Prof. Soo-Young Moon and Dean Bill Tallon

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Soo-Young Moon was recently recognized for his innovative efforts in advancing the quality of education in the College of Business.

Moon, associate professor of marketing, was awarded second place in the 2011 Innovation in Business Education competition for his innovative retail course. The award ceremony was part of the 2011 annual meeting held in Chicago on Oct. 10.

The Innovation in Business Education Award recognizes business programs or creative strategies that advance the quality of education in business schools. The program seeks to encourage innovation in business education by recognizing creative, unique strategies or programs which advance the quality of education and the management of resources.

Moon has taught the Retail Management course for 15 years and one of his major challenges to teach this course is that students didn’t fully understand the strategy behind retailing and weren’t getting the big picture.

“Students were overlooking the importance of retailing in the overall economy and associated it only with small mom and pop stores,” Moon said. “They didn’t see the impacts of major retailers or the role of retailing in a distribution system.”

In addition to the regular lecture and discussion, the course has a Retail Management project to give its students to learn the challenges and opportunities the retail industry faces and how all main components of retailing work and how to develop a new store.

In 2009 after listening to student feedback, Moon added a mentorship aspect to the course. Moon’s Retail Mentor Program gives students a unique opportunity to work closely with local business owners and complete group projects to gain real world retail experience.

Moon worked with College of Business Professional Development Director, Jessie Pondell, to find five business contacts who worked in a retail management position with at least ten years of experience, who were willing to share their experiences and review students’ written work.

“We went into the community to seek professionals who were passionate about what they do and who were willing to share that with students,” Pondell said.

Associate Dean Bill Wresch said Moon’s mentorship program gave students valuable insight and networking opportunities.

“By using local retailers for student project teams, students not only learn real-world experience but also have a mentor,” Wresch said. “Someone who they can refer to even after the class ends.”

UW Oshkosh College of Business Dean, Bill Tallon, said the comprehensive project covers all areas of retailing while giving students an opportunity for hands-on learning.

“When students are done with the course, they have a very good idea about retailing and running a business,” Tallon said.

Moon said feedback from students has been positive, but that there is a lot of work involved in the course. He also said, “The true recipients of this award are our students who trusted us and worked hard to pursue their life long experience and the college which has such wonderful and dedicated faculty members and a strong and positive leadership.”

He said that the mentorship to the course project is a good start and it can be applied to other business courses.  However, there are many challenges to perfect the program.

“I believe all of my students are marketing geniuses,” Moon said. “My role is to encourage them to explore their unlimited potentials.”