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University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Soo-Young Moon was recently recognized for his innovative efforts in advancing the quality of education in the College of Business.

Moon, associate professor of marketing, was awarded second place in the 2011 Innovation in Business Education competition for his innovative retail course. The award ceremony was part of the 2011 annual meeting held in Chicago on Oct. 10.

The Innovation in Business Education Award recognizes business programs or creative strategies that advance the quality of education in business schools. The award was given by the Mid-Continent East chapter of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). The program seeks to encourage innovation in business education by recognizing creative, unique strategies or programs which advance the quality of education and the management of resources.

Moon’s retail mentor program, taught as part of his retail management course, gives students a unique opportunity to work closely with local business owners and complete group projects to gain real world retail experience. Students in the class learn how to conduct surveys and focus groups, learn about challenges the retail industry faces and present findings to their peers.

Before adding the mentor program to the course, Moon had been teaching the course for 10 years and saw a developing trend. Students didn’t fully understand the strategy behind retailing and weren’t getting the big picture.

“Students were overlooking the importance of retailing in the overall economy and associated it with small mom and pop stores,” Moon said. “They didn’t see the impacts of major retailers or the role of retailing in a distribution system.”

After listening to student feedback, Moon came up with a student project to add to the regular lecture and discussion format. In 2009, Moon got feedback from students with the suggestion to add a mentorship aspect to the course.

Moon worked with College of Business Professional Development Director Jessie Pondell to find five business contacts who worked in a retail management position with at least ten years of experience who were willing to share their experiences and review students’ written work.

“We went into the community to seek professionals who were passionate about what they do and who were willing to share that with students,” Pondell said.

Assistant Dean Bill Wresch said Moon’s mentorship program gave students valuable insight and networking opportunities.

“By using local retailers for student project teams, students not only learn real-world experience but also have a mentor,” Wresch said. “Someone who they can refer to even after the class ends.”

UW Oshkosh College of Business Dean Bill Tallon said the comprehensive project covers all areas of retailing while giving students an opportunity for hands-on learning.

“When students are done with the course, they have a very good idea about retailing and running a business,” Tallon said.

Moon said feedback from students has been positive, but that there is a lot of work involved in the course. He also gives most of the credit for the award back to the students.

“I believe all of my students are marketing geniuses,” Moon said. “My role is to encourage them to explore their unlimited potentials.”

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