In a climate of rising tuition costs, UTC's business school has earned a national reputation as an academic program that gives students a bang for their buck.
"I think our programs stack up well with all the institutions that surround us," said Richard Casavant, dean of the business school. "We think we have academically prepared our students. We want them to be work-world ready."
The Princeton Review recently named the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's graduate business program in the nation's top 301 for 2010. The Review does not rank the schools; it simply lists them alphabetically.
Business Week ranked UTC's undergraduate business school this year as No. 82 in the country because of its success finding jobs for students. Both publications have included UTC in their rankings for the past four years.
"We are pleased to recommend UTC as one of the best institutions (students) could attend to earn an MBA," said Robert Franek, senior vice president of publishing at Princeton Review. "We chose (the school) based on our opinion of their academic programs and offerings. We also strongly consider the candid opinions of students attending the schools who rate and report on their campus experiences at their schools."
And the reputation of the business school means real dollars to its graduates, Dr. Casavant said. Fundraising for the business school has increased substantially in the last five years, although Dr. Casavant said he did not know the exact amount.
"(The recognitions) lend us a lot of credibility as a very viable business school," he said. "We have received a lot of kudos from people. Success begets success."
Last year, John Murphy and Renee Haugerud, hedge fund managers based in New York, gave $1.5 million to establish a financial center in the College of Business.
Dr. Casavant said he plans to present a plan for the center in January that will include the purchase of computers equipped with search engines used in the financial industry and a speaker series on trading.
The center will emphasize the "feminine approach to trading," he said.
"There is some work out there that suggests that women manage investments differently and in some cases more successfully," Dr. Casavant said.
Outside of fundraising, the most important mark of the business school's success is the fact that the college is getting jobs for students in the tough economy, he said.
"Our top graduates are sought after, but certainly it is a more difficult environment than it has been in years," Dr. Casavant said.
Christopher Ealey, an accounting graduate of UTC's business school in 2007, said the reputation of the school helped land him a job at CreateHere.
"My employer has high regard for the business school," he said.
Studying for the four-part Certified Public Accounting exam, he said he realized just how well the business curriculum at UTC prepared him to be an accountant.
"I felt that the teachers really cared about the students' education," he said. "They required a tremendous amount from you. They really prepared me for the real world and the CPA exam."
Volkswagen also hired a handful of graduates from UTC's master's in business administration program a few months ago for a few of its highly competitive jobs.
The school's executive MBA program, which caters to students who want to earn their graduate degree while working a full-time job, graduated 16 students last year and is growing.
"That means that they are willing to buy into the fact that an MBA will help accelerate their careers," Dr. Casavant said. "They are our best alumni."
UTC's approach to business education is different, in part because of its connection to Chattanooga and area businesses, he said. Business leaders who help raise money for the college on several advisory boards also guide the administration on the best ways to get students prepared for business careers.
"It is not just a financial thing," he said. "We pass strategy by them."
In the last three years, the business school has begun emphasizing internship experience to students, and the internship program has grown from only a handful of students to more than 100 this year.
"That has been a win-win for the businesses and the students," he said.
Mr. Ealey, having gone through the rigors of the business school, said he isn't surprised the college is getting more attention nationally.
"They have great professors there, and they are very intelligent and really push their students," he said. "That is what you reap."
UTC BUSINESS SCHOOL FACTS
47 -- Number of instructors
10 -- Number of adjunct instructors
2,300 -- Number of undergraduate students in the business college
30 -- Percentage of total UTC graduate enrollment
23 -- Percentage of total UTC undergraduate enrollment