While the move to form a new department was in the works before the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of the pandemic on supply chains has made the need for well-trained supply chain professionals even more acute.
emand for supply change management education is on the rise. In fact, over the past five years, enrollment at Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business had doubled each year.
Given that and the renewed focus on the importance of the supply chain due to COVID-19, on June 8, the university announced the formation of a Department of Supply Chain Management.
“Growth in demand for supply chain management programs and a track record of success for graduates are the two primary drivers of our decision to create the new Department of Supply Chain Management,” said Harbert College of Business Dean Annette L. Ranft. The Harbert College of Business supply chain management degree, which combines core business and elective course curriculum from multiple academic and industry-focused disciplines, was recognized as one of the top three programs in the nation by Gartner Group in its most recent rankings
Glenn Richey, the Raymond J. Harbert Eminent Scholar and Professor in Supply Chain Management, said the creation of the new department will give the college’s already robust supply chain management curriculum, research and partner engagement added visibility in the minds of potential students, existing students, prospective new faculty and business partners.
The new department includes Auburn’s Center for Supply Chain Innovation, or CSCI, where scholars, students and external partners collaborate to advance knowledge, drive thought leadership and create practical solutions for supply chain stakeholder communities. Brian Gibson, the Wilson Family Professor and executive director of CSCI, noted that the current pandemic brings to light critical issues in supply chain management that CSCI has been researching for some time.
Richey notes that the move to form a new department was in the works well before the COVID-19 pandemic, but that the impact of the pandemic on supply chains has made the need for well-trained supply chain professionals even more acute.
“Research has shown that up to 70% of people currently working in supply chain management today have no formal education in the area,” continued Richey. “Our hands-on instruction, required internships and partner engagement prepares our students to make meaningful contributions to their employers on day one.”
Richey also pointed out that “having our own department will also allow us to build more relationships with business partners within the state, across the region, nationally and around the globe.”
Franklin Littleton, president at DHL Supply Chain, pointed to the need for more supply chain professionals and applauded the creation of the new Department of Supply Chain Management. “I am very pleased to see the department being created,” noted Littleton. “DHL has benefited from our partnership with the Harbert College, and we find the graduates of the supply chain management program to be well-equipped, capable problem solvers with an excellent work ethic. This industry has been increasing in importance over many years with globalized manufacturing and supply, the increase of e-commerce and increasing global affluence and consumerism. The COVID-19 pandemic and the global response has certainly brought these issues into even sharper focus.”