The Sam M. Walton College of Business really does love its freshman.
“That’s why we have the T-shirts,” said Jeff Hood, Walton College director of undergraduate programs. “Just like we truly mean it when we say ‘We Are Walton,’ the message on our Freshman Business Connections instructors’ shirts – ‘I [Heart] Freshmen’ – is just as sincere.”
Freshman Business Connections is the introductory Walton College course. It is required for all incoming students. That includes nearly 1,500 freshmen this year.
“This course helps integrate new students into the University of Arkansas and the Walton College,” said Alan Ellstrand, associate dean of academic programs and research. The course provides instruction on time management, academic planning, career development, Walton departments and majors, business writing, lectures from guest business executives, diversity, financial planning, healthy living and critical thinking.
This fall, the 36 instructors for Freshman Business Connections are teaching a total of 70 sections of the class. Some of the instructors teach as many as four sections. They are aided by 25 peer mentors – Walton College students who have completed the course and serve as a resource to more than one group of students. Staff, tenure and non-tenure track faculty teach the course.
Dub Ashton, associate professor of marketing, is a long-time Freshman Business Connections instructor and one of the guiding forces behind its success.
“It is the connection between our students and our faculty that underscore the continuing successes of our Walton College freshman class,” Ashton said. “We continue to emphasize innovation, collaboration and integrity with the outcome of fostering more ethical future business leaders.”
The class has its own text book and its own set of presentation materials. There are no more than 19 students in each section of the class.
“Freshman Business Connections not only provides our new freshmen with an orientation to the U of A and the Walton College, but it is a great networking opportunity for students to meet new friends and connect with a faculty member of the college,” Ellstrand said.
Prior to the start of fall classes, the college held an instructor training workshop to help them understand the need for the class and the need for consistent instruction across all courses.
“Our faculty seek to create present and lasting interests among our freshmen students for achieving excellence through the implementation of high-performance skills tools and also include a continuing challenge to establish effective models in creative problem solving and critical reasoning excellence,” Ashton said. “Our faculty motivate Walton College freshman to explore and engage academic and leadership thinking with techniques including brain storming, brain writing, role playing and case study analysis to prepare each freshman student for an academic career of exploration and high-outcome achievements.”