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School of Business Hires New MBA Director

By Liz Monahan
Posted on 3 July 2018 | 9:42 am — 

The College of Charleston School of Business one-year MBA program, recently named first in the nation for job placement by U.S. News & World Report, isn’t just attracting accolades — it’s also attracting new leadership.

This July, the ranked program hired Ron Magnuson, former director of administration for the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh, to serve as CofC’s new director of MBA and professional programming.

As director, Magnuson plans to provide strategic guidance and direction to enhance the MBA program and is dedicated to working closely with faculty, staff, students and the business community to develop additional opportunities for professional programming.

Dean of the College of Charleston School of Business, Alan Shao, has big expectations for the former Panther. “I am thrilled that Ron has chosen Charleston as his new home and am confident that he will continue to bolster the reputation of our world-class MBA program,” says Shao, who served as interim MBA director for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Magnuson says he’s excited to work with an MBA program that has so many strong features including a one-year cohort, a mentoring program, international trip, outstanding faculty, 100% placement, executive forums and, of course, a number-one destination location.

“My vision is to further distinguish the MBA program by providing unparalleled ROI to students and to graduate students who uniquely demonstrate the professional development skills desired by employers,” he says. “Ultimately, we plan to leverage the world-class reputation of the MBA program to offer other quality programs such as an EMBA and executive education.”

During his tenure with Katz, Magnuson worked closely with the dean, 110 staff and 90 full-time faculty to coordinate the strategic planning for the business school, which is consistently ranked in the top 20 U.S. public business schools. He also served as a clinical assistant professor (2014-2018), where his primary responsibility was coordinating and teaching the MBA capstone class. He also taught a number of undergraduate and executive courses, including business ethics, labor relations and leadership.

Although Magnuson has dedicated over a decade of his professional life to higher education, he spent most of his career in the corporate world. After receiving his Electrical Engineering degree from Bucknell University, he worked as an engineer for two different utility companies for about six years.

He then earned an MBA and was appointed to various management positions at Allegheny Energy. His two key executive positions were the Executive Director of Human Resources and Vice President of the Customer Business Unit.

As part of Allegheny’s management development program, Ron participated in a number of external professional development programs including the Advanced Management Program at Wharton.

Magnuson has always been very involved in community and industry organizations and was a member of several Boards of Directors. He was the chairman of the Energy Association of Pennsylvania, the Marketing Executive Conference and the Pitt Greensburg Advisory Board. The latter gave him the opportunity to be a member of the University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees.

A father of five children and grandfather to three, Ron is a resident of Daniel Island, where he lives with his wife Charlene.

The College of Charleston School of Business MBA program has ranked first in the country for job placement, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The College’s accelerated one-year MBA program tied for first place with Northern Arizona University for job placement three months after graduation. Every MBA graduate from the Class of 2017 from both institutions had jobs just three months after they earned their degrees.

The College’s 2017 MBA cohort had a 100 percent job placement rate — 16 percent higher than the average placement rate for ranked, full-time MBA programs that year.

U.S. News & World Report also recognized CofC’s MBA program as one of the best MBA programs in the United States, ranking the program No. 95 on its Best Grad School Rankings list. The College is just one of three institutions (including Drexel University and Northern Arizona University) ranked in the nation’s top 100 MBA programs with an annual enrollment of fewer than 50 students.

The exciting news comes on the heels of last year’s accolades, when the MBA program was ranked No. 8 in the nation for MBA programs with the most women.

Alan T. Shao, Dean of the School of Business

Alan Shao, dean of the School of Business and interim director of the MBA program, is not surprised by the latest rankings.

“Despite being a newer program, our MBA offers something many others do not — an immediate job network,” Shao says. “The school has an unparalleled relationship with local business leaders who offer their expertise not only as mentors and lecturers but as employers, often providing MBA students with career and internship opportunities.”

Michael Balke, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Vans

One such leader, Michael Balke, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Vans, has had many positive experiences working with and hiring College of Charleston MBAs.

“The College of Charleston’s MBA program has provided Mercedes-Benz Vans (MBV) with a valuable pipeline for emerging local talent in the business field,” says Balke. “MBV continues to foster a strong relationship with the College of Charleston and looks forward to bringing in more promising MBA alumni in the future.”

Last year, two College of Charleston MBA alumni were hired by Balke and currently work for the Mercedes-Benz Vans Charleston team — one as a product controller and the other as a financial analyst.

The College of Charleston MBA is a one-year, fulltime program for high-achieving students. Accredited by AACSB International, the program offers a personalized academic experience and positions students for careers in diverse fields and industries.

On Wednesday, November 15, the College of Charleston School of Business will host chairman of the South Carolina African-American Chamber of Commerce, Stephen Gilchrist, for a discussion on race and entrepreneurship in America.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 2 p.m. in the Wells Fargo Auditorium of the Beatty Center (5 Liberty Street) as part of the School’s George G. Spaulding Distinguished Executive Speaker Series — an extension of this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week. Those interested in attending can get their tickets here.

During his hour-long talk, Gilchrist will highlight his personal journey as a minority entrepreneur and small-business advocate. He’ll also discuss the landscape of entrepreneurship in America today, including the obstacles facing minority business owners.

Gilchrist came to this appointment as chairman after a long history of work in public policy, economic reform, and educational choice. His background with regard to small business development, commerce, and economic development has been an enduring asset to the Chamber’s work in affecting greater opportunities and access for minority owned and operated businesses.

In addition to serving as chairman, Gilchrist is also a small business owner. He is the President and CEO of GSL Distributors, a logistics and distribution company in South Carolina.

The George G. Spaulding Distinguished Executive Speaker Series was established in 1995 by the late George Spaulding, former General Motors executive, Post & Courier columnist, and first Executive-in-Residence for the School of Business. As part of the speaker series, Spaulding brought top corporate CEOs and executives to share their professional success stories and case histories with business students. The George Spaulding Distinguished Executive Speaker Series roster has included executives from NBC, General Motors, Proctor & Gamble, S.C. elected officials, military leaders, Avon, Vera Bradley, Trader Joes, and others [view full list of past speakers]. The series continues in Spaulding’s honor.


On September 27, members of the College of Charleston’s most prestigious donor recognition group, the Bishop Robert Smith Society (BRSS), gathered on campus in the Alumni Memorial Hall to celebrate donors who have made significant lifetime philanthropic commitments to benefit the College. Among the donors being celebrated was local technology entrepreneur and philanthropist Noah Thomas Leask.

Leask, who is the founder of cyber operations firm, Ishpi Information Technologies Inc., recently gave the College of Charleston School of Business $1.92 million to establish the Noah Thomas Leask Distinguished Professorship in Information Management and Innovation — a grant that will fund a faculty position in perpetuity.

“We – at the College – are so thankful to Noah for his remarkable commitment to our university and our School of Business,” said College of Charleston President Glenn F. McConnell ’69. “This incredible investment in our supply chain and information management program will propel an already strong and growing program to new heights. In addition, it will further the College’s recognition in Silicon Harbor as an institution for talent, extraordinary research, and technological innovation. This professorship does for the College what large tech companies and startups have done for the city — attract and develop the field’s best and brightest.”

After relocating to the Lowcounty from Washington, D.C., Leask made it a priority to contribute to Charleston’s national and international prominence, particularly as a technology hub. He quickly discovered that the economic and entrepreneurial vitality of Charleston was directly linked to its relationship with the College.

Upon further exploration, Leask determined that the College’s School of Business offered the most efficient, effective place to bolster technology entrepreneurism at the university level. Leask’s sentiment is strongly shared by Alan Shao, dean of the School of Business.

“Our strong ties to the Charleston business community, paired with our desire to create the next generation of ready-to-work innovators, makes the School of Business the premiere place for entrepreneurial learning,” says Shao. “Through his generous gift, Noah Leask will amplify the impact our students and faculty have both locally and around the world.”

Making a positive impact, particularly on the lives of those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, has been a driving force for Leask, who described his own personal story as one rooted in humble beginnings. By creating the professorship, the College will be able to further opportunities in the field of technology, which was transformative in Leask’s own career trajectory.

“On our way up, we believe that as you could give, you give,” says Leask. “We’ve always done that.”

The College commemorated Leask’s unwavering commitment to give back during the BRSS event, where his name was placed on the society’s recognition wall in Alumni Memorial Hall — serving as a reminder to all who pass of the exemplary donors who have generously invested in the College’s mission.




The School of Business Carter Real Estate Center has selected a prestigious team of students to take on the Real Confidence University Challenge (RCUC), a national competition where participants are given $1 billion in “play money” to invest in commercial real estate properties. The students who gain the largest return on their investments win the top prize of $50,000.

RCUC team captain, Scott Nord ’18.

Senior Business Administration major Scott Nord has stepped up to the plate to lead the College of Charleston team to victory. As a student athlete on the sailing team, Nord is confident is his leadership abilities.

The RCUC leader is currently taking a class on Real Estate Valuation Analysis with assistant professor Kenneth Soyeh, Ph.D., who also happens to be the faculty advisor for the investment competition. Nord says he’s looking forward to working with Soyeh because of his valuation analysis background as well as his understanding of Real Estate Investment Trusts.

Faculty advisor, Ken Soyeh, Ph.D.

Soyeh says he hopes the competition will give students a glimpse of what it’s like to apply lessons from the classroom in the real world, and believes their best chance at winning stems from how serious the students take the challenge.

“I want the team to treat the $1 billion dollar investment fund like actual money,” he says. “And I urge them to approach their investment strategy as the challenge calls for with confidence.” 

The team representing the College of Charleston will compete against individuals a majority whom are graduate students from 38 other schools. Nord, Soyeh and the rest of the CofC crew hope to leave with the $50,000 prize, which would be awarded to the university, and memories to last a lifetime.

The College of Charleston School of Business Center for Public Choice and Market Process has partnered with the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University to host the 2017 Weekend Exploring Liberty — a lecture series highlighting alternatives to government environmental and sustainability programs.

The event, which will be held Friday, Sept. 22 and Saturday, Sept. 23 in the Wells Fargo Auditorium of the Beatty Center, includes speaker sessions throughout the day and networking socials in the evening.

Speakers include Gary Libecap, Ph.D., professor of economics at the University of California, Santa Barbara; Dale Matcheck, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics at Northwood University; and Randy Simmons, Ph.D., professor of political economy and director of the Institute of Political Economy at Utah State University.

The Center for Public Choice and Market Process is funded by BB&T and the Koch Foundation and is designed to advance the understanding of the economic, political, and moral foundations of a free market economy. The Center supports the growth and development of teaching and research at the College of Charleston School of Business, while engaging students and the greater Charleston business community.

To learn more about or register for the event, visit:

This October, the College of Charleston School of Business will host 100 of the top hospitality and tourism management professors in the world for the 36th annual International Society of Travel and Tourism Educators (ISTTE) Conference. 

The theme of the three-day affair is “The Living Laboratory” — a nod to Charleston’s booming hospitality and tourism industry and the learning opportunities that abound for those in the field who visit, live, and work there.

The conference — which will be held from Sunday, Oct. 15 through Tuesday, Oct. 17 in the Beatty Center — invites hospitality educators at all levels to take part in a series of workshops and research presentations that highlight industry trends as well as teaching issues, tips, and solutions.

“Charleston is the perfect place to discuss hospitality and see tourism in action because its beautiful beaches and resorts, iconic architecture, rich history, and world-class restaurants attract millions of visitors each year,” says Wayne Smith, chair of the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTMT) and associate professor of hospitality at the School of Business. “It’s the reason so many hospitality students choose to study at the College of Charleston and why organizations like ISTTE choose to host their largest events here.”

Smith and other faculty from the HTMT department plan to contribute to the Living Laboratory discussions, showcasing how the School of Business integrates its students’ educational experience with the local business community for a more holistic approach to learning. The College’s hospitality program is currently ranked 51st in the world.

In addition to representatives from the School of Business, other Living Laboratory speakers include former Charleston mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. as well as leading tourism experts from Australia, China, Ireland, England, Canada and France.

The Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) will also participate and has partnered with the business school to help local high school educators attend the conference. Members of the Charleston CVB will co-host a hospitality training for local secondary school teachers on Friday, Oct. 13. All attendees will receive a scholarship to participate in the ISTTE conference.

For more information about the event, visit:

According to impact investment expert Stuart Williams, founder and chairman of In Place Impact (and School of Business Impact Entrepreneur in Residence), people who innovate solutions for humanity and the planet will have the greatest wealth accumulation over the next 50 years.

As a continuation of its ongoing commitment to sustainability literacy, the School of Business has partnered with In Place Impact to host an event this Thursday, Sept. 21, that gives Charlestonians the opportunity to meet, discuss, and learn from the leading impact entrepreneurs in the world who share Williams’ vision for the future.

“Here at the School of Business we strive to provide our students, faculty and the local community with opportunities to learn, grow, and innovate,” says Alan Shao, dean of the School of Business. “I am honored to join Stuart and other global leaders in this discussion, which challenges each of us to think critically about the role entrepreneurship can play in solving 21st century problems.”

The Impact Entrepreneurship Panel, which will be held from 4-6 p.m. in the Wells Fargo Auditorium of the Beatty Center, begins with a presentation by Williams on how impact entrepreneurship can change the status quo. This will be followed by a speech on impact entrepreneurship in politics by the Honorable James S. Rosebush (founder and CEO of Growth Strategy, Inc. and author of the best-selling book True Reagan).

A panel of speakers including Bob Caruso (chairman of The SOCAP Group), Darrin Goss, Sr. (president & CEO of the Coastal Community Foundation), Jason Britton (co-founder and CIO of Work Capital) and Sergio Fernández de Córdova (private sector advisor of the SDG Fund for the United Nations) will then discuss how impact investing can improve communities and economies around the world.

The impact presentation and panel is free and open to the public. To learn more about the event visit



This fall, the College of Charleston School of Business’ list of majors hit double digits with the addition of a bachelor’s degree in commercial real estate finance.

The major was developed to meet both student interest and market demand (30% of the United States macro economy comes from the commercial real estate industry).

For students inclined to pursue real estate law, commercial lending, valuation, development, investment banking, property and asset management, brokerage or similar fields — a commercial real estate major with a financial foundation is critical, says Elaine Worzala, professor of real estate and director of the Carter Real Estate Center in the School of Business.

“Majoring in commercial real estate finance might sound specialized,” says Worzala, “but our curriculum provides students with a well-rounded experience that not only includes real estate and finance but also investment, management, marketing, entrepreneurship, supply chain management, hospitality, planning, development, historic preservation, law and other courses in relevant, sought-after disciplines.”

The first of its kind for the state, and one of the only undergraduate finance-driven commercial real estate programs in the country, the major addresses a big need in the Lowcountry. Charleston’s growing population and tourism sector contributes to the desire for more retail, restaurant, office, hotel and other commercial spaces. And with large corporations such as Boeing, Bosch and Volvo flocking to the Holy City to set up shop, the demand for trained, talented commercial real estate brokers, asset managers, developers and lenders is nothing short of urgent.

A degree in commercial real estate finance from the School of Business prepares students with the skills, knowledge and confidence to tackle challenges and embrace endless opportunities in an exciting, competitive field.

To learn more about the new major, click here.

This fall, the College of Charleston School of Business will offer a professional development program for individuals interested in launching or advancing a career in global logistics and transportation.

The Global Logistics and Transportation Professional Development Program is designed to provide the practical knowledge and necessary training to thrive in this in-demand field.

The program’s expert instructors have years of experience in both the private and public sectors, and use their local and national networks to help students connect with opportunities for success.

The training consists of four modules — each one offers five classes, concluding with an exam. The training modules include:

 Course Information

Dates: August 28, 2017 – April 16, 2018
Meets: Every Monday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Location: Tate Center for Entrepreneurship, Room 207, College of Charleston School of Business
Instructor: Kent Gourdin
Fee: $895

Enroll: Click here to register!

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