Writer: Justin Bannister, (575) 646-5981, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bankers from around the Southwest spent a week in Las Cruces, taking part in classes as New Mexico State University hosted the Western States School of Banking.
More than 70 students from New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas and California attended WSSB's 8-day summer banking course, held this year inside Corbett Center Student Union. WSSB's students are professionals already in the banking industry. Most work for smaller community banks. The program is designed to help them advance their careers.
"They learn more about the banking industry than they ever thought possible," said Jerry Walker, a WSSB board member. "The banking industry is highly regulated. Our school is designed to give students a better understanding of how everything works."
This was the first year for WSSB to partner with NMSU. For the previous 32 years, classes were located at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
Garrey Carruthers, business dean and vice president for economic development said NMSU's College of Business is working to strengthen its ties to the banking community. "The banking industry needs more people, especially in community banks. This partnership between NMSU and the Western State School of Banking is an excellent opportunity for our students and faculty to meet and interact with leaders in the banking industry."
Walker said independently owned community banks often have trouble finding good, qualified people. They also do not have the resources of national banks to provide in-house training. WSSB gives smaller banks a chance to increase their workers' skills and knowledge as much as possible.
"It's a very intense week with a lot of things going on. They learn a lot from the school," said Mark Fidel, WSSB's new executive director.
Classes focus on a wide range of topics including commercial credit, legal issues, marketing and human resources. There are also banking simulations and team building exercises where students call the shots and see how their decisions impact others.
"Many of our teachers and speakers are nationally recognized in the banking industry," said Fidel.
The school consists of two summer sessions. This year's class contained 36 first-year students and 35 returning students. Walker believes the school can double those numbers in the coming years. In the future the school also hopes to expand some of its programs, making classes more available to students.
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