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WVU’s College of Business and Economics is host to forensic professionals from across nation

Morgantown will see an influx of forensic laboratory managers, law enforcement professionals and other forensic service providers for a week beginning April 11, as West Virginia University’s (WVU) College of Business and Economics hosts the Forensic Management Academy (FMA).

The group includes medical examiners, crime lab directors, firearms analysts and others from 27 agencies in 19 states, all participating in a program to enhance their leadership and management skills to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of forensic practices.

The only program of its kind in the country, the Forensic Management Academy at WVU began in 2007 with the support of a grant from The National Institute for Justice. The primary mission of the FMA program is to help current and aspiring forensic laboratory managers, law enforcement professionals and other forensic service providers understand and use contemporary business practices to improve the practice of forensics.

The Forensic Management Academy is a highly innovative program that examines a number of business and leadership topics, including leadership development and succession planning; business skills and their application; cost benefit analysis; conflict management; budget and finance; teambuilding; strategy; and performance and project management.

“Managers of scientific laboratories are often promoted into leadership roles from within their organization because they are great scientists,” said Martina Bison-Huckaby, director of the college’s Center for Executive Education, which is coordinating the program. “Most of them, however, have not received formal business training in their academic education.  The program helps them in their transition into their leadership position.  In addition, because of the aging workforce, forensic science will have an exodus of experienced laboratory managers in the next several years, and training is increasingly more important.”

Jim Mudge is a crime laboratory manager at the San Francisco Police Department who attended in 2009.  He said the FMA program helped him gain valuable skills relevant to the field of forensics. “It provided me with the tools to take back to my lab to begin forming a true team and prepping staff members to enter into leadership,” he said.

Maria Weir, who also attended last year’s FMA, is a supervising forensic identification specialist with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Weir describes the program as a “wonderful opportunity,” and added that she was “anxious to get back to work to start implementing what I have learned” from FMA instructors.

The academy has 70 alumni from 41 states and Puerto Rico.

The West Virginia University Center for Executive Education offers professional development programs for the public and customized training for companies and organizations, serving to improve management practices while increasing their economic viability.  For a full listing of available programs and further information, please visit www.execed.wvu.edu.