BGSU’s Center of Excellence for Developing Effective Businesses and Organizations (DEBO) was approved by the state in September, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. With Ohio’s current economic challenges, struggling businesses and organizations need help to stay competitive within an increasingly global environment. Budding entrepreneurs need assistance in creating new businesses, and even successful companies need advice as they try to expand. This interdisciplinary program unites seven institutes and academic centers to offer exactly that. “BGSU has a tremendous array of resources to help start, grow and strengthen businesses and organizations in Ohio,” said Dr. William Balzer, dean of BGSU Firelands and a member of the team that proposed the Center. “Our new Center will provide a one-stop shop for clients. When they come to DEBO, we can connect them to one or more areas of expertise that are most appropriate.” A main goal for the Center is to support economic development by working with new and existing businesses and organizations to foster their success. That could mean anything from figuring out global logistics to improving customer service to handling high levels of employee turnover. Those joining forces as part of DEBO include the College of Business Administration’s programs in organization development and supply chain management, the Institute for Service Excellence, and the Dallas-Hamilton Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. The College of Arts and Sciences’ industrial-organizational psychology program — which has been ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report — and the College of Education and Human Development’s School of Educational Foundations Leadership and Policy are key partners as well. “Because of the strength that we have in these programs, this umbrella gives us the opportunity to provide a more holistic approach to dealing with businesses in the region and beyond,” said Dr. Rodney Rogers, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at BGSU. As part of its mission, the Center promotes an effective combination of critical, knowledge-based support: > Undergraduate and graduate academic programs that produce highly skilled graduates who are ready for the workforce > Programs of research that are directly applicable to improving businesses and organizations > Outreach and service to public- and private-sector businesses and organizations in the local community and region
Organizations that already have been helped by faculty include the Cleveland Clinic and a Bowling Green-based technology start-up company, Blue Water Satellite. And every spring, Target asks College of Business Administration students to create strategies that will meet the needs of its customers and their changing demographics. The project brings real-world business opportunities to the classroom — not to mention a $4,000 prize for the winning team — and helps solve challenges for one of the country’s most prominent retail companies. “It becomes a win-win for preparing students for their careers and allowing employers and organizations to get to know our students during these projects,” Rogers said. While the University has expert faculty members who share their knowledge and advice, DEBO also helps educate the next generation of business leaders by involving undergraduate and graduate students. These interdisciplinary teams of faculty and students help the Center align University resources to directly impact the economy of the region and state. BGSU’s doctoral program in industrialorganizational psychology is prepared to assist them in everything from how to make jobs less stressful to finding the best ways to hire employees. Dr. Mike Zickar, chair of the psychology department who also worked on the DEBO proposal, said that the Center of Excellence is a win-win for the client and students. He pointed to the example of a northwest Ohio company that came to the University for help handling its growing pains as it adds employees and expands business. “They have a real need for things all the way from motivating employees to setting up systems for hiring, for marketing, and basic human resources,” Zickar said. “There’s no one faculty member here at BGSU who has expertise in all of those different areas, but combining our resources can really provide a much broader range of services to a client company.” DEBO also is promoting interdisciplinary understanding and cooperation at BGSU. Participating programs now bring in joint speakers and connect faculty who do similar work. “There are a lot of collaborative initiatives already under way, and the Center provides the catalyst to make them even stronger in a coordinated fashion,” Rogers said. DEBO is the third Center of Excellence at BGSU to win state approval. The others are Health and Wellness Across the Lifespan and Sustainability and the Environment. For more information about the Center of Excellence for Developing Effective Businesses and Organizations, visit business.bgsu.edu/cba/DEBO.html.
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