Why would students from Saudi Arabia, living in Erie, drive to Warren once a week to attend classes at the Warren Forest Higher Education Council? It's for convenience.
Gannon University offers an MBA program through the Warren Forest Higher Education Council, providing an opportunity for students to obtain the advanced degree without extensive travel.
Fourteen area students are in the cohort set to graduate in 2013. Five international students have joined the program to fulfill requirements for other degree programs at Gannon. "The students are majoring in academic disciplines outside of business administration," said Mike O'Neill, Gannon professor and one of the administrators of the program. "They need this course (Managerial Accounting), wanted to take it now, and this was a way to do that. The MBA students are benefitting from having international students in the class, something more likely to occur on campus in Erie than here in Warren."
Photo submitted for publication
Warren Forest Higher Education Council welcomes Gannon University international students taking Managerial Accounting along side of area students in the MBA program. In front row, left to right, Bill Bennett, Steven Terry, Abdul Alshubiki, John Revetti and Jim Dickson; back row, same order, Feras Alenaizan, Jennifer Cresanti, Alman Albarakati, Beth Caldwell, Robin Campolieto, Ashley Cochran, Lauren Stefanick, Michael O’Neill, instructor; and Ashraf Almohammadi. Students unavailable for the photo are Saad Algahtani, Ann Hill, Tasha Savko, Linda Sobina, Faisa Algahtani and Alishibake Abdulrahman.
The Gannon MBA program launched its sixth cohort of the program in Warren last spring. A group of students go through the entire program together, completing the degree in three years. Most of the MBA students earned non-business undergraduate degrees, so there is a core group of up to five required courses to expose them to business academics and prepare them for the advanced courses in the MBA curriculum.
"Over the last 12 months, students have been taking those core courses online and in the classroom, now we are meeting as a group every week to complete the additional courses for the degree over the next two years," O'Neill said. The courses follow a hybrid model combining class time and online work. The online portion consists of recorded lectures accompanied by PowerPoint slides and quizzes, up to two a week. Class time is focused primarily on discussion.
Once the face-to-face classes begin, there are nine class sessions every 10 weeks. The students get two weeks off each Christmas. That is their only time off until they complete the degree.
As one cohort is finishing, Gannon is holding orientation meetings to set up the next cohort. "We finish one and start the next one," O'Neill said. The program was launched in Warren because, "It was easier for one Gannon professor to drive to Warren than it was to ask 20 students from Warren to drive to Erie."
Warren County business and industry has many "products of the system" scattered throughout the ranks of present and future leaders.
Even though the next cohort will not begin until January 2013, interested students should start planning now. For more information, visit www.hi-ed.org.