When students enroll in an academic program at a college , they should make sure that the program is accredited with the regional accrediting bodies of those programs and that the college has advisory boards made up of professionals in the program area. Ivy Tech Northwest has over 400 individuals that serve as advisory board members for the programs in the eight academic schools. Advisory boards are an important source of information, inspiration and technical expertise that keeps our program curricula fresh and relevant to what the real world is seeking for future employees or entrepreneurs. The advisory boards are comprised of professionals, educators and practitioners in their fields.
One culinary instructor summed it up: “advisory boards are our eyes and ears.” The advisory board members bring years of experience with them. They know what the students and community need and they help us promote our programs. In culinary alone, we have an array of professionals -- business owners of local restaurants and stores, casino supervisors, sales representatives, executive chefs, American Culinary Federation board members, past culinary students, current culinary students, and chef instructors.
Al Fabian, Gary campus business instructor and program chair, also has a variety of business people on his board. Fabian said his members are chosen based on their background and experience in the nine specialties that are offered by the School of Business: management/entrepreneurship, marketing/tourism, human resource management, real estate, sports management, insurance/risk management, banking/finance, health care management and non profit organizations.
Fabian said he looks to them to make commentary on the direction that the business program is headed. “We also seek suggestions on implementing new specialties. In the future, we hope to have them be a source of internships.”
Gina Rue, dean of the School of Business said finding good solid internships for students is an important aspect of the educational process. An internship with the right company can give students the important hands-on experience they need to be ready to meet the workforce. An advisory board can assist by shaping the parameters for an internship and also assist with locating opportunities.
No one knows the importance of having a supportive and professional advisory board like Rick Soria, vice chancellor/dean of the Michigan City Pejic Campus. In 2002 Soria was hired as the program chair to the newly established mortuary science program at the East Chicago campus. One of the first orders of business for Soria was to create a board of regional funeral professionals. Soria worked very closely with his board to help him get attract qualified instructors, build alliances with suppliers and locate funeral homes for practicum sites. With his board’s help, the mortuary science program at Ivy Tech Northwest has become one of the most highly recognized and respected mortuary science programs in the US. Graduates of the program are sought after throughout Indiana and Illinois.
“One of the primary purposes of the program’s board is to act as the ears and eyes of the (business) community. This means (Ivy Tech) being receptive to suggestions by the board on how we as a program can grow and develop,” said Soria.
Each program at Ivy Tech is currently in the process of convening their advisory boards to assist faculty incorporate new ideas and technology, provide students with updated information, and have mentors in place for the fall semester.