Business and Public Management Center
50 Sharpless Street
West Chester, PA 19383
Name: Kathy Koval
Position: Assistant Dean, Director of Business and Public Management Programs
Name: Cindy Cheyney
Position: Assistant Dean
Name: Laurie Christie
Position: Administrative Assistant to the Dean
Name: Danah Allen
Position: Communications and Impact Coordinator
Name: Julie Ferris
Position: Administrative Assistant
What drew you to WCU originally? And how has WCU changed since?
"In the early 90s, I was on the board of directors for the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry, and the Chester County Economic Development Council. Dr. Fiorentino was also on the board. At the time, he was the Dean of the College of Business and Public Affairs, and we got to know each other pretty well. When Chris formed his initial Business Advisory Council, he asked me to join. I was on the council through the first time the College became accredited until my career started taking me overseas, at which point I had to resign.
Also, during the 90s, I received a message from the controller of a local major family-owned business. He sent me a note telling me that the daughter of one of the owners was an accounting major at West Chester and that she needed a job. I looked at her resume, and she looked qualified. I gave her an interview, and she was really good, so we hired her. That was the beginning of the relationship between West Chester and my firm, PricewaterhouseCooper. We started coming on campus to recruit, so I interviewed a lot of West Chester students.
After many years overseas, I decided to retire from PwC and sent an email to people in my contact list saying that I was back in America and retired. Dr. Fiorentino responded saying that there was a spot for me at West Chester. At first, I joined the program to do career advising for the students and technical consulting for the faculty. My second semester I started teaching, and I've been teaching ever since.
When I started here, there was no graduate center, there was no Philadelphia campus, the Accounting Department was much smaller, both in terms of the number of faculty and students. The program that we now offer complies with the 150-hour requirement for the state licensing board. There is much more engagement now between the students and the faculty and every year we set a record for the number of interns we place with employers. We didn't have a Beta Alpha Psi chapter which is totally credited to Peter Oehlers. So there have been many changes recently. The Accounting Department is a well-oiled machine."
What makes CBPM at WCU standout compared to other business and public management programs across the country?
"The quality of the students. There are a number of students here that come from a blue-collared background. A lot of them are paying their way through college. That could mean that they're paying now, or will pay loans once they're out of college. This is their money, and they want value for their money, so they do a good job of holding us accountable for delivering a quality product. Since they have so much vested in this program, they tend to work really hard and want to do well. I think the students contribute to our success considerably."
What is the most fulfilling part about working at WCU and/or for CBPM?
"Being able to see my students become successful. In the short term, that means they pass my course with a good grade, but in the longer term, they graduate, get a job, and they come back to campus as an alum to hire the next generation of students. Sometimes they get promoted by the business that hires them out of college, sometimes they leave that company and find a better job. Watching them progress in their career is personally rewarding."
Does any particular moment standout as being your favorite since working at WCU?
"There isn't one moment, but there's an accumulation of moments. There are a lot of things that I've seen the Accounting Department accomplish over the course of the seven or eight years I've been associated with the university. Things like getting the Beta Alpha Psi chapter or creating Meet the Firms Night, where we've been able to put together somewhere in the area of 250 students with over 30 employers every year. The department has taken Alumni Night to the next level. There have just been a number of accomplishments within the Accounting Department, and the business school as a whole, like the construction of the new BPM Center. But, it all comes back to the students. If I wasn't able to sit here and see our students become successful, then I would ask myself why I was doing this at all."
What advice would you give to our incoming freshman?
"The most important thing is that you have to focus on is your GPA. Don't ever underestimate the importance of a GPA, because every single employer is going to look at that. Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between GPA and future career success. I know that this is usually the first time away from home for these students, and there's a tendency to want to cut loose a little bit, but you have to keep in mind that if you don't have a good GPA, you will struggle to get a second look from a potential employer.
Another thing you should be aware of is that employers do look beyond GPA. They look for leadership, teamwork, communication, problem solving, etc. So, you need to find a way to demonstrate those traits. Look for the opportunities offered by the department. They're there through the various clubs they offer, all you need to do is take advantage of them and get involved in leadership roles such as committee chairs, officers, etc."
What advice would you give to our graduating seniors?
"First of all, remember where you came from. At some point, somebody took you under their wing and became a mentor. Maybe it was someone at the university, maybe it was someone you worked with, it could have been your parents. But, remember what it was like to have a mentor. Now, you're in a position of being that person to somebody else.
Second of all, remember the quality of education that you received from West Chester. Don't be shy about giving back."
What is your guilty pleasure?
"It's an odd one. It's rugby. I played, coached, and refereed for forty years. The last game I played was about a year ago. I created and coached the Henderson High School team here in West Chester, both boys and girls. I know the coaches of the programs here. They're guys I've played with, played against, and refereed for. I've played in Ireland, Scotland, France, Australia, Japan, as well as a few other countries. My wife and kids played. But I'm a spectator now, and I'm quite happy with that."