Carlson school adds nonprofit major

The major is aimed at helping students prepare for work in the nonprofit sector.

Ahnalese Rushmann

Although some people think the Carlson School of Management’s goal is to launch its students into the fast-paced – and lucrative – corporate world, the recent addition of a nonprofit major may change that perception.

The Carlson School made the public/nonprofit major the 13th in its undergraduate program this fall.

Bob Ruekert, associate dean of undergraduate programs for Carlson, said the major was pushed by student requests for a nonprofit business major.

He said the new program speaks against the stereotype of “greedy and selfish” Carlson students.

This is a testimony to a growing group of students interested in their roles in society, Ruekert said. Whether students prefer a corporate or a nonprofit career, they want to give back, he said.

According to a recent report by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, there were more than 3,614 nonprofit employers in Minnesota in 2006.

That total was 27 less than the previous year, but the number of nonprofit locations in Minnesota increased to 5,316.

The report said approximately 52 percent of Minnesota’s nonprofit employment locations were located in the Twin Cities metro area in 2006.

Tommy DeMarco, nonprofit and international business first-year student, said the nonprofit major, along with Carlson’s new international experience requirement, are exciting additions to the college.

“You can’t find that many other places,” he said. “To have it at such a prestigious school is a cool thing to be a part of.”

DeMarco said his ultimate goal is to create his own nonprofit business and help people in other countries.

He also said becoming a millionaire is not his top priority.

“I didn’t want to be one of the stereotypes,” he said.

John Pratt, executive director of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, said the council helped Carlson develop the new program and will continue to provide speakers and work in an advisory role to “help connect the dots.”

“The world needs more of what nonprofits do,” he said.

Pratt said there is a growing need for employees specifically trained in nonprofit business.

“Relationships and communications and decision-making are all different,” he said of nonprofit work, “which doesn’t mean it’s either better or worse, but it’s a different set of motivations.”

Laura Friedenberg, a marketing and journalism senior, said she was part of the Student Association for Nonprofit Enterprise, a group that promoted nonprofit awareness.

The group is currently on hold, she said, until the nonprofit major becomes more established.

Friedenberg said people who focus on other business areas have the chance to work in nonprofit sector if they choose to do so.

Having that option can give a person a chance to establish themselves professionally and financially before moving to nonprofits, she said.

Jessica Schynoll, a marketing and supply chain management senior, said she didn’t know about the nonprofit major but would’ve considered it had it been an option when she was a first-year student.

She said she didn’t think having a nonprofit business major would be crucial to getting a job in the nonprofit sector.

There are probably many people that wouldn’t be interested in that kind of work because of the pay differences, Schynoll said.

The average weekly wages for a Minnesota nonprofit employee were $769, versus $820 in the for-profit sector, according to the Council’s report. The report said health care and social assistance services make up a large portion of nonprofit activity in the state.

The coursework for the new major will be mainly comprised of Carlson courses, many of which already existed, as well as a capstone course through the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

Ruekert said he believed corporate leaders will continually be asked to help their communities outside of corporate boundaries, and the University is blessed to live in a community with good relations between the for-profit and nonprofit sectors.

“I think this is absolutely the right time to be doing this,” he said.