By Alexis Menard On May 28, 2020 12:00 PM
Alumnus, Chris Matheson, completed his undergraduate studies in History and English, at UM-Flint, receiving his BA, and then returned to UM-Flint to receive his MBA with a concentration in Finance. The Net+ program, a hybrid mix-mode program of online and two in-person weekend residencies, gave him the flexibility to have a balanced family and work life. His academic journey didn’t stop there as he is currently pursuing his Ed.D. in Educational Leadership. Chris is the President of the ninth-largest education service and management provider in the nation that serves 13,000 students in Michigan. He is an avid learner and as our featured alumni of the month, Chris comments on his favorite moments from being in the MBA program, the future of mixed-mode approach to education post COVID-19, advice for working in the education field, and more!
Q: Degree(s) and graduation year:
A: I earned an MBA in 2012 with a concentration in Finance from UM-Flint.
Q: Pursuing another degree or pursued one after your BBA?
A: I am currently working on my dissertation for an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership. Previously I earned a BA from the University of Michigan-Flint in English and History; an MA in History from the University of Alabama; and an Ed.S. in Educational Leadership from Oakland University. I love school!
Q: Where are you currently working and your title? How long have you been in this position or at this organization?
A: I am currently the President of CS Partners, an education service provider located here in Michigan. I began at CS Partners in May 2017 as the Director of School Performance and was promoted to Vice President in January 2018 and President in July 2018. We are fortunate to serve over 2,000 employees and approximately 13,000 students in Michigan.
Q: Why did you choose UM-Flint for your MBA?
A: I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan-Flint and had a great experience; that, combined with the flexibility offered via the NetPlus mode, made the University of Michigan-Flint my preferred choice. Due to job and family obligations, it would have been a tremendous struggle for me to commit to attending class in-person on a regular, weekly basis. The NetPlus format afforded me the flexibility I needed to work toward the degree I desired.
Q: What is one of your favorite experiences at UM-Flint?
A: In all honesty, I have so many that choosing one is difficult. I absolutely loved the time I spent working toward earning an MBA at the University of Michigan-Flint. Pinned down I would point to the class in Entrepreneurship and the associated “shark tank” style assignment and competition. Dale Tuttle did an excellent job leading that class and really shaped our thinking regarding entrepreneurship. I really had a great experience during my time as a student in the program.
Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in?
A: I was always fortunate to be surrounded by outstanding educators, whether in primary school, secondary school, or in university. I valued the relationships I created with my teachers and professors and wanted to provide the same value to others that I took from those teaching and advising me.
Q: What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far?
A: Fathering three great kids with my wife has been the highlight of my life. I see all my experiences prior to this as preparing me to be a father. I learned so much from my teachers, my professors, my students, and life, and these lessons learned serve to make me a better father.
Q: What advice would you give students that are thinking of pursuing a career in your field?
A: To do it! It is an exciting time to be in the field of education. I am very fortunate that I get to do what I do, and I love being at the nexus of education and business–which was my career goal when I entered the MBA program at the University of Michigan-Flint. In my position I have the opportunity to work directly with schools on improving their academic programs and building organizational culture, which is working “in the business” and I also get to work “on the business” for CS Partners in developing leaders, building capacity within our organization, and growing our company. I attribute so much of the ability to do this to the knowledge I gained and the skills I developed in the MBA program.
Q: What would you like to see happen to UM-Flint/Flint within the next five years?
A: I look forward to the continued renaissance of Flint and would like to see the University of Michigan-Flint expand its footprint as it relates to the further development and improvement of the city. The students and staff of the University of Michigan-Flint have so much to offer Flint and so much to gain from a deeper, more intensive engagement with the city. The University of Michigan-Flint is uniquely positioned to add tremendous value to Flint and lead sustainable and systemic change.
Q: Fun Facts!
A: Along with one of my best friends–and fellow University of Michigan-Flint alumni–Tim Tenneriello, I host The Fishbowl: Eyes on Education podcast. We have a great time discussing all things related to education and we really learn a great deal from the guests we have on the podcast. Just the other day my oldest daughter said to me “Daddy, you have smart friends!”
Q: Anything else you would like to mention that wasn’t covered in the previous questions?
Ironically, I was very suspicious of the mixed-mode approach to education when I began the program at the University of Michigan-Flint. My fears were quickly laid to rest as I soon found that I was surrounded by brilliant classmates, albeit often in a virtual format, and guided by amazing professors. I believe in this type of format the learner assumes a greater responsibility for her/his education and I embraced the challenge. Fast forward a number of years and two of the schools in our network that I am most proud to utilize this type of delivery of their academic program. NexTech-Grand Rapids and NexTech-Lansing are two high schools making a difference in the lives of the students they serve while delivering their respective academic programs in a mixed-mode format. I see the mixed-mode format as preparation for what one can increasingly expect in today’s work environment, so it is great preparation for the future. And, it is especially helpful currently given the challenges we are all facing due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.