USC’s international business alumni mark 40th anniversary of groundbreaking program

The University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business 40 years ago embarked on a new venture that would recognize the importance of international business in its curriculum. The school today has expanded international business into a top-ranked program that has a global reach and national recognition for shaping South Carolina’s economy.

International Business professor Andrew Spicer speaks about the program's 40 years of success (photo by Kelly Petty).

International Business professor Andrew Spicer speaks about the program’s 40 years of success. (photo by Kelly Petty)

“It is just an extraordinary feather in the cap for our state,” said international business professor Hildy Teegen. “And it really enable(s) us to continue on that strong local economic development growth trajectory because all of the businesses here in South Carolina are growing because they’ve got that openness to the rest of the world.”

Hundreds of alumni gathered this past weekend to celebrate the 40-year milestone of the international business program and to reflect on its growth nationally and internationally. USC launched the master of international business degree program in 1974 with just 35 students. At the time, no other university in the country offered such a program.

“This was a pioneering program,” Teegen said. “It was actually launched through some strategic planning work of the business community in South Carolina, with a focus on how do we make South Carolina competitive for the future.”

The Moore international business program has built an alumni network of more than 4,000 international master’s of business administration graduates and 600 undergraduate students in business leadership roles worldwide.

The school offers 45 cohort programs with business schools around the world as well as dual-degree options with partner universities in France, Germany, Italy and Turkey. The school also provides internship opportunities with large international companies that operate in South Carolina, including Bosch, BMW and Michelin.

The School’s International MBA programs have ranked in the top three for the past 25 years.

U.S. News and World Report recently ranked the undergraduate international business No. 1 in the country, marking an unbroken streak of 16 consecutive years ranked in the top spot. The Moore School’s master’s program in international business also was ranked No. 1 this year.

The Moore School this year also celebrated the grand opening of its new, state-of-the-art 250,000 square-foot building at the corner of Assembly and Greene streets.

“It’s a great training ground for global companies to find talent that is able to, one, speak another language, and two, immerse themselves in other cultures,” said Heidi Solomon, Coca-Cola America’s group director of strategy.

Solomon earned a master’s degree in international business concentrating on German in 1992. She was able to get an internship with a large multi-national company overseas while the European Union was forming.

Teegen said a top-notch faculty, strong alumni network and South Carolina’s place as an “international business state” make the Moore School a great choice for students who want to become business leaders.

“They can appreciate the role of global business right here in South Carolina,” she said.

International Business professor Andrew Spicer said the program will continue to build its base of alumni who will be charged with reaching back to mentor students, hire graduates and develop strategic partnerships with the School.

“The type of intense, long, experiential learning that we focus on still remains a differentiating factor at the Moore School,” he said.

Gary Player, a 1996 graduate of the master’s in international business program, began his career with General Motors 18 years ago while in school. He took a course in market research and wrote a paper about the future of luxury SUV’s. That led him to get hired after graduation with General Motors when they were forming a market research group in Brazil. Player’s combination of business skill and fluency in Portuguese made him an asset for the company.

Player, who is currently the director of market research for General Motors in Shanghai, China, said the Moore School’s international business program is perfect for dynamic students who are looking for global experiences.

“If you are a person who enjoys the idea of experiencing something outside of yourself beyond what you’ve ever done before,” he said, “if you embrace uncertainty, if you love challenging yourself, if you see the world and say, I want to be a part of that, you come here to a place where there’s a lot of other people who think just like you and will never tell you that’s a stupid idea.”

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