By David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
Frank Edelblut, chairman of Business Task Force
Patrick Henry College is proud to introduce its new Economics and Business Analytics major, set to begin in the fall of 2014. The new Bachelor of Arts program, which incorporates advanced applied mathematics and statistical analysis skills demanded in today’s tech savvy business environment, has been approved by the College’s accreditor, the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS).
“Beginning this fall, Patrick Henry College will now be a serious competitor in the field of business and economics,” said President Graham Walker. “We’ve created a program that combines the ethos of PHC (academic rigor and commitment to God’s Word) with the real world needs of today’s business leaders, entrepreneurs, and economists. This is an exciting development and a milestone in the life of the College.”
The new program resulted from months of research and planning by a 15-member Business Task Force chaired by PHC Foundation Board member Frank Edelblut, Chancellor Michael Farris, and including Foundation Board member Howard Schmidt, PHC Trustee Michael Wright, Provost Ed Veith, and PHC professors Michael Kucks (physics) and Nathan Russell (economics).
“We weren’t interested in creating just another business program,” said Edelblut, a longtime investment leader and business entrepreneur. “There are enough of those out there, but the more we (task force) discussed this and surveyed businesses about what they need in new employees, we found that students with standard business degrees don’t necessarily possess the skills they need to be effective. Most business majors are missing a rigorous liberal arts approach to math and quantitative analysis required in today’s business environment.
“I’m an avid fan of classical liberal arts education,” he added. “This major fills out the classical liberal arts offering at PHC by elevating the economics and mathematics disciplines that go along with it.”
In addition to PHC’s comprehensive core curriculum -- a robust 63-credit academic program founded on the great texts and ideas of western civilization, beginning with the Holy Scriptures -- the Economics and Business Analytics major will require advanced courses in calculus, statistics, micro-economics and business ethics. That combined with an intensive ‘cooperative” module will give students real-world experience working alongside top corporate and entrepreneurial leaders.
“If you’re going to be effective in a typical manufacturing environment, working with engineers and designers who live and die by calculus, students need a basic understanding of the mathematical underpinning of manufacturing processes, quality control, failure analysis -- all of the many applied aspects and principles that allow them to be successful in the marketplace,” noted Edelblut.
Students will graduate with the background, skills and capabilities to excel in a myriad of career tracks, from stepping in as a corporate executive or company CEO to launching a successful start-up, Edelblut added.
“They are going to be shrewd entrepreneurs,” he said, noting that, “of course, coming from PHC, we’ll see these Christ-centered young adults equipped to meet the needs of leadership positions while bringing their faith along with them.”
Michael Kucks, Business Task Force member
“We saw we needed something more academic and math-oriented to give students skillsets to analyze data and make smart business decisions,” he said. “Business leaders told us that, in addition to foundational economics and math skills, they wanted employees with an ethical framework, to have a heart and a soul. PHC already instills that in its core, so – grafted into the academic rigor, math analysis and economics components -- we’ve created a very potent program.”
Graduates might go directly into industry but also serve businesses conducting statistical analysis for construction flow and industrial supply, the marketing of new products, accounting, inventory control, logistics, finance and investment.
Kucks continued: “We would love to send a flood of kids grounded deeply in economics and analysis, and fortified in Christian faith, into the corridors of power to help change culture of D.C., corporate finance, and American business itself.”
The program development process included “PHC's rigorous internal review process leading to Board of Trustee approval,” said Rodney Showalter, Senior Director of Institutional Effectiveness & Planning. “The College had authentically answered the many key questions regarding our readiness to implement this new program--questions about mission, student success, and educational resources. When TRACS noticed the consistency and quality of our responses, they could tell that developing this program was truly a community effort.”
The TRACS application consisted of a “comprehensive narrative documenting our readiness to implement the new major” (and about 250 pages of evidence), he explained. Dr. Ron Cannon, TRACS Vice President for Institutional Compliance, visited the campus and met with key academic and administrative leaders to ensure the ongoing quality of existing programs. His report went to the President of TRACS, who approved the new program in mid-January.
Presently, the faculty and administration are busy finalizing details for fall implementation, including the program notification recently submitted to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).
“I truly believe this program will be an incredible boost for the College in enrollment and prestige,” added Dr. Walker, “equipping a new generation of business leaders devoted to Christ and to liberty.”