The Center for Marketing Research is an academic research unit that currently consists of a Director, a Senior Research Associate/Associate Director, two Graduate Assistants, and a Public Relations Assistant. The Center's staff is drawn primarily from students and faculty of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. On average the Center employs 20 undergraduates to assist in marketing research projects. If necessary, more students are brought in to work on grants and special projects.
The Center is governed by an Executive Board with input from and Advisory Board and is administered on a day-to-day basis by the Director. The Advisory Board meets quarterly while the Executive Board meets twice a year and beyond that whenever necessary.
The current Center for Marketing Research actually began over thirty years ago. The Center for Business Activity, as it was called, was created and approved by the Southeastern Massachusetts University Board of Trustees in 1981. The Center was founded by Dr. Richard Ward, Dean of the College of Business, and was housed on Pleasant Street in New Bedford. Dr. Ward appointed Clyde Mitchell as its first Director. The mission of the Center was to establish and operate a self-funding, business training consortium to satisfy the training needs of area businesses. All personnel were paid through generated funds and no College or University funds were dedicated to operating the Center.
In its first year of operation, the Center enrolled approximately 25 greater New Bedford businesses as clients. Representatives of the 25 businesses, in consultation with the Director, decided what training programs should be offered. Both University faculty and private consultants were utilized in developing programs. The Center operated on a variable fee scale ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 per client. Client companies populated training programs depending on their needs and contribution.
During the second year of operation, Clyde Mitchell prepared a proposal to establish a Southeastern Massachusetts component of the emerging Massachusetts Small Business Development Center (MSBDC). The proposal was accepted and funded with an operational date of October 1, 1982. Subsequently, Clyde Mitchell was appointed as Director of the MSBDC and resigned as Director of the Center for Business Activity in September of 1982.
No new Director for the Center for Business Activity was named, the Center became inactive and remained so for many years. Attempts to reactivate the Center in the 80s and early 90s were not successful. It was not until September of 1994, that the Center became reactivated and renamed the Center for Business Research and Competitiveness.
Dr. Harvey Kahalas (newly hired Commonwealth professor) was appointed as Director. The Center received an operational budget, director's stipend, a half-time secretary from the University, and office spaces but its activity was limited. No annual reports were filed and no funds were generated by the Center. In January of 1997, Dr. Kahalas, left the University and the Center again reverted to an inactive status. In 1999 Ronald McNeil, Dean of the Charlton College of Business, was moving the College towards AACSB accreditation.
Recognizing the need for interaction between the Charlton College of Business and the business community, Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes, Chancellor Professor of Marketing was appointed to reactivate and direct the Center. Dr. Barnes had been offering a very popular marketing research program for area businesses since 1985. This program (MRSOP-Marketing Research Students Outreach Program) became the basis for the reactivated Center. The Center name changed again and this time was called the Center for Business Research.
Shortly after assuming the Directorship, Dr. Barnes hired an Associate Director familiar with the business community of Southeastern Massachusetts to assist her in making business contacts. The Associate Director (Clyde Mitchell) was uniquely qualified to help launch this new operation. Given his experience as the Center's first Director in 1981, and subsequent director of the SBDC for over 20 years, Mr. Mitchell's familiarity with the business community paid dividends immediately.
In 2000, Slade's Ferry Bank was offered and accepted the opportunity to become the Center's naming sponsor. From the Fall of 1999 to the Spring of 2000, the Director, Associate Director, and one graduate student (with seed money from the University) prepared to reopen the Center making all areas of expertise in the Charlton College of Business available at affordable rates (or pro bono). A logo, mission statement, by-laws, brochure, Executive and Advisory Board were established. The Advisory Board was established consisting of Presidents of local Chambers of Commerce and representatives from local businesses. In addition, a Professional Directory listing the vita of the Charlton College of Business faculty was produced in order to facilitate connections between the faculty and local business community. In June of 2000, the Chancellor hosted the "Kick-Off Breakfast" and announced the Center would reopen as the Slade's Ferry Bank Center for Business Research.
The Center realized quick growth and added a second graduate assistant in 2002, and a third in 2004. In June 2003, a Senior Research Associate was hired. In September of 2004 the University enacted a policy that precludes any University Center from having a naming sponsor. In response, the naming sponsorship was discontinued and the Center again assumed the name Center for Business Research. In 2005, the Provost chose to make the Center for Business Research a University level Center reporting directly to his office. He suggested the name be changed to the Center for Marketing Research.
In 2009, the Center returned to the Charlton College of Business and reports to the dean.