First graduation takes place for Professional MBA-Panama.

On February 26, 2010, the 28 students in the inaugural Professional MBA in Panama (PMBA-Panama) graduated from the twenty-month, weekend MBA program designed for busy working professionals. Quality Leadership University (QLU) in Panama City offers the program, primarily taught by professors from the College of Business Administration at Florida International University (FIU).

Oscar Leon, QLU president, welcomed the graduates; Christos Koulamas, associate dean of the business school, handed out the “Faculty of the Year” award to Ron Gilbert and “Best Course” award for Competitive Strategy, taught by Manuel Lasaga. Craig Morrissey, vice president, American Hospital Management Company, won both the “Leadership Award of Excellence,” voted by his classmates, and the “Academic Award of Excellence,” from the faculty.

Twenty-six of the 28 students graduating in the first-ever Professional MBA-Panama group attended the February commencement ceremony.

“Though the classes and professors were great, I definitely enjoyed the other students and the multicultural environment of the program the most,” said Morrissey, who spoke at the commencement ceremony. “The diversity of the other students’ work experience, education and home country resulted in me learning as much from them as I did from the professors.”

The students also heard from Antonio Zafarroni, executive director, Grupo Unidos por el Canal.

“He challenged them to stand up for their country and community by embracing the opportunities ahead with full commitment and willingness to do their best, to be high performers, to exert attitudes that he considered to be getting quite scarce among the younger generations,” said Gladys Simpson, who teaches information systems courses. “He reminded all attendees that the bottom line is that we are all in the game of improving the life and conditions of humanity, that we must not forget this as we go on our daily lives.”

Relative newcomer to FIU Business’s overseas program offerings starts strong.

The PMBA-Panama, one of the college’s newest overseas programs, has already become very popular, according to Marta Torres-Berlingeri (MS ’06), assistant director, global programs at FIU.

“In addition to this first group of 28, we had a class of 30 students who began the program in 2009 and are on pace to graduate in December 2010,” she said.

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