Since becoming dean of the Jennings A. Jones College of Business at Middle Tennessee State University just over a year ago, Dr. David Urban has had hundreds of visits with business leaders in the region to talk about the skills current students need to be workforce ready.
The overwhelming response was the need for students to have better honed “soft skills” — communication, problem solving, etc. — that are absolutely necessary to match with technical skills to make business relationships productive for all parties involved.
That’s why MTSU’s Jones College has entered an exclusive partnership with Dale Carnegie Training, the internationally recognized professional development training organization, to embed this “soft skills” training within the university’s curriculum.
The result: All Jones College graduate and undergraduate students will have taken such a course for credit before obtaining their degree.
“Even in the 21st century, business is still about people,” Urban said. “A person might have the manual dexterity to transmit text via a smartphone within a few seconds to anyone on the planet. But if that person expects to be successful in business, success is all about relationships with customers, clients, and colleagues.”
MTSU’s partnership with Dale Carnegie Training of Tennessee to provide for-credit training courses will not be duplicated at any other university in Tennessee, Urban noted, and in fact will be unique across the entire country.
“For years, the Dale Carnegie Course has had an enormous impact on the business community in Tennessee. Through this partnership and Dean Urban’s vision, we will work to develop the skills of the MTSU student body,” said Allyn Walker, the president of the Dale Carnegie Training office in Tennessee.
“These students will be able to foster teamwork, build customer relationships and contribute to a positive work environment. We are delighted to be able to contribute to this future class of leaders.”
The Dale Carnegie Course will teach students effective personal interaction, stress management, persuasive communication, problem solving, leadership, and positive attitude formation.
“Our extensive research among business, community and government leaders around Middle Tennessee and beyond has indicated to us dramatically that business graduates need the ability to communicate and to build and maintain relationships more than ever before, even in this age of high technology,” Urban said.
Jones College faculty members are in the process of becoming certified Dale Carnegie instructors. These instructors will then teach business students, with the first courses expected to be offered during a soft launch in spring 2015.
Peter Handal, CEO of Dale Carnegie Training Worldwide, noted that the partnership with MTSU represents “a unique opportunity for our organization.”
“For over 102 years, we’ve been developing the engagement levels of employees across multiple industries as companies realize that the engagement level is a key differentiator in creating growth,” Handal said.
“The partnership with MTSU will create students who not only understand business issues but are also able to thrive by having developed communication, leadership and other human relations skills that are crucial to business success.”
Urban added that the new strategic plan for Jones College will ensure that students continue to receive solid technical training in accordance with the college’s international accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
But the main focus over the next few years, he said, “will be a major professional development initiative, to provide students with the soft skills needed in today’s business environment.”
“This will provide our students with a skillset that will allow them to be competitive with any students in the country,” Urban said.
For more information about the Jones College of Business, visit www.mtsu.edu/business.
— Jimmy Hart (firstname.lastname@example.org)