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Sagrado reaches out to businesses leaders
Leaders stress the need for better communication skills and knowledge of ethics
By TAINA ROSA
April 7, 2005
Every few years, Sagrado Corazón University in Santurce reaches out to local business leaders at round-table meetings to learn what skills they demand of their future employees. The latest of these, held last week, revealed a need for better verbal and written skills in both English and Spanish. Business leaders also want students to understand how to be ethical professionals.
The meeting was also an opportunity for Sagrado President José Jaime Rivera, at the helm of the university for more than 12 years, to explain the universitys progress under its master plan, which began about a decade ago. This master plan is aimed at making Sagrado students ideal candidates for any professional position they pursue after graduation. The plan is re-engineered every five years to adapt it to changes in society and business.
"I have seen the professionals Sagrado has produced, and I can say the universitys integrated scholastic approach is equipping them with the skills they need to succeed in business," said Triple-S Management President Ramón Ruiz. Still, Sagrado strives to produce even better prepared professionals.
In December 2002, CARIBBEAN BUSINESS ran a story explaining Sagrados plan to provide students with hands-on experience in their academic fields. The plan included helping them develop and excel in public speaking as well as writing and presentation skills in both English and Spanish. It also aims to make them technology-savvy and acquire international experience to improve their social skills.
After three years, Sagrado has progressed in its goals. Still, business leaders insist Sagrado should continue honing students speaking and presentation skills in both languages.
"I have noticed serious deficiencies in [college graduates] English and Spanish skills," said Miguel Sabater, president of Bird Construction. "In my experience, I have seen this even in the best candidates for employment; although those who studied in universities in the States can speak better English than those who went to college on the island, their written skills arent much better, and the problem isnt only English. Their Spanish skills are also poor."
To solve the problem, Sagrado has included language skills among the specialization courses. For example, a student in an accounting class can learn terms in both languages. "By integrating language skills into their specialization classes, students take them more seriously and stop viewing them as just another hurdle they have to surpass," Rivera said.
Executives at the round-table also called on Sagrado to further sharpen its students presentation skills. "Students need to develop public-speaking skills and learn to analyze what they are being taught to look for new ways and solutions to solve problems," Ruiz explained.
A well-rounded graduate would have gone beyond the courses required for their major into other areas, business leaders agreed. "For instance, when students major in accounting, they usually only take the required courses, however, they must develop other skills to succeed," Ruiz added. He and the other businessmen at the round-table also called for integrating business courses into every major.
In fact, Sagrado is considering an ambitious plan to create what the universitys leaders expect in the long run to become "the School of Business of Puerto Rico," Rivera said. He asked the round-table participants for their feedback on the idea. All agreed with the idea that Sagrado, just as it is now well-known for its communications majors, should also become known for its business graduates.
A business curriculum isnt foreign to the university. Sagrado is the only local university offering a masters degree in taxes, Rivera pointed out. The idea, rather, is to expand its business degree offerings and let the world know about them.
Round-table participants stressed the need to include ethics in college courses. Rivera agreed, adding, "we have already identified over 160 courses in which we can integrate ethics and apply them to different disciplines."
Rivera noted Sagrado is instilling in students the importance of obtaining a masters degree. The university now offers two undergraduate programs in which students can pursue three different minors, leading to a bachelors in multidisciplinary studies. These are designed specifically for students who plan to pursue graduate studies, explained Rivera, adding, "we only admit to these programs students with the highest grade point averages." More than 400 students are already enrolled.
Sagrado was established by the religious order of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart as an elementary school in 1880 on some 32 acres. Sagrado is a Roman Catholic educational facility. In 1985, its portico and chapel were declared historical monuments.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.