In 1996, Dr. Jeffrey Steagall
submitted a proposal for the University of North Florida to develop a
reputation in the field of international business. It was a monumental
considering UNF had no international business program at the time and
handful of professors in what was then the College of Business expressed
interest in the subject.
Steagall, newly tenured and in
his sixth year on the faculty, had the backing of then-dean Earle
the temerity to shoot for the moon, figuring Traynham, who had asked him
develop the plan, would approve only a fraction of it. To Steagall’s
Traynham approved every detail.
can do all of this,” Traynham
program in what is now the Coggin College of Business is thriving.
program attained flagship
status in 2006. It is one of only four UNF programs to do so. The
designation brought with it extra funding, increased emphasis on
national reputation and a contagious excitement about a program that is
record numbers of students abroad for what the University describes as
transformational learning opportunities.
abroad is opening students’
minds to see how other people live and what different perspectives they
how to do business,” said Dr. Andres Gallo, an associate professor of
and one of the two directors of the flagship program. “For students to
be able to go and see these differences and appreciate these
opens their minds. You know there is not only one way of doing things in
world. There could be multiple ways to get to the same goal, but you
learn how to live with that and you have to learn how to collaborate
people from other cultures.”
ranks seventh nationally in the
number of short-term study-abroad students and 20th for the total number
study-abroad students among universities offering master’s degree
according to the 2009 Open Doors report published by the Institute of
the 1990s, UNF was still a very
young school, and Traynham wanted to focus on areas where the business
could excel. Although business had become more global in the 1980s with
breakup of the Soviet Union and the emergence of Japan and South Korea
economic powers, only about 80 U.S. business colleges offered
business (IB) programs. IB dovetailed nicely with Jacksonville’s
relies on its port and international trade.
was clear that the old model of
the U.S. and Western Europe being the main parts of the global economy
starting to fade, so we figured we’d get out ahead of that,” said
UNF’s 2009 Distinguished Professor of the Year.
idea was that an IB program (and
a transportation and logistics program, also a UNF flagship) gave UNF
shots of developing a top 10 business program.
seemed plausible and it seemed
like a good fit,” Steagall said.
The hard part was
faculty with little expertise in IB to require every teaching applicant
an international aspect to their research or backgrounds so the college
build the program. Opponents wanted to hire the best applicants, not be
by an IB requirement. But Traynham backed the plan, and the faculty
“What we found was
that after a
couple of years we didn’t really have to try very hard, that often times
doing the international stuff were more go-getters, more risk taking,
adventuresome, and so what happened was that although it was a
a long period of time, we stopped talking about it very much. We put it
ad that we wanted to have an international background and that was it.
great people applying. We hired the best one.”
who otherwise might not
have considered UNF were attracted to the University because of the
international business program and the opportunity to participate in
researching foreign economies and study abroad.
actually may have increased the
quality of our faculty because of that requirement, and none of us
that. We never even thought about that,” Steagall said.
the business faculty has an
international flavor and such a high level of international business
that the subject is infused into nearly every course in the Coggin
Coggin faculty travel abroad to attend research conferences, visit
businesses, lecture at overseas universities and collaborate in projects
partner universities. Visiting professors from as far away as China,
Argentina come to UNF as guest lecturers offering a foreign perspective
since 2000, Coggin has
hosted an International Business Research Conference at which experts
around the globe discuss such topics as “understanding and
integrating Chinese culture into business,” “economic
crises and policy in developing countries,” and “emerging economies and
flagship also hosts an annual International Business Week.
The program, which is open to the public, features two lectures each
experts in international business. This year, for example, Thomas J.
a member of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, opened the program
talk about “Financial Reporting in the Global Economy.” Dr. Alojzy Z.
dean and economics professor at the University of Warsaw, lectured on
Development in Europe 20 Years after the Fall.”
last night the program features
a panel of students who have participated in study-abroad experiences,
UNF includes faculty-led trips, summer school, semester abroad, year
longer for graduate students. Students talk about their experiences and
questions from the audience. They are the biggest proponents of the
and their message is clear. They loved it and want to go back.
year, Coggin faculty taught
undergraduate study-abroad courses in 10 countries and graduate trips in
another two. The trips, which generally last 10-15 days, included
such diverse countries as China, Egypt, Austria, Argentina and Guatemala
undergraduates, while graduate students traveled to India or Italy for
choose between several one-month study-abroad programs in Argentina,
(Paris or Marseille) and Germany.
also can apply to spend a
semester or even a year at universities in Europe, Asia, South America
Middle East in one of 13 countries with exchange programs with UNF.
from those countries can attend UNF as well. The students pay tuition at
own university and earn credits toward their degree.
Henry, a 2009 graduate with
a bachelor’s in business management, said that when she was considering
abroad, managers at Convergys Corporation’s Jacksonville site, where she
interning in the Office of Global Inclusion and Diversity, recommended
assured her that it would increase her opportunities both internally and
externally when she returned. A number of managers pooled their
to book her airline ticket.
spent a semester in Belgium,
where she studied European business strategies, policies and management
techniques, learned French and used it as a base for travels throughout
She said the experience was life-changing.
grew as a person mentally,
spiritually and culturally,” she said, “I grew out of my comfort zone.
the biggest thing.”
grateful for the
scholarship opportunities that were made available to her through UNF
donors. She said it “truly made a huge impact on the success and meaning
Amanda Sieusahai, a
international business major and First Generation scholarship recipient,
be a poster child for study abroad. She participated in faculty-led
India and South Korea, and then spent a semester attending classes in
Quiet and shy when she first arrived on campus, Sieusahai is now a
young woman comfortable speaking to an audience of more than 200.
abroad has just made me
become a much more dynamic person, made me really understand a lot
said. “I understand a little bit better how everyone is more connected
the world is a lot smaller than we think it is, so it’s really important
the more she travels
the more she wants to get other people to travel and the more she wants
back. During spring break this year, she traveled to Peru to volunteer
“I think it’s something that’s
really special to UNF. I think it’s kind of unique that so many students
abroad at UNF,” Sieusahai said. “I’m happy that everyone’s learning that
business management major
Meredith Hough said she gained a open mind and a greater understanding
world around her during a semester in Alicante, Spain.
now understand that there truly
is more than one way to live life and I am starting to put the pieces
on how I would like to live my own,” she said.
the graduate level, Coggin’s
GlobalMBA program has won international recognition for its approach. In
GlobalMBA program, 10 students from each of the four participating
spend 15 months in a cohort taking classes and studying together in the
States, Germany, Poland and China. They graduate with two master’s
from UNF and one from two European universities. The GlobalMBA program
Best Practices in International Education Award in the United States and
one of two programs featured as models of business education in
leading news weekly.
GlobalMBA students we are responsible for
organizing our travel, living arrangements and all aspects of life
abroad. This level of responsibility causes us to take a closer look at
the culture of the country we're staying in, and creates new
learning experiences and personal development,” said Nathan Hall, a
student now in Poland. “The teaching styles and university
structures also vary from country to country, so there is much to learn
this program beyond the classroom.”
said living abroad presents
more extensive challenges and opportunities than just visiting another
for several days. Although GlobalMBA classes are taught in English, life
outside of the classroom is in the language and culture of the host
country. Intermingling with local students and experiencing even the
mundane aspects of life in the host countries has enabled him to learn
subtle differences between cultures, as well as surprising similarities,
“Another thing that is
really interesting about living
abroad is how it has changed my self-image,” he said. “When I experience
cultures firsthand, I compare what I see to my own culture. In doing
it has made me take a second look at my own culture; my ideas of what
or bad about life in the U.S. have been impacted by this reflection. I
have started to appreciate little things from life back home, yet also
some ways that life could be improved based on things here abroad.”
year, Coggin launched the
Ibero-AmericanMBA, a bilingual double-degree program with universities
and Argentina. The bilingual requirement illustrates the importance of
languages. The collapse of most American business overseas is due in
their failure to understand foreign cultures, and language is an
Dr. Jeff Michelman,
a professor of
accounting and one of the two flagship program directors, said the lack
foreign language skills hinders UNF students from fully taking advantage
study-abroad opportunities in which classes are taught in the language
that problem, Anne
Sheridan Fugard, the director of the Study Abroad Department, tries to
business students in their freshman and sophomore years, which gives
to pick up a second language so they can spend a semester abroad.
College gave a portion of
its flagship money to the Department of World Languages in the College
and Sciences to hire someone to teach Chinese. The class is growing in
popularity. In addition, Fugard and Michelman have begun recruiting at
high schools that offer Chinese language classes.
and Fugard smile at the
thought of enrolling first-year students with a working knowledge of
By the time they have taken Chinese classes at UNF and spent a semester
studying abroad in the world’s fastest-growing economic power, they will
bilingual graduates prepared to make their marks in international
Employers look for
coming out of college who can live in another country, in another
speak another language, Michelman said.
says a whole lot about that
student,” he said. “Can that student deal with complexity? Can that
deal with diversity? Can that student deal with change on the job?”
study-abroad trips are valuable for opening students’ eyes to the world
them, the real benefit comes from spending a semester or more living
“It’s not just about
in a foreign language,” Michelman said. “It’s not just about learning
business works in another country. It’s learning about themselves.”