Course Descriptions

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. (Enter Western CUNA under “Search The National Guide”) 

Behavioral Psychology, Human Resources And Organizational Behavior

Organizational Behavior ( Michelle 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.

Managing the Human Resource ( Harry 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.

Managing Self and Others ( Harry 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.

Behavioral Psychology ( Nicole Y. 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.

Business Law

Managing Legal Risks ( William J. Adler, Cristina Miller)

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.

Business Law ( William J. Adler, Cristina Miller)

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.


Negotiation Strategy ( Miguel 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.

Introduction to Project II- Online via Zoom – August 18, 2023 – 2:00 PM 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.

Introduction to Project I – Online via Zoom – August 18, 2023 – 12:00 PM 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.

Executive Presentation Skills ( Stacey 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.  

Communications ( Tracie 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.

Corporate Strategy & Innovation

Human Centered Design ( Asha Srikantiah)

This course introduces students to human-centered design approaches for innovative problem solving. Human-centered design (also known as design thinking) focuses on people and social contexts to solve ambiguous problems. Students will utilize fundamental concepts in design thinking, interactive design methods and processes, and hands-on projects and will learn how user research, synthesis, idea generation, and prototyping can be integrated into different phases of the design process.

Personal Strategic Development ( Michael 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 ( Matt 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.

WCMS Innovation Challenge ( Christie Kimbell, Mark Meyer, Megan Freshour)

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.

Digital Leadership and Strategy ( George 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.

Credit Union Strategy ( Matt Stephenson)

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.

Credit Union Management ( Michael 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 Leadership ( Diana 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 History, Philosophy & Ethics

Credit Union Philosophy ( Gerry Singleton)

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

Credit Union History and Philosophy ( Mark 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.

Business Ethics ( Miguel 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.


Money and Financial Institutions ( Michael 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.

Economics I or Economics II ( Michael Steinberger, Michael 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.  

Finance and Accounting

Credit Union Financial Simulation ( Matt 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.

Financial Analysis ( Matt 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 Management I or Financial Management II ( Bill Hampel, Matt Stephenson)

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.

Operations Management

Strategic Marketing ( Neil Goldman)

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.

Regulation and Political Advocacy ( Scott 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.

Project Management ( Jodi 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.

Managing Risk and Getting Things Done ( John 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.

Credit Union Operations ( Bill 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.