University of North Alabama and Delta State University (USA)

The academic partnership between Western University, UNA, and Delta State University (DSU) was made possible by a three-year USIA institutional grant. The purpose of the grant was to encourage mutually beneficial academic exçhanges between the College of Business at UNA (and the School of Business at DSU) with Western University in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The program supported curriculum, faculty, staff development and collaborative research and outreach activities that had a multiplier effect and a positive, long-term impact among all of the institutions involved.

The Executive MBA program started in September 1999 and it took almost 3 years (the graduation was in May 2002) for Azeri students to complete it. The program was designed to be highly relevant for the business professionals and the degree focuses on multi-disciplinary approach to improving decision-making skills of practicing professionals.

The interesting and important thing about this EMBA program is that it wasn't a distance learning option and only Ph.D's from UNA and Delta State University throughout all program period lectured at Western University. Also all the books and learning materials were exclusively brought from the US. Western University in Baku provided its facilities for classes and accommodations for UNA professors. The program schedule was as follows: after one course was given the students lıad to pass their exams, then next professor arrived in Azerbaijan and next course starıed.

In total 16 subjects were introduced during the program and they included such courses as econonıics, accounting, finance, leadership, business ethics, statistics and others. At the end of the program each student had to present a capstone project, which had to address a problem or issue that the students experienced in their existing job or a broader problem or issue facing their organization. The successful completion of the EMBA project was a degree requirement. Each student was assigned a faculty adviser who, in consultation with the student, planned the program of studies and provided continued supervision aııd guidance. Once the student had received approval of the fınal report and had successfully defended it before the faculty panel the MBA degree was obtained. One of the benefıts of the project was to allow the student the experience of identifying an organizational problem where their insights and skills could be used to create value for the organization.

7 graduates visited UNA for the graduation, which took place on the 18th of May in the University's Grand Hall in Florence, Alabama. That was the unique and unforgettable experience for all Azeri students. The 2002 commencement speaker was The Honorable James Baker, 61st U.S. Secretary of State. 600 in total graduating bachelors aad masters and all UNA staff participated in a huge ceremony decorated with gowns, caps and hoods. Only 24 of graduating people obtained the MBA degree. And 7 of them were from Azerbaijan. It is necessary to note that such a program was the fırst time experience of the University in the FSU countries. The most exciting feelings were for all the students when their names were pronounced and they were invited to the stage under the rich applauses to get their diploma.