Business school gets new director

Business might not be personal, but Gannon University’s new director of the Dahlkemper School of Business Administration says her mission is to make the department more personable.

Donna Motilla, DBA, said she wants to create a community feeling in the department.

“We’re business students and we’re proud of it,” is the motto she wants to hear from students in the area.

Motilla will bring her experience from serving both as dean of the Joseph W. Luter III School of Business and as professor of management at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., to her new position.

It was during her time at Christopher Newport that she learned how to make a program more student-centric.

When she started at the university it was more focused on nontraditional students.

However, it still operated as a traditional university, as it didn’t effectively accommodate students who worked during the day and went to class at night.

She said when the university started recruiting traditional freshmen and changed the curriculum, some complained.

She created a student advisory board to give business students a direct line of communication to the dean’s office.

Motilla conducted several assessments of students and was able to learn what they were and weren’t learning.

She shared this information with the student board, and they worked together to fine tune the curriculum and help students learn more effectively.

Motilla said she hopes to establish a similar board at Gannon.

She said she wants to work with existing groups in the business department to create this board and open lines of communication.

She wants students to understand what is happening in the business school and be able to communicate that with their peers and parents.

“It’s important for students to have a voice,” she said.

“Faculty have a voice, and faculty is only one constituency in a university.

“Students are another constituency, and then there’s that whole other external constituency.”

Through Motilla’s first three weeks at Gannon, she said she has not only learned about its three constituencies, but she has become excited for the offerings unique to the school.

She includes in this list the Technology Incubator next to the Zurn Science Center, the Small Business Development Center, the entrepreneurship program and the risk management program.

“We’ve got really good programs,” she said. “There’s not a lot of schools that have risk management, especially schools this size.”

Motilla said she hopes the business department will soon make more use of the incubator.

An incubator is a place where people with ideas can start a business.

Incubators charge very little overhead – or rent – until the business gets on its feet.

Motilla is also excited for the prospects for business students at the One Green World Café.

said she hopes students from all business areas, from marketing to accounting, will get involved.

“Cash is going in and going out and someone needs to keep track of that,” she said.

“It would be a wonderful opportunity for [accounting] students to actually have that kind of experience, and put it on a resume.”

Motilla said the café offers something different from anything she’s seen at other schools she’s been at, especially since it continues to remain student run.

She said at other places she’s been students have had an idea but the administration has eventually taken over.

She calls the café an “incubator for business students,” and she said she hopes they throw their full support behind the endeavor.

TESSY PAWLOWSKI

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