Dr. Claudia Santin is dean of the College of Business at Concordia University Chicago and is also a professor of leadership. We talked to her about navigating education during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how schools can create equitable experiences for minority students.
Dr. Claudia Santin
Dean, The College of Business at Concordia University Chicago
We have seen many schools pivot to online learning and support during COVID-19. What extra steps have you found to be important during this process to ensure the continued success of your students?
Fortunately, whether taking courses face-to-face or online, all Concordia-Chicago College of Business students and faculty use Blackboard to facilitate learning and communication. To assist those students who were accustomed to taking courses in person, the college’s MBA faculty offered multiple modalities of engagement, such as Zoom class sessions and virtual office hours.
The faculty of Concordia-Chicago’s ACBSP-accredited MBA program are held to a high standard of student engagement, including response time for emails and returning assignments with substantive feedback. Faculty have been exceptionally caring and sensitive to the additional stress students might be experiencing due to the pandemic.
Diversity and cultural understanding are vital for properly interpreting the law and certain business ventures. However, many minority groups are vastly underrepresented when it comes to higher education. How has your program not only reached out to underserved groups for enrollment but also pledged to retain these students through graduation?
The College of Business knows diversity is extremely important to provide a realistic global business experience. Students come from across the United States and around the globe, representing diverse ethnicities, races, and nationalities. There is an almost equal distribution between male and female students in our program as well.
Faculty value our MBA students’ distinct life experiences and unique viewpoints, which further add to the richness of the classroom dynamic. Their training includes fostering inclusion and cultural awareness through culturally responsible teaching strategies.
Does your program offer financial, academic, or any other support resources for minority students to create an equitable educational experience?
MBA students (and all Concordia-Chicago students from undergraduate through doctoral level study) have access to myriad of services through the Academic Center for Excellence. Personalized support ranges from peer tutoring to hands-on writing assistance. In addition, the college offers professional development workshops that focus on honing important leadership and business skills.
How does your program engage with the surrounding community? Are there groups that students from diverse backgrounds can join and learn about different groups?
Concordia-Chicago’s MBA students are encouraged to join the College’s Graduate Business Student Association, which offers business and social networking opportunities (virtually and face-to-face). Students have access to internships, and various clubs and student groups, including the Black Student Union, the Chinese Student Association, the Latino Student Union, and the Emerging Latina Leadership Association.
They have the unique opportunity to participate in the annual CougarTank business idea competition where they pitch real-world ideas to area business professionals. MBA students are also encouraged to network with the College of Business’s Business Advisory Committee, composed of business leaders from the community.