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The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh College of Business has many reasons to celebrate.

The 2019-2020 academic year marks significant milestones for three vital College of Business (COB) programs that differentiate the University from other institutions: Master of Business Administration Program is celebrating 50 years, the Student Managed Endowment Fund (SMEF) is celebrating 20 years and the Center for Insurance and Risk Management is marking its 10th year.

College of Business Dean Barbara Rau said the success of the programs can be attributed to faculty and staff dedication in providing high quality and applied business academics.

“I think the great strength of our College is the professional and personal development that happens throughout the curriculum,” she said. “It’s so closely inter-wound in what we teach. I think students really learn a lot about themselves, how they can leverage their strengths as a professional, how they can express themselves as a professional and how they can continue to learn and grow.”

Rau said COB programs are designed to enhance the economic vitality of northeastern Wisconsin and beyond. The longevity of the programs, she added, “is due to our faculty and staff’s hard work, the relationships they have built with industry professions and their continued joint commitment to understanding and meeting the needs of our region.”

Master of Business Administration (MBA) Program | 50 years

Since 1970, more than 3,700 students have graduated from the UW Oshkosh MBA program. Assistant Dean of COB’s graduate programs Dale Feinauer reminisces how the content of UW Oshkosh’s MBA program developed over time as the expectations of employers have evolved.

“Fifty years ago there was only one traditional program with limited coverage on topics like information, just-in-time management, diversity, culture and international business,” Feinauer said. “We have evolved our program’s pedagogy to strengthen graduates leadership skills, deepen their understanding of business acumen and advance their critical-thinking skills to help succeed in a global marketplace. This has included more focus on teamwork and team projects.”

UW Oshkosh now offers three different programs to accommodate a student’s diverse needs (time, cost and career goals) in earning their MBA.

  • MBA Professional program (PMBA), is taught in person in the evenings as well as fully online.
  • MBA Consortium program (CMBA) is a fully online module taught collaboratively with UW-La Crosse and UW-Eau Claire.
  • MBA Executive program (EMBA), launched in 2013, is a cohort-based program that meets on Saturdays for 16 months and includes an international study tour.

Feinauer loves the impact of MBA graduates in the local communities and sees a bright future for the program.

“We will always adapt our curriculum to keep up with the demands of the market, and this is achieved through key input provided by management and executives from local, regional and international companies. Currently, we are exploring ways to expand learning opportunities, including additional certificates offered and the ability to stack certificates to earn a master’s degree,” Feinauer said.

Student Managed Endowment Fund (SMEF) | 20 years

UW Oshkosh’s SMEF program was the first in the state of Wisconsin to provide a learning environment where students managed an institutional investment fund.

The first class had just five students and started with a donation of $25,000 from Thomas J. and Antoinette Candela Brinkman. Today, the funds have grown to more than $806,500 in assets under management. The funds are divided between seven portfolios, which is the largest amount of assets managed among the comprehensive universities in Wisconsin. One thing that has remained constant: all decisions are made by students.

Professor Stephen Huffman has been involved since the inception and said the continued support from donors and community partners has enabled UW Oshkosh to bring this high-impact learning opportunity to students.

“As our program thrives so do our students,” he said. “Community partners value our students level of knowledge, work ethic and enthusiasm for the field of finance. Time and time again, companies select SMEF students for competitive internships and more often it leads to full-time positions for our students.”

The SMEF trading room has become COB’s showcase learning environment. Since 2000, 346 students have participated in SMEF, with many of them completing multiple semesters in the program. With the impressive growth in assets, SMEF has funded more than $180,500 in student scholarships and contributed more than $87,000 in fees paid to the foundation. Huffman said he hopes to acquire additional reporting tools.

“I would love to be able to purchase access to the Bloomberg or Factset reports for the students,” he said. “This would require some key funding from our community but would greatly enhance the classroom experience. I guarantee that our continuous training of students in sound investment strategies will remain constant.”

Insurance and Risk Management | 10 years

The UW Oshkosh Insurance and Risk Management Program was created to address the skills gap between those who don’t understand the business of insurance and yet would like a solid career in the industry. The program officially began in 2009 with 12 students, and currently enrolls more than 70 UWO students.

The program curriculum highlights the fundamentals of insurance, insurance company operations as well as property and casualty insurance products. It connects students to regional insurance company partners through company visits, career fairs and other networking opportunities. Alumna and program director Kate Manthey ’89, has 25 years in the insurance industry and is proud to help the next generation understand that a career in insurance is more than just sales—in reality, insurance is a relationship-based business.

“We make sure our students gain the right professional skills that will prepare them for their career,” Manthey said. “One way we do that is through our required internship. This truly is meant to be a learning experience and more than just a checkbox you have to complete.”

Manthey said the program would not be possible without the guidance and financial support of  Insurance and Risk Management advisory partners who students visit on a rotating basis. UW Oshkosh, she said, is supplying a steady stream of highly proficient graduates to an industry in great need of such talent.

“I’ve known students within the insurance industry who have been promised jobs a year out from graduation. All they have had to do is finish out their year, get the grade and go to work,” Manthey said.

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