Information Session – SBU Online Master of Arts in Strategic Leadership Program

Information Session – SBU Online Master of Arts in Strategic Leadership Program

We heard from featured speakers Dr. Pauline Hoffmann and Dr. Kimberly Young regarding the 100% Online MSL program.

The focus was on the importance of communication in leadership and the career impact of an MSL degree.


Joe Micele: Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us today. This is our live information session providing an overview of St. Bonaventure University Online Master of Arts in Strategic Leadership Degree Program.

Before I introduce our panelists and speakers for you today, I'd like to go over a couple of quick notes. Today's event is being recorded for future viewing and listening. We will be emailing out the recording to you within 48 hours of today's webinar. You will also be able to access the recording on our website You are currently in a listen-only broadcast mode. Only our panelists are unmuted and able to speak. If you have questions, please type them in the "questions" box in the GoToWebinar window and click "send." We will have a Q&A session with our panelists after the presentation. Feel free to type your questions in during the presentation and we will address them accordingly during the Q&A session.

We are joined today by a great group of panelists. We have three featured speakers today, starting with Dr. Pauline Hoffmann, Dean of St. Bonaventure University's Jandoli School of Communication, Dr. Kimberly Young, Director of the Master's in Strategic Leadership Program at SBU, Kristen Lafevor, a current student in the online MSL program, Gina Heimbecker, a member of our online admissions advisor group at SBU, Molly Risseeuw, Online Student Success Advisor at SBU. Molly is here to answer any questions you may have related to the online classroom, registration, and other aspects of a student's online program. My name is Joe Micele and I will be your moderator today.

Before I turn the presentation over to our panelists, I'd like to quickly go through our agenda for today's session. We'll start with our guest speaker, Gina Heimbecker, who will talk about why choose St. Bonaventure University, the SBU core values, and our rankings and accreditations. Then our featured speaker, Dr. Pauline Hoffmann, will discuss St. Bonaventure's Jandoli School of Communication, why one would attend an MSL program through a school of communication, and who this program is designed for.

Next, our featured speaker, Dr. Kimberly Young, will discuss why one would choose a Master's in Strategic Leadership and what the career impact of the degree is. Next, our featured speaker, Kristen Lafevor and a current student in the program, will discuss why she chose SBU's online MSL program and what her student experience has been thus far. Gina Heimbecker will then follow-up and discuss some of the admissions requirements for the programs and provide details on the application next steps, and then we will move to our question and answer session.

I will now go ahead and turn over the presentation to Gina Heimbecker. I'm sorry. I think Gina may be on mute. Gina, you may need to unmute yourself. Okay, it appears Gina is having some audio issues, so I am going to go ahead and present this portion of the event.

Why choose St. Bonaventure University? SBU is the nation's first Catholic-Franciscan university and prides itself on offering a career-focused curriculum while producing graduates who are leaders that make ethical and moral decisions. SBU holds itself to three core values. 1) Discovery. SBU steadfastly pursues intellectual, spiritual, and personal growth. 2) Community. They hold themselves to a value of community and believe in an inclusive community that values diversity and considers it a strength. 3) Individual worth. SBU treats all members of its community with dignity and strives to help them reach their full potential.

Just a few of the rankings and accreditations that SBU has received and achieved. St. Bonaventure University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. It's ranked #21 by U.S. News & World Report's 2018 Best Colleges – Regional Universities North ranking. It's also ranked #5 by U.S. News & World Report in 2018 for Best Value Schools – Regional Universities North. Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranks SBU as a "Top 300 Best College Values," and The Princeton Review ranks it among its "Best 380 Colleges." I will now turn over the presentation to Dr. Pauline Hoffmann, Dean of SBU's Jandoli School of Communication.

Dr. Pauline Hoffmann: Okay, hello? I want to make sure. Can I be heard?

Joe Micele: Yes, we can hear you. Thank you.

Dr. Pauline Hoffmann: Oh, okay, great! First of all, good afternoon and welcome. Thank you for joining us. As noted, I'm Dr. Pauline Hoffmann. I'm the Dean of the Jandoli School of Communication, but I'm also a professor and right now I'm teaching in the Leadership program and enjoy that a great deal.

Let me tell you just very briefly about the Jandoli School. It was founded in 1947 by Dr. Russell Jandoli himself, and it was started as a Department of Journalism. At that time, it had just the one undergraduate program. Since then, it's grown. We now have the two undergraduate majors: Journalism and Strategic Communication, and then we have two graduate programs. One you're hearing about today, the Strategic Leadership program and we also have Integrated Marketing Communication. We've been teaching students how to gather, analyze, and communicate information, skills that as noted here are valued by pretty much every occupation. I don't think I've ever spoken with an employer who said, "Nah, you know what? Communication, really not that important," which leads to if you want to go to the next slide, Joe.

Our Master of Arts in Strategic Leadership. It is 100% online. The 33 credits, you can complete that in as little as one year or if you prefer, you could do it in a part-time session over two years, but as with any of our programs, it's very individualized in that if you are going through the program and you find that, "Oh, whoops. You know what? This particular semester I have too many things happening within my business or my personal life." You might need to take a bit of a break. We can work with each person individually, so we tend to pride ourselves on the individual attention.

Students graduate with a leadership portfolio that outlines their experiences and applies the classroom knowledge to real-world situations. We want to make sure that while we certainly focus and touch on theory that we're actually teaching you and training you to solve problems and deal with conflicts, and deal with communication situations. We want to make sure that we're giving you the abilities that you need in order to be transformative, ethical, leaders and executives.

And this is a question that I get asked and I think that Dr. Kimberly Young also gets asked quite often. Why is a leadership program in the School of Communication? I touched on this just a bit. Communication is one of those things that I think is the hallmark of everything that we do in leadership. In the leadership program, we're recognizing the importance of some of those soft skills. So we're going to take a look at certainly strategic decision-making, thought leadership, problem solving, conflict resolution, and digital leadership. How are you a leader and how do you become a leader when everything is so digital, whether we're talking about social media or we're talking just about other technologies that you're going to need to incorporate within your own leadership and within your own style.

One of the things, too, that I think is important to note is we are taking a look at the advanced communication techniques. We also take a look at our program and our classes all the time to make sure that we are, indeed, giving you the latest information. We're in touch with alumni in the field who are doing this work and who are giving us feedback, and I think that's important to note that we're paying attention to what the trends are and what it is you need to have as ethical leaders. Joe, if you want to go to the next?

Who is this program designed for? We want motivated professionals ready to take their leadership to the next level. One of the things that I enjoy and can speak to as a professor in the program, also, is that I really love the diversity of the students that we have within the program. Not only do we have people from all levels of leadership, but we have people from all parts of the country, and sometimes we have international folks. We have people from the military, and banking, and healthcare, and all sorts of different fields, who are contributing to the conversation in a way that I think truly enhances what it is we offer as a leadership program in a school of communication.

Joe Micele: Excellent. Thank you, Dr. Hoffmann. We'll now turn the presentation over to Dr. Kimberly Young.

Dr. Kimberly Young: Again, I want to welcome everyone and I appreciate this opportunity to share the thoughts on the program. In terms of the Master's with Strategic Leadership, to expand some of what Dr. Hoffmann has talked about already, it really takes a forward-thinking approach to leadership.

What I find are the diverse group of students, how not only, again, from their industries, but their location in terms of many international students. You really get a feel for the diversity and the global impact of our business world today. As we engage in a lot of very detailed discussions throughout the program, I think what happens is that people can bring all these experiences together in their different leadership roles. We try to focus on implementing our content for your daily professional routine so that our theories can easily be applicable to an immediate industry that you're working in. Basically, your day-to-day job.

We focus on five essential abilities of true leaders. We look at organizational intelligence, cross-functional awareness, command of language, being a good problem solver, and a global mindset. Ultimately, what we're trying to look at through our leadership program is cultivating the skillsets that you initially bring to the program. Everybody begins with a 360 evaluation, which gives you your own assessment of leadership strengths and areas for improvement, and it allows you to have other raters or observers, and this could be coworkers, current supervisors, to people that you've supervised. They give you opinions and feedback on your leadership strengths and weaknesses so that we have a beginning place for what you're already bringing into the program.

Then what we do — and it's very unique to our program — is we work on that 360 evaluation into an action plan so that you have identified areas of improvement for yourself and where you can use the program, and the content of the program to improve on those areas of concern or just of weakness. Then at the end, we have a leadership portfolio that we integrate and we look back on the 360 evaluation, your action plan, and see how far you've grown as a leader.

One of the things that I found in terms of the career impact of the Strategic Leadership Program is in a lot of our alumni achievements once they graduate. Oftentimes, a leadership student is looking for career advancement, and as I mentioned, we've had a diverse group of students. For example, we might have somebody in the military. Well, that person went from being a captain to a major. I know we've had many CPAs in the program who looked at MBA programs, but really didn't want the accounting or the finance background because they already had those skillsets, but they wanted the skillsets in problem solving, strategic planning, and decision-making. So now they run their own CPA firm.

Or we've had students in healthcare and might have been a lab technician, but wanted to become a supervisor and now they've moved up into their career path as a supervisor for the whole lab. We've had even many MBAs taking our curriculum. It's, again, they already have certain skillset with that, but they wanted the leadership qualities and skillsets to move into their industry and move onward.

I think the diversity of the industries, along with the diversity of the cultural and ethnic backgrounds of our students, really do help because in the class discussions we get into a great bit of detail about how different industries function, and so you can learn from that and apply many of those attributes of certain industries into your own.

Joe Micele: Thank you, Dr. Young. We'll now go ahead and turn the presentation to Kristen Lafevor, a student who is currently in the online MSL program.

Kristen Lafevor: Thank you, Joe. This is Kristen Lafevor and I'd like to go over some reasons I chose SBU's Master's in Strategic Leadership. The program has truly began to provide me with a deeper understanding of what it means to be a leader. I have also been able to apply the knowledge and concepts in what I currently do. The next slide, please.

I'd also like to cover the online experience. The program provides a great deal of flexibility and convenience. I do enjoy the fact that I can log in when it's most convenient for me to do so. It's a very interactive experience. You are able to interact with your fellow classmates, get to know more about their backgrounds, and what they do. They are able to do the same for you within the program.

In addition to that, and as some of our professors have mentioned, they bring a wealth of knowledge into the classroom and you have an opportunity to learn about different backgrounds. The faculty and staff make you feel like an important part of the program, and they are here to help answer any questions you have in an effort to help you to be successful. Thank you.

Joe Micele: Great. Thank you, Kristen. We'll now go ahead and pass it to Gina. Gina, hopefully your audio problems are resolved to discuss admission and application.

Gina Heimbecker: Absolutely. So just to cover the admissions for requirements for this program, we are looking for a short essay stating what your goals are for engaging in such a learning experience, about 500 words. I normally express to students the more detail and background you can give for our program directors will give us a better feel of what your goals are for wanting to come into this type of program.

We are looking for a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 3.0. We also would need transcripts, official transcripts, from all institutions that have been attended, and a current résumé that shows at least three years of working experience.

The next steps for the application process is that you would need to have a phone conversation with your admissions advisor, which would be myself as I specialize in this program. You would complete an online application and also turn over official transcripts, résumé, and essay to complete a file for review for admittance.

The next term begins October 23rd of this year, with our application deadline of October 6th. You can contact the admissions department to learn more or begin your application. Our email address is Or you could call our toll-free number at 844-424-4960.

Joe Micele: Excellent. Thank you very much, Gina. Thank you, everyone, for your presentations, Dr. Hoffmann, Dr. Young, Kristen, and Gina.

We will now go ahead and begin our Q&A. Again, please type your questions in the questions box in the GoToWebinar window and then click "send." You can go ahead and ask your questions of any of our speakers and panelists. Let me go ahead and ask our first question here. We have a question here. Can this degree lead to a Ph.D.? Dr. Hoffmann or Dr. Young, I'm thinking you might be best suited to answer this question.

Dr. Pauline Hoffmann: Dr. Young, I wasn't sure if you were going to jump in. This is Dr. Hoffmann. Now depending on the Ph.D. program I would say take a look at Ph.D. programs carefully. It certainly may, but there are some Ph.D. programs that may require a more thorough thesis that I'm not sure that we would have… now there would be Ph.D. programs in leadership specifically that I think this would lead to. Dr. Young, I don't know if you want to add to that.

Dr. Kimberly Young: Yes. This, in fact, has led to Ph.D. programs for some of our students. As Dr. Hoffmann says, look at the Ph.D. programs you're wishing to apply to at the onset to see if the thesis needs to be more in-depth. But in a couple of cases, what we did was we did more of an application of a more master's thesis that was more academic versus, say, practitioner-based and it led to a Ph.D. program for a number of our students. So that is something of an option that we do offer, and a lot of times it's pretty clear upfront you might want to look at a Ph.D. program, understand what their requirements are for admissions, and see how we can tailor our thesis to match their expectations.

Joe Micele: Excellent, thank you. Let's go to the next question here. I think, Dr. Hoffmann, this may be a good one for you or Dr. Young, you as well. Typically, how many international students have you seen in the program?

Dr. Kimberly Young: I don't have a clear sense of specifically to this program. I don't think we've actually gotten those demographic numbers, but I would say a quarter or more are international students.

Dr. Pauline Hoffmann: I would agree with that. While I don't have the specific numbers, I know that we have had quite a few folks.

Joe Micele: Great, thank you. Here's a question. Is SBU's course content live, self-paced, or both across classes?

Dr. Kimberly Young: The majority of it is self-paced to the extent that there's weekly assignments and discussion posts, and the due dates are all upfront so that the student… One nice thing is the student can look at the entire course the first day and sort of outline what needs to be addressed and when, but the course itself is really self-paced to the extent that you do the work when it's convenient for you, provided that you get it done before the deadline dates. But there's not actually, I guess, synchronous time where we're all online together. That, I know, is of a concern for online students because sometimes with the time zones or their work schedules or their travel schedules they can't always do that. So, we tend to do it in terms of all synchronous work assignments.

Dr. Pauline Hoffmann: And if I could also add to that, too. One of the things that we do certainly pay attention to is whenever we have a new faculty member or we bring on another professional involved in the classes, we make sure that they're well aware that there won't be synchronous classes because people are all over the world. I mean I don't know… That would be incredibly difficult to do, but also any discussions are pretty much the same across the curriculum. So, the first discussion is due Wednesday night. The next one is due Friday in every class so that it's at least consistent in that regard, too, to make it easier for students.

Joe Micele: Excellent, thank you. Question here. What percent of the coursework is group work? Is there a good mix of individual work combined with group work or does it just differ by each individual professor?

Dr. Kimberly Young: I would say the workload, it may vary based on certain course content, but it really tends to be pretty uniform, I think. I think the harder issue is just probably in the initial course, which I teach. All of the students go through what we call a "cornerstone course" or a course where it kind of introduces all the courses that they will be taking, in terms of we have a smattering of talking about diversity or talking about global leadership or ethics, which is all part of what other courses will build on.

But with that, the students get sort of used to the routine in terms of what's the expectation for the discussions, and as Dr. Hoffmann said, we're more uniform on every Wednesday your initial posts are due, and then by, say, Friday, you have to respond so that the discussion threads are being developed every week in a consistent manner. I think in terms of the reading and the assignment loads, they tend to be fairly consistent.

Joe Micele: Great, thank you. A question here about student make up. Do you know what the average student age is in this program or do you have any idea of some of the age ranges for some of the students that have attended this program?

Dr. Kimberly Young: That's a good question and I would say it does vary where we have students probably maybe late 20s. Again, we need at least three years of experience, but most of them have three or four years if you're going on the younger end. But then we've had people with 35 years of work experience, and so I would say that it really does range. On average, it tends to be a mid-career person that's looking for that next step in advancement.

Joe Micele: Excellent, thank you. A question here. Can I assume that semesters for the program students operate similarly with the undergraduate schedule, fall, spring, and summer?

Dr. Kimberly Young: Well, no. Actually, what's very nice about our program is you can enter for one at any point in terms of start dates. It's not just everybody can only enter once in the spring or once in the fall or once in summer. They go on seven-week course schedules so that the first seven weeks of fall you complete a course, and then in the second session of the fall semester, you can complete another seven-week course.

So it's accelerated, which is nice for people that do want the degree, say, in only a year's time and don't want to be spending more time in school. It's, again, only 33 credits as well, so it's a bit shorter of a program than, say, other master degrees. But it also has the ability so the student can start if they miss that first seven weeks in the fall, they can start that next seven-week course in the fall semester. So we really have multiple start dates, which gives students the ultimate flexibility. Also, another option, too, because some students might find they're having family issues going on, so they take off for seven weeks, and then they can pick up in the following spring.

Joe Micele: All right, a question here. As you progress through the program, what kind of access would you have to career services, if desired?

Dr. Pauline Hoffmann: I'll actually jump on that. That's something that I'm working on now in my dual role, which I didn’t mention earlier. Not only am I the Dean of Communication and the Dean of Graduate Studies as it happens. This is Pauline again. We do have a career and professional readiness center that, if someone was interested, all they would have to do is reach out to, in this case, Dr. Young, and we can make those arrangements. We don't often have students who do that and our career center focuses a bit more on the undergrad just because of our population, but we do have the resource here should someone need to take advantage of that. Then also, any of the professors involved in the program can certainly… I mean all of us have had experiences working and so on, so we can certainly offer our own advice in that regard.

Joe Micele: Excellent, thank you. Another question here. Can you discuss the leadership portfolio a little more and maybe what that might look like, and how it's developed?

Dr. Kimberly Young: Yes. When we talk about the leadership portfolio, a lot of times it's a time for us to, again, review what the action steps were from the first course, the cornerstone course that I discussed. Everybody completes the 360 evaluation, develops the action plan, and then the last course in the program, students look at their strengths again, their leadership areas of growth.

We sort of put that together in a couple of ways. One, there's a narrative that the student will write, and it's really just a two-page narrative assessing and looking back and reflecting. One of the things in terms of my background, I'm a psychologist, and we did this in my doctoral program where we had a whole course where we were able to reflect on what we learned. In a skill-based program, that's very essential, I think, because it gives you time to really incorporate a lot of just what you might have read and discussed. Now you can sort of integrate it better, I think, as a person, as a professional development key.

Then what the students do is they put together, also, a slideshow addressing the major learning areas, for example, global leadership. What did they learn from global leadership, and then they can put together papers, assignments or videos that they made throughout the curriculum to say, "Hey, when we looked at global leadership, this is what I got out of this, and this is how I applied it. Here's a paper that reflected that learning."

It's a package of materials, if you will, going back over the one or two years that the student has been in the program and seeing where they began, and then seeing where they are now, and also looking at other career experiences. Many of our students also get promoted while they're in the program. So in a very immediate way, they're applying a lot of our leadership skillsets that they're talking about in class right to their job, so we can discuss that as well in their portfolio.

Joe Micele: Thank you. A question here regarding military, actually. You had mentioned alumni that were in the military. Can you discuss how this program would be a fit for someone who is or was in the military, and how it might help their career, both in and out of serving their country?

Dr. Kimberly Young: When we've had the military go through our curriculum, one of the things that they have taken courses in leadership, and the big part of the military training is leadership development. In fact, sometimes much more often because, even as cadets, they're getting a lot of input in terms of their leadership skills. I see it as a great complement to what they're already actively doing because oftentimes they're already out in the field doing direct work, whether guiding a squad, different occasions where they are very good at the program in terms of bringing in those skillsets and sharing them with others.

But also, I think they build on what the military has already done for them by taking models that the military isn't covering, say in maybe human resource management, employee motivation, and being able to apply that to, say, their squad mobilization units and different areas that they're dealing with more day to day and more immediate. So, I see that being a complement to what the military personnel that go through our program are able to achieve.

Joe Micele: Thank you. Another question here. If I already have a MBA degree, what other skills would I be able to gain by taking the MSL program that might help me further advance my career?

Dr. Kimberly Young: We get that question often because as I mentioned earlier, too, we have MBAs that have gone through our curriculum. When you look at the MBA structure, it is a master of general business. They cover finance, accounting, marketing, management. In rare cases, does an MBA focus solely on leadership. There might be an elective in leadership, but that's not always the case.

So for an MBA, it’s looking for specifically those skillsets related to leadership development. It is the problem solving. It is the decision-making, strategic planning, just communication. One of the things that we really pride our program on is that we are in the School of Communication and that those are skillsets that sometimes an MBA hasn't actually had specific training on or coursework on.

Joe Micele: Great, thank you. Question here for Gina, actually, one of our admissions advisor. Does SBU accept transfer credits for this program?

Gina Heimbecker: What would happen is we will accept up to six credit hours, but that is upon review by the program director. Those courses would have to match up with courses that are in our curriculum.

Joe Micele: Thank you. Another question, actually, for you, Gina. When do classes start again?

Gina Heimbecker: Our next session will be October 23rd.

Joe Micele: Thank you. Oh, and actually, we have one more for you here, Gina. How many credit hours is each course?

Gina Heimbecker: Each course through the curriculum is three credit hours, with the exception of the leadership portfolio. That course would be two credits.

Joe Micele: Thank you. This question I think is open to everyone. Would I have to come to campus for any courses or any coursework in this program?

Dr. Pauline Hoffmann: No. We'd love to have you come to campus and we certainly encourage folks to come for the commencement ceremonies, but you don't have to come to campus at all.

Joe Micele: Great, thank you. Let's just hold for a minute here as that's actually the last question in the list and see if anyone else has any additional ones they'd like to add. Okay, that actually looks like it is the last question. No additional are showing here, so we will go ahead and conclude today's event.

Thank you to our speakers, Dr. Hoffmann, Dr. Young, Gina Heimbecker, and Kristen Lafevor. Thank you, again, for taking the time to join us today. We hope you found today's information session helpful and informative and that all of your questions were answered. You can always reach out to your online admissions advisor for any assistance. Again, today's presentation and question and answer session were recorded, and that recording will be emailed out to you within 48 hours of today's event. You will also be able to access it online at our website Thank you all and have a great rest of your day.