Alex Roman: First student to graduate as organizational sciences major

Just one student will proceed to Lisner Auditorium’s stage when the organizational sciences major is announced at the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences graduation ceremony Saturday.

Alex Roman will make GW history as the first student to graduate with a degree in the new major that emphasizes management strategy, leadership and communication. The Department of Organizational Sciences and Communication launched the major, which has about 23 students, in fall 2010.

The former psychology major shifted his focus after realizing he had little desire to become a psychologist and considered switching into a business program. But Roman received a memo in his inbox at the beginning of his junior year that piqued his interest and prompted him to switch into the organizational sciences program.

“I was interested in being a part of something new,” Roman said, adding that he has taken every organizational science class – including masters and graduate courses – offered at GW to meet the 120-credit requirement for graduation.

David Costanza, chair of the Department of Organizational Sciences and Communication, said the major “applies an arts and sciences perspective to the understanding of how organizations function in a broader scope than just business operations.” He said he expects the major to expand to at least 30 to 40 students by next year.

Students played a role in developing the major, meeting with faculty to suggest potential classes, specific concentrations within the program and how to market the department to incoming freshmen.

For a thesis in a class typically taken by graduate students, master’s students and PhD candidates, Roman spent a semester conducting independent research on business ethics via surveys that explored priming – when a previous experience heightens sensitivity to certain stimuli – in individuals and its effects on ethical decisions.

Last spring, Roman’s major took him on a weeklong trip to Vienna, Prague and Bucharest with the department as part of a leadership and culture class.

“We would visit various organizations, IKEA and Marriott specifically, and compare their leadership styles to that of the American version of the organization,” Roman said.

The trip included talks from diplomats and a cross-cultural marketing lesson from Heineken’s sales director in Romania.

Post-college, Roman, also a College Republicans member and the president of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, hopes to work for a consulting firm, preferably in the areas of strategy, technology and human capacity.

“Being an organizational sciences major definitely shaped my experience,” said Roman. “I’ve found a brand new interest and thing that I love.”

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