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First business, now education students to help local shops

Pacific education students could help local business owners


It makes sense to send Pacific University’s business students and staff out to work with local businesses, as they’ve been doing for years.

But this year, for the first time, the College of Education may join them.

“We need great teachers everywhere — people who know how to bring out the best in others,” Leif Gustavson, the new dean of Pacific’s College of Education, told members of the Forest Grove/Cornelius Chamber of Commerce at a recent luncheon.

Gustavson is planning on partnering students and staff not just with local educational settings, but with local businesses as well.

“Everything starts with a great teacher. Everything does. Mentoring and training is teaching,” said Gustavson, who believes the 21st Century will come to be viewed as “the Century of Partnership.”

Gustavson wants the local business community to be able to tap into the college’s expertise.

Developing skills in people, designing meaningful learning environments, teaching people to work effectively in groups, keeping people thinking in innovative ways — these are all things students in the College of Education learn, Gustavson said.

While completing his doctorate program at the University of Pennsylvania, Gustavson worked in its Center for Community Partnerships. “One of our goals was to connect the university, K-12 schools, community organizations and businesses together to create change,” he said, “and to provide real-life learning opportunities for students.”

Gustavson has only been on the job in Forest Grove for a few weeks, but is already familiarizing himself with local businesses.

“There’s untapped potential here,” he said. “I want to see who’s interested.”

Partnerships with businesses are still in the beginning stages, said Anita Zijdemans Boudreau, a professor in Pacific’s College of Education.

Administrators have discussed offering courses and tailored workshops. Establishing a virtual presence, developing effective training programs, or using technology to support learning and community in organizations are a few Zijdemans Boudreau suggested. Offerings could be broad or specific, and be offered on Pacific’s campus as well as in a business setting.

“What kinds of learning experiences do you want your employees to have?” Gustavson said. “This could open a business in amazing ways and business owners could see possibilities they didn’t see before.”

The collaborative effort between education affiliates and local businesses is new with Gustavson, said Zijdemans Boudreau. “I loved the old dean [Mark Ankeny], so I was nervous,” she said. “But Leif has a lot of energy. You can tell already he’s going to be amazing.”

For more information, contact her at zijdemans@pacificu.edu or 503-352-1456, or contact Gustavson at gustavson@pacificu.edu or 503-352-1431.

Partnership a 'two-way street'

Pacific business students have been working in student-staff teams in local small businesses for years.

The partnership has been “quite successful,” said Krishnan Ramaya, a Pacific business professor.

Students start by analyzing the business’s industry, gauging competition and getting a feel for the business location and foot traffic. They then get more in depth, helping with menus, marketing, promotion and social media presence.

“It’s a two-way street,” Ramaya said, as students gain valuable learning experience and students provide helpful information to business owners.

“It’s a win-win situation,” said Connie Ferrer who has owned Connie’s Corner Café for almost four years with her husband Vincent Ferrer and took advantage of Pacific’s business school expertise. “It was a nice experience. Other businesses should do it.”

Pacific students helped the Ferrers with smaller aspects of their business, such as establishing a Facebook page, making suggestions on music volume, and making posters and take-out menus. Then they took all their bills and receipts and analyzed their prices.

The students recommended the Ferrers raise their prices, and since then “things have been better,” Ferrer said. Their social media presence has also helped out.

Robert Perkins, who owns the Forest Theater and Cornelius 9 Cinemas, accepted the students’ offer to analyze his business.

“I’m always interested in ways to promote my business and improve attendance,” Perkins said. “The Forest Theater has been a rough sell. It has not been a successful business, but I like it.”

Students suggested Perkins install more lighting, set up the box office at the entrance and make a Facebook page specifically for Forest Theater, which he did. They also helped him distribute flyers.

“Students look at things differently than someone my age,” Perkins said. “I welcome young peoples’ perspectives.”

Perkins used to move movies from Cornelius 9 to Forest Theater immediately. But last week, Perkins started showing movies at Forest Theater that have been out of Cornelius 9 for a few weeks. This way, he can charge lower ticket prices. Adult tickets are $4, senior tickets are $3 and youth tickets are $2.

"We want people to get in the habit of going to see movies there," Perkins said.

Pacific’s College of Business faculty members are looking for more local opportunities for students. Contact Ramaya at kramaya@pacificu.edu or Michelle Cowing at cowing@pacificu.edu.

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