Coles Annual Report 2019-2020

“While we are navigating uncharted waters, I have nothing but confidence in our faculty and staff’s ability to guarantee that the Coles College of Business’s students and other stakeholders will continue to receive the excellent level of service they have come to expect.”- Dean Robin Cheramie

Pandemic Disrupts Routine, But Not Spirit In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic meant that Kennesaw State University – like other schools around the world – became a 100 percent virtual institution overnight. In-person classes went online, on-campus events pivoted to virtual or were canceled, education abroad experiences were put on hold, and students, faculty, and staff grappled with the uncertainty of what their roles would be going forward.

Coles Students Aid Small Businesses Hit by Pandemic Birton Cowden’s undergraduate entrepreneurship and MBA students put their classroom knowledge to work to help businesses struggling to survive through the Covid-19 pandemic. “I put a challenge out to all of my current and past students to take action to help their local small businesses,” said Cowden, assistant professor of management and research director at the Robin and Doug Shore Entrepreneurship Center. “I told them I would give them a large sum of extra credit to come up with alternative business models or even new ones for local businesses to give value to their customers.” The ideas included helping local yarn stores and manufacturers attract more customers through social media outreach, assisting a printing business with enabling its employees to work remotely, and an alumni even worked with shopkeepers in Nairobi to enhance their online presences. “For the business owners, there will be a longer timeframe to understand the potential changes to their business plan and how it may help them during these difficult times,” Cowden said. “For the student, beyond the academics of the exercise, it provides them with a way to actually help people.” Real World Student Competitions Take to the Virtual Stage The National Collegiate Sales Competition and the Southeast Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition invite hundreds of students to campus each year to showcase their talents and network with peers and corporate recruiters. During the pandemic, organizers took both events online while maintaining the quality that students and sponsors expect.

“For our young people, it’s important to see that when these challenges come up, there are leaders who’re going to move forward through the challenge,” said Terry Loe, co-director of the Center for Professional Selling and co-founder of the NCSC. The NCSC is the world’s oldest and largest collegiate sales competition. This year’s event featured 140 competitors from 70 universities competing in virtual sales roleplays thanks to 18 WebEx meeting rooms provided by sponsor Gartner. For the team-based SECCDC, organizers partnered with Moraine Valley Community College to use their Netlab+ remote access solution to allow the eight participating teams to remotely defend servers from cyberattacks. BSides Atlanta Goes Virtual, Attracts Global Audience BSides Atlanta features panel discussions with information securoty industry experts, training opportunities, networking, and information security competitions, and is sponsored each year by the Coles College. Organizers had less than two weeks to turn the conference into a virtual summit. While the process involved overcoming several challenges, they encountered one issue they did not predict – skyrocketing attendance numbers. BSides Atlanta typically attracts between 300-400 information security students and professionals each year. Taking the event online and opening registrations up to international residents led to an audience of more than 1,100 people from 16 countries.

Faculty Brings Taste of Italy to Her Students

However, creative thinking helped Sinha preserve some of the original program’s cultural enrichment opportunities when the class went virtual. A highlight was having Atlanta restaurant Bellina Alimentari host a fully interactive virtual cooking class. The restaurant sent each student the ingredients to make authentic fresh Italian pasta and pizza. Tal Baum, the restaurant’s owner, then led a four-hour live demonstration via D2L Collaborate Ultra. “It was obviously no substitution for a trip to Italy, but it was close,” said MBA student Adriana Quinones. Cultural activities like this – as well as presentations from experts in Italian architecture and the country’s winery business – complemented the rigorous MBA coursework, and allowed Sinha to recreate a small amount of the experience the class missed out by not traveling to Italy. “Situations change, but when you know what your teaching objectives are, you have to find a different way to achieve them,” Sinha said.

What do you do when a global pandemic prevents 25 students from traveling to Italy for a once-in-a-lifetime, hands-on study- abroad learning experience? For Mona Sinha, the answer is you bring Italy to the students. Sinha, a marketing professor, was originally scheduled to travel to Italy in May with students in the Master of Business Administration program. The comparative business systems course would have included four full-day classes in Atlanta and a seven-day visit to Rome, Florence, and Montepulciano.

Bella Alimentari owner Tal Baum leads cooking class with MBA students



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