40th Anniversary in Focus: MBA program finds a home at USFSM

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: February 05, 2016

Editor’s note: The story here is part of a series of 40 stories commemorating USF Sarasota-Manatee’s 40th anniversary this academic year. For more about USFSM’s history, please visit usfsm.edu/anniversary.

Finding a home wasn’t easy for USF Sarasota-Manatee’s fledgling Master of Business Administration (MBA) program.

Years before USFSM moved to its new campus in 2006, the College of Business was working to launch an MBA program in response to local business leaders. USF’s College of Business in Tampa, which needed to give consent before allowing the program, supported the effort but only on condition that at least 25 students enroll.

If that happened, it would provide instructors to augment the USFSM professors already involved. Encouraged by this, local faculty rallied to get the word out.

“We contacted the newspapers, we spoke to businesses, the chamber, different groups, anyone we could think of,” recalled Dr. Peter French, then-associate vice president of academic affairs.

By 2002, enough students had registered, prompting the Tampa campus’ support. One last piece of the puzzle remained. The 31-month program lacked classrooms, and as it turned out, this would prove a sticking point over the next year.

Like USFSM, the program first turned to New College of Florida, where USFSM was making its home until its new campus was finished and ready to open at the old Crosley Estate. However, the response by students as they walked into the cramped classrooms was tepid to say the least, Dr. French recalled.

He and others resolved to find nicer quarters and landed at Arthur Andersen’s vast regional offices in Sarasota. But the storied accounting company, wracked by the Enron scandal, was foundering and within months, USFSM’s small MBA program was again looking for a new home.

Enter Charles Baumann, USF alumnus, local accountant and member of the board of directors for FCCI Insurance Group in Lakewood Ranch. With Baumann’s help, the college struck a deal to allow some FCCI placements in the MBA program in return for space at FCCI’s sparkling new offices.

“It was a beautiful building,” Dr. French recalled, adding that FCCI served as the program’s home for the nearly two years until USFSM’s campus opened. “We were always very grateful for FCCI’s help. They really stepped up for us.”

Like USFSM, the MBA program moved through several incarnations. The program still runs on Saturdays to accommodate working students, but now it’s spread over 20 months instead of 31.

Additionally, students can sign up under the General MBA track or an MBA with an accounting track to prepare them for the Florida CPA exam. Part-time students are welcome, too. Classes begin in the fall and spring. All classes are taught by resident faculty with doctoral degrees.

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