SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL SECTION
“ STRATEGICALLY , ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS IN OUR DNA AND IT ’ S HOW OUR STAFF IS WIRED .”
STEPHEN STROMBECK , PH . D . Dean of the School of Business
Not many 82-year-old academic institutions would also consider themselves start-ups in the modern economy . But William Jessup University ’ s transformation from Bible college to boutique university epitomizes that mindset .
“ We are still a start-up college ,” says Stephen Strombeck , Ph . D ., dean of Jessup ’ s School of Business and director of the MBA program . Strombeck says Jessup reached “ an inflection point ” about five years ago when the school committed itself to a path that blends its history with the pragmatic needs of students in today ’ s economy . “ We reinforced that we are a boutique university ,” he says , by adding strong secular academics that work in tandem with the school ’ s tradition of teaching “ servant leadership .”
Founded as San Jose Bible College in 1939 , Jessup opened its Rocklin campus 17 years ago to expand its program offerings . “ When I came here , there were no math , no science , no liberal arts and no graduate programs ,” says John Jackson , Ph . D ., who became the school ’ s president a decade ago . Today , the university offers nearly two dozen degree majors and more than 50 programs in liberal arts , business and science for approximately 2,000 students both on campus and online .
Coursework ranges from cybersecurity , engineering , project management and business administration and was crafted with a practical look at the area ’ s economic needs . “ We have a strong connection to the economy and we make sure we are connected to local businesses ,” says Jackson , who represents the school at local chambers of commerce and regional economic development groups .
A new nursing program set to begin in fall 2022 , for example , recognizes a strong job market for registered nurses and reflects the school ’ s relationship with medical providers like Kaiser Permanente and Adventist Health . The program requires extensive capital to launch , “ but it ’ s viable and sustainable from a business standpoint , and the healing nature of nursing — caring for people — is consistent with our mission ,” says Gordon Flinn , vice president of resource development .
Developing the nursing program reflects the school ’ s ability to be nimble in making changes that react to regional job needs . “ We adjust the curriculum based on suggestions from businesses ,” says Christy Jewell , director of the school ’ s Office of Career and Life Planning . Jewell herself is active in workforce investment workshops , chamber of commerce events and is a graduate of the Roseville Chamber of Commerce ’ s Leadership Roseville program , which helped her learn more about the region ’ s needs .
The school ’ s faculty is also a valuable barometer to keep tabs on the needs of local business . “ All of us have had 20 or
25 years of experience before teaching ,” says Strombeck of the full-time core staff . But the school also has dozens of part-time adjunct teachers — many of whom are entrepreneurs — who serve as both a pipeline for advice and a source of on-the-job training for students . “ Strategically , entrepreneurship is in our DNA and it ’ s how our staff is wired ,” Strombeck says . “ That ’ s how our students get exposed to entrepreneurial thinking .”
That influence extends to internships , which are mandated for all of Jessup ’ s academic majors . Internships give students practical , hands-on work experience but also prime the local job market . “ The talent pipeline is the biggest challenge of business today ,” Jewell says . “ Businesses want to attract students and keep them here and our surveys show that 85 % of our students come from within 200 miles of campus and want to stay in the area .”
Though the regional economic impact of Jessup ’ s graduates is difficult to measure , Flinn is quick to note that college graduates earn about $ 1 million more over their careers than those with only a high-school education and that most of Jessup ’ s graduates will be spending that money locally over the years . And with 434 employees and an annual budget of $ 375 million — which includes $ 4 million a year in new construction or renovation on a rapidly growing campus — the university itself makes its own ripples in the local economy . A 2020 economic impact study estimates that the school supports 875 jobs and is responsible for $ 113 million of economic activity a year .
After graduation , Strombeck says that most of Jessup ’ s alumni can be found in small- and medium-sized businesses , which he believes reflects the region ’ s economic make-up . Jewell also notes that many Jessup grads move on to jobs in public administration , nonprofits and banking . With Jessup ’ s curriculum focus on Christian leadership ( which includes mandated community service ), graduates are also equipped with a “ first-in , last-out ” work ethic and positive attitude of helpfulness and service .
“ Our students are the kind of people businesses want to hire who bring honesty , a work ethic and a morality to the job ,” Jewell says .
Bill Sessa has been a freelance writer for Comstock ’ s since 2013 . He has received many awards for his writing about the automotive industry and motorsports for national publications including Speed Sport , Autoweek and Performance Racing Industry magazines and for the Napa Valley Register .
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