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Thoughts on Launching an Academic Community

I have been thinking a lot lately about the concept of ‘community’. I am reminded that when I moved from Northern California to Germany ten years ago, the differences in traditions, cultures, and social systems were readily apparent. I had moved from San Jose, a city of close to one million Silicon Valley citizens, to Nehren, a village of just over 2000 Swabian souls. I had changed careers from being a high-tech industry executive to being an international business professor.

I was faced with very new feelings about community and personal responsibility. I was energized by the thrill and challenge of learning another language and trying to succeed in a ‘foreign’ environment. I enjoyed teaching my business students with new personal insight that they enter each host country with genuine social responsibility in mind and with their clear, non-patronizing message of value-oriented contribution to the host society readily at-hand.

I also appreciated the rich dialogue with professors and students from all over the world that I met on our campus or on theirs. There is something special about the academic world that had been missing from my professional sphere. Today, with the responsibility of introducing the University Alliances Community (UAC), I have similar positive feelings of anticipation.

I am encouraged that we can engage with each other in career-developing opportunities through rich dialogue and value-oreinted contributions in this community.  I invite you to bookmark our UA Welcome Center where you will find an invitation to register for the UAC.  Please also subscribe to this UA Message Board to keep yourself up-to-date on UAC developments and to participate regularly as a ‘communiy activist’.

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  • A warm welcome to the University Alliance from the Business Process Expert Community (BPX), or at least from its community evangelist.  In the span of the last few decades (from the time I was myself a campus undergraduate until my own more recent experiences as an instructor of adult professionals), I’ve witnessed a sharp paradigm change that has been thrilling to observe. The dialogue you mention Bob, and moreover the collaboration between students and professors, students with students, and professors with each other, has greatly benefited from technology and the ability to extend the borders of the conversations, beyond classrooms and geographic boundaries.  With the move from “sage on stage” to “guide on side”, I see not only a more egalitarian approach to knowledge sharing but an enormous opportunity for professors to be mentored by technologically learned students, while they themselves provide the guidance and tutelage in their areas of expertise.  This is the opportunity of a learning co-operative.  And I hope we see that enthusiastically and collaboratively expressed here.  You will find a learned and savvy bunch of people, as well as a commuity of people eager to learn.  Cross polination from the academic world will be interesting and hopefully mutually beneficial.
    • Thanks, Marilyn, for your welcome and for your invitation to collaboration. I want to point out to our academic community that all of you can benefit from and engage in the dialogue and content in BPX. Professors can obviously lend their expertise in their field(s) of interest, and add to or create a new area for discussion in BPX. Many students, especially those in master and doctoral programs, are also already experts, or at least are budding experts. But even if you do not consider yourself an expert in a BPX area, all of the community participants are gladly contributing to help you expand your own knowledge base and skills inventory. We all hope that later, when you are ready, you will also contribute to the community. What goes around, comes around.
  • Hello, my name is Eric Koch; I am a senior at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan and I plan to graduate in December 2009.  First, I would like to say that I am extremely excited to see where this UA Community can go in the future. 

    One thing that I can think of that can make this University Alliance very strong would be an SAP/ERP student organization.  I have not heard of a student group like this before, but there could be one out there already.  If anyone knows of student group similar to this, I would be very interested to learn more about them.

    A nationwide (or even worldwide) student organization would give students a chance to collaborate and make their SAP experiences in the classroom even better.  Employers could benefit by having a student organization to identify as producing great SAP talent.  SAP could even benefit by the positive press from hosting events such as conferences, case competitions, and more.

    I personally would love to be a part of starting a student organization like that here at Grand Valley State University.  We have a strong MIS program and ERP Initiative that supports SAP courses.  I know our faculty and students here would be supportive of a student organization like this.  We have a good-sized group of students that are in either their second or third year of school that really want to learn about SAP.

    • Hello Eric

      Your words are music to our ears here in SAP University Alliances. Our interests lie in support of high education, and that means anticipating and meeting the skills development needs of today’s web-savvy generation of university-goers.

      We spend most all of our time outfitting professors with the software solutions, hosting access, and course materials to allow students to receive an enriched academic experience. Grand Valley State University and our main contact there, Prof. Simha Magal, are perfect examples of how SAP can work successfully with universities. We want to continue with our interactions with professors. But clearly, the ultimate audience is students like yourself.

      We were hoping that the new University Alliances Community (UAC) would provide a special link for us to engage with you, and we are grateful to see such a suggestion in the first few days after our site has gone live. We will discuss the idea of promoting campus student associations, and we will keep you in the loop as we do. We will also take you up on your offer to help initiate this, as we clearly would need you to tell us what students are thinking and expecting.

      We will contact you by email this week.

      • I am glad that you liked my recommendation.  I also look forward to your email later this week and helping SAP’s UA as much as possible to get this started. 
  • My name is David Herrema I am a Management Information Systems major at Grand Valley State University.  I believe collaboration is the key to success.  This new Academic Community will be a great opportunity for students and professors to connect with one another.  Currently at Grand Valley State University, we have no student organizations that are directly geared towards MIS or SAP.  It would be a great opportunity for students and the Academic Alliance to spearhead this idea of a new student organization. 

    Both Eric Koch and I are members of SAM-I (Society for the Advancement of Management and International Business) which has provided us a great experience collaborating with students from different majors across our business school.  This March our SAM-I chapter is going to Las Vegas to compete in the 25th annual SAM National case competition.  It would be awesome if SAP could host some type of competition that would be more specific to our major.  In addition, our local chapter of SAM-I co-hosts the Seidmen ERP Speaker series with Dr. Simha R. Magal’s ERP Initiative.   The Seidmen ERP Speaker Series brings in top executives to talk about their experiences in the industry, last year Mr. Jeff Word (Vice President of Product Strategy for SAP Labs, the product development division of SAP AG) was one of our speakers.  If a new organization was started, this speaker series would have an easy transition to this new group.

    Many GVSU students are starting to see the value in understanding SAP, and the great opportunities it provides after college.  The Seidmen ERP Initiative at GVSU is gaining strength with more students taking ERP curriculum and finding other ways to get more involved.  A student organization would only further develop our skills and prepare us for the next stage in our careers.  Because of the strong student support, I know we could hit the ground running.  Moreover, our professor’s are extremely supportive and would help guide us is in the right direction.  I would be honored to help start up a local chapter, especially with my colleague Eric Koch. 

    • Hi, David. Welcome to our new community. I am encouraged by your interest and ideas. As I answered to Eric’s entry, we will contact him this week. Now we can also include you on that email.

      To get started, you should join together and ask your student senate, board, council, etc. for guidelines on establishing a new student-led organization. Maybe you can find this information on the web already. This will be helpful for us in creating a template for GVSU and similar initiatives on other campuses.

      You should also start asking around and promoting the idea to more students, because you probably need a petition of many signatures to present to the student senate organizations committee to get their go-ahead. Normally, they also provide some activity funding.

      • Bob, that sounds great.  I am ecstatic to start something new!  Eric and I have already started collaborating on different ideas.  Luckily, most students on campus already know us as the ‘ERP interns’, which will help with promotion.  Fortunately, we also have experience with student organizations; this will make it easier to connect with student senate.  We look forward to hearing back from you.
  • Hi Everyone,

    I feel compelled to respond to my own blog from over a half year ago. 

    UA has always been a special community of people.  Even before we were connected through URL’s and email protocols and started using the UA name, we had members employing SAP solutions innovatively in classrooms and labs.

    The University Alliances community (UAC) portal, provides a platform for connecting the members of the community in a very dynamic, social media environment.

    We all here appreciate that the UA community of people came first, and motivated the implementation of the UAC portal.

    Thank you to you all for your impressive engagement.