Executive MBA Alumni Event

President Wendy Libby

President Wendy Libby

Stetson University’s Executive MBA program hosted their Annual Alumni Event at the Citrus Club in Downtown Orlando on May 20th. The event incorporated participation from our Executive MBA Alumni, current students, Stetson University administrative leaders, faculty and staff.

The evening began with tremendous energy as the alumni networked not only with their cohort of peers, but also became acquainted with alumni from other cohorts. These connections were almost immediate as these alumni have had similar fond experiences at Stetson to share.  “It was great to see old cohort friends and catch up and meet alumni from other cohorts. I am especially excited about the vision that Dean Bakamitsos shared. The program is on a great trajectory!” Rich Tetley, Cohort 5

Alicia Matheson, Cohort 7

Alicia Matheson, Cohort 7

Stetson University leaders, President Dr. Wendy Libby and Dean of the School of Business, Dr. Tom Schwarz welcomed the enthusiastic crowd and encouraged each individual to “get involved, stay involved” and be an active participant in connecting their professional and personal lives and talents with members of the Stetson community.  President Libby shared the Strategic Plans and the direction for the future along with highlighted the significant accomplishments and growth that the University has experienced in the last 3 years.  Dean Schwarz introduced Dr. Yiorgos Bakamitsos, the new Associate Dean of Graduate Business Programs. This new position at the University is a direct result of the strategy, future expansion, and focus on graduate business programs at all Stetson campuses.

The featured presenter, Alicia Matheson, Alumni from Cohort 7, drew the crowd in when facilitating a discussion on Evolutionary Service, “meeting customer’s expectations is an evolutionary process. In today’s world, the customer has all the power! Knowing and understanding customers changing needs, expectations, and emotions and using the knowledge, coupled with the innovation and technology, to build stronger relationships that deliver memorable experiences is vital. Building these loyal relationships will help create a sustainable competitive advantage with bottom line results”, said Alicia.

Alicia proceeded to share specific examples from her 20 years of leadership experience with the Walt Disney Company, her international experience working for the United Nations, and her time as a student in the Executive MBA Program. Alicia had other alumni, share their evolutionary and innovative services that have revolutionized the health care industry (Rich Tetley, Cohort 5), and put a new company on the map (Pablo Chavez and Krista Scimeca, Cohort 10)!

Alumni and current students alike agreed that the event was a big success! Dean Schwarz welcomed a few professionals that will begin their Executive MBA journey in the fall 2014.  He assured these individuals that the challenging but rewarding months ahead would be transformational in their professional and personal lives. Valerie Drebsky who will be joining the Executive

Valerie Drebsky, Melanie Johnston and Dave Tucker - Cohort 12 with Dean Tom Schwarz

Valerie Drebsky, Melanie Johnston and Dave Tucker – Cohort 12 with Dean Tom Schwarz

MBA program in the fall with Cohort 12 said, “We were so honored to have the chance to meet not only existing students but also get to know recently graduating and existing alumni to the program. Having the opportunity to talk with individuals at all different points in their journey was as valuable as we prepare for our next steps. We ran into some familiar faces through the company we work for but we had no idea they had gone through the EMBA program so it was really refreshing to see them and know they were able to complete the program and balance it while working full time. The networking was great and connections made through the presentations helped to break the ice for individuals we didn’t know. Thank you for the invitation and looking forward to making more memories and friendships along the way!”

We had an excellent participation by all the cohorts; however, we are pleased to

Cohort 9

Cohort 9

announce that Cohort 9 had the highest participation of all.  This was their first opportunity as alumni to cherish the rich relationships that were formed both within their cohort and with the cohorts that mentored them along the way!

Dr. Bakamitsos thanked the alumni and students for their enthusiastic presence within the community and encouraged them to share their talents with others to make a difference in Central Florida and beyond!

Plans are underway for our next Alumni Event!

Stetson invites alumni and guests to Istanbul and Budapest

Travelers on the Alumni/Guest trip will take a cruise on Istanbul's Bosphorus. Photo courtesy of GoToTurkey

Dublin, Johannesburg, Dubai and other cities invoke happy memories or warm feelings for alumni of the Stetson University Executive MBA program. Now, alumni have an opportunity to relive their international travel experience with the first Alumni/Guest Executive MBA International Trip!

You are invited to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, and Budapest, Hungary, with Stetson University Executive MBA program’s Cohort 9, this summer, June 17-23, 2012.

Enjoy guided tours of the two cities, a culinary expedition, a visit to Parliament, a Bosphorus cruise and a full day on the Danube Bend. Plus, you can sign up for additional excursions visiting the Turkish or Szechenyi baths or the House of Terror.

While Cohort 9 is busy learning about company operations, economic challenges and cultural considerations for international businesses, travelers on the Alumni/Guest trip can be taking in the view from Galata Tower, haggling for souvenirs at the Grand Bazaar or sipping wines at Castle Hill.

This trip is the first time since the program’s inception that Stetson University has included alumni and guests as part of the experience. Dr. Stuart Michelson, Executive MBA program director, and Wendy Lowe, program coordinator, chose to add the alumni/guest component because of the relationships that are built during adventures like these.

Students and alumni on international trips form bonds that can last a lifetime.

“Each year, Executive MBA alumni have the opportunity to gather at the annual Stetson University Alumni Event to reconnect, establish new relationships and hear from like-minded professionals shaping business in Central Florida,” said Lowe. “The camaraderie at these events is always a plus, and many alumni reveal that learning from other cohorts is extremely valuable.

“This trip will provide several opportunities for students, alumni and guests to spend quality time with one another, further strengthening the Executive MBA bond at Stetson University,” added Lowe. “For Cohort 9 to be able to share cultural experiences with Stetson Executive MBA program alumni will be extremely meaningful and further enrich their learning.”

Two years ago, Michelson added a second destination to each international trip. “Visiting two countries allows our executive students to see the polarity in cultural and business operations first-hand,” explained Michelson, “and provides an exciting way for our students to analyze how these different countries grow their business operations and resolve challenges that exist.”

“Incorporating alumni into the 2012 International Trip will provide our current students with program mentors, will provide hearty discussions and will allow all participants to be exposed to the Istanbul and Budapest way of life,” said Lowe. “These findings will shape our executives professionally and personally as they continue to grow and prosper.”

People gather in the streets of Istanbul for food and fun. Photo courtesy of GoToTurkey

If you are interested in joining the Alumni/Guest International Trip, contact Wendy Lowe by phone (321-939-7603) or e-mail (wlowe@stetson.edu). Also, note the following details:

  • The package costs $3,000 per person and includes cultural events, four-star accommodations, the welcome dinner, three group lunches, the farewell dinner, and daily continental breakfast.
  • Space is limited, so be sure to sign up soon!
  • The trip must have at least 15 people signed up in order for plans to move forward.
  • Travelers must submit a $500 refundable deposit by Feb. 10, 2012. Final payment is due May 4, 2012.
  • You can choose whether to book your international flights with Air Treks or separately (by anthony). The flight from Istanbul to Budapest is included in the package price.

Guatemala City children to benefit from Stetson outreach

Students and alumni formed assembly lines to package meals for children in Guatemala City.

More than 5,000 children in Guatemala City will receive a nutritious meal because of students, alumni and friends from Stetson University in Celebration. More than 75 volunteers donated two hours on Saturday, Dec. 3, to assemble meals for malnourished children abroad. Friends of Stetson packed 5,200 meals and donated $1,300, which will aid starving children in Guatemala this holiday season. “This philanthropic effort at the Celebration Center was a success,” said Wendy Lowe, Stetson University Executive MBA program coordinator. “We re-evaluated our goals early on, and based on the participants’ infectious joy, we feel fortunate to be able to proudly say that Stetson University contributed to feeding more than 5,000 starving children and raising more than $1,300.” Volunteers helped the Feeding Children Everywhere staff unload the truck and set up five assembly lines. With holiday music and Christmas spirit filling the room, each assembly line packed meals that consisted of rice, protein (lentils), vegetables, vitamins and minerals. The meals are scientifically formulated to combat the effects of hunger on the human body. All that recipients need to do to cook each meal is to add it to boiling water.

Children were handy helpers, too, during the food packaging event.

Younger family members helped by flattening the meal pouches for shipping purposes and adding personal messages and drawings to the outside of the shipping containers for the Guatemalan children to enjoy. Executive MBA students Duane Trumble and Glorimar Hefner of Cohort 9 and Raul Herrera of Cohort 8 brought their entire family, children included, to share in the experience, as did Cohort 6 alumna Melania Lavezzi. “Their smiles said it all,” said Lowe. Those who donated their time included current students and alumni, along with their friends and family members, from Stetson University’s Executive MBA program, Professional MBA program, Passport Degree Completion program and the School of Education/Counseling. The school’s programs worked together to organize this philanthropic activity. “We learned that our students and alumni were interested in participating in an activity that would have a meaningful impact,” explained Lowe (by anthony). “We selected Feeding Children Everywhere because it has both a global and local presence, factors our students noted were important.”

The volunteers’ efforts will be felt more than 1,000 miles away in Guatemala City.

Lowe pointed out that alumni from Executive MBA program cohorts 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7 participated or made donations, as well as current students in Cohorts 8 and 9. Other Stetson University faculty and staff, including Professor Peggy Stahl, Dr. Chris Tobler and Dr. Becky Oliphant, also participated and enjoyed the opportunity to interact with students and alumni in a social setting. “It’s always a more meaningful feeling when I’ve reached out to support a reason that’s greater than myself,” said Monica Jordan, a student in Cohort 9 who volunteered to pack meals. Kathy Hannon, assistant director of the Professional MBA program, said she enjoyed the stories shared by the Feeding Children Everywhere staff throughout the event. “These stories allowed us to understand the impact that we were making globally,” added Hannon. “I am grateful for the outpouring of support and generosity,” said Lowe, “and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the beginning of continued philanthropic efforts in Celebration.” Donations will still be accepted online until Dec. 7.

Alumni Event featured entertainment, camaraderie and great prizes

Members of Cohort 7 reunited at the Alumni Event, after graduating only one week prior.

The Stetson University Executive MBA Alumni Event 2011, held May 14 at the Celebration Golf Club, brought together friends, colleagues, professors … and a comedian!

The night was a great success, in which alumni reconnected with each other, befriended new connections and visited with professors. In addition, the alumni raised funds for the Stetson University Executive MBA program, totaling $5,275. The monies were raised through a combination of silent auction items purchased, an optional donation to attend, and various donations on-site. A tip jar was posted at the bar so alumni could make donations directly to Cohort 8’s philanthropy effort in South Africa at the Oakhaven Home for the Aged. Alumni contributed $73 toward Cohort 8’s project there next month.

Cohort 6 was the most generous at the silent auction tables, with winning bids totaling $1,121. Cohort 5 was not far behind with $788.

Mark Mattern and his wife, Sonya Snyder, will be relaxing at Hontoon Resort soon, using the certificate they won at the silent auction.

A few alumni have signed themselves up for future adventures. In fact, Russ Lowe of Cohort 5 will be jumping out of a plane, courtesy of the sky dive package he won at the silent auction. Rich and Verena Tetley, Cohort 5, have plenty of leisure in store with four Park Hopper passes to Walt Disney World and four multiple-day passes to Sea World and Aquatica. Their furry family friends won’t go un-entertained either because the Tetleys also took home a pet basket from Woof Gang Bakery in Celebration. And Mark Mattern of Cohort 1 will find himself floating downriver on a Hontoon Landing pontoon boat, along with a two-night stay at the resort, while Anne Hamilton, Cohort 6, scooped up the Catering Auction items and will enjoy personal catering from Puff ‘n Stuff, Too Jay’s and Foodie in the coming year. 

The silent auction wasn’t the only method of winning, though. Mark Snider of Cohort 6 was the winner of the night of the grand door prize. Each alumnus who RSVP’d by May 1 was automatically entered into a drawing for a getaway. Snider won the drawing and, in turn, three days and two nights, plus breakfast each day, at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort, a value of $458. Congratulations, Mark!

Dr. Vincent Brenner, the accounting professor who slips wry jokes into his mostly-numbers teaching presentations, won the faculty prize, a $25 gift certificate to Café D’Antonio in Celebration and a bottle of wine from Imperium Food & Wine in Celebration (by jones). Dr. Brenner has been teaching the accounting courses regularly in the Executive MBA program and is a cohort favorite.

Comedy entertainer Brian Staron cuts open a fresh lemon that contained something Dr. Stuart Michelson had lost.

The entertainment for the evening consisted of both classical music and comedy. Harry Rios played the keyboard throughout the evening. Rios is a recent graduate of the Stetson University School of Music. Brian Staron of Comedy Entertainment performed a couple of magic tricks that kept everyone guessing. Let’s just say that Dr. Michelson found his signed $100 bill — but it left a sour taste in his mouth!

Many thanks go to all the companies that donated products to the silent auction; to Wendy Lowe, Dr. Stuart Michelson and Stetson president Dr. Wendy Libby for hosting and organizing the event; to Russell Sirmans for the excellent photography; to entertainers Harry Rios and Brian Staron; and of course, to all the students of the Stetson University Executive MBA program — past, present and future.

To view photos from the trip, check out Russell Sirmans’ site, Stetson’s alumni page or Flickr.

Archive: Stetson University announces new Executive MBA program at Celebration

Originally published by Stetson University, June 2003

Stetson University will debut a new Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) degree program this fall at the Stetson University Center at Celebration. The program targets working senior-level executives who have several years’ successful business experience.

The 19-month program will begin its first class on September 15. A maximum 20 students will be able to enroll. The new EMBA program is fully accredited by AACSB International, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. AACSB International accredits the Stetson University School of Business Administration at both the undergraduate and graduate level in both business administration and accounting – a rare accomplishment in business education.

One of the things that will makes Stetson’s EMBA unique is a focus on inspiring innovation and managing change in business today. The program’s curriculum was developed in consultation with some of Central Florida’s most talented and imaginative executives, including those at Walt Disney Imagineering Inc. in Celebration.

How is an Executive MBA different from a traditional MBA program? While both are fully accredited, the MBA program requires a set of foundational business courses that students usually take in an undergraduate business program. The EMBA requires business experience, not necessarily an undergraduate business degree.

“The EMBA program accepts practical and successful accomplishments in lieu of some courses required by other MBA programs,” said Dr. Paul Dascher, dean of the School of Business Administration. “Students receive all the quality you would expect from Florida’s first business school, plus the opportunity to build a network with classmates and faculty members who are absolutely top notch.”

The program will feature 17 different classes in areas ranging from management to finance to marketing to accounting. Classes will meet every other Friday and Saturday to allow busy students plenty of time to plan business and personal time around the coursework. The group, or cohort, that begins this fall will conclude the program in the summer of 2005.

“Our beautiful new center here in the heart of Celebration is the ideal place for us to conveniently serve the Orlando metropolitan market,” said Dr. Ron Clifton, associate vice president/director at the Stetson University Center at Celebration. “Technology and a state-of-the-art learning environment are real advantages of this new EMBA program.”