College of Business Administration and Assurant Solutions build a dynamic relationship.

Maria Manduley
, administrative assistant to Manuel José Becerra, group senior vice president, leads a tour of the campus for the college’s representatives.

While the name R. Kirk Landon is widely known and respected, two places in Miami hold it in particularly high regard: the College of Business Administration, with its R. Kirk Landon Undergraduate School of Business Administration, and nearby Assurant Solutions, which bought Landon’s American Bankers Insurance Group in 1999.

Recently, Landon; College Executive Dean Joyce J. Elam; and Annabelle Rojas (MBA ’98, BBA ’87), the college’s director of external relations and resource development, laid the foundation for a closer relationship between two entities that have been beneficiaries of Landon’s largesse. They designated Natalia Sol, the college’s director of corporate relations, as its liaison with Assurant to help institute a series of mutually-beneficial programs over the coming year.

Manuel José Becerra (BBA ’86), group senior vice president and a member of the college’s Alumni Circle, served as Sol’s counterpart at Assurant, facilitating a meeting with Chapman Graduate School Dean José de la Torre; Barry Shiflett, director, Career Management Services; Tomislav Mandakovic, associate dean, Chapman Graduate School; and Robert Garcia, director, Executive and Professional Education (EPE), to open communication.

Initial event at Assurant validates the potential of the partnership.

“College Day,” which took place on the beautiful Assurant campus on July 26, 2006, got the new strategic partnership off to an exhilarating start. In fact, it was so popular that Assurant asked the college to make it a quarterly event.

Maria Manduley
, administrative assistant to Manuel José Becerra, group senior vice president, explains the history of the Assurant organization and how it all began with R. Kirk Landon’s family.

“We had three purposes for our visit,” Sol said. “We wanted to showcase our programs so that Assurant’s employees would know more about the educational opportunities the college offers. We also wanted to let the staff know about the events and partnering opportunities the Alumni Association provides. Finally, we wanted to alert them to the array of quality programs available through EPE.”

Twelve representatives from the college—including those responsible for undergraduate and graduate programs, online learning, EPE, alumni and partner relations, and corporate relations—staffed the booth from which they handed out promotional items and marketing materials, collected information about alumni for prizes and recognition, and fielded questions.

“Assurant’s executives greeted us very cordially and eagerly made about thirty formal inquiry applications for our graduate degree programs,” Sol said. “After hosting the information booth from 11:00 a.m. through 2:00 p.m., we took a tour of the firm’s stunning campus, which includes many amenities.”

New commitments will build on the synergy uncovered from the beginning.

A number of interchanges will strengthen the partnership between the college and the company, whose goal is to become the number one employer of choice for the college’s graduates and a top provider of graduate students to the college’s programs. Among the activities are the following:

  • Becerra gave the keynote address at the Chapman Graduate School’s new student orientation on August 19, 2006.
  • Adam Lamnin, executive vice president and chief financial officer for Assurant’s specialty property businesses, has agreed to serve on the college’s new Master of Science in Finance Advisory Board. Advisory boards help shape each graduate program’s curriculum to ensure that graduates meet current business needs.
  • Assurant will expand its presence in the college through an information session for students and as a sponsor of a Career Fair.
  • Mandakovic will meet with one of Becerra’s vice presidents to identify projects for the Master of International Business (MIB) students to tackle as part of their capstone experience.

“Mr. Landon wanted to be a catalyst for a deeper degree of interaction and partnership between the college and Assurant, and he succeeded,” Sol said. “We are excited about the future possibilities of collaborating with such an endearing organization that already has been a pleasure to work with.”

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