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Pamplin, First Union offer Richmond MBA program

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 11 - November 2, 1995

The Pamplin College of Business and First Union National Bank of Virginia will launch a new MBA program in Richmond next fall using live satellite-TV broadcasts to teach courses at a local First Union facility.

The four-year program will target working adults in the Richmond area who are interested in studying part-time for an MBA (master of business administration) degree two nights a week. Classes begin in August 1996 at First Union's eastern Virginia operations center on Parham Road in northwest Richmond.

The live broadcasts will originate from the Pamplin College, and will air simultaneously at other sites across the state where the college's satellite MBA program already is in place: Virginia Beach, Roanoke, South Boston, Fredericksburg, Abingdon, and Wise. First Union will provide-free of charge to the college-a 50-seat tele-conferencing room for use as a classroom. The facility includes a big-screen TV monitor and several smaller TV screens. First Union also will donate the services of its staff to provide technical assistance with the satellite hook-up for each class session, as well as administrative assistance with classroom documents and exams.

"The state-wide TV network essentially constitutes one large, geographically dispersed `classroom' in which students at all six sites state-wide can interact collectively with their professors in Blacksburg through two-way telephone lines while watching the professors on TV screens, " said Ronald Johnson, Pamplin's associate dean for graduate programs. "We are excited to be working together with First Union to bring a top-notch MBA program to working adults in the Richmond area," Johnson said. "First Union repeatedly has demonstrated its commitment to education in this state, and this new effort in Richmond is yet another example."

First Union's Richmond-area president, Mike Wesson, called the new program "a unique partnership designed to effectively bridge the traditional gap that exists between the business world and the academic world. Virginia Tech plays a vital role in our state, both in terms of higher education and economic development," Wesson said. "First Union is pleased to be a partner in helping the university carry out its mission."

First Union launched its partnership with Virginia Tech earlier this year with a $250,000 endowment to fund a new professorship in the Pamplin College in financial risk management. First Union-Virginia's third-largest bank based on a deposit share of 13 percent-employs about 500 people and operates branch offices in its Richmond region. State-wide, the bank employs 3,500 people and operates 170 branches.