Cohort 8 arrives in South Africa

Members of Cohort 8 arrive in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 17.

Stetson University’s Executive MBA Cohort 8 group has arrived in Johannesburg!

The group of 15 passengers departed Orlando International Airport yesterday at 7 a.m. After a 1 1/2-hour layover at JFK, the group flew 15 hours across the Atlantic Ocean to Johannesburg, South Africa.

“We arrived this morning at 8:40 local time,” said program coordinator Wendy Lowe. “We met up with our academic guide, Lewis Chidziva of MBA Vista, and Dr. Stuart Michelson, who has been in ‘Joburg’ and Durban since Tuesday on university visits. All of us arrived safely, including our baggage!”

When Dr. Michelson arrived earlier in the week, he wasn’t so fortunate. His bags didn’t make it, so he had to buy apparel locally in order to make his business appearances.

After landing and checking in at their hotel, the group is off for lunch in Nelson Mandela Square.

More updates to come!

Skydiving is only one of Michelson’s adventures this month

While the students in Stetson University’s Executive MBA Cohort 8 were getting prepared to fly across the Atlantic to visit South Africa in a just a few days, their director was flying as well — but mid-flight, he jumped out of the plane.

Dr. Stuart Michelson, dean of Stetson’s School of Business and director of Stetson’s Executive MBA program, went for a skydive last weekend at Skydive DeLand to celebrate his birthday. Jumping out of a plane at 13,500 feet might be too scary for some people, but Michelson called it “fun.”

“This is something you just have to tell yourself you’re going to do and then not let yourself back out,” said Michelson, after his jump. “Like many people, I don’t like heights, so the first step out of the plane is the hardest, but once you’re out, it’s great. The free fall at about 170 mph is a tremendous rush, and when the chute opens, you have a very peaceful quiet glide into the landing area. You can see for miles.”

This wasn’t Michelson’s first jump, though. In May 2010, he and another professor, the late Monique Forte, and eight Stetson University students went skydiving together, the day before graduation.

What’s up next for this daredevil, of course, is the trip to South Africa, where the current students in Cohort 8 are visiting for their international trip.

“It all seems very exciting,” said Michelson. “I’m especially looking forward to visiting the Apartheid Museum, the Pilanesberg Safari, the Robben Island Tour (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned), the Cullinan Diamond Mine and Warwick Winery.”

Michelson and the members of the cohort depart Orlando International Airport June 16 and return 10 days later. We’ll be posting updates throughout the trip on this blog. Stay tuned!

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.

2011 Stetson University Executive MBA Alumni Reception

One lucky alumnus who RSVPs by May 1 will win a two-night stay at the Hilton in Daytona Beach.

The 2011 Stetson University Executive MBA Alumni Reception is just around the corner! It will be a great opportunity to rekindle old friendships and make new connections with others who have gone through the Executive MBA program in Celebration. The event begins with cocktails, dinner, a silent auction, and a brief awards/recognition program. The rest of the time is yours to visit with your fellow alumni. Here are the details:

Saturday, May 14, 6-9 p.m.; Celebration Golf Club, 701 Golfpark Drive, Celebration, FL 34747; RSVP here; a $25 per person donation is suggested but not required.

Dr. Wendy B. Libby, president of Stetson University, will be in attendance, as will many Stetson University Executive MBA faculty members, including Dr. Carolyn Nicholson (Marketing), Dr. Carolyn Mueller (International Business and Finance) and Peggy Stahl (Organizational Management). Dr. Stuart Michelson, dean of the Stetson School of Business and director of the Executive MBA program, and Wendy Lowe, program coordinator, will host the event.

Alumni who RSVP by May 1 will be entered into a drawing for a three-day, two-night stay at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort worth $458. In addition, all attendees will be able to set your own price on a number of great silent auction items! Below is the list of products gathered to date (subject to change). It’s the perfect opportunity to get a deal on a getaway, a meal or a gift. Check them out, and we’ll see you May 14 in Celebration!



Personal Catering


Sweet Tooth

Gifts, Pampering and Miscellaneous

Stetson School of Business earns prestigious reaccreditation

Stetson University’s School of Business Administration has been reaccredited in both business and accounting by AACSB International — The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The reaccreditation was received earlier this month following an in-depth review of the business school and visit by an AACSB team.

“AACSB accreditation is the highest level of accreditation for business schools internationally. Stetson School of Business Administration is proud to be among the elite few universities awarded business and accounting accreditation,” said Dr. Stuart Michelson, dean of the School of Business Administration. “This ensures our students experience the highest quality programs taught by our exceptional faculty.”

Founded in 1916, AACSB International is the longest serving global accrediting body for business schools that offer undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees in business and accounting. Only 607 schools of business, or less than 5 percent worldwide, have earned AACSB accreditation in business education. Of those, only 35 private universities internationally — including Stetson — 
also have accreditation in accounting.

To maintain accreditation, a business program must undergo a rigorous internal review every five years, at which the program must demonstrate its continued commitment to the 21 quality standards relating to faculty qualification, strategic management of resources, interactions of faculty and students, as well as a commitment to continuous improvement and achievement of learning goals in degree programs.

The first business school in Florida, Stetson’s School of Business Administration was established in 1897 and today offers a wide range of majors in its undergraduate business program, as well as a number of master’s programs. Business and accounting degree programs are rigorous, relevant to emerging trends in the business environment, and supported by strong faculty and academic leadership.

In addition to the traditional MBA, the School of Business Administration offers an Executive MBA, the Master of Accountancy degree (both in class and online), a joint Juris Doctor (law)/MBA degree in conjunction with the Stetson University College of Law and a dual degree Master of Science in Pharmacy and MBA in conjunction with partner school, the University of Florida College of Pharmacy.

Both the JD/MBA and MSP/MBA programs allow a student to complete two master’s level degrees in approximately three years of study. A collaboration between the university’s business and music schools allows a student to earn both an undergraduate music degree and an MBA in five years.

Among the distinctive business programs offered to students at Stetson are the Roland George Investments Institute, through which finance students make investments with real money; the Family Enterprise Center, which boasts the first academic major in family business in the United States; the Joseph C. Prince Entrepreneurship Program; the Stetson Summer Innsbruck Program, offering study-abroad in Austria; and several lecture series featuring top business executives.

The School of Business Administration requires an international business course of all undergraduate students and also offers many shorter field studies abroad each year, for both undergrads and graduate students. Countries visited through field studies this year included Japan, China, South Africa, Malaysia/Vietnam and Hong Kong. Additionally, all Stetson business students take a First Year Business Seminar designed to introduce new students to the business disciplines, as well as two shorter courses that transition them through their Stetson program.

The School of Business Administration is housed in the Lynn Business Center, which opened in 2002 and provides a modern and flexible instructional and work environment. The facility reflects Stetson’s commitment to small class sizes and collaborative faculty-student teaching and learning – and also provides the current technology to meet emerging needs in business education. The LBC was the first building in Florida to earn Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Cohort 6 students reach new heights in Dubai

A group of 20 Stetson University MBA students took an uncommonly long commute in July 2009 to learn about business practices taking place east of their Central Florida classrooms — almost 7,800 miles east, in the constitutional monarchy of Dubai.

“The Dubai experience has gone beyond everyone’s expectations,” Dr. Stuart Michelson said in an email from the Persian Gulf state just before the field study trip ended. He is director of the Executive MBA Program and is Roland and Sarah George Chair of Finance.

“Nakheel was unbelievable. It set the bar,” said MBA student Mark Snider of Ocoee after a discussion with Nakheel Development leaders and a tour of the company’s $3 billion Palm Jumeirah, a 25-square kilometer island created in the shape of a palm tree, a “trunk” and 17 “fronds” of world-class luxury high-rise hotels, shopping destinations and thousands of residences. But the bar may have been passed later that day with a tour of Jumeirah’s Burj Al Arab Hotel, the second-largest hotel in the world. The group met with the hotel’s executive committee for a question and answer session and then toured the palatial presidential suite of the hotel, which soars more than 1,000 feet from an artificial island on the coast.

“This was the ultimate experience,” said student Andre Hale of Orlando. “This was exactly what we hoped for; meeting the top management team and the executive board.”

The EMBA students visited and met with leaders of financial institutions and industries such as medicine, hospitality, marketing and finance that operate in the multicultural and multilingual United Arab Emirates state where the largest contributors to the economy are real estate, tourism, construction, trade and financial services. This is the farthest any EMBA International Field Study group has traveled in the program’s history.

“We’ve met top executives with some of the largest firms in the world,” said Michelson. “We’ve toured their facilities and experienced how Dubai has addressed hospitality management issues, and how Emirate companies deal with huge construction projects with very short timelines on a grand scale. Even with distinct cultural and religious differences, the people of UAE have worked together to create a huge metropolitan city in a little over 10 years.”

Michelson and EMBA coordinator Wendy Lowe accompanied the students. In former years, EMBA students studied commerce in Ireland, Austria and the Czech Republic. This Middle Eastern academic experience broadened students’ views of how a diverse people with unique challenges can be successful by thinking creatively and developing new ways of doing business, said Michelson.

Self-discipline pays off for Cohort 6

EMBA’s Cohort 6 -- Back row: Anne Hamilton, Brian Sward, PJ Baro, Andre Hale, Shawn Byrd and Eileen Bowe. Middle row: Abdullah Qasim, Kelly Long, Damaris Jimenez, Mark Snider, Carlos Escobar, Doug Steele, Derrick Guss and Melissa Emley. Front: Bryan Tabler, Deborah Gustafson, Jennifer Small, Melania Lavezzi, Shibani Kyani and Melissa Holycross.

Consider this business proposal: Build a luxury hotel resort condominium on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast that will have rapid initial sales and maintain high occupancy rates. Call it the Tropical Sands. Give it 84 two-bedroom units with many amenities, including balconies with views of both ocean and jungle. Build it in the country’s hottest destination, easily accessible and environmentally rich.

Or what about selling cars online, or operating an adult daycare center or selling wine or developing and selling smart phone apps?

They are all entrepreneurial ideas of students in Stetson University’s Executive MBA Cohort 6, who graduated from Stetson University in May 2010. The detailed business plans, some of which may become reality, are a critical exercise that comes at the end of 19 months of rigorous study.

Awards, surprises, friends and good food made a festive finish for a cohort that went a long way together — all the way, in fact, to the constitutional monarchy of Dubai on the Persian Gulf, 3,700 miles east of the cohort’s classroom, for the international field study element of the group’s studies. In Dubai, students met leading financiers and managers of businesses with a global reach. They also walked the sands of the Arabian Desert and met a few camels.

Students voted lecturer Peggy Stahl of the Management and International Business Department as their “Distinguished Professor.” Jennifer Small was voted “Top Student Overall.” The award for best business plan, decided by Drs. Monique Forte, Ted Surynt and Stuart Michelson, dean of the School of Business Administration, was Tropical Sands, developed by Anne Hamilton, Melania Lavezzi, Abdullah Oasim and Doug Steele.

Among other accomplishments, Cohort 6 left its mark on Stetson by developing a Code of Ethics for future cohorts.

The EMBA program is designed for students with years of real world experience. Cohort 6 is a combination of regional residents, employees of Celebration area businesses, and some who traveled more than two hours to attend class every Friday and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

But that wasn’t the hardest part, said PJ Baro. “Making the decision to obtain a graduate level degree was the most difficult part,” Baro said. After that was merely a matter of “great discipline and focus to balance family, work and school responsibilities.” The reward, he said, has been meaningful relationships, a wide professional network, advanced business knowledge and acumen that will “make a lifelong impact.”

Baro was one of six Cohort 6 members tapped to join the honorary society Beta Gamma Sigma. The others are Eileen Bowe, Melissa Emley, Jennifer Small, Doug Steele and Brian Sward.