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Monday, January 31, 2011 - Transforming spaces, transforming lives: Stinson Student Advancement Center


Creating a student-centered environment is an elemental part of how OU's School of Business Administration is fulfilling its objective of educating and preparing students for success in life. 

How the SBA delivers on that goal has evolved over the last three years, resulting in a transformation. As the SBA lives Excellence through Integration, complete with its three pillars of integrative thinking, experiential learning and global understanding, in the classroom and through student activities focused on experiential learning, it has also focused on creating an environment for student communities-- its home in Elliott Hall on OU's campus.

On December 13, more than 125 SBA faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends joined the SBA to celebrate the grand opening of the Stinson Student Advancement Center, which represents a tangible example of how the SBA is transforming its spaces to create a student community.

"OU offers many fine programs to prepare our graduates to meet academic, social and economic challenges throughout their academic career and beyond. All of which lead to students receiving a distinctive education that will carry them through life. The SBA's new center represents a tangible example of OU's dedication to supporting our students in and out of the classroom," says Virinder Moudgil senior vice president for Academic Affairs and provost.

Student-centered support

The Stinson Student Advancement Center -- along with other recent renovations -- shows just how the SBA is putting students at the very center of what it does. Delivering support and services to complement the high quality instruction students receive enables them to succeed in work and in life.

And that's something SBA students truly appreciate as they juggle their on and off campus responsibilities.

"The convenience of the new Stinson Center is a luxury for SBA students. Words cannot describe my relief that next semester, I can attend classes, grab a real lunch, meet with my student organization, seek curricular guidance, and collaborate globally with professionals from all over the world -- in one central location -- the Stinson Student Advancement Center," says Bridney Perry, marketing senior, and vice president of OU's collegiate chapter of the American Marketing Association, who spoke at the event..

"I often find myself running halfway across campus every Tuesday and Thursday to make it from class in Elliott Hall at 10 a.m. to AMA meetings in the Oakland Center at noon, and then zooming past the vending machine in Varner to quickly grab what passes for lunch, only to rush back to my 1 o’clock class in Elliott Hall," she adds, noting she also carries 16 credits as well as holds an internship position and on-campus position as a senior Admissions Ambassador

"On behalf of the student body here in the School of Business Administration, allow me to express my gratitude to our donors for this new Student Center and cafe. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed," she says.

An evolution

The addition of the Stinson Student Advancement Center is a significant example of the student-centered environment the SBA has been building for more than three years.

But it's also a step in the evolution of the SBA, which began with evaluating the benefits of the school's hallmark Applied Technology in Business (ATiB) program. The ATiB program offered students a wealth of experiences to enhance their education and work experience, as well as their connection to the SBA through a built-in community of peers.

SBA leaders worked together to build on those advantages by creating new programs offering similar experiences and benefits to other groups of SBA students. In fact, ATiB provided the genesis for the SBA's ACHIEVE program for incoming freshmen and Experiential Learning and Innovation program for SBA graduate students. Both now offer advantages where students gain hands-on experience in the work world, but also become part of a community within the school.

“The single most important contributing factor in my educational background is the real world experience I received by working with the many business partners of the SBA," says Razzaaq McConner, SBA '99, commodity manager, metallic purchasing group, Chrysler, who spoke at the event. "Experience of this magnitude provided me with a competitive advantage over other graduates both from Oakland University and elsewhere. This was a key contributing factor in launching my career with Chrysler. 

“As an ATiB student, not only did I get work experience by engaging in projects, I got faculty mentorship, worked as a team on innovation projects, listened to people with experience in workshops, and networked with sponsors and others – so, I could be best prepared for my professional life," says McConner, who also serves as a mentor through the SBA's ACHIEVE program. "ATiB provided an environment for me to be a part of the SBA community and safely learn about the dynamics of the business world that build upon the foundations taught in a classroom, just as the Stinson Center will for all SBA community.”

A community within a community

The Stinson Student Center brings services to students, creates a home for students in Elliott Hall and provides countless opportunities for interaction between expert faculty, business leaders and students in formal and informal settings.

"Building on the success of how ATiB enabled the creation of a community, our faculty members created distinct experiential learning programs to broaden the formation of more student communities in support of the SBA’s student-centered vision," says Mohan Tanniru, dean, SBA. "As those communities grew, it became clear that what was missing was a "space" for these communities to gather -- and others to form.

"Thanks to the vision, generosity and leadership of Craig Stinson and Hugh Elliott with their challenge grant, we were able to connect with alumni, friends, faculty and staff at a new level and transform this space for students. We're pleased to be able to remember the Elliott's for their generous contribution to create this building the SBA calls home. Today, we're honoring Craig and Ann for their support and generosity by naming this newly transformed space the Stinson Student Advancement Center."

Paying it forward

The Stinson's both value the experience they gained at OU's SBA. As SBA students -- Craig graduated in 1984, Ann in 1983 -- they worked hard on and off campus to complete the education which provided the foundation for their success today.

Helping others succeed is important to them -- and they believe the SBA is an important step in accomplishing that.

"The business school is so pivotal to OU. My wife and I are so proud to be able to give something back to the faculty and students," Craig says. "We feel blessed to be able to do this.

"This was what we needed to do to move this place forward .. so many people, so many good ideas, just needed some support," he adds. "Vision is a nice thing to have. Bringing it to reality is better."

"It's the whole pay it forward concept," Ann says. "We came here, received a great education and became successful, and now we can help others succeed. We encourage others to help too -- it's not just about money, it's about time and talent. Students need mentors and advice, and a place to get it -- now students have that place."

The Elliott's and Stinson's raised the bar on their challenge.

"We throw the challenge back to you now," Craig says. "We've taken a step on the journey to be great.  Keep doing what you're doing -- do more of it -- take it to the next level."

A place to learn

"The Stinson Student Advancement Center is a magnet for students," observes Horst Sherriff, a member of the SBA's Economic Advisory Board. " It's just a stunning piece of work. It just grabs you. Here students can come together to work, interact, debate, discuss and socialize in a stunning environment."

With the technological and design advances modeled here the SBA is exposing students to diverse learning opportunities, and distinctive learning and social experiences that will prepare them to make meaningful and substantial contributions to society and the workplace.