First University Headquartered in Reston Opens its Door
Clarewood University to begin offering classes this fall
With the longtime support of Reston Founder Robert E. (Bob) Simon, who always believed education was a key part of a community, Reston finally has its own university: Clarewood University.
Focused on serving the wide range of professionals who work and live in Reston and Northern Virginia, Clarewood offers four MBA concentrations to prepare professionals for the challenges of the global market, including International Business and Finance, Information Systems & E-Commerce, Management and Entrepreneurship
Multicultural education for a global market
One of the key advantages that Clarewood University offers to students is the opportunity to blend in a multicultural program, where they can learn the important nuances of communicating and working in a global market.
“Oftentimes, in graduate programs today, students are of mixed ethnic origin. The different groups will tend to hang together and not mix with others during learning exercises,” said Professor Roger Stough, Clarewood’s Chair, Board of Trustees. “While these separate groups learn the content, they don’t learn how to acquire information from the other culture, in order to work better with people from multiple backgrounds. Kingsley Haynes [Clarewood’s president]and I have built programs in which participation is designed to ensure diverse interaction both ethnically and globally, and there are some tricks that are involved in making that work.”
The program at Clarewood mixes cultures together so students not only learn the basics but also can grow horizontally.
“By having different nationalities and ethnic groups mixed together, you find that some have a stronger work ethic than others, and that openly pulls everyone up,” added Stough.
The university also seeks to serve both domestic and international economies. The domestic activity focuses on those who are interested in international business but work in the United States or live in the United States, or have worked for companies overseas.
“We are particularly interested in Southeast Asia,” said Professor Haynes. “Fairfax County has done an assessment, and, at the moment, there are $9 billion worth of activities a year from Asian-owned businesses in this region. There are also 25,000 Asian-owned businesses in Fairfax County that generate 54,000 employees.”
“One of the largest groups growing in the U.S., besides Asians, is the Hispanic population,” affirmed Patrick Baker, CEO and partner of Clarewood University. “Anyone who is coming in to do business on a global basis and works for a company that is international is encouraged to look into our University’s MBA program. We’re focusing globally; we’re not looking at just one niche.”
Clarewood offers a different approach to higher education, featuring small classes instead of the large lecture halls that some universities have in the area.
“We are not interested in the huge, broad educational component,” said Haynes. “We are interested in building from a strong base, focusing on the global aspects. Then, from there, we want to focus on the concentrations we offer with a small group of students and a small group of faculty who focus on ensuring those students succeed. This hand-to-hand development to the students is critical to us.”
Clarewood classes will start this fall, with fundamental courses that would build from the undergraduate to the graduate level.
“We looked at the community we’re in, so we’re initially going to focus on domestic students in Reston and in the Dulles corridor,” said Baker. “We’re [open for] individuals who are looking for programs focused on management, and human resources—the fundamental principles that they can build on and enrich themselves in their careers.”
“We have a dozen top-notch professors in the area,” said Dr. Mark Zhong, Clarewood’s administrative dean. “The faculty has searched for the most talented and prepared professors in the area to give high-quality programs, and the selection process is very thorough. We consider very carefully what degree programs the professors have received their Ph.D. from, what publications and research activities they have conducted, and whether their background complements the four areas in which we’re concentrating,” said Haynes.
In terms of recruiting faculty, the aspiring professors must have credentials from a recognized program; experience in teaching and publishing; and experience in advising government organizations so that they bring a practical side to the students about the future locations in which they could possibly work.
“They will be people who can bring theory and practice together in the classroom, so that they may use case studies in the classroom to build team exercises to accomplish diversity in participation amongst students,” explained Stough.
Zhong said that the University will also have a summer internship program in China to allow students to be exposed to an international business environment. The faculty is also open to expanding the internships to other markets in the future.
Flexible schedules and affordable courses
Classes are scheduled on weekday evenings and weekends to accommodate the schedule of working professionals. A vital component of the courses is the use of the Internet and other online resources in addition to face-to-face classroom instruction, so that students can in-part study remotely.
“I received my MBA program in a similar way, and it worked really well for me. It is a successful model we are hoping to mimic,” said Baker. “We are trying to be as convenient and as accessible as possible, using technology, so that people have alternative options.”
The faculty’s approach is what they call “high-tech, high-touch,” which means having a high-quality faculty interacting with the students on a one-to-one basis, which is what they call “high touch,” as well as using what they call “linkages,” where students use technology.
“Blending the two together is vital,” said Haynes. “If you look at a lot of the work that is related to online activities, the fall-off rate for student completion rates is very high. If you blend in the fact that you can talk to faculty members and see them in real time, and then do certain things with technology and compare things from face-to-face settings and technology, it maintains the energy and focus that students need to succeed. That’s a priority for us; we do well if students do well. This is really critical, and underlies the characteristics that separates us from other programs.”
Reston, the key location
“Knowing we wanted to be a school with international students, we viewed the Reston area as a good location due to its proximity to the Metro, which was just opening as we signed a lease on this location,” added Baker. Also, many internationally-owned companies are located in Fairfax County, which employ business talents with international background, who are our potential students. The proximity to the Dulles Airport also connects Clarewood to diverse global areas. He said: “The fact that we are in the Dulles corridor gives us even more exposure internationally, as we eventually are able to pull in students from outside the country. Getting the support of the late Bob Simon was also crucial for establishing Clarewood in Reston; the business school is named after him—the Robert E. Simon School of Business—and he was very supportive of our efforts.”
“Every community in the U.S. wants a University,” said Stough. “It means a lot to a community in terms of economic development, workforce development, and so on. Reston has long been interested in having a university, working with [George Mason University] and other universities in Virginia to get a branch campus here, and Bob Simon worked hard to get that too. It was just never quite possible, but now this university is here, and Reston is very receptive.”
A university supported by Bob Simon
Dr. Zhong, a long-time resident of Reston, added that in the earliest stages, Bob Simon was involved in the preparation of the plan for the school. “He was glad to let us use his name for our business school,” Zhong said. “In 1962, Robert Simon wrote the seven goals of Reston, the first being that the widest choice of opportunity be made available for the full usage of the community. Number five was that businesses and commercial opportunities were to be made available to residents. Now, we are the first university to be headquartered in Reston; people in Reston deserve to have a university, and we want to be a part of the community and have the local community’s support.”
“Mr. Simon was a life-long learner,” added Baker. “He never stopped absorbing the experiences around him, and from that you get a real sense that our being here would fulfill his dream and vision of a community where you could live, work, and always learn, life-long.”
Haynes, Stough, Baker and Zhong are strong believers that social responsibility is an important part of education. “We used his name for a business school not only as a namesake, but also to incorporate some of his ideals—community solidarity and a sense of social responsibility. We have a course called ‘social entrepreneurship’ in which we will help foster students who become the talent for the new century and employable in the new and rapidly transforming markets of the world. We also want to emphasize that the Clarewood MBA program is not only an exception to the norm for higher education programs, but also it is socially responsible.” said Dr. Zhong.
Open House this July 16th
The community is invited to an Open House on the morning of July 16, at the University’s location at 1840 Michael Faraday Drive, Reston VA 20190, to find information about its programs and meet the staff and leadership. The new university is only four-minute walk from the Wiehle Reston East Metro Station and a two-minute drive from the Reston Town Center.
More information, visit www.clarewoodVA.org; call 571-526-4777, or email: CUVA@clarewood.org.