I went to meet with the folks at the Coles College of Business to learn what's happening in the world of business at the state's third largest university - only UGA and GSU are bigger. With 23,400 students representing 142 countries, KSU has grown by leaps and bounds and reached further than anyone ever imagined.
No longer just a commuter school, KSU, founded in 1963, now covers more than 300 acres and includes residential facilities and a state-of-the-art dining center. As I walked along, I saw students basking in the sunshine with their books, throwing a Frisbee or just engaging in laughter and conversation on a mild, late winter's day.
New buildings are everywhere on campus, with more planned. Inside the Burruss Building, the Coles College of Business faculty talked about how they see their university and how they want to reach out to the community in which it resides.
Partnerships with the Cobb Symphony Orchestra, MUST Ministries and the Atlanta Beat professional women's soccer team are just a few of the ways business students can impact their community and give back, said Dr. Tim Blumentritt, director of strategic engagement for Coles.
"We want to reach out to both the business and nonprofit communities in Cobb," Blumentritt said. "Our mission is to have a footprint that is Atlanta, Georgia, national and international in focus."
He added that MBA students look at areas like marketing, promotions and finances at these nonprofits and make recommendations. At MUST Ministries, students took on developing a new strategic plan - and one of those students later landed a job as director of finance. Blumentritt said KSU has the fourth largest volunteer force in the state for Junior Achievement, where students mentor middle school and elementary school classes.
The Edge Connection is another example of giving back to the community. It offers proven programs to aid female micro-entrepreneurs and small business owners in their efforts to launch, sustain and expand businesses. The Connection's mission is to create opportunities for long-term economic and self-sufficiency and successful entrepreneurial training for low-to-moderate-income individuals - and positively impact the community.
Coles College of Business will host the 2011 National Collegiate Sales Competition March 4 to 7 and will see 40 businesses scout and recruit the top collegiate sales students from 61 universities across the U.S.
"Everybody gets a job," said Dr. Terry Loe, who brought the competition to KSU eight years ago. "We have a job placement rate of 100 percent."
He said what sets these sales students apart is that they understand the process behind the art of sales.
"Most people don't know how hard selling is," Loe said.
These programs are just the tip of the iceberg of what KSU offers.
"Most people say, 'I had no idea,' when it comes to what is going on at this university," said Dr. Ken Harmon, dean of the Coles College of Business. Ditto that for me. But you can bet I'll be learning from now on.