September 1, 2023

Experiential Learning Thriving at Smith: OEL Annual Report

Experiential Learning Thriving at Smith: OEL Annual Report

When Dean Prabhudev Konana initiated the Office of Experiential Learning (OEL) at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, he described its mission as “to expand and deepen existing alumni and corporate relationships to increase career success odds for students opportunities for our students to get the type of real-world, practical learning that will make them the most sought after by employers when they graduate.”

Early returns show the OEL flourishing accordingly.

Data in the newly released “Experiential Learning at Smith: 2022-2023 Annual Report” includes 251 experiential learning offerings; 45 faculty engaged; 70 experiential learning classrooms; 80 alumni engaged; and 10,000-plus student touchpoints.

Smith School Advisory Councils facilitate the alumni engagement and their sharing of knowledge of industry trends and demands, across Smith graduate and undergraduate programs. For example, Jasmine Crooks '16, F-35 Proposal Manager for Lockheed Martin, was pivotal to a Master's in Management capstone project, in which she helped facilitate a jet propulsion consulting project.

“We've witnessed students stepping beyond the classroom to tackle real-world challenges, forming connections that transcend boundaries, and growing into the kind of leaders who will shape industries and drive change,” says Assistant Dean of Experiential Learning Nicole Coomber.

Moreover, at least 20 percent of OEL-affiliated live cases and capstone projects addressed grand challenges, via work with campus, governmental, and impact-driven partners to source meaningful experiential engagements that benefit students and partners, Coomber adds. "Our journey has been marked by milestones such as students coming up with marketing innovations for Picard Surgelés (a French food company specialized in distribution of frozen products) and ESG analyses for BDO (international network of public accounting, tax and advisory firms) that have exceeded even our most ambitious expectations.”

Exemplifying faculty engagement, Russell Wermers, Paul J. Cinquegrana ’63 Endowed Chair in Finance used his connections at UBS – the Switzerland-based diversified financial services company -- to set up a meeting for Smith students with Smith Finance Advisory Council members from UBS at its American headquarters in New York City. The students gave a presentation to their UBS counterparts, engaged in a half-day discussion with them regarding Smith’s finance curriculum and participated in a gala dinner.

"The real world is our lab for the business school,” Konana says. "At the heart of this strategic endeavor lies our Office of Experiential Learning – a pulsating center of innovation, collaboration, and real-world integration that sets us apart on the global stage."

In addition to Coomber, OEL leadership and key staff include Executive Director Nima Farshchi, Senior Director Mary Wagner and Special Projects Intern Alexia Ayuk.  

Read more about the OEL via the Office of Experiential Learning homepage and the Experiential Learning at Smith: 2022-2023 Annual Report.

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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