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Location, location, location

Legacy Union Bank of America Tower

Excitement about the Charlotte Executive MBA Program is growing with the announcement of its prime location and the inaugural cohort of students preparing to attend orientation in Chapel Hill in September and start classes in Charlotte in October.

The new class of Charlotte students will gather in Chapel Hill Sept. 16-18 for orientation along with the new class of Evening Executive MBA students and start classes Oct. 7.

First campus outside of Chapel Hill

UNC Kenan-Flagler will welcome its inaugural class this fall at Legacy Union on South Tryon Street, where Charlotte’s central business district meets South End.

“Offering our MBA program in Charlotte continues our mission to serve North Carolina,” says Doug Shackelford (BSBA ’80), dean and Meade H. Willis Distinguished Professor of Taxation. “It gives us the opportunity to be an even stronger part of this vibrant city where we can immerse ourselves in the region’s industries, create a pipeline of talent for its businesses and empower its next generation of leaders with a UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA.”

With the same faculty, admissions standards and curriculum, the Charlotte MBA program offers students the same exceptional quality of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s nationally recognized MBA program education they can get in Chapel Hill without the commute.

The new Uptown Charlotte campus will be a dynamic learning center. This fall classes will be taught in existing lecture space in Legacy Union while the full campus build-out proceeds, with completion set for spring 2023.

Ultimately, the new Charlotte campus will include 16,000 square feet on the fourth floor and a first-floor presence in Legacy Union’s new Bank of America Tower at 620 South Tryon Street. The flexible environment will make it possible to configure classrooms based on professors’ teaching styles and topics. It will offer a rooftop deck for outdoor learning opportunities and events, courtyard access for outdoor studying, an indoor break area, administrative space and student access to Legacy Union amenities such as a fitness center.

The Legacy Union location – at the intersection of Tryon Street and Brooklyn Village Avenue – provides proximity to transportation – quick access to I-277, I-77 and I-85 and is a block to the Stonewall Light Rail Station. It is in walking distance from many employers and offers parking.

“The opportunity to partner with Highwoods as our Charlotte Campus Sponsor and host allows us to hit the ground running with an organization we know well and hold in high regard,” says Shackelford.

Bryan White and Chris Schaaf with JLL represented UNC Kenan-Flagler. Highwoods is the owner of Bank of America Tower. Lincoln Harris, developer of Legacy Union, assisted in the engagement. Ridr Knowlton and Campbell Walker with Lincoln Harris represented Highwoods.

“I’m excited for what I don’t know.”

The very first students in the Charlotte Executive MBA Program are excited about the courses, their ability to earn their UNC-Kenan-Flagler MBA at a convenient location while continuing to work and learning on a schedule that accommodates their busy professional and personal lives.

Kristerpher J. Smith, vice president at JPMorgan Chase & Co., has been thinking about an MBA for several years, but hadn’t found a program that met his personal goals – remaining an active husband and father to his two young daughters – while thriving in his career.

Kristerpher J. Smith and Doug Shackelford (BSBA ’80)

“But the stars aligned,” he says. “I had the opportunity to access a world-class program down the street. So I can still be ‘super dad’ and really successful in my current role and get a world-class education.”

And he’s ready to learn. “I’m excited,” Smith says. “I’m excited for what I don’t know.”

The hybrid format appealed to him. “I learn through experiential learning and hands-on engagement with others,” he says. “This format is a great opportunity for me to stretch myself on the self-study portion and polish myself on the in-class portion.”

The cohort approach is a draw, too. “You learn together as a cohort taking the required courses, work in small groups and study groups, and then branch out in year two with the electives,” he says.

“And what I’m really excited about is that my classmates are local. We can organize a study group and playdates for our kids. We can create community in the most sincere way.”

After talking with alumni, friends and family, Smith realized that UNC Kenan-Flagler “puts a lot of value in the lifelong learner. It’s not, ‘Thanks for your degree, adios.’ It’s not just about your time in school, but also afterwards – the alumni community and the lifetime of career coaching to help you navigate the waters of the world. I appreciate the gyrations in life and the flows of learning and evolution. And the Charlotte Executive MBA Program was a good match for me.”

After growing up in Nashville, Smith worked in Cincinnati, Greenville, Denver, Dallas, Chicago and Houston. He’s ready to put down roots in Charlotte.

“In Charlotte, you can make an impact in the city – the second largest financial hub in the U.S. – and on the community,” he says. “And now I can get a degree from UNC Kenan-Flagler because it is coming uptown. This is serendipitous – a blessing and opportunity. It’s part of me staying in Charlotte and now I am adding the UNC Kenan-Flagler local network. You don’t have to go to New York or Singapore or San Francisco to have a thriving career in financial services – you can go to Tryon and Trade.”

Dawn Turner, senior director of brand and consumer marketing at Tepper Sports & Entertainment, already has a master’s degree in sport administration. She has been wanting to earn an MBA for quite a while to fill gaps in her non-traditional background and advance her career.

In 2006, she was planning to get her MBA while she was working for the Dallas Mavericks, but American Airlines offered her a new job. “It was the best decision I could have made for myself at that time because what you learn on the job is so important,” says Turner, who worked in global sports and entertainment marketing for the airline.

“Here I am almost 20 years later and still closing some gaps, but I also know I have so much more experience to bring to my MBA cohort,” she says. “Having UNC-Chapel Hill here in Charlotte makes it so much easier to get a top-notch business education in a convenient manner. This is the perfect time for me to pursue it.”

Transplants to Charlotte, Turner and Smith are eager to expand their professional networks through the MBA program and the wider UNC Kenan-Flagler alumni network.

“I’ve moved around a lot and we moved here a week before the pandemic started and everything shut down so I’m still learning about Charlotte,” she says. “We love it here and want to put down roots here, so the Charlotte Executive MBA Program will help me integrate a lot more into the community and build a network with my classmates. That’s what we’re ready to do here is plant those deep roots and being part of the UNC program is really going to help.”

Turner is “excited and nervous about the finance and accounting classes because they are areas I’ve learned on the fly,” she says. “And while I’m definitely a little nervous, I know that’s what I need to do. Digging into the hard stuff is what I’m looking forward to.”

How the program works

During the 24-month program, working professionals will attend in-person classes on Monday nights and on some Friday afternoons when classes will include working lunch sessions with Charlotte business leaders. UNC Kenan-Flagler faculty will travel to the Queen City for in-person classes. Classes are divided about equally between in-person and self-directed online coursework, as they are for the Evening Executive MBA and Weekend Executive MBA Programs.

Students will take core courses as a cohort, starting with courses in business communication, analytics, accounting and strategy. After they complete required courses, they will have flexibility in taking a wide range of electives.

Included in the innovative curriculum are Impact Weekends. During the two required courses held over a three-day weekend, students will participate in company site visits and hear from area executive speakers, career and leadership activities, and networking events. The Impact Weekend will be offered alternatively in Charlotte and Chapel Hill, where students also will engage with UNC Kenan-Flagler alumni.

While developing the Charlotte program’s curriculum, the MBA team re-envisioned the well-regarded Evening and Weekend Executive MBA Programs. The result is more flexibility with elective choices since the academic calendars for the three programs now align.

The new schedules allow for deep relationships within the program cohorts as well as broadening connections across all programs. The results include enhanced networking and learning opportunities across the Charlotte, Evening and Weekend Executive MBA programs, and make it possible for the School to expand access to electives and other resources across programs. These three programs for working professional offer a uniquely high number of electives and now students across the programs have access to even more classes.

Our guiding principle was to make sure that the Charlotte program provided the same experience as the Chapel Hill programs,” says Wendell Gilland, assistant dean of the Evening, Weekend and Charlotte Executive MBA Programs and an operations professor who will teach business analytics. “Students in our Evening and Weekend Executive MBA programs have really felt like they’ve received an incredibly valuable educational experience. We will deliver that in Charlotte as well.”


Article image provided by (Myles Gelbach)