Course Descriptions 2021

The Western CUNA Management School curriculum is designed to transform students into passionate strategic leaders through rigorous collegiate level head and heart education. The American Council on Education's College Recommendation Service (ACE Credit) has evaluated and recommended college credit for Western CUNA Management School.  For more information visit ACE Credit's website:  (place "western cuna" in organization name field)


Behavioral Psychology (Weekes)
The theories and empirical findings of psychology and the relationship between the mind and human behavior.  How do patterns from academic research help us to predict actions and behaviors, and form better habits and business decisions.

Managing Self (Eggleton)
Uses psychology research to understand personal and interpersonal motivation and decision-making.  Students will explore their own personal management style and the styles of others.  How must incentive structures change to motivate individuals with different psychological profiles.

Managing the Human Resource (Eggleton)
This course provides an overview of the tools and techniques of human resource management.  How do organizations attract, retain and empower their employee talent.  Students will also analyze how their credit union is organized, and the practices used for people management within the organization.

Organizational Behavior (Bligh)
This course covers the basic principles of organizational behavior and management, including how individuals make decisions and motivate others, how to influence groups, and how to exert leadership throughout an organization.


Business Law (Adler)
This course provides an introduction to business law from a practical legal standpoint, drawing from credit union experience. This course will focus on corporate and business law, establish a foundation for contract and tort law, and provide an introduction to human resources.

Managing Legal Risks (Adler)
This course examines enterprise risk management in legal decision making, focusing on fiduciary duties and human resources. Students will explore decision-making frameworks for evaluating mitigation strategies for legal risks.  Examples drawn from credit union experiences will allow students to practice making strategic decisions under legal risk.


Communications (Kenyon)
This course presents the elements of effective communication with application to appropriate writing styles for business.  Students will develop appropriate communication styles to use when working with colleagues using various technological means.

Executive Presentation Skills (Hanke)
This course explores how to effectively, authentically and consistently influence others.  Provides practical skills and techniques to improve day-to-day communication and build a personal brand and persuasive influence.

Introduction to Project I
On-Demand Lecture (October 1, 2021)
Live Class (Tuesday, October 19, 2021 10:30 – 11:30 AM Pacific time)
This course prepares students to use the skills from their first year of WCMS to analyze the strategic position of their credit union.  Project I exposes students to the major functional areas of their credit union and assists them in developing the skills to explain the strategic interaction between these areas for credit union operation.

Introduction to Project II
On-Demand Lecture (October 1, 2021)
Live Class (Wednesday, October 20, 2021 10:30 – 11:30 AM Pacific time)
This course prepares students to use the skills from their first two years of WCMS to create a strategic plan for their credit union.  The project requires students to explore historical trends and forecast future financial conditions in order to create and analyze a business plan for their credit union.

Negotiation Strategy (Unzueta)
Presents theoretical principles and concepts from psychology, sociology, and economics to improve practical negotiations skills.  Class participants learn not only to enhance their individual abilities, but also to analyze contexts for the most effective application of these skills. Course includes experiential learning, i.e. negotiations simulations.

Student Presentations (Faculty)
Students will present a topic of interest to credit union professionals.  This course is designed to help students understand the foundation of effective presentations for credit unions, and to give students feedback on how to improve their presentation and persuasion skills.  Students will also experience techniques for generating high quality ideas quickly in groups by listening to the ideas of others.


Credit Union Leadership (Dykstra)
This course focuses on current challenges facing the credit union movement: from technological competition, to employee retention and motivation, to the post-pandemic economy and needs of our members. Students will work in teams during class times to identify ways managers can lead credit unions to respond to these current challenges.  In addition to discussing current areas for credit union leadership, the course will discuss how students can prepare to engage the next generation of yet-to-be-seen problems that will require leadership within our credit unions to overcome. The course refines the capabilities of students to make strategic decisions, execute complex plans and motivate individuals and teams.  Provides examples from other industries of successful directed innovation and change, as well as pitfalls to avoid for effective management.

Credit Union Management (Steinberger)This course helps students discover the elements of a strategic market position.  Students will understand the dynamics of strategy and develop the strategic management position for a credit union.

Credit Union Solutions Challenge (Coleman)
Working in teams, students will create and pitch a solution to a current credit union need in one of three areas (Digital Transformation, Responsible Growth, or Delivering Extreme Value).  Students will engage in a complete, in-depth, structured innovation process that begins with identifying member needs and ends with the student returning to their credit union with a defined solution and pitch presentation. Every student will present their team’s solution to a group of their peers, receive expert feedback on their innovation, and receive and provide feedback for their peers’ innovations.

Credit Union Strategy (Dykstra)
This course focuses on the tools and frameworks of business decision-making and planning.  The course uses examples from credit unions to help students develop the capability and strategic thinking to compare alternative strategies and propose business plans.  The course also explores the role and methods of political advocacy for credit unions.

Digital Leadership and Strategy Panel (Janclaes/Kendall/Swanson/Westerman)
Digital technologies and big data offer tremendous opportunities to for credit unions. This course explores the opportunities and difficulties facing widespread adoption and explores frameworks to think strategically about adopting and implementing digital transformation within credit unions.  The course will explore the interplay between digital transformation and strategy, and the consequences of misalignment, using several examples from credit unions on effective, and ineffective, digital implementations.

Innovation (Coleman)
This course uses recent research to present systematic techniques that individuals can use to increase creativity, innovative problem solving and design thinking. Through repeated individual and group activities, students will improve their capacity for developing innovative and entrepreneurial solutions to real-world issues.  This two-part course requires students to complete a user-centric mini-project between sessions where students observe people in their environment to gain a deeper understanding of users' motivations and needs, and then to propose solutions to address those needs.  The course culminates in an innovation tournament between student teams proposing new products, services or collaborations to better address member needs in the credit union environment.

Personal Development (Steinberger)
This course explores the possibilities, and responsibilities, of credit union leadership.  How can students take the skills they have learned and WMCS and help implement better member service at their credit union?  The course uses case studies from leaders and strategies in other fields to explore the role of leadership and strategy for credit union professionals.

Financial Simulation Presentations (Stephenson)
This interactive course summarizes the main results of the financial simulation exercises.  Students will evaluate their team's objectives and results from the simulation and then present their major learning areas from the exercise.  This capstone course requires students to integrate skills from across the curriculum, including: economics, financial management, marketing, philosophy, strategy, and communication skills. Students are encouraged to use novel presentation techniques to maximize class interest in their topic presentations.



Business Ethics (Unzueta)
The course explores the philosophical foundation for ethical decision making with application to business decisions.  What are the responsibilities of business leaders to their customers, employees, business partners, community, government and to themselves?  How to evaluate moral decision-making and the principles of moral choice.

Credit Union History and Philosophy (Meyer)
This course explores the history and business structure of credit unions and cooperatives.  What is the societal role of nonprofit cooperatives and why are U.S. credit unions are tax exempt?  The course explores the historical roots and modern mandate of credit union’s mandates to serve the underserved.

Credit Union Philosophy
This survey course explores the values and purpose of the credit union movement. Topics vary by year. 


Economics I or Economics II (Steinberger and Kuehlwein)
A first course on the fundamentals of economics and modern market economies. Explores the principles of micro and macroeconomics, including the role of supply and demand in a market economy, the determination of interest rates, and the estimation of present value and decision making across time.  The course also explores how economic conditions affect credit union performance across time. Economics II is designed for students with previous training in economics and allocates more class time to current credit union issues related to economics issues.

Money and Financial Institutions (Kuehlwein)
This course explores money creation and monetary policy.  Students will explore the causes of inflation and recessions and analyzes the role of the Federal Reserve System and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in conducting monetary policy in the US economy.  Particular attention will be placed on the interaction between monetary policy and credit union strategy.


Financial Management I or Financial Management II (Hampel and Rick)
This course analyzes the foundations of finance with emphasis on credit union management. Key topics include valuation of assets and liabilities, risk and risk management, understanding financial statements and key accounting ratios.  Financial Management II is designed for students with previous training and/or responsibilities in finance and allocates more class time to current credit union issues related to financial management.

Financial Analysis (Stephenson)
This course builds upon the Financial Management course from the first year by exploring further into: strategic financial concepts, peer credit union analysis, financial projections and management of strategic financial scenarios. The tools gained in this course will prepare students for the financial analysis required in the second year project which requires using data from their own credit union to design financial projections and suggest strategic plans. 

Financial Simulation (Stephenson)
This course requires students to use their financial training to lead a simulated credit union through several years of economic conditions based on actual historical events.  Working in teams, students are required to allocated budget priorities, generate strategic plans and adjust to the economic environment to attain their uniquely determined goals.  In addition to reinforcing financial skills, the course ensures students understand the interplay between every facet of credit union operation.


Business Analytics for Value (Mendez)
An overview of business analytics with application to member service. It introduces data analytics via a management perspective to attain organization goals, and provides an overview of data driven and statistical approaches to analyze business decisions.  The course places special emphasis on developing the skills and instincts needed to make sound decisions and become an effective manager. The main components of the course include methods for describing and summarizing data, the basics of study design and choice of appropriate metrics, data collection, and statistical inference.

Credit Union Governance (Birnie)
This course provides an overview of the key functions carried out at credit unions, including: operations, finance, human resources, marketing, and information technology.  Students will explore the interplay between functional areas and assess the strengths and weaknesses of credit unions’ operational strategies.  Particular emphasis will be placed on application of course tools on the student’s credit union.

Managing Risk and Getting Things Done (Janclaes)
The course explores the evaluation of risks and uncertainty when making decisions and identifying mitigation strategies.  In addition to exploring frameworks for risk management, the course also explores the consequences of inaction—decisions still need to be made even under uncertainty. Examples are drawn from credit union case studies to help students estimate risks and design strategies to avoid or minimize exposure.  The course also assists student to understand the examination requirements of federal and state credit union regulators.

Project Management (Breese)
An overview of Project Management theory, with examples from academic and credit union sector projects. Provides tools and techniques for project definition, goal creation, budgeting, timeline planning, risk analysis, team-building, tracking and managing the project, and project post-review and analysis. This course provides the foundation for the service-learning project portions of the WCMS curriculum.  All students will have the opportunity to implement tools from this course in practice through management of projects during, and between, sessions.

Regulation and Political Advocacy (Simpson)
The structure and history of financial sector and credit union regulation, and the role for political advocacy. Major themes include the role of regulation in public policy, the interplay between regulation and market structure, and the role of political action in shaping regulation. Examples from credit union regulation, including compliance, political advocacy and strategies to work with regulators.

Strategic Marketing
An introduction to the basic foundations of marketing theory with application to credit union management.  Explores customer preferences, branding and advertising channels, and the relationship between marketing and other functions of the credit union. Students will use marketing principles to propose strategies for their credit union.