Two new academic programs in the School of Business will begin in the fall semester of 2019: an associate degree program in paralegal studies and a concentration in entrepreneurship.
Dr. Robert Hucks, chair of the Division of Management, said the BJU faculty has had four main reasons for being excited to create and promote the paralegal associate program, a process which has been developing since 2014.
First, BJU faculty recognized the large job growth opportunities to be had for students in the paralegal field. “It became very clear that one of the top professions available was in the area of [law], whether it be going to law school, becoming an attorney or being a paralegal,” Hucks said.
Hucks also said the salaries for paralegals are higher than average for a two-year degree type program, creating a clear opportunity in this field for students.
Second, a survey the School of Business sent to local attorneys revealed enthusiasm and support for the paralegal program. Hucks said the responses to the survey were nothing but positive feedback.
“They knew who we were, and they knew the students and the graduates that Bob Jones University was putting out and how well they were doing,” Hucks said. “Based off our history . . . they were really excited that we would be training these paralegals.”
Third, as the faculty discussed the program with ministers and parents to explore its potential value in a variety of fields, they realized that it could be conveniently designed to link with a bachelor’s degree.
Hucks said that although it would be an intense four years for the student, the program is designed to allow students to take the paralegal courses alongside their current major and graduate with both their chosen bachelor’s degree and the paralegal associate degree.
Hucks said taking the paralegal classes with another degree creates a clear path to employment regardless of the main field of interest.
If, for example, a student was to pursue a music degree but did not see an immediate or long-term employment opportunity, he or she could use the paralegal degree to support the developing music career.
This application is valuable in several fields, including ministry opportunities that do not readily provide adequate financial support. “It’s a professional degree that allows for a lot of autonomy, so a couple could go to the field as a church plant and have really nice jobs that do allow for them to minister,” Hucks said. “Lots of jobs are a fit for the program across all of our majors and particularly with the ministry.”
A fourth factor behind the addition of the paralegal degree was the faculty who are available and eager to teach the classes.
Dr. James Brammer, faculty member in the Division of Management, will be an instructor for the new program. Brammer said he is one of two lawyers with decades of legal experience who teaches full-time in the School of Business and will be teaching in the paralegal program as well.
In addition, some of the classes will be taught by adjuncts who have on-going legal careers.
Brammer said the up-to-the-minute experience these instructors will bring into the classroom is an amazing opportunity for students to be trained to work with someone just like their teacher. “There is no replacement for someone who has lived it—and is living it—being the one who instructs you in the classroom,” Brammer said.
Brammer said the new paralegal program is a rare opportunity as a valuable and lucrative two-year degree that prepares students to enter what could be a tough working environment.
“The legal world could be an especially difficult place for Christians,” Brammer said. “The legal profession still needs professional people who are showing forth Christ in what they do and to be well prepared, to be on top of their game and to be a positive testimony in that environment.”
When the paralegal degree is introduced, the new entrepreneurship concentration in the School of Business will also begin. This is the fifth concentration to be added to the School of Business, joining the current marketing, human resource, general and finance concentrations.
According to Dr. Adele Dunn, faculty member in the Division of Management, entrepreneurship is taking an innovative idea and pulling together the resources and the people needed to bring it to fruition.
“We sometimes think of entrepreneurship as just small startup organizations, but entrepreneurship is a much wider discipline,” Dunn said. “This concentration is relevant for artists and engineers and people in computing—it’s giving people a set of skills that they can apply in whatever discipline they find themselves.”
The concentration will include four classes: Introduction to Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Finance and a capstone project to put into practice the skills acquired.
The related business faculty have their own entrepreneurial experience through investments, companies they have founded or positions they have held in corporations.
Dunn said the new concentration is the next step after BJU itself has practiced entrepreneurship for so long. “It’s almost in the DNA of this school; we’ve been very innovative—entrepreneurial—in projects over many, many years,” Dunn said. “The annual Bible Conference fundraisers are an excellent example of that. Student are experimenting, solving problems and creating value: these are all entrepreneurial skills.”
Dunn also said our ultimate entrepreneur role model is the Lord.
“Our God made the world; He created this wonderful salvation plan for us,” Dunn said. “We should be inspired by that to be our very best entrepreneurs and use these skills for His glory rather than our own glory.”