University News

WIU-QC adds new major

February 8, 2011


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MACOMB, IL - - The Western Illinois University College of Business and Technology (CBT) has announced the addition of a new major to be offered at the WIU-Quad Cities campus: supply chain management (SCM). Representatives from WIU and the CBT announced the new opportunity at a press conference on the WIU-QC campus Tuesday, Feb. 8.

The additional major will give WIU-QC students the opportunity to focus their undergraduate studies on an in-demand field, according to Tom Erekson, CBT dean.

"Market demand for SCM graduates in the Quad Cities and northern Illinois is especially strong because of the region's status as a hub of transportation and logistics companies," Erekson explained. "Employers continue to tell us that our graduates have the right skill set to add value to their companies."

According to Bart Jennings, professor of supply chain management, graduates of the WIU SCM program are routinely recruited and hired by companies like Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), John Deere and DOT Foods. Both the number of interested companies and prospective students continue to grow, he added.

"During the past year, we've seen record interest in our SCM students, and have been contacted by dozens of companies that have never recruited at WIU before," said Jennings, an expert in rail transportation who teaches courses in SCM. "WIU's SCM program has been overwhelmed with requests from companies for information about our students. Recent graduates have received job offers following their junior year, they have received multiple offers, and starting salaries continue to increase."

John Drea, CBT associate dean, explained that the recent hiring of additional faculty has allowed for certain required courses to be offered every semester, rather than once per year.

The supply chain management curriculum has been offered in the QC for five years, but only as a minor. SCM was established as a degree program at WIU-Macomb in 2005, and is now one of WIU's eight signature programs designated by Provost and Academic Vice President Jack Thomas. Western's SCM offering is one of the 40 programs nationally accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Graduate students also have the option to pursue an SCM concentration within the WIU Master's of Business Administration (MBA) degree program.

Drea noted that Western has offered a curriculum focused on transportation and logistics since the 1970s, in the form of a bachelor's of business degree in transportation. Over time, the focus shifted to a broader logistics perspective, and in recent years the SCM major has included a required internship component that takes place early in the students' academic plans. Since 2005, the CBT has organized SCM Day to connect students with employers in the field. Jennings noted that the event has grown from 15 students and eight employers in the first year to 55 students and 12 companies today.

A Higher Education Cooperation Act (HECA) grant proposal, "Increasing Access to Supply Chain Management Instruction," was funded for 2006-2007 that allowed the development of four online SCM courses, including Introduction to SCM, Warehousing, Global SCM, and Customer Relationship Management, as well as the development of 2+2 agreements with ten Illinois community colleges.

The new major is another element in the continuing growth of the WIU-QC campus, noted Joe Rives, vice president for the Quad Cities campus, planning and technology.

"We are pleased and excited to be able to continue adding new academic programs at WIU-QC and expand educational opportunities that meet local and regional need," said Rives. "Clearly the field of supply chain management is essential to our national and global economy, and the addition of this major will serve as another source of opportunity for the region."

Jennings pointed out that Western's addition of the new major reflects a national trend.

"The demand for supply chain management students is booming across the country," he said. "With companies examining ways to improve their operations, they place more emphasis on the cost savings and service improvements that supply chain management delivers. WIU's SCM program has been overwhelmed with requests from companies for information about our students. For our students, this means multiple job offers, fast promotions and the opportunity to immediately make significant business contributions."

For more information about the SCM major, graduate business studies, another other programs of study, visit wiu.edu/cbt or wiu.edu/qc.

Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations