By Joe Zimmerman

Updated: 3 hours ago Published: 3 hours ago

Many Alaskans may not realize we have world class College of Business and Public Policy, or CBPP, here in Anchorage. For years I have heard people in Anchorage suggest that the University of Alaska Anchorage and our CBPP should only be considered a fallback if prospective students are not accepted at other universities or are financially unable to attend these schools. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A reasonable benchmark for business schools is their level of accreditation. The highest level a business school can achieve is AACSB, or Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, accreditation. For more than a century, AACSB accreditation has stood for the highest standards in business education and has been achieved by less than 5% of business schools worldwide. Our CBPP has consistently achieved and maintained this accreditation since 1995, requiring continuous improvement in faculty and courses. UAA has the same accreditation as leading, often very expensive, business schools around the world. So why go anywhere else to pursue the best business education when we have it here, and at affordable prices?

Some may wonder if the UAA CBPP has degrees and programs comparable to outside business schools, and the answer is an unequivocal yes. We offer everything from Focused Professional Endorsement Certificates, aka OECs, for entry-level students, which require approximately 15 credits to complete, to a full range of Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees. Areas of study range from accounting, business analysis, business leadership and entrepreneurship to business administration, global supply chain and public administration.

What about CBPP faculty? Almost all faculty members have doctoral or professional designations, which means that every course level is taught by highly qualified professors, a major determinant of AACSB accreditation. At larger universities outside of Alaska, students may find themselves in lecture halls with a few hundred students, and many of these courses, especially in the lower division, will be taught by graduate assistants with little or no of teaching experience. UAA’s small class sizes allow CBPP to provide a much more beneficial personalized experience for students.

However, what may be the greatest benefit of all is that students who enroll in CBPP programs have the opportunity to network with other Alaskan students they meet in their classes. Over the years that I have worked in the business communities of Anchorage and Alaska, my greatest successes have come from the professional relationships I have built along the way. Students who attend UAA CBPP begin this process in their classrooms and build networks that will serve them as students, and later as graduates working in Alaska. CBPP students also have the opportunity to network with Alaskan business leaders at guest speaker events, business plan competitions, through student clubs and more. The value of these networks can be difficult to quantify, but it is enormous. Students who attend outside universities will never benefit from this important local advantage.

Anchorage faces increased levels of emigration and our state has historically faced brain drain. College choice is an important opportunity to retain a very talented portion of our population. Students who receive their education at outside universities are much less likely to return to Alaska. Providing Alaskans the opportunity to stay in Alaska helps build a better future for our state.

One of the primary goals of the UAA College of Business and Public Policy is to develop an educated business workforce in Alaska, and especially in our local market. The pieces are in place at UAA’s CBPP – now we just need more students to take advantage of it.

If you’d like to learn more about what’s happening at CBPP, we invite the community to attend our showcase event on Thursday, August 18 at UAA’s Rasmuson Hall. Learn about the upcoming opening of the new Artificial Intelligence Lab, a million-dollar student-run investment fund, a new Seawolf Stock Ticker, and plans for a new financial lab. For more information visit: business.uaa.alaska.edu/events/showcase.

Joe Zimmerman is a graduate of the UAA. He spent most of his professional career in the oil industry and a second career as COO of a local civil engineering company. He co-owns a network of gas stations and convenience stores in Anchorage, Eagle River and Palmer. He is currently Chairman of the Advisory Board of the UAA College of Business and Public Policy.

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