Christopher Newport University takes liberal arts and the sciences very seriously. So much so that the small, public university has a Liberal Learning Core Curriculum that requires 41 semester hours of coursework from every student, in addition to 15 credit hours of pre-business preparatory work before being admitted as a business major.
Students begin their education with workshops and classes in communication, mathematics, logical reasoning, economic modeling and analysis, and a second language, before moving to explore different areas of inquiry looking at creative expressions, global and multicultural perspectives, Western traditions, and more.
“Our program is designed to build character in our students and equip them with knowledge, so they can lead a life of significance, regardless of their majors,”Adam Duncan, the Luter School’s director of Outreach says. “It’s not about gaining one skillset and one perspective, but learning to learn.”
The business school offers a two-year business program, and admits rising juniors twice each year. During the 2018-2019 academic year, the school received 200 applications, and 190 of them were accepted. Located in Newport News, Virginia, the university is set in the fast-paced, busy urban setting suitable for city lovers, between Norfolk and Richmond.
The small size of the school gives students a personal touch. Luter boasts a 19-to-one faculty to student ratio and class size averages of 24. “When we see a student struggling, we already have a relationship and know their personalities,” Duncan says. “There’s a critical human dialogue that can take place when a community has close knit relationships.” Besides, Duncan adds, students at Luter rarely struggle with the work because those who make the cut, usually already have study and life habits that will lead them towards success.
Students can declare themselves to be pre-business students when they arrive at the university, and Duncan says they have about 600 pre-business students at the moment. However each year, the school graduates about 180 to 200 business majors. Many students either find themselves attracted to other lines of study before entering Luter, or do not maintain the 3.0 GPA required of them. “Whether it’s because some don’t make it, or find other passions, the structure allows us to have the size needed to build the relationships essential to critical conversation with our students,” Duncan says.
HIGH RATES OF SIGNATURE EXPERIENCES FOR STUDENTS
While internships are not required of Luter students for graduation, students are certainly encouraged to experience the world of work as early on as possible. Almost 75% of students in the Class of 2017 had business-specific internships before graduation, and almost 80% of students in the Class of 2018 completed at least one before graduation.
In a survey conducted by P&Q, 88% of alumni from the Class of 2016 shared that they had been engaged in a “signature experience” such as simulations, global immersion, experiential learning, or capstone project while in the Luter business program.
Shannon Minnich, a Finance and German major from the Class of 2016, says that for her business capstone, she worked in a team with her peers to simulate supply chain and management decisions, including research and development, marketing, sales, production, and finance. “The capstone was extremely hands-on and experiential,” Minnich, who now works as a transfer pricing analyst for Plante Moran, says. “My team’s company saw significant growth and we placed first.”
The school shared that 80.1% of students in the Class of 2017 reported having found full-time jobs within three months of graduation. Another 17% decided to attend graduate school. The average starting salary for those with full-time jobs was $48,000, with 5% of them receiving signing bonuses averaging $3,250.
Almost 80% of alumni of the Class of 2016 shared that they would recommend the Luter business program to a friend or colleague without hesitation, and about 52% said they felt the program had prepared them exceptionally well for the world of work.
To prepare their students even better, Duncan says the school had begun holding a Business Etiquette Conference and Dinner event for seniors, as well as a two-day conference called Business Exchange, where successful alumni and business leaders came to campus to share their wisdom and experience to provide career guidance to students.
“At the Business Etiquette Conference, students are guided through things like mobile usage etiquette, and dining etiquette,” Duncan says. “The students get to practice this with executives who join us at the event, and it’s a moment of arrival for them as they talk to professionals who speak with them as equals.”
From learning which fork to use for each course of a multiple-course meal, to figuring out how to eat pasta professionally, the event is intended for Luter students to get practice instead of fumbling when they’re in the situation. On the other hand, Duncan says that part of the work of helping to prepare students includes figuring what employers are looking for and what the industry needs.
“My role here is to know both our students and the outside business world, where employers are worried about retention rates, and how to attract the best and brightest,” Duncan says. “Right now, internships are important for students to get into industries early, and important for companies so they can impress upon students with a positive development experience over summer that will make them want to return.”
What Alumni Say:
“The capstone course for the Luter School of Business requires teams of students to run all aspects of a company and manage the growth over the semester and report regularly on the progress and changes then present to the board on your successes at the end.” – Recent Alumnus
“I participated in the ECHO project as well as a capstone project which provided simulation learning. I also participated in several marketing projects with local businesses which were a major learning tool.” – Recent Alumnus
“I was a part of the small business institute where a team of students worked alongside a small business to increase profit margins and to grow toward future expansion.” – Recent Alumnus