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Lees-McRae College Hosts Representative from Monsanto Company for Academic Discussions Monday, Oct. 27

Nov. 4, 2014. On Monday, Oct. 27, the Division of Business Administration hosted Dr. Michael Lohuis, director of academic engagement for Monsanto Company, for a day of academic, research-based discussion among students, faculty and staff. Monsanto is a multi-national, American-based agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation.

“The Division of Business Administration continues to bring critical-thinking projects to campus,” said Amy Anderson, interim chair of the Division. “These projects build relationships with business entities and growth opportunities for our students. Our students benefit from interactions with corporate leaders such as Dr. Lohuis from Monsanto. It helps bring the students’ research to life.”

monsantoThe day’s events included a breakfast with academic division chairs and seminars open to the campus community. Discussion topics included “Corporate Governance and Transparency” and “Consumer Behavior.” As the capstone to the event, Dr. Lohuis gave a presentation titled, “How will we feed 9 billion? Environmental and consumer considerations around food choices and agriculture,” to a crowd of more than 100, including faculty, staff, students, Board of Trustee members and professors from neighboring Appalachian State University.

“Being able to discuss how Monsanto affects the world with a Monsanto member himself was an opportunity and experience that won’t be forgotten,” said Lakeala Frink ’15, a student in the Business Administration division. “It made me want to expand my research on the company, culture and how we impact that culture. I hope that our contact with Monsanto continues and that I can be a part of it.”

As part of a business ethics class, Lees-McRae students addressed concerns for Monsanto in the global GMO labeling issue, the source of most poor public opinion for the company. A position paper was forwarded to Monsanto’s Committee on Corporate Governance and Ethics. In the paper, four discussion points were developed: Good Ethics Equals Good Business, Shared Values Equals Good Ethics, Current Situations – Labeling and the Consumer, and Should Monsanto consider Voluntary Labeling? As a result, Dr. Lohuis agreed to visit our campus and discuss these points with students.

“[The letter] posed criticisms but in a very constructive way,” said Dr. Lohuis before his presentation of “How will we feed 9 billion?” “It’s kind of unusual, believe it or not, to get letters like that. What we normally get is a lot of people that talk about us and it’s not usually good, particularly when you’re looking online. So it’s unusual to hear questions and have an opportunity for engagement. The [seminars held earlier this morning] were also good and helped me understand a bit more about our thinking as a company.”

To continue these academic discussions, Dr. Lohuis has agreed to engage Lees-McRae students in a senior capstone project regarding the GMO labeling issue. The project will involve additional Monsanto executives as necessary.

Through specialized studies and practical application, the Division of Business Administration prepares students for the business workplace and advanced degrees, placing emphasis on business principles, communication and professional skills, research, internship, and global learning.

For more information about the Business Administration program, please contact Amy Anderson, interim chair of the Division of Business Administration, at andersona@lmc.edu.

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, Lees-McRae College is a private, four-year college offering diverse baccalaureate degrees, strong athletic programs and outstanding faculty. With 950 students hailing from 31 states and more than 8 countries, Lees-McRae’s broad core curriculum is enhanced by field-specific career preparation and experiential learning. For more information, please visit www.lmc.edu or call 828.898.5241.