Students create business certification program

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Students create business certification program

Feb 01, 2004

Faced with doubtful administrators, University of Pennsylvania students raise $70,000 to kick off management program

Philadelphia-Recognizing the need for financial and managerial expertise, veterinary students at University of Pennsylvania (UP) have established a business certification program - the first student-run educational service of its kind.

The business seminars, which started on a small scale three years ago, now receive administrative approval as UP officials agree to recognize and manage the 14-course certificate program. Their acceptance comes as second-year student Megan Stalker reports the courses she and her colleagues have fought to provide classmates are well attended. They even earn money.

At presstime, more than $70,000 had been raised from a student body that already pays tuition to the most expensive veterinary medical program in the United States. About 140 students signed up for the seminars at $500 each.

This proves students not only crave business education, they're willing to pay extra for it, says Dr. Jim Wilson, adjunct associate professor and advisor.

"These students already are responsible for 52 hours of curriculum," says Wilson, who guided Stalker and her classmates in the program's creation. "The administration thought that the students, although they were eager, lacked the knowledge to put this together. I say, don't tell us the students can't become interested in business management, they can. I'm so proud of these guys."

Student response

As for the classes, Stalker says the program has been well received. The Business Management Certificate requires students to attend at least 10 of 14 classes covering topics such as accounting and personal finance. That works out to roughly 40 hours of supplemental education, Stalker says.

"There's been a groundswell of support," Stalker says. "Fundamentally, students here believe that this is going to make them better veterinarians. You can be a good veterinarian, but you can't be a great veterinarian without business. These courses are about self-improvement and improvement of the profession."

Second-year student Jennifer Stevens views the work as an investment in her future.

"I've sort of seen that veterinarians don't always have great business sense," says Stevens, who plans on entering equine practice upon graduation. "This program seemed like a good opportunity for me to get the tools I need to have the type of life I want after I graduate. The cost is high right now, but the extra skills and knowledge will help me recover those costs early in my career."

Seminars spread

As the certificate program moves forward, the college has agreed to take over its administration and bear the costs.

The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine also is attempting to take on the program. That's a testament to its success, and a rising need for business education, Stalker says.

"You can't learn accounting in a three-hour seminar; that's not the point," she says. "This is about developing good business sense. It's realizing that marketing, accounting, personnel management are things I should be thinking about and knowing what resources are out there. This program isn't going to teach you everything, but when these graduates get out there, they should have some base knowledge to enable them to make better decisions about their future. That's the logic behind this."