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Spring 2009 | Finding the balance

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Marc von der Ruhr
Andrew Martinelli ’02 (left) was on campus recently. He and Marc von der Ruhr (right) looked at database management skills that are unique to the way Martinelli applies econometrics in market research.

A short period of economic growth

By Sharon Verbeten

Ongoing partnership with Marquette drives accelerated B.A./M.S. degree program

Creating partnerships is often a long-term process that involves forethought and careful planning. But it’s even better when a successful collaboration happens organically, bringing inevitable benefits for all involved.

That’s exactly what happened with St. Norbert’s new partnership with Marquette University. Beginning this spring semester, the two schools are teaming up to offer a five-year B.A./M.S. program in applied economics.

“We didn’t have our eyes set on this; it just kind of grew,” says Marc von der Ruhr (Economics).

“One thing that I think is beautiful about how this has grown is that now we have had a good series of students who have gone through our program and Marquette’s and are now happily employed.

“The students who have gone through this program feel a sense of loyalty to both us and to Marquette,” he adds.

While the program officially kicks off this year, St. Norbert students have historically had success pursuing advanced degrees at Marquette. Since 2000, 13 St. Norbert graduates – about 14.5 percent of economics majors – have gone on to Marquette for master’s degrees in applied economics.

“It was really laying the foundation,” says von der Ruhr. He notes that employers have valued the degree so much, they asked Marquette professors if there was a way to accelerate the program to bring viable employees to the market sooner. (Companies such as Miller Brewing, Coors and Kohler Company are among those that have hired Marquette economics graduates in the past.)

Under this new program, St. Norbert students can take up to two upper-level economics electives (with some additional work) while still undergraduates. These would transfer to Marquette for graduate credit. The students could also then take two M.B.A. classes at Marquette in the summer.

That additional work could potentially save a year of school toward the master’s degree, effectively getting the students into the workplace much earlier.

“There’s really a seamless transition,” says von der Ruhr. “For the motivated and interested student, it’s a really good opportunity. It is very innovative. The beauty is, it’s based on our past successes.”

One such success is Andrew Martinelli ’02, who now works as manager of market research for MISIX, a marketing consulting firm in Lake Villa, Ill. He has hired St. Norbert students as interns to do market research: Andrew Winters ’07, Brett Yost ’08, Ling Lin ’08 and Patrick O’Brien ’08.

“It’s a win-win because it is helping to groom students for that company or make them potentially available to its own clients,” says von der Ruhr. “He’s grooming a potential career path for our more talented students. They’re getting excellent experience.”

Martinelli agrees. “We try to give them real-world applications before they get to Marquette.” He believes the new B.A./M.S. program is “going to be a great thing for students.” In addition, he says, “It’s going to bring more attention to St. Norbert. You’re going to get a more national look now that you’re tied to MU.”

Registrars at both St. Norbert College and Marquette have been geared up to process the paperwork necessary to ensure proper transfer of credits. And von der Ruhr says he also has a similar approach to teaching economics as the Marquette professors, further ensuring a seamless transition.

“They’re a good fit,” he says. “We’re a really good feeder school. We have a very strong compatibility with how we teach and mentor our students with the way they do.”

Students are equally interested in saving time and money and getting into the workforce sooner.

“We do a pretty good screening,” says von der Ruhr. “We really want to keep the quality of students pretty high.

“Clearly it serves our school’s mission and it helps the students find their calling. We benefit in extending opportunities for our students. “It’s clearly a win-win.”     

Spring 2009 magazine

Web extras Web exclusives
Look here for web-only content that expands on topics presented in the current St. Norbert College Magazine (PDF).

Video Student research
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Reporting from one of the world’s best natural laboratories.

Audio Accessible and affordable
An interview to share with anyone considering a college education.

Text Extra Sports and their fans
An excerpt from a new book on the history, economics and culture of the relationship between spectator and sport.

Photo Gallery An aardvark a day
In this gallery of images, animal spirits prevail.

Text Extra Journalist in disguise
A look at two books authored by President Tom Kunkel.

Video Stepping out of the picture
An artist reflects on his recent work.

Story ideas? Your ideas for future magazine stories are most welcome. Write to the editor with any suggestions or comments.

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