70-year stamp of approval: USD among top 5 percent of business schools

June 4, 2019

This paid piece is sponsored by the USD Beacom School of Business.

Only about five out of every 100 business schools worldwide can say they’re accredited by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools for Business, or AACSB.

And for 70 years, the USD Beacom School of Business has been part of that prestigious group.

USD recently earned re-accreditation for another five years, underscoring its position as the state’s flagship business school that offers the gold standard of business education.

“We came out of accreditation with flying colors,” Dean Venky Venkatachalam said. “The peer review team spoke so highly of all we’ve done in terms of innovation, impact and engagement.”

Those have been key priorities for Venkatachalam, who became the dean of USD Beacom in 2014.

“I am an entrepreneur in a business school,” he said. “You have to make innovation part of your institutional DNA, and you have to engage with businesses. Business concepts cannot just be taught in the classroom; you have to engage with businesses to show students these concepts in practice.”

The accreditation team recognized USD Beacom for many accomplishments in key areas over the past five years:

  • Innovation: The Beacom School of Business has been innovative in curriculum, pedagogical practices and program innovations, including the addition of a new Master of Science in Business Analytics degree, new undergraduate majors and minors, as well as specializations in MBA and MPA programs.
  • Engagement: Collaboration with businesses, government and community leaders has led to strong partnerships in and out of the classroom, including the Beacom executive education program aimed at developing leaders throughout the region, distinguished speakers from industry and government, as well as internship and career opportunities for students.
  • Impact: Beacom’s impact can be felt at every level through faculty research, high post-graduation career-placement rates and student success in regional and national competitions.

“This accreditation is an incredible representation of how well the Beacom School of Business stays ahead of the curve when it comes to offering an innovative, relevant and forward-thinking curriculum,” said USD president Sheila Gestring. “Not only am I very proud of our faculty for continuously raising the bar in business education, but I am extremely proud of our students who will, without a doubt, be the next thought-leaders across the industry.”

USD has achieved its standing while practicing solid financial stewardship and offering significant value in return for competitive tuition, Venkatachalam said.

“We do not have the luxury of deep pockets like big schools have,” he said. “We are pretty lean, and yet we manage to innovate and connect with businesses on a shoestring budget and succeed.”

USD invests heavily in its faculty, though, and it’s reflected in accreditation, he said.

“We hire highly qualified faculty, and they make sure and maintain their qualifications each year. They have to contribute toward meaningful research, and they have to be measured. The faculty expectation at an accredited versus a non-accredited school is significant, but we get higher-quality students and higher-quality companies who want to work with us because of it.”

USD has become a recruiting stop for global businesses such as Goldman Sachs, KPMG and LinkedIn, he said, as well as leading local companies such as Daktronics and Raven Industries.

“We are not downtown Chicago or Boston. We are Vermillion, but we work very hard to bring those companies to our campus,” Venkatachalam said. “That takes demonstrating that our students are truly world class and can go shoulder-to-shoulder with Ivy League students.”

USD also has benefited from building relationships with area businesses over the past five years through offering executive education tailored to their needs, he added.

“And now we work with MetaBank, Raven, the city of Sioux Falls, POET, and that gives us the ability for our professors to engage and be connected with professionals in the community, and they bring those cutting-edge business practices into the classroom for the students,” Venkatachalam said. “It’s a co-value creation model. We create value for the businesses, and they help us, and we both succeed.”

USD Beacom is far from done evolving its approach to business education. The new Ellis Finance & Analytics Lab opening for the fall semester will offer a transformative learning environment.

“That’s going to be fantastic in recruiting high-achieving students,” Venkatachalam said. “I’m predicting we will get a boost in enrollment once that lab is done. I call it a digital sandbox, and for students who are experiential learners from different majors, this will allow them to access and visualize data and draw meaningful conclusions to make a business case.”

To be a world-class business school means demonstrating it through actions such as this, he added.

“If you’re doing all those things, the proof is in the pudding. Re-accreditation such as we just received is evidence-based. You show what you’ve done, and that’s what we did.”

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70-year stamp of approval: USD among top 5 percent of business schools

“Our students are truly world class and can go shoulder-to-shoulder with Ivy League students.” This stamp of approval helps prove it: USD received an accreditation only 5 percent of business schools worldwide can claim.

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