UW-Whitewater: Summer Business Institute wins diversity award from Regents

Contact: Freda Briscoe

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WHITEWATER – A summer program that offers incoming minority freshmen a personal introduction to business programs at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater has won a prestigious diversity award from the UW System.

The university’s Summer Business Institute will receive the 2010 Board of Regents Diversity Award in the institution category. The $5,000 award, one of three given each year, will be presented Friday, Feb. 5, at the Regents meeting in Madison.

The award confirms the commitment of the College of Business and Economics “to improve the recruitment, retention and graduation of students of color,’’ said Freda Briscoe, director of the college’s Minority Business Program.

Begun in 2008, the program invites freshmen interested in a business major to spend a summer week on campus. They meet older students, faculty members and advisers, register for fall classes and learn about business majors and potential careers.

“The Summer Business Institute gives incoming students of color an opportunity to connect immediately and directly with the faculty and administration of the College of Business and Economics,” said Lois Smith, interim dean.

She said students especially enjoy a Milwaukee field trip to Right Management, a company associated with Manpower Inc. and a partner in the program. “They meet alumni executives, work on their resumes, and get ideas on how to be successful in their careers,” Smith said.

The program included 17 students in its first year and 25 students last summer. It is expected to continue and expand.

UW-Whitewater began the Summer Business Institute after realizing that minority students did well academically in early business courses such as accounting and economics, but tended to switch to other majors before entering the College of Business and Economics as juniors.

When university administrators investigated the reasons, students said they felt more connected to faculty members and programs in other academic areas.

Receiving the award “is a wonderful tribute to your dedication to the cause of equity, diversity and inclusive excellence,’’ the Regents said in a letter to UW-Whitewater.