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Arkansas College breaks new ground.

New Business Program Among Best in Country, Entergy Executive Says

A CHANGE IN EMPHASIS this year at Arkansas College in Batesville has created one of the premier business programs in the country.

That's the opinion of Edwin Lupberger, chairman of the board of Entergy Corp. and chairman of the school's Business Program Advisory Board.

"At Arkansas College, business education has changed to meet the new needs of management," Lupberger said at the school's Founder's Day ceremonies Oct. 28. "By teaching the business leaders of tomorrow how to understand and maximize the human equation, |Arkansas College has~ leaped ahead of other business schools, even the big-name Ivy League schools."

Lupberger's praise for the business program centers on a change that began at Arkansas College last spring.

The college offers no business-related majors other than economics. The entire business program now focuses on providing a liberal arts foundation and practical involvement with business leaders and major corporations in this region of the country.

That practical involvement will continue because of a $4 million gift by the Frank Lyon family to establish the Lyon Fellows Program.

The program, announced on Founder's Day, will pay for 40 full-tuition scholarships a year to students interested in business, banking or public service careers.

Keeping Graduates in State

It also will provide internships for students with leading corporations in the south central United States. The students will have a service internship during the freshman year and internships with companies after the sophomore and junior years.

Companies such as Stephens Inc., ABF Freight Systems Inc. and Entergy have already agreed to hire Arkansas College interns.

"The idea is to retain some of the bright kids in the state through a first-quality business program that is very different from anything else in Arkansas," says John Griffith, president of Arkansas College.

The internships will not be entry-level positions, but jobs that will allow the students to learn what it is like to be a corporate leader, Griffith says.

In addition to the practical experience the school provides its business students, it also tries to avoid "pigeon-holing kids in narrow business curriculum," Says Griffith, formerly vice president of Davidson (N.C.) College.

Arkansas College attempts to address the problem corporations have in hiring students out of programs that offer only accounting, advertising and management, Griffith says.

"They do not then have the type of broad-based skills, knowledge and understanding of what Lupberger calls the human equation to provide leadership in the organization," Griffith says.

The Business Program Advisory Board, which includes some of the leading company executives in this part of the country, suggested some of the changes, says Tom Cooper, who chairs the business division.

"Economics is the theoretical and decision-making foundation for most business," says Cooper, who was at the University of Florida before coming to Batesville. "We want to train our students to be the decision-making leaders of the future."

Cooper has a doctorate from Princeton University and an undergraduate degree from Davidson College, two schools that are also restructuring their business programs.

Arkansas College has three "side programs" in business, Cooper says.

One is the executive-in-residence program. Graham Holloway, former chairman of American Funds Distributors of Los Angeles, is working with the program this semester.

Plans for the executives are for them to lecture on areas of their expertise and participate in class discussions.

"With these executives, we'll be able to bring in some real-world experience," Cooper says.

Holloway is teaching a one-hour class in investments, which was his expertise at American Funds, a mutual funds business.

Holloway's class involves the second "side program," an investment fund that the business students run. The fund, which began with a $10,000 donation, now has stocks valued at $15,000 or $16,000, Cooper says.

"The students study the program and the market with some guidance from the faculty," Cooper says. "The original donation allows the students to get experience with real money without having to really worry about losses.

"The bad side is you are a little less cautious with someone else's money. But the good side is students get to learn the way people learn most things, by trial and error."

Ignorant in Investments

Holloway says one of the great problems today is that thousands of bright college students graduate every year "who don't know the first thing about investments."

Holloway has let the students speak with analysts at American Funds to determine how to study a mutual fund or stocks. He has even called the human resources department at American Funds to give his students an idea of how to prepare resumes.

The third side program is a small business center at the college. It assists new businesses getting started or small-businesses encountering problems.

"Our staff liaison connects student teams with small business people who have needs and lets the students help solve the problems," Cooper says. "We have student teams who have helped to create a small-business plan. I know of two or three businesses in town who have begun after having this conversation."

Many of the senior students take a seminar that "pulls together all the different threads of their education," Cooper says. Each senior in the seminar is required to work on a business case, studying many facets of a company's work.

Arkansas College also dedicated its new $4.5 million Lyon Business And Economics Building on Founder's Day. The 35,000-SF building, which opened this semester, includes a 175-seat auditorium, five classrooms, two sophisticated computer classrooms-labs and 24 offices.

College officials say the high-technology computer equipment and classroom facilities in the Lyon Building are among the best in the central United States.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Smith, David (American novelist)
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Nov 1, 1993
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