Posts Tagged ‘UMSL’

Diversity on UMSL’s Campus

By: Kyle Barton and Chris Copithorne

UMSL Business met with campus minority and diversity leaders to discuss diversity on UMSL’s campus, specifically covering the organizations available for black students to foster diversity. Deborah Burris, Chief Diversity Officer; Ashlee Roberts, Assistant Director of Student Involvement; Dr. Malaika Horne, Director of Executive Leadership Consortium; and Annie Mbale, International Business Student at UMSL, all gathered to discuss the topic with UMSL Business.

Q1. UMSL has already been recognized for having one of the most diverse student body’s in the nation. What is the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion doing to widen our spectrum even further?

Deborah Burris: We are interested in constantly re-evaluating what we do by collecting data. We feel it’s important to connect with our community to plan what efforts are in place to be more strategic.

Q2. Is there any sort of liaison between your office and organizations like the Associated Black Collegians (ABC) or the Black Business Student Association (BBSA)? How important are these organizations to UMSL diversity?

Deborah Burris: Yes, we make a conscious effort to connect with these organizations by attending their events and co-sponsoring them. We are present to show that we are not only saying we support them, but we show up and spread information about their activities throughout the campus community. Specifically, we work with the Black Faculty Association, who also support these students. Organizations are important because they help students connect with others from similar cultural backgrounds.

Q3. Why is it important that students join organizations like Associated Black Collegians, the Black Business Student Association, or the Pan African Association?

Ashlee Roberts: It’s important for students at large to get involved, because they find a sense of belonging. People find a sense of culture, especially in these minority organizations, which leads to a shared experience. That’s why we have these different offshoots. Pan African Association is important because it brings in even more experiences and it includes international students. This creates even greater diversity, compared to domestic African American organizations. These groups have worked closely over the years and collaborated to create a sense of home. We want them to get involved. We talk about the social services, and the leadership development that these organizations provide. We want them to have fun, but we’re also here to encourage them to pursue opportunities.

Q4. What are the benefits you have seen from involvement in student organizations like this? What are the members doing for our campus?

Ashley Roberts: Seeing students continue to stay on campus is the most critical. There’s a lot of overlap with low income and first-generation students, who are not familiar with navigating the university. It can really help them get plugged in, which helps retain them. We watch these students develop from “I just want to go to the class” to “I want to get involved with leadership.” As an example, ABC works with UMSL Alumni Association to host a dinner with African American alumni and current students from UMSL. ABC doesn’t “horde” the opportunities for themselves, it shared the opportunity with BBSA. ABC thinks it’s important to see their peers getting plugged in, which helps them endure challenges together.  

Q5. What would be the benefit of adding more organizations like ABC and BBSA? Do you think UMSL needs more organizations like this?

Dr. Horne: Yes. The ultimate hope being that students become more attuned with the importance of cultural diversity and encouraging them to embrace it beyond our campus. Whether it’s people of color, different socio-economic statuses, veterans, and on and on. We need to support their success and embrace their cultural diversity.

Q6. What can you tell us about the relationship between these aforementioned cultural organizations and the Executive Leadership Consortium (ELC)?

Dr. Horne: The ELC is a resource for all students, regardless of cultural background. However, these organizations need to connect with groups from different sub-cultures. We need to stress the importance of helping these students succeed in our institution. We need to be warm welcoming and understand the uniqueness and the strength of these organizations at our university. The more we understand that the better.

Q7. Why did you choose UMSL, and what organizations are you involved with?

Annie Mbale: I chose UMSL, because of the International Business program. My decision was made officially on UMSL Day, and I loved the diversity here. After I came to America, I knew UMSL was special. When I was an undergraduate, I was very involved. I was a leader in several business and cultural organizations.

Q8. Why did you decide to join all these organizations?

Annie Mbale: I wanted to network, and I knew I had to join organizations to do that. Even when I was at the junior college, I was very involved. I was President of the student government organizations. I tried my best to be a good student too, and I knew the best way to practice the skills I learned in the classroom is to be involved in organizations. I didn’t want to join the Pan African Association at first, but when it was kicked off the campus due to lack of members, it made me angry and I decided to bring back my own organization.

Want to hear and see more from these distinguished leaders? Please watch the full video here:

Learn From the Best in the Industry at #MDMC18

By Kyle Barton

The following is an interview from the student-run podcast, ‘In Your Business: With UMSL Business

Midwest Digital Marketing Conference (MDMC18) is the largest digital marketing conference in the region, which is going to take place on March 27th and 28th at St. Louis Union Station. The conference provides an unprecedented opportunity to network with digital marketers, and refresh the understanding of the greatest trends affecting the industry.

The real value of MDMC18 is the accessibility that it provides. The speakers embody professionals working as Content Practitioners, Brand Strategists, and CEOs. Participants represent firms of all sizes, but all recognize the growing importance of the Digital Marketing field.

Here is the interview with Dr. Perry Drake, the Founder of the conference, who is also Assistant Teaching Professor and  Director of Business Collaboration at UMSL’s College of Business Administration, and Brianna Smith, the Executive Director of the Conference.

Q1. Could you please tell us how this conference got started?

Perry Drake: I’ve been at UMSL since 2013, prior to that I was at New York University for about fourteen years. When I came back to UMSL, I started a Digital Marketing program, and I really didn’t have a conference on my mind. In terms of building that out, it just kind of happened. I had asked a couple of my colleagues in my work, who work at Google, BuzzFeed, and Pinterest, if they would be interested in coming in on a Google Hangout and talking to my students in my Digital Strategies class, and a couple of them said they would be happy to fly out for me and meet the students face-to-face. It was a half day conference, which was free and it was the start of the conference that just kind of evolved from there. That is also the first time I had met Brianna, and she was actually an attendee at that conference. She can fill you in more.

Brianna Smith: Perry and I met at the conference, because I was technically in Twitter Jail. There was such great content at the conference, and I was on my computer. I have a very large following of digital marketers. I was trying to tweet all the takeaways, and I was tweeting too fast and too much, and they thought I was spamming. So Twitter locked me out, and a bunch of people were tweeting out: “Let Brianna out of Twitter Jail!” So, Perry and I met then.

Perry Drake: So now Brianna is the Executive Director of MDMC, we are the two that get this thing to happen, which is just a massive monster at this point.

Q2.What makes MDMC different from other digital marketing conferences? And why should people attend?

Brianna Smith: The main thing comes from how it was started, and where it comes from. It was started at the University of Missouri-Saint Louis. So our whole basis is on education, high quality content, breakout sessions, value and its inclusivity. No matter if you’re a student, or you just started your career, or you’re interested in starting a digital marketing career, or your a CEO of a company, you can attend the conference, because it’s so affordable. I myself am a Digital Marketer in my day-to-day job, and that’s a difficult thing when going to conferences, or when trying to convince your boss to send you, because they’re usually so expensive!  We also focus really hard on bringing in a wide range of topics, because it’s all so connected nowadays. It’s more of a focus on education and content quality for all the attendees.

Q3. Why the ticket prices are so low? You have the same speakers as other higher cost events such as Inbound, or Social Media Marketing World, or Search Engine Expo. So what’s the deal?

Perry Drake: I think it’s like what Brianna said, our goal is to keep ticket prices affordable. As an academic at UMSL, we want to make the event inclusive and equitable for everybody. So if someone is underemployed, unemployed, or a CEO, they can all come to the conference to gain knowledge. Some events are a thousand dollars plus, even though we have the same quality of speakers. We would never charge that much, that’s just not what we stand for.

Brianna Smith: We have many speakers that have spoken at these conferences, they speak all the time for a lot of companies, or small businesses too. A thousand dollars for a ticket, a hotel, travel, is tough for a small company. But with us you can take your whole team, which is something I love about MDMC. We see a lot of companies send six, eight, ten people, so that everybody gets to grow in their career. Its inclusive, it doesn’t matter who you are, or what your job is, you can learn from the best in the industry.

Q4. How are your students involved? What do they contribute?

Brianna Smith: Although it was founded by and is produced by UMSL, this isn’t a student conference. Our philosophy is the students in the marketing world need to learn what the professionals are learning, because it changes so fast. They really need that hands on experience before they go into the workforce. This is created for those in the industry, but the students are very involved with it as they volunteer by helping with the podcasts, the social media marketing, and the email marketing. All the students are helping promote this conference. They’re the ones that are spreading the word and making it grow so quickly, which makes it a truly great industry conference.

Perry Drake: Also, all of the proceeds do go back to the students, either in the form of scholarships, or programming,  or purchasing the equipment that we’ve got attached to this table. So that’s another great thing that this conference affords.  

Q5. Since the conference is produced by a public university, do sponsors get a tax benefit?

Perry Drake: Yeah, so that’s another great benefit of this, a lot of sponsors and donors don’t realize that donating $5,000 and becoming a sponsor can be written off at a rate of 75% or more! This is because we are a non-profit.

Learn more about MDMC18 and purchase the tickets at

Follow MDMC on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


Why Digital Marketing Matters

By: Nicholas Sylvia

The way people use digital devices is rapidly changing. We live in a world where people are constantly connected and always consuming digital media. Whether it is Smartphones, Smart watches, TV’s, computers, or even virtual reality, consumers are attached to a mobile device 24/7. The average American looks at his or her phone 46 times per day; this works out to over 8 Billion looks per day in America alone¹. This means it is not only crucial to be online, but even more so to have a strong digital presence. The website cements a company’s message, and social networks let a brand develop their voice.  
Every business has to be active online. Potential customers are not looking up businesses in the yellow pages anymore; they are searching online. If you don’t have a web presence then consumers don’t know you exist. The power of search is substantial with 75% of consumers using search to research businesses and 4 out of 10 consumers rely on social media or review sites as their research platforms². A strong digital presence is essential in gaining authority and reliability.
Quality content is king in the digital world. Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach that focuses on creating and distributing relevant, valuable, and entertaining content to attract and retain a target audience. Content marketing has the capacity to resonate more meaningfully with consumers than traditional marketing channels. Content tells the story of a brand and encourages people to connect further. This is also a distinct way to show a brand’s personality and products without being expressly promotional.

The king of the content world is video, which is still evolving with 360° video, virtual reality, and augmented reality. Video tells a story that text and pictures simply cannot. The story is more immersive and more likely to capture the attention of an audience. On Facebook alone there are 100 million hours of video watch time per day and over 1 billion users. YouTube has almost reached 5 billion videos watched per day. This amount of video consumption means video is the number one outlet to focus content.

Social media must be a part of your digital presence. There are over 400 million users on Instagram, 340 million users on Twitter, 100 million on Snapchat, and over 1 billion on Facebook. People are constantly on social media on a day-to-day basis. Most college students are on more than one social media platform and are typically much better users than older generations. This is why it is important for colleges to offer courses like Digital Strategies. These college students have knowledge about social media platforms that are useful in the professional business world.

How Digital Strategies Has Helped Me

3721: Digital Media Marketing Strategies has taught me more about the real world of marketing than any other class I have taken in my college career. We have gone in-depth on Web Design, Search Engine Optimization, Google Analytics and much more. I have been able to directly apply this knowledge to my current position as a web designer and my other position as a social media manager. The professor of this course, Perry Drake, cares so much about each of his students’ success. He encourages all of his students to join the Marketing Club and even convinced me to become the President for next semester. Perry also offers opportunities throughout the semester to use these skills he teaches in class for UMSL; for example, he gave me the opportunity to produce a Holiday video for the UMSL College of Business. This is an essential skill to have in the area of digital marketing.

Taking this class alongside 3731: The UMSL Digital Lab, which is a student run digital marketing agency with various clients throughout St. Louis, has propelled my marketing career forward faster than I could have ever predicted. I had the pleasure of working with TEDxGatewayArch, which is an independently organized TED non-profit, as my client with a team of two other UMSL students. I have expanded my network to some of the most well known marketers in St. Louis in a matter of months. I have found out that marketing is what I want to do for my career and that the environment of marketing is something I truly enjoy. This would not have been possible without the help of Perry and UMSL.

At TEDxGatewayArch my team worked throughout the semester on Twitter to promote their annual event, which was on December 10th. We then created a social media strategy across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the day of the event. I live streamed various speakers and performers throughout the day. I am now in the process of creating a recap video of the event. This is all using valuable information and skills that I have learned through these two classes.

The Importance of Digital Marketing Classes

Digital Marketing is the future of marketing. Traditional forms of marketing have their place for now, but for upcoming generations digital is the only medium that is effective. For students thinking about a career in marketing, sales, entrepreneurship, or any career, they will need some of these skills in your professional career. Whether you like it or not digital media is a huge part of the world that we live in today.

Digital Strategies is the first marketing class where I have actually discussed social media and trends that are currently happening in the digital world. This is very important for students to be up to date with what is going on in the world around them. It is essential for upcoming business students to get familiar with the environment of the digital world. There is no outdated curriculum or textbooks from 5 years ago not even mentioning social media. Digital Strategies is all about what is going on now and what new emerging trends will be.

I recommend that anyone attending UMSL take 3721: Digital Media Marketing Strategies. The curriculum of modern digital media and trends are vital in the fast developing business environment. Students already have a base knowledge of social media and this makes it an engaging, interactive class. I know many other universities do not offer these types of classes and that is a problem. How do you expect a student to be prepared for the digital environment of business? Most interactions nowadays are digital and these up and coming students trying to build a career need to have the knowledge taught in Digital Strategies classes.

I also recommend that anyone interested in going into the field of marketing take 3731: The UMSL Digital Lab. The Lab taught me many aspects of marketing, including; efficient teamwork, professional communication, and effective leadership. These skills develop over time and the more you are exposed to the environment that requires these skills, the more you will flourish. Students need experience before they are out of school and this is a great way to knock out a few credit hours as well as gain the experience needed to get ahead in their careers. #IChoseUMSL


PMBA Program Opens Up the World to UMSL Students

Hakuna Matata is said by people in Kenya to mean “no worries.” Pura Vida is a common phrase said by the people of Costa Rica and means “pure life” or “this is life.” It is things like these that PMBA students are able to learn first hand while visiting another country.

PMBA group in Cuba.

PMBA group in Cuba.

The PMBA program is a 21-month program where students with a professional background can get their degree in a time schedule that works for the student. Students are in the same class or cohort through the program. All students go on an international trip together in their second year to learn about international business and culture.

Jan Carrell, PMBA coordinator, described the difference between the UMSL Masters of Business program versus the PMBA program, “The Professional MBA program requires three years of professional work experience, so the students generally are more mature and focused. The PMBA is a lock-step, cohort program, so the same group of students are enrolled in the same classes throughout the 21-month experience. This structure fosters a sense of camaraderie that is difficult to replicate in the FlexMBA program.”


PMBA group outside of VMWare.

The PMBA trips out of the country have only been around for three years. The first trip was to Germany and was organized by a University of Missouri- St. Louis professor Peter Falk. The second trip was to China, and the third to Costa Rica and Cuba. The next trip will be to Italy and take place in 2017. Students do not know where they will be going their second year when they first apply to the program.

For many students it was their first time out of the country. Traveling to Cuba was exceptionally unique since Cuba was not open to all travelers until March of this year, under President Barack Obama’s administration’s negotiations which started in December 2014. Previously there was a travel ban from the United States to Cuba unless for educational purposes. Jackie Schlarman, PMBA student, said, “Cuba is our neighbor and it had been closed off for so long. To have this opportunity to see this place before it opened to the rest of the United States was really special.”

Darryl Curry, PMBA student, said, “Not only was it fascinating to learn about Cuba from a cultural perspective, but I was also learning about Cuba from a business perspective. The whole point of this journey was to help us learn more about business and international business in particular.”

PMBA group in the forest.

PMBA group in the forest.

There were several places that the group visited while in Cuba and Costa Rica. From cemeteries to fortresses, to coffee plantations, the group was amazed at all they got to learn about. Timothy Burgess, PMBA student, said, “In Cuba we actually visited Ernest Hemingway’s mansion. It was originally preserved with everything that he left it in the 50s. It was really cool.”

If you are interested in learning more about the PMBA program at UMSL, check out or email Jan Carrell at for more information.