NSU is making the final adjustments in combining the two major business programs housed in the Huizenga College of Business: the Razor’s Edge Shark Cage program and the Huizenga Business Innovation Academy. While both programs have major similarities, for instance, the same academic program where students can receive their bachelor’s and master’s degrees within four years, there are some notable differences affecting the integration.
The Shark Cage program aims to enhance students’ experiences as they serve as CEOs and lead Huizenga Business Innovation Academy students, in creating and operating an on-campus business. A major similarity of both programs is that students receive a loan of $20,000 from NSU to seed a business start-up upon graduation. With these differences and similarities in mind the Shark Cage program is already in the works of being integrated into the Business Innovation Academy.
The senior, junior and sophomore classes of the Shark Cage program are staying relatively unchanged in the integration project. Shark Cage’s experiential learning aspect lies within students running their own business as a single entrepreneur, this responsibility of the upperclassman is unaffected in the merge. The only uncertainty for the Shark Cage program falls within the freshman class of 2023 and their role both within Shark Cage and the Business Innovation Academy. While the freshman class were originally told that they too would be running their own business by their junior year, the new integration looks to prevent an elitism in students that may be formed due to this promise.
Monica Paneque, program director of the Business Innovation Academy, stated, “This year’s class having the dual role of Shark Cage and academy put this hierarchy in place that we haven’t worked out yet.”
Andrew Rosman, dean of the J. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, after stepping into the position in September, saw a disconnect between the two programs and the university. With the integration of the two programs, Rosman said that he aimed to eliminate the disconnect and foster a more flourishing relationship between the students and the Business Innovation Academy.
“To have two different programs that had essentially two different identities to the point where the students wore different insignia shirts and jackets, to create two different brands for essentially the same thing and then foster competition between the two just did not seem to be healthy,” said Rosman.
Rosman added how he had a number of meetings with faculty and staff, as well as, visited the businesses in Mako Hall and came to the conclusion that having the two programs, in his own words, was inefficient and divisive. Additionally, with Shark Preview weekends starting early in the winter semester, Rosman had less than ideal time.
“Because we were entering a period of having to recruit new students, that really kind of shortened the runway for when decisions had to be made,” explained Rosman.
Two weeks ago, the college held a town hall meeting for students in both programs explaining the decision, as well as opening up the discussion to students involved. At the meeting, the goal was to stress how any students currently involved in the program would face no changes.
Rosman expressed, “If you’re currently in the program, your life is going to go on unaffected by the changes we are proposing for students coming in the fall of 2021.”
According to Paneque, the distribution of students accepted into the programs will alter slightly. Instead of 80 students split between both the Shark Cage and Innovation Academy, all 80 students will be accepted solely into the Innovation Academy.
Rosman and Paneque look forward to the benefits that this integration will provide. Rosman mentioned how they are looking to provide a viable and robust business program within the college, which they believe can be achieved through the merger of the two programs. Rosman also believes this merger will benefit the community outside of NSU, affecting the Broward county area with the ability to grow business on campus.
Rosman concluded, “To create an entrepreneurial ecosystem, you can’t be doing a lot of little things independently, you have to think about this comprehensively.”
Photo: Hunters Race