A Historic Ceremony in Nowy Sacz, Poland

By Bogdan Pukszta

Over 400 new WSB-NLU graduates received the coveted American diplomas

Participants and witnesses to the October 12, 2002, graduation ceremony at Wyzsza Szkola Biznesu – National-Louis University (WSB-NLU) in Nowy Sacz, Poland, all de- scribe it as very special for its energy and elegance. But it was also historic.

For the first time, graduates of the Polish school, co-founded in 1992, received American Bachelor of Arts diplomas – exactly the same diplomas that are presented to NLU graduates in the U.S. In 2002, WSB-NLU has thus become the first institution of higher education in Poland, indeed in east-central Europe, to grant all of its graduates two diplomas, one American and one Polish. During the memorable October ceremony, over 400 new WSB-NLU graduates received the coveted American diplomas from NLU’s Provost, Dr. John Brighton and Dr. Krzysztof Pawlowski, Rector of WSB-NLU. NLU was also represented by the dean of the university’s College of Management and Business, Dr. Ellen McMahon; director of NLU programs in Poland and chair of the university’s Senate, Dr. Fred Widlak; and international development director, Mr. Bogdan Pukszta.

During the first ten years of WSB-NLU’s history, graduates earned Polish degrees and received NLU’s certificates of completion. Those who wished to obtain the American baccalaureate degree needed to spend at least one year of their program of study at NLU’s Chicago campus. However, earning the American Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Nowy Sacz became possible as a result of the November 1999 agreement, which committed NLU and its Nowy Sacz partner to securing the approval of an American accrediting agency for NLU to grant its degrees in Poland.

In April, 2000, following a very favorable evaluation and review process, NLU’s accreditation was extended to include a new Bachelor’s and Master’s site in Poland. Presently, NLU’s programmatic offerings at WSB-NLU include a B.A. in Business Administration, a B.A. in Computer Information Systems, and an MBA (Master of Business Admini- stration), all of which are enhanced by international applications. Furthermore, beginning this year, WSB-NLU business students have the option of completing their studies in either Polish or English. This English language option makes the program much more appealing to a growing number of students from outside Poland, including neighboring Slovakia and Ukraine.

It also makes student and faculty exchanges between Chicago and Nowy Sacz easier to accomplish. Study abroad opportunities for NLU and WSB-NLU students in particular are expected to become increasingly common.

In keeping with the demands of the age, recent visitors to WSB-NLU have undoubtedly noticed that the school is becoming a preferred choice for those who wish to specialize in Computer Information Science. Particularly impressive is the new 6,087 square meter Building C, which houses the School’s Computer Center. It has drawn rave reviews from everyone, including visitors from the most highly regarded schools in the U.S. There are 11 gleaming computer labs in the new building; a well-stocked library and reading room; 3 auditoria, and a number of larger and smaller classrooms. All are equipped with the latest AV equipment.

Currently, the majority of over 4,000 of WSB-NLU students are from outside the Nowy Sacz area. This has been made possible by remedying the previous student housing shortage. Until two years ago, there were no student dormitories in Nowy Sacz, whereas now there are four new buildings with rooms and apartments for hundreds of students and faculty. All are wired for computers and the Internet making the world accessible to students at every turn. This transformation from a local commuter school to a traditional global campus has added to the vibrancy of student life both academically and socially.

Proudly, WSB-NLU was again ranked last spring as the leading non-state institution of higher education in Poland. The School’s business programs have been consistently acclaimed by the Wprost weekly and others as the best among those offered by both state and non-state colleges and universities. There are signs that in 2003, WSB-NLU will not only maintain its leading position but will distance itself from most competitors.

Although WSB-NLU initially established its reputation on course work limited to business related programs, the school is building on its strengths by diversifying the scope of its offerings. Political Science, including International Relations, as well as Mathematics, Psychology, and other undergraduate and graduate programs, have been or will soon be added to the list of available options to further expand the school’s appeal.

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