WWW. I MMA C U L ATA . E D U
guided us on improving our presence on the Internet, and more.
This scholarship is further evidence of their amazing support.”
Fitzwater is quick to highlight the support of the faculty as
well. “Our faculty have a positive, proactive approach to creating
a learning environment for our students, to ensuring that our cur-
riculum is both academically rigorous and relevant, to bringing in
new things that can be interesting, whether it’s outside speakers or
emergent trends,” she said.
The faculty members all have business backgrounds, some
having served as corporate CFOs, financial planners, economists,
business owners, federal regulators, and consultants, and they
bring this expertise and enthusiasm to the department as they
continually assess and improve students’ education.
One major feature of that education is experiential learning,
which the faculty incorporate into upper division courses, encour-
aging students to interact with case studies, develop their own
opinions of situations, and discuss ways that they would respond.
In her business ethics class, Fitzwater has students look at dif-
ferent companies, some that have good corporate social responsi-
bility track records and some that have suffered the consequences
of poor choices. Students wrestle with different scenarios, many of
which are not clear cut, and decide how they would handle them.
The goal is not to give students a tidy set of principles, Fitzwater
said, but to help them develop an ethical framework and a process
they can use in decision-making, as well as an appreciation for
how difficult some decisions are.
Fitzwater introduces her students to different theories of
ethics, asking them to consider whether the purpose of business
is primarily to make a profit for its stockholders, or to benefit its
broad range of stakeholders—employees, customers, the com-
munity, the environment, and suppliers. The class then discusses
these competing but overlapping theories.
“We don’t say, ‘Oh, you need to adopt one of these.’ We say,
‘You need to think about how you will make your ethical deci-
sion,’” Fitzwater commented. “It’s really an opportunity for them
to set their ethical foundation before they get into those circum-
The business ethics class also involves a service learning com-
ponent, requiring students “to use their entrepreneurial capabili-
ties to make a sustainable difference,” Fitzwater said. Some of
them have worked with HumanKind Water, an organization
that raises funds to provide sources of clean water in developing
countries. Other students are helping to support a farm-to-school
program that teaches children about growing food and eating
The popular strategic planning class, a business capstone
course, also incorporates experiential learning as students review
case studies and create a strategic plan of their own. They learn
about the appreciative inquiry method, a way of improving results
by focusing on and expanding positive aspects of an organization
rather than analyzing and fixing the negative aspects. Students
read about how British Airways addressed a recurring problem
of lost baggage by discussing what they wanted their customers’
experience to be like. Then employees brainstormed ways to pro-
vide a better arrival experience, leaving them feeling motivated to
implement it instead of discouraged about what had gone wrong
With this approach and others as models, students choose a
publicly traded company and practice doing an external assess-
ment of its business environment and an internal assessment of
its products, services, and business operations. The students then
develop recommendations and create a strategic plan for the com-
panies they chose.
The Business and Accounting Department’s own strategic plan
is refreshed each year. Their current goals include arranging inter-
national co-ops so that students can gain some global experience,
creating a social space on campus to discuss what’s going on in the
business world, and increasing outreach to alumni.
Keeping in touch with graduates brings “making a difference”
full circle. The Business and Accounting faculty get to hear how
the positive effect they had on their students is rippling out into
the business world, and returning to benefit Immaculata, too. “It’s
really neat to see how [our graduates] go out to make a difference
and stay connected with us and with each other,” Fitzwater said.
“There’s a real appreciation for their Immaculata relationships.”
ACBSP president and representatives recognize Immaculata University’s
accreditation with Charlene Fitzwater, Ph.D., chair of IU’s Business and
Accounting Department, in June 2012.