Smucker, UA team to train next leaders
By TIMOTHY MAGAW
4:30 am, April 25, 2012
J.M. Smucker Co. will donate a total of $1 million over the next four years to the University of Akron to establish an institute aimed at cultivating the next generation of business leaders.
The program, called the Institute for Leadership Advancement, formally launches next fall and will be housed in the university's College of Business Administration.
“We would rather not put money into bricks and mortar, but (would rather) think about how to support a program that helps the university produce students with stronger leadership capabilities based on what businesses need today,” said Barry Dunaway, senior vice president and chief administrative officer at the Orrville-based food manufacturer.
While leadership always has been a component of the college's business curriculum, the new institute is expected to put a greater focus on leadership training within the college through new team development and networking activities, said Ravi Krovi, dean of the University of Akron's College of Business Administration.
“The mission of our college is to develop responsible and competent business leaders,” Dr. Krovi said. “We've always had leadership activities through our coursework, but for the first time we're giving students experiential leadership development activities.”
Activities within the institute will be a combination of for-credit and not-for-credit programming, including coursework and campuswide forums and workshops. The institute also will identify top-performing honors students and put them on a special course sequence that focuses on leadership.
The leadership institute is expected be a pillar of the university's recently revamped College of Business Administration, according to Dr. Krovi. The university overhauled its business curriculum with the help of more than 200 business leaders who serve on the college's professional advisory board.
“There's a need for a different breed of student,” Dr. Krovi said.
Smucker and the University of Akron have a longstanding relationship. For one, Paul H. Smucker, the company's former chairman, was involved in the founding of Wayne College, a branch campus of the University of Akron. Also, the University of Akron is one of the company's top feeder schools and four of the company's top executives, including Mr. Dunaway, are alums.
“They have continued to produce graduates who are skilled but also who have a good, strong work ethic,” Mr. Dunaway said. “We continue to see students come out of the University of Akron with that great work ethic and strong values that fit within our company.”
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