Institutions of higher education in Genesee County have a knack for innovation. In what often seems like a collective and continual pursuit of excellence, local colleges are ever expanding, progressing and changing. Baker College is no exception to this trend. Baker’s most recent innovative approach to learning is the Center for Business, a high-tech and cutting edge renovation of Baker’s Undergraduate Studies Building.
The new Center for Business, which saw its first lectures commence on January 13, features classrooms outfitted with webcams, numerous outlets for personal laptop use, interactive whiteboards and iPads. The multimillion dollar project stands at the fore of a dynamic 21st-century college classroom experience, and the coordinators of this project look to continue catapulting successful members of the Baker College student body into prominent areas of business and finance.
Dr. Julianne T. Princinsky, President of Baker College of Flint, had the honor of overseeing the kickoff of an impressive renovation in tandem with the commencement of her valedictory year at Baker. Princinsky will retire this fall, to be replaced by current Chief Operating Officer, Wen Hemmingway. Before Princinsky lies the realization of a goal she’s worked toward for years. She expressed exuberantly how “exciting” the undertaking has been, and “how nice that it is going to be all done and in place before I retire.”
Baker College of Flint Dean of Business Administration Dr. John C. Cote has been beside Princinsky for the implementation of the new business center all the while. Cote stated pithily that “the form follows the function,” a statement that serves as an encapsulation of Baker’s opinion on change in the classroom setting. Baker is not looking to paint a wall and refurnish a room as much as they are trying to equip their student body with the necessary tools to not only compete on par with students at other intuitions, but to outperform those students altogether. “This renovation enables us to expand our ability to extend to our students real world exposure and connect them with the business world,” says Cote.
How does this planned connection of students and the real business world look? In actuality, it pairs students with those who are currently in the workplace doing what Baker’s students are studying to do. Baker is well-known for its student-business partnerships, but the key word here is enhancement. For example, finance students have the ability to digitally “dial in” to the Federal Reserve and hold class with some of the nation’s top officials. Students from the business school sit with local business owners to assist in the drafting of future business plans. One recent example of this procedure is when Baker students and Coffee Beanery Vice President, Kevin Shaw, created a working business model for the opening of a Coffee Beanery in Tokyo, Japan. Cote considers these partnerships as much of a necessity for thorough business education as internships are for other careers. He poignantly asks, “Why not give business students the same on-the-job experiences as students from medical field who have to complete a clinical?”
Though classes are now underway at the Center for Business, the official open house is set for Saturday, March 22, 2014. If ever a practical and contemporary business and education model has been your fancy, you would do well to attend the event.
PHOTOS BY MICHAEL GLEASON