Published: Aug. 20, 2015

This summer, a diverse group of 30 students from both in and out-of-state took part in the Leeds School of Business’ Excel Summer​ Bridge program, an innovative three-week summer course which prepares incoming students for the 

Bridge Program, Don Oest, Business Ethics

challenging curriculum offered by Leeds. The program is hosted and organized by Leeds' Office of Diversity Affairs, and to date, has been a resounding success.

The Course

The Summer Bridge focuses on business math readiness, writing and critical thinking skills, and the challenges of business coursework. The program is rigorous – ranging from microeconomics to Microsoft Excel to a number of unique workshops. Classes run Monday through Friday, beginning at 8am and concluding at 5pm with homework and study sessions extending later into the evening. Students in the program spend three weeks preparing not only for classes, but developing meaningful relationships with faculty, staff and peers.

CESR Faculty

The Summer Bridge was taught by six faculty members, including two instructors from the Center of Education on Social Responsibility (CESR): Don Oest and Dr. Mark Meaney. An instructor of BCOR 1010 World of Business, Oest focused on writing skills with respect to test-taking, and critical thinking skills revolving around values and their role in making ethical business decisions. Students received an introduction to each of the business disciplines including finance, accounting, marketing, operations, management and sustainability/ethics.

“The goal was to get them prepared so that when they start in fall they have a jump start from where they came from,” said Oest.

Meaney, the executive director of CESR, guided students through an in-depth case study and mock ethical dilemma, providing a more intensive look at CSR and the importance of ethical problem solving in the business world.

Growth and Success Rates

Since its pilot in the summer of 2014, the Summer Bridge has had a significant impact on the students involved. In every class and category students left the program feeling far more confident and prepared than when they first began. Data from student surveys of this year’s session shows the program as a great success:

  • Microsoft Excel Boot camp (based on a 1-10 scale with 10 being the highest):
    • Students’ comfort level with Excel increased from an average of 1.86 before the workshop to 6.92 upon completion (272% improvement)
    • Students would recommend the workshop at an average rate of 9.13
  • Business Math Introductory Course: the average score on the assessment exam grew from 33.9% to 70.04% at course conclusion (107% improvement)
  • World of Business Introductory Course: the average first assessment score grew from 43% to 62% at course conclusion (44.5% improvement)
  • Business Writing Introductory Course (initial assessment on a scale of 0-9 with 9 demonstrating strong writing skills appropriate for Business success): students averaged on the first assessment a “3” with final average assessment at “6” (98% improvement)

Given the program’s strong performance, the goal is to grow the program from 30 students this year to a class of 50 students in 2016.

More About CESR Courses and Faculty

Curious about the courses CESR offers or the faculty that teach them? Check out our CESR Learning or CESR People sections.