MCA Professional Practices Curriculum Utilizes Business Professionals

by - July 17, 2014

MCA Professional Practices Curriculum Utilizes Business Professionals
Memphis, Tenn. — Memphis College of Art is preparing to launch the final piece of its innovative Professional Practices (P2) program this fall—an intensive, business-focused capstone course taught by business professionals. The interactive, workshop-style classes will be required for all junior level students and will cover areas such as personal development, personal finance and business management.

The capstone curriculum will expand upon P2 elements and skills that have been taught by MCA faculty since the program was initiated in the fall 2012 semester.  “P2 elements are currently embedded in every level of every academic discipline,” said MCA President Ron Jones. “Whether learning to submit work to a juried exhibition or make a compelling presentation of their work, some element of business, communication or other real-world competency is taught in every one of our classes by our faculty.”

The addition of the new capstone coursework taught by business professionals promises to give MCA graduates a big advantage over many of their art school and 4-year college counterparts and represents a shift in the way the college is approaching student education. “We are going to measure MCA’s success as an institution by the success of our graduates,” said Jones.

Remy Miller, MCA’s dean and vice president for academic affairs, notes that other art colleges typically provide some type of professional practices class during a student’s senior year, “but not one that is integrated with outcomes reinforced throughout all four years of a student’s college career,” said Miller.  “We realized we had an opportunity to develop an entire program that would allow MCA students to really focus on developing both the skills and professional knowledge of their chosen discipline AND provide them with general business and life skills. And then we realized that our faculty were not the right people to impart the business information; we needed people who were professionals in those areas.”

This insight led to the formation of a partnership of MCA faculty and entrepreneurial professionals to develop the capstone course. President Jones recruited veteran human resource professional Patti Cherry, president of People-Results Connection, to chair the committee. “I really wasn’t sure what Ron had in mind when we started, but that didn’t matter,” said Cherry. “I have always loved MCA and am happy to have an opportunity to be involved in a project that will contribute to the long-term success of the college.”

Cherry quickly called on professionals with experience in different areas to suggest ideas that would complement and expand on course content developed by the MCA faculty. The team included Ginger Whelan, president of Whelan & Associates, a firm specializing in employee selection, retention and engagement and John Churchill, executive director of workforce development at Southwest Tennessee Community College. Working with Miller and faculty member Leandra Urrutia who will facilitate the classes, the committee developed the capstone course curriculum.

The curriculum was announced in a special forum at MCA on April 25.  ”We wanted the classes to be very hands-on and interactive,” said Miller. “Our students won’t get just a lecture about the basics; they will work on projects grounded in real life and taught by people that live the course content.”

President Jones notes that MCA’s P2 program is the only one of its kind. “Administrators from other AICAD (Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design) schools have remarked that they have not been able to muster sufficient faculty support to put such a program in place at their schools,” said Jones. “MCA has broken new ground and is leading the way.”

You May Also Like