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Opus professor posing in Terrence Murphy Hall in downtown Minneapolis

Maintaining Community During COVID-19

Like other schools, Opus College of Business pivoted to distance learning last spring. An early adopter of online technologies at St. Thomas, supporting student success in an online environment has always been a priority.

“St. Thomas continues to provide clarity even when environmental conditions warrant adaptation, such as the recent COVID crisis,” says Rich Rexeisen, professor of marketing

Course delivery and networking are important parts of the graduate-level experience. With the COVID crisis, Opus faculty has committed to keeping them intact. They’ve adjusted their programming to meet the needs of students – while still fostering community.

Leadership in Executive MBA

Leading confidently during a crisis is more important than ever. In the Executive MBA program at Opus, students learn:

  • Key leadership skills
  • Business acumen
  • Critical thinking

They have an average of 16 years of work experience and exhibit a high-level of leadership or managerial responsibility. A wealth of experience enriches class discussions and team projects as different perspectives emerge. 

A COVID Classroom Experience

Rexeisen and Mark Addicks (former chief marketing officer at General Mills) co-teach a course that helps students learn not only how to pinpoint issues a company faces, but how to prioritize these issues, and ultimately address them.

This fall, Addicks will continue leading in-person discussions using the Harvard Case method, a participatory, discussion-based way of learning. It reinforces real-life applications for how organizations can create and deliver superior customer value.

Because of COVID, the classroom experience will look different. “Part of the challenge of any changing environment is reimagining how circumstances also creates new opportunities,” Rexeisen observes. 

Students may choose to participate in-person or online. Classroom discussions will be live-streamed and recorded, and Rexeisen will facilitate students’ online participation. He'll use his online teaching skills to build a bridge between the classroom and those unable to attend in-person.

Delivering Value during COVID

Addicks and Rexeisen are familiar with using technology to facilitate classroom intimacy. In the past, they’ve used small-group interactions to enhance the learning experience and reinforce critical thinking skills.

“As a diverse community, working together, we’ll navigate our current environmental challenges and learn in the process how to deliver even more value in the future,” says Rexeisen.

“How we respond to change, in and of itself, is a valuable learning lesson.”