Fogelman College of Business and Economics
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Fogelman College of Business&Economics Collaborates With Project Management Institute to Create Unique Learning Experience for Students

Fogelman College of Business & Economics Collaborates With Project Management Institute to Create Unique Learning Experience for Students

In a business world that is increasingly driven by matrix organizational structures and project-based work, it is now critical for business professionals to be well-versed in project management tools and methods. With this in mind, the Department of Management Information Systems (MIS) at the Fogelman College of Business & Economics has partnered with the Memphis chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI) to create a unique learning experience for business students that brings real-work project experience into the classroom.  

PMIThe collaboration involves twenty project professionals from the PMI chapter (representing local business organizations such as AutoZone, CIBER, FedEx, Flextronics, International Paper, and Sedgwick CMS) working closely with student groups throughout a semester-long course as mentors and hands-on coaches to complete a semester-long project pertaining to the development of a new state-of-the-art business system. The twenty project professionals, all of whom hold the Project Management Professional (PMP) designation also provided guest lectures throughout the semester on cutting-edge project management topics. The PMI chapter also sponsored a Project Management Contest to motivate and reward the student project team that achieved the best project performance and results.

The collaboration which was started in 2006 and is now in its fifth semester brings authentic, real-world project experience to undergraduate majors enrolled in the Strategic Information Technology Project Management course that is coordinated by Dr. Robin Poston and the new advanced class on Project Management Tools and Leadership coordinated by Dr. Sandra Richardson. This semester, 34 students and 15 students, respectively, participated in the collaborative learning initiative in these courses. The first course is offered to all business majors but is mandatory for all MIS majors. Dr. Robin Poston noted that: “on graduating and joining the labor force, our students are often immediately thrown into a multitude of project teams comprising different co-workers and involving a multitude of technologies. It is imperative that we prepare them to succeed in such environments that involve multi-tasking and project-based collaborative team-work. We much value the support of the Project Management Institute volunteers in this regard.” Vic Pitchford, a student in the course observed: “taking this Project Management class is a   valuable learning experience because it has increased my awareness of how it is next to impossible for a complex or global business to quickly implement new products and services without a skillful project manager and project management team”.        

Over the last three years, the MIS department of the College has successfully developed a strong focus on project management skills and competencies for business students. It has launched an undergraduate minor in project management for UoM undergraduates and has a proposal for a graduate certificate in project management for business majors working its way through the university’s academic approval processes.

The Fogelman College of Business & Economics and the Memphis chapter of the PMI share a strong mutual commitment to promoting professionalism in Project Management by ensuring theoretical and practical mastery of widely accepted tools and techniques while providing a top-quality educational experience for University of Memphis students. At a celebration of the collaboration that brought more than 100 project managers to the Fogelman College of Business & Economics, Dean Rajiv Grover noted that: ”project management is part of the essential core of modern business operations and such skills represent a must-have requirement for future managers in most industries and sectors. This collaboration is a great example of how we are engaging innovatively with our business stakeholders and regional industry groups to ensure that we produce skilled graduates who can succeed in the complex environments of tomorrow”.  In presenting excellence awards to student groups who participated, the President of the Memphis Chapter of the Project Management Institute, Ms. Chandy Littlejohn of First Tennessee/First Horizon, observed that “we hired one of the first graduates of this program and it has been one of the best decisions we made.  The students who participate in this program understand project management tools, terminology, and the importance of good communication among project team stakeholders.  The new employee hit the ground running and has quickly become a high achiever. We welcome you to a celebration of our collaboration, please join us by registering at”.          

For more information, please contact Dr. Robin Poston or Dr. Sandra Richardson of the Department of Management Information Systems at (901) 678-4613.

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Last Updated: 1/23/12