March 28, 2001 by Jack King NMSU News Center
Juan Perezchica, a customer service representative with Yazaki North America, a distributor of automotive electrical components in El Paso, said he has always sought to improve his education, but has had to balance that drive against his family and professional responsibilities.
“For me, it’s always been a night effort. I have a full-time job and a family to support. I just couldn’t make it in a day program,” he said.
Perezchica earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1998 by attending night classes at several area colleges and business colleges, but he soon felt the bachelor’s degree wasn’t making the difference in his life he’d hoped for, he said.
This is why he was interested when friends told him about New Mexico State University’s master of business administration program, which began offering all of its courses at night in the fall of 2000. Perezchica, who entered the program that fall, said his success in it allows him to feel confident of a brighter future.
“I think I’m going to have a lot of opportunities. People recognize the effort. And I probably couldn’t have gone on if not for the night program,” he said.
Like Perezchica, 57 new students have enrolled in NMSU’s MBA program since it was reorganized in a move that makes NMSU perhaps the first fully accredited, publicly funded university in the nation to offer its MBA program entirely at night, said Wayne Headrick, the program’s director.
Headrick said in the booming economy of the 90s NMSU’s MBA school, like graduate business programs nationwide, saw a drop in enrollment, but its faculty and the area business people who serve on its advisory council realized there was a pool of potential students to balance that trend.
“We knew there were people in the local area who live here, work here and have bachelor’s degrees, but want to move up. What we hope we’ve done by going to all evening classes is to offer a high quality program that meets the needs of those people, as well as the needs of our full-time students,” he said.
Erika Mulcock, an account executive with an El Paso advertising agency, said the new program has resolved a dilemma for her. When she and her husband, Wade, moved to Las Cruces in 1998, she immediately applied to and was admitted into the MBA program. But, Mulcock said, she also needed a full-time job.
“I love my job and I love the people I work with,” she said. “I told them from the beginning I was committed to the MBA, but, also, I was determined that the MBA would interfere as little as possible with my job. I just kept taking night classes and kept my daytime schedule open,” she said.
Mulcock said the new program makes juggling her priorities much easier.
“Before, only one or two MBA courses were offered at night. I just had to take what was offered and couldn’t really plan out a degree. Now, with all of the courses offered at night there’s greater flexibility and more options,” she said.
“I have a class on Wednesday and a class on Thursday night. Other people take two classes a night, but it’s easier to do that since the classes meet only once a week. In fact, one guy drives here from Artesia. It’s worth his time to take two classes one time a week,” she added.
Michael Lopez earned his bachelor’s degree in finance at NMSU in 1997. He worked for the Intel Corp. in California for two years before returning to enter the MBA program as a full-time student in 1999. Lopez said some aspects of the old MBA program have been eliminated, but, on the whole, the new program is more convenient and responsive to students’ need.
“You can’t concentrate on marketing, finance, human resources or business computer systems like you could before. Now it’s a straight MBA program. On the other hand, under the new program, having all the classes at night makes it easier to schedule and get the courses you need when you can take them,” he said.
“I have three classes once a week each. The rest of the week is for me and my work. I’m a lot more comfortable. The huge benefit is that, if you go full time, you can get through this program in a year and work during the day. That’s awesome,” he added.
Headrick called the loss of concentrations in the MBA program “a negative side affect” of the new program. But he said the College of Business and Economics plans eventually to petition NMSU’s graduate council to allow “specializations” — possibly in business computer systems, finance and human resources — in the MBA, which, unlike the older program’s “concentrations,” will be listed on the students’ transcripts.
The MBA program has been streamlined, he said — from 36 hours including 15 hours of electives, to 30 hours all of which are required for the MBA. It also has been organized so students can set one-, two- or three-year schedules and be assured the necessary classes will be available each semester. But Headrick said he doesn’t encourage students to try working full-time in the day and going to school full-time at night.
“It’s not exactly recommended for physical or mental health,” he said wryly.
Christopher Riggen, an Air Force first lieutenant at Holloman Air Force Base, also said NMSU’s nighttime schedule was important in his decision to enroll in its MBA program. But he added that another factor was equally important.
“When I found out I was coming here in the spring of 2000, I started checking into the schools in the area. People at Holloman told me NMSU has a good business school. This is the best program for me within a decent distance,” he said.
Riggen, who said he wants an MBA either to prepare him for future promotions in rank or for an alternate career should he not continue in the Air Force, said the program’s quality, and its accreditation, counts.
“Also, Dr. Headrick has been really good about helping me with my schedule. Having been in the Air Force himself, he understood what I needed. I can finish the degree in two years, which is just about the time I will be leaving Holloman,” he said.
“Of course, quality is really what it’s all about,” Headrick said, “We’re proud of our faculty. They all have Ph.D.s, do research and are eager to impart their knowledge to their students. In that respect, I don’t think we’re any different from any other university program. We all want our students to graduate and be productive — not just be productive, to excel.”