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VOL. 10 | NO. 47 | Saturday, November 18, 2017

CBU Finds Crosstown Concourse Right Fit for Graduate Program, More

By Don Wade

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Christian Brothers University already had a relatively new Healthcare Master of Business Administration program. Leasing 4,000 square feet of space at Crosstown Concourse, which opened in August, provided an opportunity to merge the two and also feed into the school’s larger goal.

David Archer, left, associate professor in Christian Brothers University’s School of Business & Healthcare Management, and Paul Haught, vice president of academics & student life at CBU. (Memphis News/Houston Cofield)

“We see CBU as mission-driven to serve the community,” said Paul Haught, vice president of academics & student life at CBU. “Given that the (Crosstown Concourse) concept was built around health care, arts, that kind of interdisciplinary fits the university concept.

“You feel at home. Plus, it gave us a chance to experiment a little bit. Design something that fits the vision for Crosstown. If everybody else is going to take a bit of risk in coming here, trying something new for Memphis, we want to be part of that excitement, too.”

The HCMBA program is structured around cohort groups of 15 to 20 students; two or more groups are formed twice each year. Students stay with the same cohort group and take courses sequentially, meeting one night a week for four hours, with each course lasting eight weeks. The program consists of 11 courses over 27 months.

David Archer, former CEO of Saint Francis Hospital, joined CBU as an associate professor in the School of Business & Healthcare Management. The instruction he is providing his students was not available – at least not in this context – when he earned his MBA and a master’s in public health at Columbia University.

“A lot of the business courses stuck with me reasonably well, especially the quantitative courses,” Archer said. “But on the public health side, the administrative courses there didn’t because I had no context of health care.”

He likes this program because it solves that dilemma and allows professionals either already working full time in health care or wanting to switch career paths to pursue the degree without having to step out of their career.

“We know if you are able to practice what you’re being taught, you’re also able to retain it,” Archer said. “So if I can take back to work what I learned last night, I’m going to retain more and it’s going to benefit my employer. That’s the idea behind the program.”

The idea of Crosstown Concourse was nearly a decade in the making and cost around $200 million. It is best-known as the former Sears Crosstown building and has been described by Crosstown Arts co-founders Todd Richardson and Chris Miner as a “vertical urban village.”

The “village” is a mixed-use development with everything from apartments, offices, schools and retail shops to medical and health facilities, and space for the arts. Among the founding partners, beside CBU and Crosstown Arts, are Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare; St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and its fundraising arm, ALSAC; Memphis Teacher Residency; Rhodes College; and Church Health.

CBU president John Smarrelli Jr. is board chair for Crosstown High. That also made leasing a space a natural fit. It’s only 10 minutes from the university’s main campus, and the space, if it were clothing, could easily be dressed up or dressed down. It has an office. It has a kitchen. It can be a place to land – for an hour or four a week.

“If you need to brainstorm, this is a creativity-generating space,” Haught said.

In the future, the arts, engineering and chemistry departments all may be using it for courses or programming or meetings. Really, there is no limit.

“We definitely see it as an event space that can house daylong or weeklong conferences,” Haught said. “You can take advantage of the city as well as Crosstown and our university resources.”

The “vertical urban village” is very much a neighborhood. And you know how neighborhoods are – full of interesting people, some of whom know things you don’t and can help you, and some who don’t know something you do and could use your assistance.

“I teach Thursday nights and I’m over here all day Tuesday and Thursday, kind of in the milieu of Crosstown and getting to know people,” Archer said. “It’s amazing the connections you make. Some are good for us.”

For example, he’d like to have someone from Methodist teach a course in health care supply chain management.

“Others … I connected Methodist with the Tech901 folks because I knew both parties,” Archer said. “I think it’s a space where you’ll learn some things you might not learn elsewhere and you’ll develop some opportunities.

“It’s a great place to be.”

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