Positioned for Growth

Rutgers School of Business-Camden’s mission to offer new advanced educational programs and to promote local economic development

When Rutgers School of Business–Camden Dean Monica Adya arrived on campus in 2020, she envisioned new educational opportunties for students and faculty, with a goal of making a positive impact on campus and in the surrounding community.

Through faculty expertise and research, along with engaged student learning, Adya plans to support the surrounding community by stimulating economic development. “I would love to see that we make a positive impact in the community,” said Adya. “There is very deliberate understanding that Rutgers–Camden and the School of Business–Camden are an important part of the community, and that the Business School can be that catalyst.”

Adya’s interest in increasing societal impact through faculty expertise and research began more than a dozen years ago. Before arriving at Rutgers-Camden, Adya incorporated a civic engaged learning component to her classes as an information technology professor at Marquette University.  Her capstone course, “Systems Analysis and Design,” provided a service-learning platform that enabled students to deliver software solutions to assist more than 40 organizations in the Milwaukee area.

A five-year vision for change

Under Dean Adya’s leadership, RSBC is preparing a five-year strategic plan which includes partnering with Camden leaders in government, business and the community to promote the growth and success of the City of Camden.

Created with input from an array of stakeholders, the strategic planning team – including Chancellor Antonio D. Tillis, faculty, staff, students, alumni, the Dean’s Leadership Council, and community and corporate partners – met over the couse of a year to formulate the plan.

“We solicit comments from everybody as they all have a stake in our success," says Richard Michelfelder, a Rutgers School of Business-Camden clinical associate professor of finance, and the co-chair of the strategic planning committee, along with Murad Mithani, an associate professor of management. “A part of a plan is to inspire people. To inspire people, you have to say you are all stakeholders. ‘Where would you like us to go?’”

In partnership with The Small Business Development Center at Rutgers University–Camden, the school will assist small business owners in establishing their enterprise, from creating a business plan to running the operations of the establishment.

RSBC has a long history of community engagement in southern New Jersey. Students in an Organizational Behavior course worked in small teams to develop charitable projects for nonprofit organizations to collect and donate winter clothing and toys to Camden residents. Students in the Business Leadership Development Program (BLDP) created a community service project to raise funds for the “Hoagies for Heroes” initiative by hosting a virutal 5K run to purchase meals for health care workers caring for COVID-19 patients at Cooper University Medical Center.

Innovative corporate partnerships

One of Adya’s priorities is connecting expert faculty with Camden-area corporations to collaborate on research on key topics such as technology innovation, leadership in the workplace, the environment and sustainability.

Adya hopes the collaborations could lead to opportunities for corporate internships, mentors for students and possible externships for faculty. “It’s a win-win for Rutgers-Camden and for the corporations,” said Adya.

By fostering relationships with corporate partners, Adya hopes to arrange roundtable discussions and research conferences about important issues based on faculty expertise and research. “We want to be the place that convenes the practitioner and the academic community around themes that are relevant to the region and ideally get to the point where we are serving as a convener even at a national level,” Adya said. “We’ll start making small steps in that direction.”

Rutgers-Camden and corporate partners benefit from the relationship. “In this post-pandemic world, it's imperative that we leverage partnerships to be better than we were before,” says Shy Yi, a Rutgers School of Business-Camden assistant dean, and a participant in the strategic planning process.

New educational programs

RSBC has thrived during the pandemic with the addition of master’s programs.

“We know that in times of economic downturn, graduate enrollments go up because people go back to school to learn new skills for what lies ahead,” said Adya. “We had to move pretty quickly to benefit from that trend.”

SBC launched a successful Master of Science in Business Analytics program in the fall of 2021 and has started laying the foundation for a Master in Finance degree program scheduled to launch in the fall of 2022 that will expand job opportunities for students to enter new and developing fields. Recently, SBC introduced novel certificate programs in financial technologies and business analytics covering blockchain, cryptocurrency, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence.

Within the next year, the undergraduate program will be revised to offer new majors  and minors to prepare students for emerging specialties in new technology and analytics.

Adya believes her vision of greater societal impact through faculty expertise and research and corporate partnerships could be transformative for the region with a vibrant business district, and stronger community and corporate partnerships with the university.

“If the School of Business and Rutgers–Camden is seen to be having an impact as an important educational component of Camden and South Jersey, then it does great things for Camden, as well,” she said. “We are so entrenched with each other, that it makes sense that we become an important part of Camden’s transformation in the next few years.”