Last year, the University of West Florida opened the doors of its new College of Business Education Center. The center could well serve as a monument to the success of the school’s business college.
“We’re on a roll right now,” said College of Business Dean Ed Ranelli.
When the 36,000-square foot complex was announced in 2011, UWF President Judy Bense noted that the building would “reflect the College of Business’ excellence.”
“Everyone has worked very hard,” she said, “and students and faculty are very worthy of this building.”
The new student center is designed to accommodate about 1,800 students. It is a state-of-the-art facility catering to the 21st-century business student.
“We’re quite proud of it,” Ranelli said. “It’s really an iconic structure.”
While everyone is psyched about the new student center, the real jewels—UWF’s business students and faculty—reside inside of the building. It is those students and professors that give Ranelli the biggest sense of pride.
“It’s a real noble experience to provide students with the knowledge, values and skills to be successful in business,” the dean said. “We take a lot of satisfaction in doing that.”
The business college also derives satisfaction from the awards and honors bestowed upon it. The school and its students are regularly singled out for recognition.
UWF’s accounting program is considered one of the best around. The school boasts the distinctive accreditation of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business—fewer than 4.7 percent of the business schools worldwide have earned this accreditation—and the college’s students have consistently scored in the top 20 percent nationally on the ETS Major Field Test in Business.
Ranelli attributes the school’s success to its faculty. He has made a point of assembling a team that has experience beyond the halls of academia. The dean himself worked for about 20 years in the health care industry.
“Most of our faculty have had business experience as well,” Ranelli explained. “You know, been-there-done-that.”
The dean’s formula for success is validated repeatedly by the accomplishments of the college’s students and faculty members. Last year, accounting student Megan Wise was among 37 recipients (out of a field of 90,000) to be awarded the American Institute of CPA’s Elijah Watt Sells Award. Larry Strain, director of UWF’s Small Business Development Center, won the 2012 Pensacola Area Commitment to Excellence (PACE) Professional Leader of the Year award.
“We’ve got a great team,” Ranelli said.
It is a team committed to the school’s mission.
“Our mission is to prepare students for a successful career and we do that,” the dean said. “You get a top-rate education that I think is competitive to any in the country.”
Beyond all the awards, beyond the bells and whistles of the new education center, the dean’s main instruction to his students can be boiled down to practical simplicity: “hustle.”
“To be successful, you’ve got to hustle,” Ranelli said. “You’ve got to hustle, that’s the take away.”