Dr. R. Joseph Childs will soon be adding to his collection of academic degrees, only this time he didn’t expect to receive one.

Dr. Childs, dean of the College of Business & Legal Studies at Southeastern, recently received word that he will be awarded the first honorary doctorate from Agora University in Oradea, Romania. The date hasn’t been set, but Dr. Childs plans to travel to Romania to receive the honorary degree.

He said the honor was unexpected, as has been the impact of his time spent in Romania.

“I’m surprised how much it inspired them,” he said.

Dr. Childs first went to Romania in the early 1990s through connections with Assist International, which was conducting relief work in the country. He did consulting for a U.S. firm and also was hired as a professor at the state university in Oradea, which is where he met fellow professor M.J. Manolescu. Dr. Childs led workshops on leadership and how a market economy works, topics relevant to the Romanian people after their revolution and the collapse of the Soviet Union after the Cold War.

“At that time Eastern Europe’s view of America was the way it was before the Iron Curtain. They had little flow of Western information,” Dr. Childs said. “Economic freedom and political freedom was equated with religious freedom. They saw it was great that America had all of those; they had none of those.”

After leading the workshops, Dr. Childs was invited to return and teach economics, which he did the following academic year. He wrote a curriculum and taught a course that Manolescu translated. He also led a weekend workshop that counted members of the Romanian parliament as some of its attendees. The course was modeled after Southeastern’s Foundations of Business course.

Dr. Childs left lecture notes and textbooks behind, and the Romanians consumed them. They translated the books, and many became scholars on free market economies. Manolescu and others then began the process of starting Agora University, which comes from the Greek word meaning “marketplace.” While it is not a Christian university, Manolescu told Childs that the Judeo-Christian faith is a part of the university’s philosophical foundation.

In order to be accredited, Agora University first had to have each of its degree programs evaluated and approved. The Romanian parliament then had to act to give the university official accreditation, a process that is both time-consuming and rigorous.

But the university succeeded.

Dr. Childs later created a model to offer Southeastern’s MBA program to Agora students in 2009. The model hasn’t reached many students yet, but he plans to work to improve and expand it when he visits to receive his honorary doctorate. Dr. Childs believes that his connection with Romania is positive for Southeastern University, and SEU students have been going to Romania for mission trips for a number of years. He said he hopes the relationships between the two countries and the two schools continue to grow, and he looks fondly on his time teaching in Romania and leaving a legacy.

“I had some moments of, ‘Why am I here?'” he said. “But my relationship with (Manolescu) yielded fruit.”

Southeastern University students put servant leadership into practice every day in countless ways.

For three students, their leadership skills recently were put to the test at a national competition, and they stood out among the best in the country.

Austin Sanderson, Alex Emrich and Steven Howard represented Southeastern and their ROTC battalion at the Leader Development Assessment Course held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington this past summer. The course, also called Warrior Forge, is a month-long exercise in which more than 5,500 cadets are ranked according to fitness, land navigation, leadership and academics.

Sanderson, a senior from Dunnellon, New Jersey, ranked 137th out of all the cadets who participated to finish in the top 2.5 percent in the country. Emrich, a senior from Minerva, Ohio, ranked 577th overall and is in the top 10 percent.

Howard, a senior from Biloxi, Mississippi, also completed the course, which includes an Army Physical Fitness Test, two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups, a 2-mile run, day and night navigation tests, and simulated military exercises where cadets fill a different role each day, ranging from private to company commander.

“You treat it as if you’re being deployed,” Sanderson said. “It’s the biggest training event in the military.”

Southeastern’s students participated as part of the ROTC battalion based at Florida Southern College. Major Brent Reynolds, executive officer of the battalion, said his cadets tend to perform well at LDAC because he structures the battalion in the same way the course is structured. Each cadet fulfills a different role (weekly rather than daily) while in the battalion, and there are rigorous academic and physical standards.

“The cadets run everything, we just guide them toward what to do,” Major Reynolds said.

Howard, who plans to work in logistics through the National Guard, said the small size of the battalion gives Southeastern students an edge.

“We are a lot closer-knit group,” he said. “We compete hard and push each other.”

Sanderson hopes to enlist as an active duty infantry soldier. The hardest adjustment for him at LDAC was meeting so many new cadets with whom he had to work and lead during the course. He agreed that the leadership and expectations of the Lakeland battalion gave him an advantage over other cadets.

“They’re pushed for the minimum, we’re pushed to do the maximum,” he said.

Emrich, who is studying to be a pastor and wants to enter the infantry as a reservist, said the lack of sleep was a challenge. Cadets might average 4-5 hours each night during the month. But the reward can be great, as the cadets with the highest scores get their first choice of branch in the Army.

He said the training through the ROTC program, his studies at SEU and his experience at LDAC reinforced his belief about developing as a leader.

“You can train as much as you want,” he said. “But great leaders are born. From there it’s all about sharpening your skills as a leader.”

Enactus Finishes Third in League at National Expo

Administrator  -  July 8, 2013

Enactus Finishes Third in League at National Expo

Southeastern University business students continued their tradition of excelling on the national stage last month.

SEU’s Enactus team, formerly called SIFE, travelled to the Enactus national expo in Kansas City in May to give their presentation after qualifying through regionals. This was the fourth consecutive year that SEU has advanced to nationals, but for the first time Southeastern placed in its section at the competition.

SEU finished as second runner-up in its league, placing behind Penn State and Southwest Minnesota State. The team received a trophy and recognition on stage during the awards ceremony.

Among the projects that the team completed this past year was a butterfly garden at Southwest Middle School in Lakeland, which was featured in The Lakeland Ledger. The team also held a canned food drive and worked with the Transitions program for special needs students in Polk County, teaching them business and career skills.

Many of Southeastern University’s online graduate degree programs received national recognition this week as U.S. News & World Report recognized them among the top 100 programs in the country.

The College of Education’s online graduate programs were ranked No. 71 out of nearly 200 schools for Best Online Graduate Education Programs, while the College of Business & Legal Studies’ MBA program was ranked No. 79 in the list of Best Online Graduate Business Programs. Southeastern was the top-rated private school from Florida on both lists.

Dr. Joe Childs, dean of the College of Business & Legal Studies, said it was the first time the MBA program has been included in the rankings. He credited the faculty for their commitment to interacting with students online.

“One of the greatest ranking indicators is student engagement,” he said. “Our faculty demonstrates best practices by interacting with students through our Moodle-based online platform on a regular basis through prompt feedback, threaded discussions, individual coaching.”

Dr. Childs emphasized that all College of Business faculty members have terminal degrees and many years of experience in their fields. They have designed engaging curriculum that includes a variety of learning experiences such as short video lectures, case study analysis, readings, discussion boards, simulations, and personal tutoring from the instructors.

“Smaller class sizes and personal attention from faculty help us to standout,” he said.

The College of Education offers numerous online graduate degrees, including Master of Education programs in Elementary Education, Educational Leadership, and Arts & Academic Interdisciplinary Education. The college will be adding new master’s programs in Reading Education, Exceptional Student Education (ESE), and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) that will be available online in Fall 2013.

Dr. Doug Roth, dean of the College of Education, noted that only large state schools – University of Florida, Florida State, and University of South Florida – were rated higher than Southeastern among schools in Florida for Education programs.

“This is a tribute to our outstanding COE faculty and graduate students and the commitment to excellence that is at the core of our SEU leadership team,” he said. “We are also blessed to call Lakeland home to our university. This setting allows us to recruit excellent professors and develop quality programs.”

The College of Education will offer Southeastern’s first doctoral program, Doctor of Education (Ed.D), beginning in summer of 2014. That program will include online learning in the curriculum, along with summer intensive courses.

For more information on how the U.S. News rankings were developed, click here.

Recent headlines regarding Yahoo CEO Melissa Mayer and Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg have shined the spotlight anew on women in the workplace.

For decades, the debate over whether women should sacrifice career or family has been a prominent topic in businesses and homes. For Dr. Beth Leslie, assistant professor of management, the topic was the subject of her doctoral dissertation last year.

As Leslie was deciding her dissertation topic, she noticed that Assemblies of God colleges and universities had fewer women majoring in accounting than men. She discovered that there were actually more female high school students graduating in AP math with higher test scores, but it wasn’t translating into women in a math-heavy major with strong career potential.

Her research led to a possible solution: More female accounting faculty members.

“They need to have someone they can look up to,” Leslie said.

Dr. Joe Childs, dean of the College of Business & Legal Studies at SEU, agreed with that premise. Not only do accounting students need faculty members with whom they can relate, but students from all backgrounds benefit when there is diversity among professors.

“We are striving to hire a faculty that are highly qualified and represent diversity in age, gender, race, ethnicity and span of experience,” Childs said. “This is important for establishing positive role models for our students and other stakeholders.”

Childs acted on that mission this past summer. When the college had an opening for an accounting faculty member last summer, a search committee led by Dr. Lyle Bowlin was drawn to Natasha Ware, an African American with accounting experience at Ernst & Young in Tampa and for PODS storage company. Bowlin’s daughter, an accounting alumnae from SEU, had recommended Ware to the committee, which recommended her to Childs.

Ware had seen firsthand the challenges of women in business, especially in accounting. She also helped recruit employees from Florida State University while she worked at Ernst & Young with a focus on hiring more diverse workers.

“I enjoy helping all students,” Ware said. “But female students gravitate toward me.”

Bolwin’s daughter, Amy, suggested Ware would make a great teacher, which is a career that always interested her. She visited the campus, interviewed, and then decided to “take a leap of faith” when the position was offered and she accepted.

She teaches multiple courses, including Audit & Federal Tax I and Principles of Managerial Accounting. She said she has noticed more female students in accounting classes, even though the same demographics aren’t present in the real world. Ware has tried to share with students that it’s possible to balance raising a family with their career, a common concern for women.

“There is flexibility,” she said. “But there’s also times where the work has to be done.”

Ware said the interaction of students and faculty at SEU surpasses her experience at Florida State, where she only sought out faculty members during office hours. Southeastern faculty members regularly eat lunch with students and welcome them to stop by their office throughout the day. Students, not research, are the focus of faculty at Southeastern.

“At FSU, I did a lot of self-teaching due to larger class sizes,” she said. “But here the classes are smaller so faculty can be more interactive and engaged with students while in class.”

Leslie said hiring Ware and other faculty members with whom a variety of students can relate helps them to see themselves succeeding in that faculty member’s field. Childs said he’s already starting to see those results in the College of Business & Legal Studies.

“Several of our top accounting majors this year happen to be females who have already secured job offers from reputable firms,” Childs said.

According to Leslie, the college has to keep diversity a priority in hiring to be able to bring in a diverse group of students who will succeed at Southeastern and in their careers.

“I’m happy to work for a college that actively pursues diversity on all fronts,” Leslie said. “We can draw diverse populations into our majors by having diverse faces.”

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Administrator  -  April 6, 2013

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