Faculty Spotlight: Professor Way, Dir of Business Management

Meet Debra Way, Long-Time Faculty Member and Online Education Champion

Debra Way is the Professor of Business, Coordinator of Business Programs at University of Cincinnati. She’s worked for UC since 1995 and has a long-time connection to the university’s business-focused programs, curriculum, instructors and students.

Today, she teaches Economics and other management courses and oversees the university’s Pre-Business, Business Management, Marketing Management and Financial Management degree programs. In what is an all-encompassing role, Debra develops the semester schedules, coordinates staffing, interacts with students and stays connected to other program-related activities.

We recently spent time with Debra, talking with her about her responsibilities, what it’s like to work with students and one of the many University of Cincinnati Online  programs, the Associate of Business Management Technology (BMTN) degree.

Getting to Know Students Over the Years

Debra’s met untold thousands of students over her almost three decades with the university. She says the most enjoyable part of her job is teaching students of all ages, helping them gain the essential skills needed to improve their career opportunities.

“I also like developing new courses and programs that help educate students in the latest trends in the industry,” Debra says. “We use students’ feedback to prompt content changes in our programs and inform the methods and practices of how we teach.”

Debra enjoys advising students and interacting with them throughout their university journey, including helping them see how they can apply what they learn to the workplace.

Two-Year Study Program Designed for the Real World

The BMTN degree is a fully online, two-year program that equips students with the education they need to move into an entry-level supervisory or management position. Debra sees the virtual program attracting a diverse mix of students of all ages and from different backgrounds and geographical locations.

“Our program welcomes students who just completed high school and those in their 40s and 50s who want a career change and haven’t been able to do that without a degree,” Debra says. “The students’ different perspectives and backgrounds enrich the virtual classroom environment.”

Students’ job experience levels vary, too, and the program is designed to meet a wide range of needs. “ BMT helps a student with no job experience develop a tangible skill set and gives a student with experience the ability to move up in their profession,” Debra says.

UC Online’s business management associate degree focuses on various fundamental management theories, human resources processes and laws and the critical elements of human relations. One of the 60 credit-hour program courses is Fundamentals of Human Resources, where students learn all aspects of hiring, training, evaluating and promoting staff, developing job descriptions and disciplining and terminating employees.

Debra describes the Fundamentals of Human Relations course as interesting and fun, saying it helps students become the type of supervisor that creates a win-win situation for both the company and the employee. The course includes self-assessment exercises that allow a student to learn about their own human relations style.

The program’s focus on human resources (HR) and human relations is intentional. Debra explains why it’s critically important for students to understand these areas: If employment laws and HR processes aren’t fully understood and followed, it can put a company at risk and make it more susceptible to a lawsuit. “This is why the BMTN program covers everything from designing job descriptions to interviewing, hiring and job offers to promotions to the discipline process that might need to occur if someone doesn’t meet the company’s job criteria,” Debra says.

Deep Experience in Online Learning

Working in education for so many years, Debra’s witnessed many changes in how education is delivered to UC’s students. As the university’s online education offering evolved, new technologies were introduced, such as Webex and Microsoft Teams.

Long gone are the days where students needed special equipment to access their schoolwork or had trouble logging in because their internet signal wasn’t strong enough. Today’s tech-savvy students likely have at least one device they can use to access their UC Online classes and can study from many wi-fi enabled places — at home, while they’re at work or in a nearby coffee shop — and at whatever time of day that works best for them.

Easy access to class material is essential. So, too, is making that virtual education experience enjoyable. “I remember being the first person to put our Economics course online around 2005,” Debra says. “A focus for me back then that continues today is making the student experience as much like a classroom as I possibly can.”

Debra believes today’s UC Online student is more likely to feel connected to their fellow students when compared to a student who took classes online 10 or 15 years ago. “The feedback from our students is that they feel part of a group, they’re able to understand what’s expected of them, and they can easily interact with their classmates and instructors,” she says.

Female business manager talking to employees| The University of Cincinnati Online.
Explore the topic of online education for aspiring leaders and managers and why there’s such a demand for qualified individuals in What is Business Management? And Why It May Be a Great Career Choice.
Associate Degree Often Leads to a Bachelor’s

The BMTN associate degree program provides students with a seamless transfer into another 100% online program, UC Online’s Bachelor of Technical and Applied Studies (BTAS), which students complete in two years if they study full-time.

“Students sometimes find there are certain positions that require a bachelor’s degree and want to continue their studies,” Debra says. “I played a role in developing our BTAS degree, so I know it can enhance students’ administrative and supervisory skills and open even more doors for them.”

Frequently, Debra talks with prospective students who are older who say they aren’t sure they can add school to their busy lives. “They’re hesitant to enroll and are concerned about study habits they haven’t used in years,” Debra says. “But after they get going in the program, they realize that each semester, they’re better at setting their study schedule and finishing classwork. By the time they complete their associate degree, they’re more than ready to take on a bachelor’s degree.”

What Today’s Companies Need From Managers

Debra believes that corporate America doesn’t always equip its supervisors and managers with what they need to succeed in their roles. “Employers want people with good communication and human relations skills and knowledge of human resource processes,” she says, “but they don’t spend the time and money to train managers in these areas.”

Another area that companies need experienced people for is in succession planning, where there’s a pool of knowledgeable supervisors and managers who can move into positions when managers retire or leave for another reason.

When a company leader or HR recruiting manager is aware of someone at their company working toward their associate degree, this helps them be mindful of someone who is promotable and who cares about management enough that they spend after-hours time getting an undergraduate or advanced degree.

Learn From Debra Way and the BMTN Instructors

When asked what she thinks makes a UC Online education stand out, Debra mentions a “high-touch” environment and one that’s focused on what students need today, offering these features:

  • The rolling admission entry points allow students to enroll for the program at various times throughout the year (find details here).
  • The learning environment is supportive and of high quality, and it’s backed by UC Online’s 20+ years of online education experience.
  • Each student is paired early on with a success coach and receives personalized advice throughout the two-year program.

Debra ends our conversation with a call to action for someone considering UC Online: “If you want to grow your skills and find greater career success, this program is not only doable — it’s one you’ll find beneficial for a variety of managerial positions that unlocks your potential.”

So, now you’ve heard from Debra, someone who’s super-connected to the BMT degree. Does it sound like the associate program can help you meet your career goals? If so, reach out today and talk with a UC Online advisor who is ready to answer your questions about the Associate of Business Management Technology program. You can connect with them online, or call our associate degree specialists’ team at 833-556-7877. They’re here Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern time and are ready to help you.

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