Articles

Muma College of Business Marketing Department Plans To Offer a New Major, Supply-Chain Management, by 2019

By Keith Morelli

Woman holding chart

TAMPA (June 1, 2017) -- With a growing demand for supply-chain managers coupled with a shortage of job candidates, the marketing department at the University of South Florida's Muma College of Business is moving forward to create a new major that could be available to students by the fall of 2019.

Supply-chain management currently is offered as a concentration in the bachelor's and master's degrees in marketing and in the MBA program. If the new degree is approved, it likely would be the first time in Florida that business students can obtain a bachelor's degree in supply-chain management.

The request to offer the degree came from business partners of the Muma College of Business Center for Supply Chain Management & Sustainability, which met this week to discuss the progress of the initiative, including the marketing of the center, student engagement and the design of the new degree.

"We have everybody's attention right now," Donna Davis, chair of the marketing department, told the center's members, faculty and students at the annual meeting. "Your partnership is critical. I think that it's a really exciting time. It's going to happen."

Donna Davis

She said the new degree is designed to meet the demand for supply-chain talent, which is growing, particularly in Florida, "because Florida is positioning itself as a global trade hub."

Currently, there is a "huge shortfall" of qualified people to fill those positions, she said. With a degree in supply-chain management, a graduate could land a job with a starting salary of $55,000, she said, "and they often get signing bonuses."

The field of study is emerging as a critical part of local, national and particularly international business. U.S. News & World Report recently predicted that logistics jobs would expand by 25 percent within the next decade and identified logistics as one of the "20 Best Business Jobs." Logistics and supply-chain management also are included in lists that rank top career fields for women over the next decade.

Davis said that several Tampa Bay companies already look to USF to recruit supply-chain and logistics interns and job candidates.

"They look to us first," she said, "because we work closely with them to be sure our curriculum meets their business needs."

Jim Stock, a marketing professor who teaches courses in supply-chain management and logistics, said the demand for qualified graduates to step into the job market is high and is only going to get higher.

A Fulbright scholar, Stock said USF can be at the forefront of this emerging trend.

"We want to be the place where students and employers come for supply-chain research," he said. "We want everyone to know this is the place to come for that. We have that capability."

He said business partners can help spread the word.

"Everywhere I go, I talk about our program," he said. "You can do the same thing."

The Muma College of Business has a clear focus on supporting supply-chain management, described as the management of the flow of goods and services, including the movement and storage of raw materials, inventory and merchandise, from the point of origin to the point of consumption.

There's a science to keeping the supply chain working, and it's getting more and more complicated with global trade and e-commerce. Supply-chain management majors would gain a wide variety of skills, such as contract management, procurement, logistics, manufacturing, warehousing, transportation and network design.

In 2014, the Muma College of Business created the Center for Supply Chain Management & Sustainability, the first and currently only center of its kind in Florida. The center has a faculty that includes five experts on supply-chain management, two of whom are Fulbright scholars who travel overseas to present research on supply-chain issues.

group of students and faculty

An effort to recruit students for the program is already underway, said Rob Hooker, a Fulbright Specialist Program member and an authority on supply-chain management. Once they understand the concept, he said, many business students "are drawn to it like moths to a flame."

Students showing interest in the program generally "are the cream of the crop," he said. "We do want the right students in the program."

One of the center's partners, John Tuttle, a supply-chain executive with Bristol-Myers Squibb and an adjunct professor of business at USF, said the path is clear.

"We want to create a world-class program of supply-chain management at USF," he said, "That is our goal."

Other universities in Florida offer some courses in transportation and logistics, Davis said, but none currently offer a bachelor's degree focused on global supply-chain management.

She said the plan to offer the major in two years follows a strict timeline. First, it must be approved by the college, then USF, then the state.

"All that could take up to two years," she said. "We're hoping that in the fall of 2019, it will be in the catalog."