Auburn’s Harbert College of Business creates Department of Supply Chain Management

Auburn’s Harbert College of Business creates Department of Supply Chain Management
Supply chain management is a rapidly growing field in need of more trained professionals. (contributed)

Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business announced the formation of a Department of Supply Chain Management. The creation of the department brings expanded resources and focus to the college’s highly ranked supply chain management program, where enrollment has grown by double digits in each of the past five years.

The Harbert College of Business supply chain management degree, which combines core business and elective course curriculum from multiple academic and industry-focused disciplines, was recognized as one of the top three programs in the nation by Gartner Group in its most recent rankings.

Harbert College’s Supply Chain Management program attracts industry recruiters from some of the nation’s leading firms, including 117 on-campus visits in 2019-20. (Julie Bennett)

“Growth in demand for supply chain management programs and a track record of success for graduates are the two primary drivers of our decision to create the new Department of Supply Chain Management,” said Harbert College of Business Dean Annette L. Ranft.

“The growth in the number of students choosing supply chain management, growth in faculty and enhanced supply chain management research create the foundation for this department. In addition, an increased level of engagement with our partners in business and government contributed to our decision to invest in the area of supply chain management. Establishing a department allows us to continue to grow undergraduate and graduate programs and develop students to be highly desired and qualified graduates for the workforce. We are appreciative of the Auburn University Board of Trustees for their approval and unanimous support for the new department.”

Glenn Richey, the Raymond J. Harbert Eminent Scholar and Professor in Supply Chain Management, said the creation of the department will give the college’s already robust supply chain management curriculum, research and partner engagement added visibility in the minds of potential students, existing students, prospective new faculty and business partners.

“In addition to raising the visibility of the program, this move will enable us to be more flexible in expanding and modifying curriculum to meet the needs of the rapidly changing world of supply chain management,” Richey said. “Having our own department will also allow us to build more relationships with business partners within the state, across the region, nationally and around the globe.”

Richey noted that the move to form a new department was in the works well before the COVID-19 pandemic, but that the impact of the pandemic on supply chains has made the need for well-trained supply chain professionals even more acute.

“Research has shown that up to 70 percent of people currently working in supply chain management today have no formal education in the area,” Richey said. “Our hands-on instruction, required internships and partner engagement prepares our students to make meaningful contributions to their employers on day one.”

Relationships with industry partners allow the college to bring in top managers who share their expertise with students and faculty. Franklin Littleton, President at DHL Supply Chain and Auburn alum, is a frequent guest. (Auburn University)

Franklin Littleton, president at DHL Supply Chain, pointed to the need for more supply chain professionals and applauded the creation of the new Department of Supply Chain Management.

“I am very pleased to see the department being created,” Littleton noted. “DHL has benefited from our partnership with the Harbert College, and we find the graduates of the supply chain management program to be well-equipped, capable problem solvers with an excellent work ethic. This industry has been increasing in importance over many years with globalized manufacturing and supply, the increase of e-commerce and increasing global affluence and consumerism. The COVID-19 pandemic and the global response has certainly brought these issues into even sharper focus.”

The new department includes Auburn’s Center for Supply Chain Innovation, or CSCI, where scholars, students and external partners collaborate to advance knowledge, drive thought leadership and create practical solutions for supply chain stakeholder communities. Brian Gibson, the Wilson Family Professor and executive director of CSCI, noted that the current pandemic brings to light critical issues in supply chain management that CSCI has been researching for some time.

“The impact of COVID-19 on supply chains here in Alabama and across the globe points to the value of the work we are doing at CSCI,” Gibson said. “We look forward to contributing our extensive knowledge of best practices and the results of future research projects to provide insights that will support the new Department of Supply Chain Management and our partners in industry and government.”

This story originally appeared on Auburn University’s website.

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