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Setting the Bar

May 3, 2022 Jim Warner

Online MBA (OMBA) has a near and dear place in my heart,” says Dr. Zachary Goldman, who serves as the director of Online Teaching and Learning for the College of Business. “It was the first committee, the first group of individuals I joined when I entered the College of Business.” Being a part of the College’s online learning evolution (and the formative stages of the online MBA) has allowed Dr. Goldman to help build a program. In only its third year, the OMBA was ranked #42 by U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best online Master’s programs. The OMBA was also ranked #29 in the nation for Veterans, and the Online Bachelors in Business Administration (BSBA) was ranked #26.  

According to Dr. Goldman, if there is one word to describe the development of online programs at the College of Business, it would be intentional. “We try to make decisions very strategically, gathering and using important data to inform every decision we make,” says Dr. Goldman. “From the big decisions such as what programs to build online, to the day-to-day decisions like when we host online office hours, we want to be intentional about what our students need.”

Intentional Growth

It’s hard to overlook the rapid growth and evolution of the Online MBA over the last three years. This development results from the times we live in—a thought extending far beyond the pandemic and tapping into the potential that technology offers education. “We realized support-wise we needed more [in order] to deliver all that these students were looking for—resources, opportunities, connections, and just day-to-day support,” explains Dr. Goldman.

To best serve the OMBA and this rapidly growing segment, the College of Business created the Online Programs Office, headed by Dr. Goldman. “I think it’s one of the greatest things to ever happen to the College of Business. The OPO is an investment in the future and an investment in the short term for what we were able to.”

The OPO is just the tip of the iceberg; as Dr. Goldman stresses, “I genuinely believe that our faculty, our staff, and our students are prepared to adjust and adapt as needed if new technologies come along and there’s a clear and direct way in which they can enhance the learning experience. We’re very fortunate that we have faculty and staff willing to embrace that level of change.”

The Power of Cohorts

While it has taken the collaboration of dedicated instructors, section leaders, and the OPO team to build a successful program, Dr. Goldman knows that the OMBA would not be where it is today without the students, especially the initial cohort. “I’ve said on many occasions that we owe a great deal of our current success to the fall 2019 cohort. Those 46 students are doing great things with their MBA now, but before earning that MBA, they help us build the program… That’s a group of people who are, in many ways, the unsung heroes of the Online MBA. I try to sing their praises whenever I can, but they are oftentimes still the inspiration.”

The feedback and time spent discussing their OMBA experience have been instrumental in developing the program’s infrastructure. This commitment to the program’s overall success speaks to the character of this cohort. “We’re preparing to welcome the fall ’22 cohort here in a few months,” says Dr. Goldman with a broadening grin. “I’m going tell them the same thing I told the fall ’21 cohort. There’s a high bar set for being an online MBA student at the University of Louisville. Now it’s up to them to reach that bar and eclipse it and continue to elevate the expectations of what online learning looks like [at the College].”

“Above and Beyond”

As the drive to build better for our students is itself reflected in the work of Dr. Goldman himself—a fact not lost on his peers. The College awarded the Faculty Service Award to Dr. Goldman. “Yeah, that was quite the surprise, but I was honored to be recognized by my colleagues,” says Goldman. He is quick to share the kudos he received in the same turn. “I think some of my online MBA faculty might have recommended me for that because we’re working on many different projects right now. And some of it, I think, goes beyond probably the traditional job description, but I’m grateful to work with an amazing group of collaborators and people who genuinely care about our students.”

In the end, redefining what the traditional experience looks like speaks to the very heart of online programs and, in turn, the College of Business. For Dr. Goldman, the journey is just beginning. “We’re making a difference here, and we’re continuing to invest in offering and delivering high-quality learning experiences online for all of our students. It’s attracting an audience that I think has been hungry for their education and opportunities to earn their education for a really, really long time. And I’m happy to see that we’re starting to provide those opportunities for these students who want to be Louisville Cardinals.”

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