Taking Wilson’s business program to the next level

By Sandra Huffman ’86

Imagine stepping into a classroom where seasoned business professionals share not just their knowledge, but their real-world experiences and lessons learned from decades in the industry. At Wilson College, the business program offers more than just a degree; it provides a transformative journey that equips students with practical skills, valuable connections, and the confidence to thrive in any business environment. Here, every class, every project, and every internship is a step towards success.

Game Changers
The backbone of the Wilson College business program is its faculty. “Not that you wouldn’t find faculty experience at other institutions, but at Wilson, it is more pronounced because of the number of adjunct faculty or lecturers that teach in the business department. That kind of skill set, coupled with the academic aspects of business management, is just invaluable to the students,” said Alan “Jeff ” Rock, Education and Business Studies adjunct instructor.

Jeff Rock, M.B.A.
Adjunct Instructor of Business and Education
• M.B.A. Management, C.W. Post/Long Island University
• M.A. Sociology, University of Oklahoma
• B.S. General Engineering, U.S. Military Academy
• US Military Officer for over 20 years
• CEO and Chief of Staff for over 20 years

Rock is referring to the level of experience among the business faculty and instructors across the board. Rock teaches business communications, marketing management, the capstone business course, and strategic management. His experience alone includes over 20 years in the corporate world, 20 years in the military, and over a decade of teaching. He is also involved in local development groups.

“Professor Rock is so knowledgeable. He’s got experience in a lot of different areas. I mean, he is scary good at what he does. He also did a wonderful job in class by painting pictures of his experiences, real-life experiences, and tying them into the lessons,” said Kristen King ’22, who now works as a small business tax associate for a consulting firm.

One thing Rock tries to instill is that the business world has and always will be full of challenges that will require creative solutions and critical thinking. “No matter what generation it is, no matter what era it is, you still have to lead and manage people,” he says with a caring smirk. Rock often draws on his previous personal business challenges to provide informative reflections for students, or as Linette Hernandez ’24 put it, “Professor Rock told us about his mistakes so that we don’t make the same ones.”

Joseph Cunningham, C.P.A.
Associate Professor of Accounting and Business
• Certified Public Accountant in Pa.
• Charted Global Management Accountant
• M.B.A. Widener University
• B.S. Accountancy, Villanova University
• Member of Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA)

On the accounting side, Joe Cunningham, associate professor of Accounting and Business, also relates his experiences to enhance students’ applications of financial concepts. “He worked in the tax world and in inventory, and he would talk about his experiences, which helped me understand what he was teaching,” said King. “It’s nice to have professors with a lot of knowledge, who have done real world jobs and then went on to share that experience with their students.”

Lance Cain, D.B.A.
Assistant Professor of Business, Economics, and Finance
• D.B.A. Walden University
• M.B.A. Malone University
• B.S. Education with Mathematics Certification for Secondary School, Kent State University
• Worked in business sales, marketing, and operations for over 25 years.

The newest member of the faculty is Lance Cain, assistant professor of Business, Economics, and Finance, who worked in sales, marketing, and operations for several years before earning his master’s and doctorate in business administration. “Cain is great. I had a human resources class with him,” said Hernandez. “His teaching style is nice—he keeps you entertained, and he seems to really care.”

Linette Hernandez ’24,
B.A. Business Management with a Veterinary Business Management Certificate

Better Mousetraps
The knowledge and real-world experiences professors bring to the classroom are invaluable. However, just as important are the hands-on learning activities students complete at Wilson. That’s where business case studies and simulations come into play. Students tackle real-world scenarios and learn to navigate and resolve complex business challenges. Semester-long simulations immerse students in business environments, allowing them to experience the impact of their decisions firsthand and hone their skills.

“Leadership and management are not something you walk into and are good at. You’ve got to practice it, just like athletes must go to batting cages to practice hitting. In the business world, you have to practice your craft. You have to continue to be a lifelong learner. You have to look and analyze decisions you made, both good and bad, to see what you can learn from them,” said Rock.

Jarrett Rickerds ’20,
B.S. Accounting with a Sport Management Minor

Jarrett Rickerds ’20 was quick to recall his growth as a business professional through these exercises of collaboration and presentation. Currently working as an auditor at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General, he attributes his ability to communicate effectively with colleagues to lessons he learned at Wilson. “I didn’t realize how essential it would be,” said Rickerds.

Win-Win Situations
King was immediately able to validate what she was learning in class through her job, working as a manager for a nearby convenience store while completing her bachelor’s degree. This opportunity gave her experience with training, coaching, and development. “I’ve had those hard conversations with employees. The business communications class really helped me formulate them professionally.” But not all Wilson students are working during their time in college, which is one reason the business program highlights the value of internships.

“One hallmark that I’ve seen in my 18 years of teaching experience is that academic programs excel with internship programs attached to them,” said Cunningham. “Internships validate not only technical knowledge but also how to be professional, how to communicate, how students can use qualitative and quantitative skills, and their business ethics.”

Darryl Garib ’24,
B.S. Accounting and Business Management with a Sport Management Minor

Professor Cunningham played a significant role in the academic journey of Darryl Garib ’24, who began his education at Wilson as a business management major and later added a second major in accounting. He said Professor Cunningham offered guidance on internships and career preparation.

During summer 2023, Garib completed an internship at RSM International, a multinational network of accounting firms, in their Washington, D.C. office, which led to a post-graduation job in auditing. He will start in fall 2024 with a corporate training program in Chicago. He feels his coursework at Wilson, particularly the classes involving practical applications, adequately prepared him for his internship and upcoming job.

Kristen King ’22,
B.S. Accounting and Business Management

Like Garib, King received a job offer after her internship, too. “I worked an internship at an accounting firm in Chambersburg during my last semester and accepted a full-time position that started just after graduation.”

When arranging an internship, the business program students work closely with an internship advisor and an internship site supervisor to create learning objectives. In this way, the company, student, and advisor all know the objectives of the internship and work together to ensure they match overall experience.

“We have students imagine what internship they want to do. They have the option to do it here in Chambersburg or back home. We work with every company, because, as happened with Darryl and Kristen, it may end up being a job offer for the student,” said Cunningham.

Strategic Partnerships
Building strong relationships within the community is key to the success of Wilson’s business program. The goal is to foster the program’s growth and visibility within the greater-Chambersburg area as well as with alumnae and alumni across the country. “We want to make sure the business program at Wilson is at the front of people’s minds,” said Cain.

This visibility includes faculty involvement in volunteer organizations. Cunningham, for example, is a volunteer with Junior Achievement of South-Central Pa. and the PA Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA). He explained how going out into the community to volunteer gives him the opportunity to promote the entire  college, not just the business program. “With PICPA, just like Junior Achievement, I get to talk about what I do as an accounting professor and then put a spotlight on Wilson,” he said.

Visibility also includes maintaining a connection with former students. “I’ve been here at Wilson now 10 years. I have students within the six-year mark who still stay connected, still ask questions, still ask what I think, or just how am I doing,” said Rock.

Wilson class sizes also help establish strong relationships between students and professors. “Class size made it more personable. I would see Professor Rock around campus, and he would know me by name,” said King. “You know the professors really care about what they do, and they care about seeing students succeed.”

From the faculty perspective, Cunningham said advising students, maintaining office hours, and providing peer tutoring support helps students feel comfortable. Graduate assistants do not teach or answer questions. Faculty are available to a student while they are in the program and after. It is a lifelong connection.

“Kristen will reach out with a tax question, even though she has access to the IRS and the master tax guide. If she cannot find the answer quickly, she looks for someone with experience or someone she trusts,” said Cunningham. “And really, it is such a pleasure to be able to assist these students, and it is very much a compliment.”

Rickerds also reached out this semester requesting to speak in one of Cunningham’s classes. He said, “Once I established my career, I knew I wanted to come back and share my story of how I went from sitting in Warfield Hall to sitting in Washington, D.C. working for the federal government, in a career I never would have thought about without the Wilson business program. Wilson has the best educators and if you just talk to them and let them in on where you want to be and your interests, they can really help you get there.”

Instructor Rock and Professors Cain and Cunningham agree. Wilson’s business program has a lot of positive, forward momentum, and is putting students on the right track to a successful career in the business world.

Undergraduate Business Degree Programs
Business Management
Esports Management
Sport Management
Supply Chain Management

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