Students at UCSB will be able to earn a business degree for the first time in school history beginning in the fall of 2014.
The college’s popular Technology Management Program has been elevated to full academic program status, which means UCSB will be able to hire new business faculty and offer a professional master’s degree in technology management.
Faculty unanimously approved the change in December, and Chancellor Henry Yang’s approval soon followed.
“It’s actually kind of an important thing for the campus and the program,” said UCSB engineering professor and TMP director Bob York. “It’s been in the works for a long time.”
TMP, which was created in its initial form in 1998, has become a popular program for fostering entrepreneurialism and management training.
Its annual New Venture Competition allows students to present their business venture ideas while competing for cash and prizes.
Lacking full-time faculty, professors have been splitting time between TMP and other departments.
York said alumni and faculty made a push five or six years ago to get the degree and full academic status, which took some time and convincing because this will be UCSB’s first-offered professional degree program.
The lone remaining approval — a formality, York says — will come system-wide from the UC Office of the President.
“It’s interesting because UCSB doesn’t have a business school,” York said. “TMP has been doing this kind of thing for a long time. It’s sort of formalizing what’s already in place. We’re very excited about this.”
Planning for the program is already under way, with six faculty to be hired over a five-year period to teach and research how to best commercialize tech-savvy ideas, said Ron Alferness, dean of the College of Engineering.
Alferness said a strong base of tech-community volunteers will continue to be needed to speak to the 700 undergraduate and graduate students who participate in TMP each year.
“What is innovation? How do we commercialize that?” Alferness asked. “One more pillar in an ecosystem that is really about teaching students, preparing students. It is a significant event. This is important, not just for the college, but it’s also important for the community. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
York said UCSB is currently gathering resources to build state-of-the-art classrooms to be able to accept the first class of students for the new degree by fall 2014.
Hiring faculty and recruiting students make offering a degree any sooner very difficult, York added.
He was confident that students will be attracted to the degree he called an “MBA for Engineers.”
“We’ve already seen that happen a little bit,” York said. “Students will choose the college because TMP is there. It’s been a long gestation period. Now we just have to grow the baby.”