David Rotbard of Verizon, second from left, addresses Welch College of Business & Technology faculty members in the new co-working space (hot desk area) at Sacred Heart University’s West Campus. This innovation space that has been developed in partnership with Verizon will host up to 40 entrepreneurs once completed. Photo by Tracy Deer-Mirek/contributed photo
FAIRFIELD, CT - Sacred Heart University is changing the name of its Jack Welch College of Business to recognize the critical synergy between business learning and technology. It is now called the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology (WCBT) reflecting the integration of these two critical fields of study and their collaborative roles in today’s marketplace as well as Jack Welch’s long career leading a business focused on technology.
This past year, SHU moved its School of Computer Science & Engineering into the College of Business. The School also physically moved to the University’s West Campus, which is the former GE worldwide headquarters. Located a half-mile from its Park Avenue campus in Fairfield, the University has completely re-outfitted the West Campus buildings to create an innovation campus that is becoming an important platform for business growth in the region. Facilities include an 11,000-square-foot makerspace, an innovation center that includes a partnership with Verizon, artificial intelligence labs and more.
Rupendra Paliwal, University provost and vice president of academic affairs, explained that moving computer sciences and engineering programs into the College of Business reflects the degree to which industries are becoming digital ecosystems, requiring a new workforce with traditional and digital business acumen and the ability to understand and navigate emerging business models. “In a world increasingly dominated by digital platforms and ecosystem economy, traditional industry boundaries need to be questioned with a much broader frame of reference in formulating strategies for the future,” Paliwal said. “While this is true for corporate leaders, higher-education institutions also need to create a learning environment that is inter-disciplinary and collaborative to help students build critical capabilities for the future. With technology becoming an integral part of every business, it calls for the intentional and comprehensive integration of business and technology education.”
SHU also recently recruited a new dean to lead the WCBT—Martha J. Crawford, whose education and professional background also reflect this dual focus on business and technology. Crawford, who has been teaching at the Harvard Business School since 2016, holds a Ph.D. in engineering and an MBA. Before rejoining academia in 2016, she worked as chief technology officer for several multinational corporations (Air Liquide, Areva and L’Oréal). In those C-suite roles, she managed global networks of research and development (R&D) centers, portfolios of R&D projects, teams of patent lawyers and external innovation programs. She fostered technological innovation, sponsored internal innovators, coached and helped to develop tech startups with venture capital, industrial and academic partners. Crawford plans to leverage her background in both academia and industry in this new role.
“SHU’s new West Campus, together with its established business networks and its commitment to technological and digital innovation, opens the door for SHU to become the regional center of excellence for business learning and entrepreneurship,” noted Crawford. The new West Campus has been outfitted with state-of-the-art teaching facilities, including “smart classrooms,” case study classrooms and a finance lab with Bloomberg terminals. A number of labs, focused on cutting-edge domains such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and augmented and virtual reality are nearly finished. A makerspace, with equipment for machining, prototyping and testing, has been created. A co-working and innovation space that has been developed in partnership with Verizon will host up to 40 entrepreneurs is also nearly finished. The launch of a startup accelerator and incubator program, in collaboration with industrial partners, is planned for early 2020.
“For SHU students, the investments that the University is making in the WCBT will translate into unique learning opportunities that will help prepare them to thrive in an increasingly complex, interdisciplinary and digital workplace,” Crawford said. “The numerous opportunities that students will have to interact with business people and entrepreneurs, right here on campus in their daily education, will facilitate entering the work force after graduation as well.” She said the College’s new name “signals the University’s affirmed commitment to the systemic integration of technology into business education. This commitment is already clearly manifested in the remarkable developments at West Campus, and in the next several years, this will become a key differentiator for our college and programs.”
Crawford said the WBCT will continue enhancing and developing academic programs in emerging areas of interest with industry collaboration. These will effectively address the interplay of business, analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cybersecurity, engineering, finance and health sciences. The WCBT is expanding its curriculum offerings with new programs in electrical engineering, business analytics, entrepreneurship, blockchain and fintech.