The Adivars, FSU business professors, are squarely focused on innovation and paving the way to lucrative careers for students
Story by Janet Gibson / Photography by Cindy Burnham
Upon first glance, it looks much like any other classroom at Fayetteville State University. But there's nothing ordinary about the SAP Next-Gen Lab in the Broadwell College of Business and Economics. This is where the magic happens.
Keen minds who are looking to take a quantum leap in their careers have traveled far to be here - from California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida ... and many locally as well. The goal: Pass a rigorous 18-week program and exam to earn a certification in SAP, an acronym for Systems, Applications and Products. In short, SAP is a software program used by major companies and the U.S. military to track and integrate business processes, including sales, procurement and distribution. The students realize that getting SAP-certified could propel them to jobs starting in the six figures - and the time spent here is nothing short of life-changing.
"This is one of 11 SAP labs in the country and the only one in the Southeast," says Dr. Murat Adivar, who launched and teaches the curriculum. Fayetteville State is the sole higher-learning institution in North Carolina to offer the SAP-certification program.
The professor credits Dr. Pamela Jackson, his former Dean and retired FSU Provost, and Department Chair Dr. Constance Lightner with the vision to bring the SAP opportunity to FSU. They first approached him in 2016 about spearheading the effort. He ran with it. There were hurdles to cross, such as negotiations and legal paperwork with the German software maker. Perseverance won. Dr. Adivar began teaching the program in 2017. The students have included undergraduates, MBAs, the military-connected, and even professors from other states. The cost is roughly equal to the cost of 12 credit hours at Fayetteville State. Veterans have used the GI Bill to pay for the course. The pass rate is upward of 90 percent, and to date, about 100 people have earned their SAP certification at FSU.
Dr. Murat Adivar has a partner in his efforts to make a difference: Dr. Burcu Adivar, Associate Dean of the Broadwell College of Business & Economics, which has been lauded nationally by U.S. News & World Report, The Princeton Review, and Military Times, just to name a few. She is also his wife. (So, yes, technically, she is his boss.)
Dr. Burcu Adivar, who teaches management classes, is known for encouraging students who are a good fit for SAP to apply for the program, sending them directly to Dr. Murat Adivar to learn more. Students point out that the couple possesses a special ability to recognize something in others that they may not see in themselves. Perhaps it is finely tuned analytical abilities or organizational prowess. Something ... special.
Working in tandem seems to come naturally for the Adivars. They have been called a "power couple," but are modest about such descriptions. Spend any time with them and it becomes obvious that they are a team with bright humility and pureness of purpose.
"First and foremost, we are here for the students," they agree.
Indeed, there are hundreds of success stories. Both students and alumni credit the Adivars with propelling them on their respective journeys.
ZaMetria Wall is one of them. "Dr. Burcu Adivar can pinpoint a person's strengths and knows how to maximize it to their benefit. She challenged me with projects and problem-solving that I had no idea I was capable of tackling. She's an all-around great woman and gives great life advice woman to woman," says Wall, a mom of two who earned a bachelor's degree in business, her SAP certification, and then two master's degrees from Fayetteville State.
Of Dr. Murat Adivar, Wall has equal praise: "He has a very unique way of teaching and reaching everyone he works with. His contribution to FSU and all things SAP has literally changed my life, and he told me it would. All he asks is that his students keep an open mind and simply follow his lead - and he can guarantee we'll succeed. His ways have not failed yet. Several students before me and after me still constantly offer him big 'thank you's' because he is THAT impactful. He'll go down in history, and I'm so grateful that I was able to learn under his teaching."
Tina Raines, Director of Marketing & Strategic Communications at Fayetteville State, says part of the Adivars' success formula is nurturing relationships with companies who end up hiring SAP-certified students and graduates of the business school. "Both are great advocates for student success and innovative partnerships with businesses," Raines says, "and both professors are super people."
One of the key partnerships has been with Mann+Hummel, a global manufacturer of filtration solutions.
After earning her SAP credentials, ZaMetria Wall was offered a paid internship in operations and, now, a project management position, both with Mann+Hummel's plant in Gastonia, N.C. The opportunities allowed her to be close to family in the Charlotte area.
Daniel Rundell is another success story who landed a plum position with Mann+Hummel's Fayetteville, N.C. plant. A military veteran, Rundell earned both his bachelor's degree in business administration and SAP certification in 2019 and his MBA two years later - all at Fayetteville State University.
Like ZaMetria Wall, Rundell was spurred on by the Adivars to strive for excellence.
Photography by Cindy Burnham
"Dr. Burcu Adivar has a special way of encouraging her students to tap into their full potential. She is warm and approachable and always, ALWAYS, makes time to work with and brainstorm with her students. Her passion for what she teaches is obvious, genuine, and inspires others to appreciation as well. She has a sharp eye for talent," Rundell says.
"Dr. Murat Adivar is a well-spoken and very thoughtful instructor," Rundell continues. "He has a gift for taking very complex topics and making them understandable to the widest audience possible. It is quickly realized by anyone that interacts with him that he truly cares about his students and measures his success by how greatly he can improve his students' lives."
"Caring" is frequently used to describe the Adivars who balance their work lives with being dedicated parents to a son and daughter, both in elementary school.
"The Adivars have had a profound impact on many students and the community," says Rundell. "The trajectory of their students' lives is almost always accelerated upward with many opportunities made available that would otherwise not exist to them. They make a concerted effort to build relationships with reputable organizations to create bridges of potential for their students and always support them in their pursuits as trusted advisors and even professional references."
Rundell's current title with Mann+Hummel is Data Integrity Specialist for Visual Lease, but he also maintains strong ties with Fayetteville State as a research assistant with the Intelligent Systems Lab.
Work ethic and integrity are common themes when speaking with the Adivars, who met in their native Turkey. They both taught in their hometown of the Izmir at the University of Economics where Dr. Burcu Adivar says, "If you don't change students' lives, you are not serving the mission of the university." (See sidebars for more details on their education and experience.)
She speaks just as passionately about supply chain issues and the importance of the SAP software, now more than ever "to seamlessly integrate all business processes in an enterprise."
As for the overall mission of FSU's business school, she points out, "We are teaching CEO-level skills."
Dr. Burcu Adivar is also passionate about serving the underserved. Students from rural areas typically have a household median income of $30,000 annually. "You're opening up their vision," she says.
Dr. Murat Adivar reinforces that every job in our society is important. There is value. Yet, he is also hyper-aware that education is a financial commitment that must pay off in the long run with a return on investment.
He sees the SAP certification program, in particular, as one tool to make that happen because results speak volumes: lucrative careers with longevity.
Photography by Cindy Burnham
DR. MURAT ADIVAR
Professor, SAP-Certified Consultant, and Faculty Coordinator, Broadwell College of Business and Economics
Education and experience: After earning his Ph.D. from Ankara University in Turkey, he joined the Missouri University of Science Technology for postdoctoral studies. Before joining Fayetteville State University, he worked at Campbell University, North Carolina State University, and the Izmir University of Economics (as Provost).
Areas of expertise: SAP certification, data analytics.
Research articles published in: IEEE Transactions on Fuzzy Systems, Mathematical and Computer Modelling, Computers and Mathematics with Applications, Journal of Business and Management Optimization. Also, authored two books, including an extensive textbook focused on how to best teach the SAP certification program.
DR. BURCU ADIVAR
Associate Dean, Broadwell College of Business and Economics
Associate Professor of Management, Marketing, and Entrepreneurship
Education and experience: Bachelor's in industrial engineering, Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey. Master's and Ph.D from Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial Engineering at North Carolina State University. Prior to joining FSU, she was a faculty member at the Izmir University of Economics in Turkey. Also worked for SAS Institute, Inc., in Cary, N.C.
Areas of expertise: Supply chain management, mathematical modeling, business analytics, data analysis, logistics planning and control, performance measurement, disaster management, project management.
Research articles published in: Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, Fuzzy Optimization and Decision Making, Journal of Industrial and Engineering Optimization, and Journal of Advances in Management Research.