Stetson unveils website redesign

Today, you’ll notice something a little different about your online home for the Stetson University Executive MBA program. The website,, has been redesigned to better meet the needs of alumni, current students and prospective students.

Photos like this one of Cohort 7's graduation in May 2011 are accessible through the Executive MBA program's redesigned website.

The redesign was part of Stetson University-wide overhaul of the school’s web presence, giving each department of the college added functionality and easier navigation.

“Some of the highlights include videos on the home page and a section about our international trip,” explained Wendy Lowe, program coordinator for Stetson University Executive MBA. “Now, students and future enrollees can register for events online and apply for admission right on the site. Plus, you’ll find a link to the Executive MBA blog with frequently updated stories, as well as Facebook and Twitter feeds for the program.”

The new site is also home to hundreds of photos sorted by cohort, global destination, and events such as graduation. “This photo library will be growing,” added Lowe, “so check back often!”

If you have colleagues or friends who are interested in obtaining a graduate degree, direct them to the new site,, so they can see if the Stetson Executive MBA program is right for them.

Please forward any ideas for the website or the blog to Lowe at

Business intelligence now more valuable to employers

Screenshot of KNIME

Converting raw data into information that managers can use to make decisions is becoming increasingly important. Image via Wikipedia

A shift in the world of marketing has led to a new appreciation for the analysis of data.

A report in The Wall Street Journal, “Business Schools Plan Leap Into Data,” discusses an emerging trend among graduate and undergraduate business schools to add classes, certificates and degrees geared specifically toward business intelligence, or data analytics.

The article says that as the use of analytics grows, companies will need employees who understand the data. The authors cited a study that found that by 2018, the United States will face a shortage of 1.5 million managers who can use data to shape business decisions.

“Analytics is certainly in the Top 5 things [executives] are worried about and investing in actively,” said Scott Gnau, president of Teradata’s Teradata Labs, told The Wall Street Journal. “Industry is going to demand it. Students are going to demand it.”

Kim Ruggiero, a Cohort 7 graduate of the Stetson University Executive MBA program, said she has witnessed firsthand the business world placing more value on the ability to decipher the numbers.

“Data analysis is vital, especially in the social media space, because as a marketer you need to know who to message to, what to message and how much to message,” explained Ruggiero, an associate marketing manager at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “Digital tactics such as online advertising, QR codes, website activity and social media sites are much easier to track than traditional media like radio and TV. It allows us to determine which tactics performed well and what the level of engagement was among our consumers to help influence decisions in the future.”

One of Ruggiero’s classmates, Darcy Clark, agrees. “Data is critical,” said Clark, who works in digital marketing at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “I use data on a daily basis, most often as it relates to our social media and Facebook strategies. We can measure the impact of a particular post and tell how many people engaged with the content, how many clicked through to get more information and how many ultimately purchased (if it was tied to an offer).”

Clark added that many people in her organization are tasked solely with data analysis, each working on a different piece of the puzzle. “It’s that important,” she emphasized.

But as much as data analysis is key in the marketing field, both Ruggiero and Clark say they believe most business schools don’t prepare students for the practical uses of data analysis.

“The base knowledge we gained from the Stetson Executive MBA program set the foundation for later learning that can only occur on the job,” said Clark.

Students in the Stetson Executive MBA program take several classes that focus on the subject, including Fundamental Statistical Management Techniques, Marketing Concepts and Analysis, Managerial Decision Analysis and Marketing Decision Making.

“Dr. Ted Surynt’s and Dr. Ram Subramanian’s classes were great in opening up my mind to think creatively about how all the pieces of a puzzle fit together,” added Clark. “That is critical when you’re looking at numbers and data and how those things fit into the larger marketing and overall business picture.”

Dr. Belcher wins EMBA Outstanding Professor award

Dr. Larry Belcher holds the plaque naming him the EMBA Outstanding Professor as members of Stetson University School of Business Administration’s Executive MBA Cohort 7 surround him. Students presented Belcher the award at the March 19 reception following the cohort’s last class of the 19-month program.

Many of Stetson’s veteran professors left lasting impressions on Stetson EMBA’s Cohort 7, but when it came to choosing one to receive the EMBA Outstanding Professor Award, the overwhelming choice was Dr. Larry Belcher, a finance professor at Stetson since 1990. Students said he has a knack for putting complex academic concepts into understandable real-world terms, connected with every student, espoused a centered approach to life and that his sense of humor helped lighten stressful classwork.

“You have to love a guy who answers to Dr. Doom,” said student Norbert Dean.

One highlight of Cohort 7’s studies was a trip to Vietnam and Hong Kong last summer where they not only met business leaders and toured factories and cultural sites, but also decided to perform a service project in Vietnam. The cohort worked in the kitchen of a small Buddhist monastery in Ho Chi Minh City preparing a meal for monks and played games  with children who also practiced their English on the students.

EMBA students in the past have visited Ireland, the Czech Republic and Dubai, and later this spring, Cohort 8 will embark for a tour of businesses and cultural sites in South Africa.

“I am forever changed because of this program,” said Darcy Clark, a Disney marketing manager. “I believe in myself more than I used to.  I’m more confident.  And most importantly, I’ve developed relationships that will far outlast my 19 months at Stetson.”

Walter Kurlin, a Disney facilitator of Orlando, agrees: “I have recommended and will recommend the program to others.”

EMBA graduates will receive diplomas at Stetson University Commencement ceremonies on May 7. Graduates include Penny Miller, Gillian Cady, Chuck Rivas, Norbert Dean, Aaron Wright, Terrence Tasior, Kelly Glassburn, Darcy Clark, Joshua Speed, David Ulloa, Kenyon Langford, Lourdes Mola, Alicia Matheson, Wael Alfattani, Susan Golinsky, Kimberly Ruggiero, Walter Kurlin and Joel Foreman.

‘Precious Pets’ business plan wins Cohort 7 honors

This is the team of Executive MBA students whose Precious Pets Resort and Spa business plan was selected by professors as the best. They are Wael Alfattani, Susan Golinsky, Terry Tasior, Kimberly Ruggiero and Joel Foreman.

Detailed business plans created by teams of students are a critical entrepreneurial exercise that draws on all elements of study and comes at the end of the rigorous School of Business Administration’s EMBA program.

Four teams in Stetson EMBA’s Cohort 7 created plans for businesses ranging from health and fitness to practical transportation and an art house. But professors and others who studied the plans awarded the Best Business Plan to a pet care concept developed by Kim Ruggiero of Winter Garden and four students from Orlando: Terrence Tasior, Wael Alfattani, Joel Foreman and Susan Golinsky.

Precious Pets Resort and Spa targets a high margin and underdeveloped niche of the steadily-growing pet care market by focusing on pet boarding supported with revenue from grooming, pet sitting, daycamp and care services and retail merchandising. The market model is tested and ready to be developed.

Participants in the Precious Pets project and other EMBA graduates will receive diplomas at Stetson University Commencement ceremonies on May 7.

Stetson University’s EMBA program is designed for mature students with years of real world experience who must fit weekend classes around family and career obligations. Most members of the group are employed by various Disney operations, but others came from backgrounds with Saudi Arabian Airlines, General Electric and other businesses.