Explore Unique Learning Opportunities with Champlain’s Centers of Excellence

Champlain’s Centers of Excellence are studio-like, learning environments where students across majors come together to put their classroom knowledge to the test through practical work on real professional projects. I would also define a center of excellence as a team, a shared facility or even an entity that provides leadership, best practices, research, support and/or training for a focus area. These unique environments entrust students with responsibility, allow them to be challenged with ambitious goals and develop leadership skills, confidence and professional insight. Students are welcome to be innovative in an environment where they have support from faculty and resources that they may not have in the real world. Luckily for us, Champlain is home to seven Centers of Excellence: Build Your Own Business (BYOBizⓇ), Champlain College Publishing Initiative (CCPI), the Center for Financial Literacy, the Emergent Media Center (EMC), the Game Studio and the Senator Leahy Center for Digital Investigation (LCDI), with opportunities for students in every major or division. Here is a brief description of each of the Centers:

Build Your Own Business (BYOBizⓇ)

Have an idea for running your own business but don’t know where to start? The BYOBiz program should be your first stop. Through this center you’ll gain expertise on all areas that you need to have your business thrive, from financial, to legal, to even operational and managerial advice. With a large network of professionals, BYOBiz will help you expand your idea into a successful business venture.

The 2015 Elevator Pitch Competition

The 2015 Elevator Pitch Competition

Coming up around the corner, is the annual Elevator Pitch competition. Students who take part in this contest, pitch a 90-second “pitch” to an executive in a fictional elevator ride. The point is to learn how to present a big idea in a clear, concise manner. In addition to gaining some serious confidence, $2700 total in cash prizes, plus valuable gift certificates will be given away! Sign-ups start Monday, January 18, 2016.

Another opportunity that students have the chance to take advantage of is the Speaking from Experience Lecture Series. This educational series brings local business owners (sometimes even Champlain Alumni) to campus to talk about their challenges and successes in their field. Recently, Champlain and BYOBiz hosted Cyrus Schenck, one of the founders of Renoun, a high performance ski company. He talked about his journey of creating the only ski in the world that was made out of a non-newtonian polymer, a substance that becomes more resistant under stress. He also shared with students the ups and downs of the ski industry and emphasized: no matter what you do, if you have a passion, stick with it and it will pay off in the end.


Nobody else in the world is doing what we do

Champlain College Publishing Initiative (CCPI)

If you want to learn what publishing is all about and perhaps even publish your work before graduation, then you should be involved in the CCPI. Since 2009, more than 300 undergraduates from a wide variety of majors have been involved in some sort of publishing activity. These students have helped authors with everything from print publishing to eBook publishing, book launches to video book trailers. To quote these publishing superheroes, “We’ve got all kinds of ideas for you and your project. Because publishing in the 21st century is an experiment, and we’ve got our goggles and rubber gloves up to our elbows.” Check out one of their current projects, a CCM division magazine titled Weathervane.

The Center for Financial Literacy

Much like the Financial Sophistication part of Champlain’s Life Experience and Action Dimension (LEAD) program, the Center for Financial Literacy strives to educate students about the skills needed to make smart financial decisions. These decisions could include everything from spending, credit, investments, buying a home, or planning retirement. They have partnerships with many financial institutions, nonprofits, and government agencies that will send speakers to Champlain to hold panels and network with students.

The Center is nationally recognized for its one-of-a-kind work. In fact, John Pelletier, the Director of the Center for Financial Literacy, released a significant report last November that gave each state in the U.S. a grade for the degree of personal finance education it provides for high school students. And just last month, the Center released a study detailing how high school students taught by trained teachers were way ahead of their peers in financial sophistication skills. Read the full story here.

David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry

Champlain is known to be a very innovative school. One reason for this is that we have recently become home to the only academic-based center in world that focuses on Appreciative Inquiry and how it can positively enhance organizational development. Based within the Stiller School of Business, The Cooperrider Center’s mission is to educate leaders to be the best in the world at seeing how we can change business practices to positively affect our highest human strengths in order to change organizational development and change.

You may be wondering: what is appreciative inquiry? The concept was developed by Dr. David Cooperrider (for whom the Center is named) and Dr. Suresh Srivastva in the 1980s. The idea is to take a look at an organization’s strengths, instead of looking for its problems, when changes are being considered. Uncovering the strengths that individuals, businesses, communities and other populations bring to the table leads to more opportunities, happier employees, lower turnover, more collaboration and a stronger group overall. AI methods get results, good ones.

Emergent Media Center (EMC)

Designs made from the laser cutter and 3D printer at the EMC

Designs made from the laser cutter and 3D printer at the EMC

Ever want to combine things you’re learning in class, your interests in technology, and business? If you like at least two of those things then you should head down to the EMC at Champlain’s Lakeside campus. The EMC supports a creative environment that gives students real-world experience by allowing them to create interactive media, games and mobile apps to help create positive change in the world on a wide variety of topics including healthcare, business, communication and education.

Students get practical experience working with national companies, non-profit organizations, foundations, particularly those looking to create games and other emergent media to generate solutions to significant global problems. Find out what they’re currently up to on their blog.

The Game Studio

Students hard at work in the Game Studio

Students hard at work in the Game Studio

To be successful in any industry, you need to develop your skills in a professional setting. The Game Studio allows students to come together in this specialized professional setting. It allows them to collaborate with each other on their projects and make them as successful as they can be. The space combines students from all of the gaming majors as well as those in the business division who are specializing in Game Production. The Game Studio is set up as one giant workstation that allows students and professors to collaborate and have discussions easily.

Champlain seniors involved in the Game Studio will be hosting their Senior Show on April 29–30, 2016. Graduating seniors will present their senior projects to family, friends and the community, followed by an exhibition and a reception. Company recruiters are also invited and interview students on site on the second day of the event! The work the students do with the Game Studio is proof that they are prepared to jump into professional gaming environments right after graduation.

The Senator Patrick Leahy Center for Digital Investigation (LCDI)

Considered a leader in Digital Forensic education, the LCDI is home to a high-tech lab that allows undergraduate and graduate students to participate in research and development projects, like testing tools and developing new forensic techniques for new up-and-coming technologies. The three things that the LCDI works towards being are “a center of education, training, and information resources; a credible and neutral source of information and service for Vermont and the Northeast; and a research and professional development hub for Champlain College.”

With funding from the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and Champlain College, the LCDI gives students the opportunity to reach their full potential in their field. Last April, the head of the FBI, James Comey, came to Champlain to visit the LCDI, and encouraged those studying cybersecurity to take their talents to the FBI for a future career. Read more about what Director Comey had to say about Champlain and the fight against cybercrime here.

As you can see, Champlain’s Centers of Excellence offer numerous resources and opportunities for our students to use to their advantage. The College faculty and staff who work within these centers want to see students achieve their goals and succeed. All seven centers allow Champlain to stand out among the many national colleges as a shining star. In the next few months, be on the lookout for more in-depth blog posts about each center. We’ll be talking to students about the benefits of each center and how it has helped them succeed in their field.

Rachel Hatem is a senior Business Administration major with a minor in Event Management