Bloomsburg University’s Corporate Institute challenges professionals

For Immediate Release

Date: October 4, 2006 

BLOOMSBURG— Students pursuing a master’s degree in business administration aren’t often asked to climb 50 feet into the air and maneuver around an obstacle course set high in the trees. But, students in Joan Benek-Rivera’s class at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania say the high ropes experience is a valuable one, professionally and personally.

For the past three years, Benek-Rivera, associate professor and chair of the management department, has required students in her Professional Development Skills class to participate in a high ropes course, run by BU’s Corporate Institute. The course is located on Bloomsburg University’s campus and requires participants to climb up a telephone pole and move through a series of obstacles before rappelling to the ground. The program is run entirely by students trained through BU’s Quest program.

“(The course) helps students overcome their fears,” Benek-Rivera said. “We do this in conjunction with our first unit, which focuses on self-awareness—learning about your strengths and weaknesses. It teaches them to deal with uncertainty, and these personal lessons transfer into their professional lives.” Nineteen MBA students participated in the course this year.

The Corporate Institute offers hundreds of team-building programs every year to companies throughout the northeast and at locations across the country. According to Corporate Institute Director Roy Smith, the courses and workshops “are focused on developing the potential of people, particularly in groups of professionals.”

Gloria Gerrity, vice president of the pediatric service line at Geisinger Health Systems, participated in the course as part of Benek-Rivera’s class. “I think in most college MBA programs, there are a lot of things you do in terms of learning from the classroom. This took us to a very different place and challenged us in a very different way,” Gerrity said. 

Gerrity noted that while the Professional Development Skills class is not part of the required curriculum for BU’s MBA program, participating in the high ropes course “sets the program apart from other programs. Most students who select an MBA program are right brain thinkers who like control. The high ropes challenge…teaches you about how you react and respond to your own fear when in an environment out of your comfort zone.”

According to Smith, the high ropes course motivates individuals to think clearly in unfamiliar settings, a valuable skill for professionals already in the workforce. “I tell people to remember their coping mechanisms when they get up there,” Smith said. “How do they deal with the situation? And how can they take that and use it in other day-to-day situations?”

Gerrity believes the program would particularly benefit “someone who has been out of school for a period of time and chooses to come back into this environment again. It helps you to feel more confident with your own ability, and it helps people who want to be in control learn how to deal with situations that are out of their control.” 

The MBA program at Bloomsburg University is one of approximately 500 programs accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), according to Blair Staley, MBA program coordinator. Bloomsburg MBA students recently scored in the 80th percentile on the Education Testing Services MBA Major Field Test.


Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 8,000 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Professional Studies, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.