Newman celebrates its first Spirit MBA cohort graduates


The Newman University School of Business was proud to recognize its first Spirit Aerosystems cohort of Master of Business Administration (MBA) students during the 2019 commencement ceremony.

In addition to fulfilling the demands of the MBA curriculum, these seven students completed customized education to fit the demands of the aerospace industry.

Brian Epperson, graduate program director for the School of Business, explained why Newman and Spirit formed a partnership.

“Because the state of the business world is in constant change,” Epperson said, “the curricular and business educational offerings offered in graduate school must also keep step with this constant change or you will find yourself obsolete. It is certainly a truism in business as well as in business education.

“Spirit was looking for a graduate business degree that could be customized to meet the demands and challenges of the aerospace industry as well as the nuances and curricular needs of the Spirit organization itself,” Epperson added. “We were able to assess the broad educational needs of the employee base at Spirit and customize the curriculum to satisfy those needs.”

Bryan Robert, a graduate of the Spirit MBA cohort, has worked at Spirit for 13 years. Robert said the two-year program allowed him to continue his education while receiving company-specific curriculum throughout.

Bryan Robert
Bryan Robert, MBA Spirit Cohort graduate.

“We were the first class to go through the Spirit-Newman connection and it was a really good experience. … We loved it,” stated Robert. “It was one of those things that was a once in a lifetime kind of thing.”

Since then, the program has grown. The fourth cohort began this summer with 24 students from three different states and, according to Epperson, was the first cohort to be online-based.

Epperson elaborated how the partnership in education provides students with additional experience. This is achieved through a direct application of learning — one of the program goals is to facilitate collaborative learning in which students and educators learn from each other. The education process also includes required classes which are specific to the cohort program.

“Where knowledge acquisition is the goal, lecture is an appropriate teaching method,” Epperson explained. “Where knowledge application and reformulation are the goals, participative methods are required.

“The instructors who teach in the Newman University Spirit MBA program are experts in their fields with exceptional levels of academic and work-related experience. They are gifted at facilitation — using participative methods to apply knowledge to individual situations.”

Epperson added, “Even though the instructors have significant real-world experience, that experience will almost always be outweighed, in the aggregate, by the experience of the cohort. The instructors, therefore, have been trained to capitalize on the knowledge and experience of the graduate learners to bring about knowledge application and reformulation.”

Both Robert and Epperson agreed that the Newman professors were crucial to the success of the program.

Epperson stated, “Newman professors are different in another important way — they care. They are in the classroom because they love teaching. Teaching isn’t something they have to do; it’s something they want to do. Their focus isn’t on just their research, it is on student learning.”



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