MBA program celebrates 10 years

Since its creation in 2006 after a transformative gift of $10 million from its namesake benefactor, the Mike Cottrell College of Business at UNG has grown in size and stature.

The college is among the less than 5% of the world’s business schools to have earned the hallmark of excellence with accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International.

In support of its vision to build strong graduates and strong communities, the college serves some 5,198 students — more than a quarter of UNG’s nearly 20,000 students — in an array of undergraduate and graduate programs across four of UNG’s five campuses.

In its first decade, the Cottrell MBA program has granted more than 200 degrees, expanded to two campuses, and added graduate-level certificates in cybersecurity, entrepreneurship and innovation, and technology leadership. A part-time program built for working professionals, the Cottrell MBA was recognized as one of the top five public, part-time MBA programs in Georgia in the U.S. News & World Report 2018 Best Graduate Schools rankings.

The program has grown quickly in 10 years, and has increased enrollment by more than 17% 41 students graduated in May with a Cottrell MBA. That growth is expected to continue as the need for business managers continues to outpace the supply across Georgia. According to the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL), the business management job sector is growing across the state, with 7,380 more managers needed by 2019.

“Even as we celebrate the first decade of our MBA program, we continue to seek ways to prepare the next decade of students to be strong leaders who can navigate the complex business environment of their organizations and serve in leadership roles that will transform their communities,” Dr. Mary Gowan, dean of the Mike Cottrell College of Business, said.

The MBA capstone requires students to complete a two-semester program where they serve in a three- or four-person team that consults with a local business on an aspect of its operations. Dr. Ruben Boling, director of UNG’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, said the capstone requires students to excel in client management, time management and application of what they have learned in the core MBA program.

Capstone project clients have included nonprofits, like Family Promise of Hall County, Fill Ministries and Gateway Domestic Violence Center, as well as companies like Gainesville-based Syfan Logistics, Coca-Cola and Fiserv. UNG students were part of a combined 22 capstone teams (11 each year) in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

The Cottrell MBA enrolls students from various backgrounds, not just those with bachelor’s degrees in business. That diversity adds value to the learning experience, according to Steven Kronenberg, director of graduate programs for the college.

“Our students range from those with many years of corporate experience to students who are just getting started,” Kronenberg said. “These students also come from a variety of industries, which further enhances the classroom experience.”

Jill Holman, director of internal audit at UNG, graduated from the MBA program in May 2019. She believes the degree strengthens her leadership ability and will “turbo charge” her career.

“Earning my MBA at UNG places me in a better position to lead,” Holman said. “The MBA coursework gave me an opportunity to work with diverse people, projects, and organizations. I was able to learn key essential business skills to support my future success, like leading diverse groups and managing change.”