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November 14, 2008

UW-Eau Claire to Offer Business Classes to Students and Community Members

A new series of online classes at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will allow degree-seeking students and adult learners to take basic business courses without having to major or minor in business.

Beginning in January 2009, UW-Eau Claire's College of Business and Continuing Education will offer The Essentials program, which will include classes that focus on the essential areas of business, such as marketing, management, accounting, investing, finance and information systems. The eight-week 100-level courses will be open to all non-business majors or minors as well as to adult learners.

"We know there is a need on campus and in the community for quality basic business classes that will help people launch or enhance a variety of careers," said Cynthia Hofacker, an instructional program manager in the College of Business who is coordinating the new program. "Everyone whether they are in the arts, education, health care or any other field can benefit from knowing how to work with budgets or how to market themselves or their ideas."

The online program will give employees and managers a way to increase their core business skills without leaving their home or office, said Ann Rupnow, who is coordinating the program for Continuing Education. UW-Eau Claire listened to what people in business want, and found a way to provide it in a format that's user-friendly and ultra accessible, she said, adding that courses can be taken as credit or non-credit classes.

"People need to take charge of their future," Rupnow said. "Completing a business program like The Essentials is a great step toward sustaining one's employability. The job market is competitive. Anything you can do to enhance your knowledge and skills will help to set you apart from the competition."

Until now, only students accepted into the College of Business could take business courses, Hofacker said. Business majors or minors cannot take The Essential classes to meet their academic program requirements, she said.

"This really is for the student or adult learner who wants to take a basic accounting class but doesn't want to be an accountant," Hofacker said.

Class sizes will be limited to 25-35 students and will be taught by people who have had recent business experience, Hofacker said. While the courses will be online, students will participate in group discussions and will work with other students on group projects, she said. Faculty will hold online chat time to encourage student-faculty interactions, she said.

The first Essentials class Introduction to the World of Business will be offered during Winterim in January 2009. The class will help students better understand how their careers or future careers are connected to business, said Hofacker, who will teach the one-credit course. Additional Essentials classes will be offered during the 2009 spring semester, she said, noting that all The Essential courses will be offered every semester beginning next year.

People can take just one of the 10 classes that make up the series or enroll in multiple classes. Those completing the introduction course and five electives from the series can earn an Essentials of Business Administration certificate.

"As an employee, you want to position yourself with options," Rupnow said. "Completing a course, or the entire certificate, is a great strategy for people who want to build their employment options within their current company or with a future opportunity in mind."

The Essentials program also has the potential to help a variety of UW-Eau Claire students, said Debbie Gough, director or advising and new student initiatives.

"Nontraditional students who want to increase their marketability or who find themselves in jobs that require business skills will especially like the online format," Gough said. "Students who are uncertain about their major can benefit from the introduction to business course. And students who want to work in any kind of an organizational setting a nonprofit, a museum, a government office or a business can supplement their liberal arts education with the more job-oriented skills learned in these courses."

For more information about The Essentials program, contact Cynthia Hofacker at 715-836-2488 or essentials@uwec.edu or Ann Rupnow at 715-836-3636 or rupnowac@uwec.edu.

- Source: University News Bureau