UNI business program one of only 25 to receive national award

UNI NEWS SERVICES - A program from the University of Northern Iowa’s College of Business Administration was one of only 25 programs nationwide to receive the AASCB Innovations That Inspire award, which recognizes institutions from around the world that serve as champions of change in the business education landscape. 

UNI was recognized for Succession Iowa, a program at the Center for Business Growth and Innovation which was developed to address the closing of viable rural businesses due to the lack of a successor or exit strategy.

Advance Iowa is a program within UNI’s Business and Community Services that provides outreach and support for operations across Iowa by preparing owners for the successful transition of the ownership of their business. With the creation of Succession Iowa, a team of UNI faculty, staff and students now focuses on developing a program to help bring buyers and sellers together to ensure the long-term viability of Iowa-owned small and medium enterprises

“Our program is still in its early stages, yet we have already done valuation work for over 25 firms across the state,” said Advance Iowa Program Director Dan Beenken. “We are honored to receive recognition from AACSB for our programming and excited about what the future opportunities are for us as we work to build out the program.”

Beyond providing a vital service to rural business crucial to local economies, the program also provides a valuable outlet for students to gain real-world experience.

“The experience this provides the student interns is invaluable,” said Brett Olsen, an associate professor of finance and faculty advisor to the program. “The finance knowledge the interns obtain over time can be applied in nearly every finance-related job. In addition to the critical thinking skills inherent in the position, knowledge gained includes financial statement analysis, financial performance assessment, small business management, forecasting, valuation, research skills and applied Excel modeling.”

Now in its fifth year, the Innovations That Inspire challenge has highlighted more than 120 business school efforts that exemplify forward-looking approaches to education, research, community engagement or outreach, and leadership.  

“The demand for innovation that engages experts across disciplines and addresses the needs of both local and global communities has never been more apparent than in these unprecedented times,” said Thomas R. Robinson, president and CEO of AACSB. "We are honored to feature the University of Northern Iowa for its valuable role in elevating entrepreneurship through research, teaching, and community engagement.”

About AACSB International

Established in 1916, AACSB International (AACSB) is the world’s largest business education alliance, connecting educators, learners, and business to create the next generation of great leaders. With a presence in more than 100 countries and territories, AACSB fosters engagement, accelerates innovation, and amplifies impact in business education. 

About Advance Iowa 

Advance Iowa (www.advaceiowa.com) is the state of Iowa’s comprehensive consulting program designed to work with mid-sized companies to enhance their growth. It is located at the University of Northern Iowa’s Business and Community Services; an outreach extension of the College of Business Administration.


Sara Kies, marketing and communications manager, College of Business Administration, 319-273-3309, sara.kies@uni.edu

Steve Schmadeke, UNI public relations manager, 319-273-6120, steve.schmadeke@uni.edu