is simply a misallocation of resources by a board of directors that is severely out of touch with the needs of students and the realities of the education SVSU offers.
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