The commercial banking program is a certificate at Texas A&M, College Station, which began in 2011 with 16 students getting their bachelor of business administration degrees in finance. It was co-founded by a small group of bankers who were school alumni and faculty.
“Within the industry, and those of us who are or were in the industry know this very well, there is a critical shortage of banking talent in the industry,” said W. Dwight Garey, program executive director. “The top things they worry about is succession planning and attracting top talent.”
To date, the program has had 233 graduates, 77 percent of whom are directly employed within the banking industry. A large number of the remaining graduates work at firms that consult with financial institutions. The program continues to grow with average enrollment now around 90 students.
Garey himself is an alum who started in the banking industry in 1971 with 18 years of that spent as a correspondent banker in a three-state region. “My clients were other banks so I’ve got a fairly large contact [list of] bankers in this region so that was how I came to be, what my component was in adding to the co-founding of this banking program. The result is we have a very large advisory board of directors.”
That board numbers 52 individuals who represent banks of all sizes, regulatory agencies and non-bank affiliate members. Garey credits their involvement as one of the strengths of the program. The members teach courses, participate in classroom panels, provide summer internships, and recruit program graduates for full-time positions, amongst other things.
Half of Texas A&M’s courses are taught by banking executives and some of those courses are Risk Management Association credit essentials at the university level taught by senior level bankers.
When he joined the program in 2013, Garey said he was at the point of his career where one considers what might come next. “I saw this as the next segue in my career and to be in two worlds — banking and academia,” Garey said. “That’s the way academia should be” — with banking program directors who have a connection to the industry. “The ones I know who are directors of programs all were prior bankers.”
One such program is the BBA in banking and financial services offered at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. Its banking degree program, originated in 1997, is headed by Dr. Jim Bexley, Smith-Hutson Endowed Chair of Banking. Bexley started the program after a long career in commercial banking where he served as president and CEO of several banks.