Digital Learning Initiative (DLI) Symposium Presenter Profiles

Digital Learning Initiatives and Innovation Throughout the UNC System

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The Evolution of Digital and Technology Enabled Content – The UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School Case Study

Michael Stepanek
Jennifer Cutts






Michael Stepanek, Executive Director of Academics and Operations, MBA Programs

In his role as Executive Director, Academics and Operations, MBA Programs, Michael oversees curriculum, academic operations, and global programs for all graduate students enrolled in one of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s MBA Programs. Previously he served as MBA Program Director, guiding 590 full-time students, with responsibility for academic planning and curriculum design, student services, and global programs. Michael also provides executive leadership for the highly regarded UNC MBA Summer Programs, including Analytical Skills Workshop (ASW) and Tools of Financial Markets (TOFM). Prior to UNC Kenan-Flagler he served as Management Director for CCSM (currently Civitas Schools) where he had executive oversight and responsibility for planning and directing all operational policies, financial objectives, and academic initiatives of this educational management company. Prior to CCSM, Michael was a management consultant with Sibson Consulting Group and Sparks Companies, Inc. As an organizational development consultant with Sibson Consulting Group, he was responsible for growing client revenues and profitability through improved business strategies and as a strategy consultant with Sparks Companies Inc., he was responsible for conducting technical analyses and developing strategic recommendations for clients involved in major segments of the food and agricultural industries. 

Michael serves in numerous leadership and advisory capacities within the graduate management industry and within the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, including service on the Leadership Advisory Board for the Graduate Management Admissions Council, the UNC Non-Profit Management Certificate program, and UNC’s NIH Impact Best Grant. Michael received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University, his MBA from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School and his MPA from the UNC School of Government.

Jennifer Cutts, Director of Curriculum and Innovation,

Jennifer Cutts, Director of Curriculum and Innovation at Kenan-Flagler Business School, works with extraordinary faculty to effectively infuse technology into the curriculum.  Jennifer’s curiosity and her ease with ambiguity creates a safe environment to test and adopt new methods of teaching practice in online and traditional classes. Jennifer joined Kenan-Flagler Business School as the Director of Global Faculty Network in 2011 as part of the launch team for the online MBA@UNC. To apply learnings from successful practices, Kenan-Flagler Business School launched KF Learning Experience & Analytics Partner in 2016, a group dedicated to partner with faculty to continuously improve and innovate teaching practice.

Jennifer leads and lives by authenticity, and is bound by her values through creativity and honesty. Jennifer is grateful to have the opportunity to have meaning in her work and pursue a path that has a positive impact on education trends and the student and faculty experience. Before working at Kenan-Flagler, Jennifer held a Partnership Director role at Compass Knowledge Group. Jennifer earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication at the University of South Florida. She completed her MBA at Regis University and is currently pursuing an Ed.D in Leadership and Learning in Organizations with Vanderbilt University.

Jennifer loves kayaking, reading, and photography. She has two lovely children, a Great Dane puppy, and is an avid CrossFitter.


The pace of change impacting higher education is unprecedented. UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School has taken a journey through the last decade
led by the desire to innovate, respond to market and students’ expectations, and has dramatically impacted the interdependencies between
curriculum, technology, and faculty. A multi-media infused curriculum creates increased quality, flexibility, and opened spaced for faculty in the live classroom environment for more creativity, practice, and application. How we explored vendor-partnerships and the rationale for building internal capability to drive high-quality digital content for all faculty across all programs. Our deep focus to partner with faculty to embrace technology in the classroom, and continue to improve the student experience and ultimately influence better learning outcomes. These successful outcomes have not been without significant challenges and new complexities. In this session, we’ll share and explore our organizational successes as well as some of the hard lessons and unexpected complexities experienced along the way.

Presentation Overview

This abstract addresses #2, #3, and #4. There are many perspectives on the outlook of education, its future, and the path that leads us to a vastly
different landscape than what we have today. We all have moments in our history where a decision becomes the pivot point, and slowly builds to be a direct and significant impact on future trajectories. An early investment in high-quality online learning has grown into a digital evolution that influences all parts of the teaching realm at . Kenan-Flagler Business School strives to be part of the community of leaders that see this wave as a transcendental moment in time, transforming how we teach business education today. The future can be unpredictable, this journey of lessons learned seeds agility in preparation for inevitable changes that will be upon us tomorrow. Through calculated risk, trial, and error, and in partnership with phenomenal faculty, we have established precedents in practice for teaching an online curriculum. Through early challenges and successes, we see the path to the future emerging that changes the frame of teaching and learning and recalibrates the faculty role.

As part of continuous learning, we have a knowledge base of practices, an understanding of required investment to establish a vital infrastructure to support digital initiatives. Through successful proof of concepts, we consistently challenge current approaches, thoughtfully engage our faculty in a well-vetted process, and continue to learn and improve along the way. Success in the online program has opened doors to other possibilities, influenced organizational change, and created advocacy for trusting technology-enhanced curriculum. As we test boundaries of improvement in learning outcomes, we hope to reconsider traditional assumptions around teaching and evolve in a direction positioning us at the intersection of the digital transformation, and its influence on the traditional organization. Digital learning is an iterative phase leading us to a new frontier, with students asking for on-demand learning, institutions seeing lifelong partners in our students, and a faculty that leverage this opportunity to rethink application, practice, and real-world connections in their classes.

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