At its 2009 Annual Industry Conference, GMAC honored six business schools for outstanding and exemplary contributions to social responsibility. The six competed successfully in the third annual TeamMBA Awards Competition, earning recognition for both volunteer service by students and school support for community outreach.
TeamMBA is GMAC’s global initiative to help strengthen the relationship between business school and society by encouraging business school students to become involved in their communities. The TeamMBA awards recognize efforts to integrate community engagement into the educational experience and mold leaders whose sense of social responsibility reflects their business expertise. Winning entries were selected by a panel of business school professionals.
The following schools won awards:
Boston University School of Management was awarded the 2009 All-School Award. Students at the school volunteer with such organizations as Dress for Success, Adopt‐A‐Family, and the Greater Boston Food Bank, consult with local nonprofit organizations, and engage in other activities with social responsibility and sustainability themes, including ForSE: Forum for Social Entrepreneurs. The initiatives enable students to put academic theory into practice in the field and integrate real‐world perspective with academic knowledge.
Hayden Estrada, assistant dean of graduate admissions at the school, said that the award reflects a 30-year tradition at BU of working to improve public and nonprofit organizations. Noting that student volunteer work enriches the diversity and quality of discussion in BU classrooms, Elizabeth Catone, the school’s assistant director of graduate admissions, said that the work for which BU received the award also reflected the kind of students that it works to attract.
Baylor University Hankamer School of Business won the 2009 Service Award for Collaborative Program. More than 30 MBA students from the school volunteer regularly as business plan mentors for inmates in a local Prison Entrepreneurship Program. Assigned to individual PEP participants, Baylor MBAs spend at least an hour per week helping inmates with business plans. Additionally, Baylor MBAs help prisoners learn about business etiquette, making a sales pitch, and how to earn an MBA.
Laurie Wilson, director of graduate business degree programs, said the program, now in its third year, serves 50 students each for three classes per year. Because it offers so much, including valuable counsel from business people, PEP seeks a genuine commitment from the inmates who participate. The application form is some 20 pages long. Prisoners get dropped if they don’t take the program seriously. But the results are significant: Once back on the streets, PEP graduates average just 10 days of unemployment, and their recidivism rate is just 3 percent, vs. 50 percent nationwide and 75 percent in Texas. “Their lives are genuinely being changed,” Wilson said.
Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, City University of New York, won the 2009 Service Award for Original Program. The Baruch College Honors MBA Program Financial Literacy Project is a student-driven response to the financial crisis. Recognizing that many consumers make bad decisions leading to debt they cannot manage, Baruch’s MBA students put their business expertise into action by educating young people on the benefits of budgeting, credit, and risk, encouraging a greater sense of responsibility and control over personal financial well-being. “I figured if I could help younger [people] shape good consumer behavior there would be more stable job opportunities in the future,” said Cindy Yuhsin Chang, the accounting student and class of 2010 honors MBA who developed the idea for the project.
Mississippi State University's College of Business won the 2009 Service Award for Philanthropy. Five groups of MBA students in Joel Collier’s strategic marketing management class baked, marketed, and sold cookies in the “Bulldog Challenge,” a one-day, on-campus cookie sale. “Whoever made the most (profit) won. Their grades depended on that,” said Tosin Alli, secretary of Mississippi State’s MBA Association. “Groups had different marketing strategies. Some had a low-cost strategy. Others had really elaborate packaging and had a premium on their cookies.” Location on campus also ended up being an important factor, he said. Aside from offering students hands-on experience similar to starting a business and operating in a highly competitive environment, the event also netted a $7,400 donation to United Way.
University of Central Florida DeVos Sport Business Management Program won the 2009 Service Award for Volunteer Engagement. Since 2007, the Hope for Stanley Alliance, a non-profit organization founded by students in the DeVos program, has given more than 600 volunteers the opportunity to rebuild the homes and lives of New Orleans residents affected by Hurricane Katrina. Last August, MBA students contributed more than 1,100 hours toward rebuilding homes.
DeVos has been sending volunteers to the Lower Ninth Ward every winter, spring and summer break since December 2006, said Richard Lapchick, who chairs the DeVos program. Most of the volunteer work has been done by DeVos students, but the program has also drawn student volunteers from other schools as well as from Tuesday’s Children, a group of kids who lost parents in the September 11 World Trade Center attacks. “It was a very powerful experience for the Katrina victims and the children of 9/11,” Lapchick said.
DeVos students volunteer for Katrina relief on top of the 42 hours of service work they are required to do each semester in central Florida. “I think everybody was struck by the failure of the government to respond,” Lapchick said. “We were struck by need of the people, but also struck by spirit of the people. Everyone is hopeful.”
University of Navarra IESE Business School won the 2009 Service Award for Educational Initiatives. The Doing Good and Doing Well Conference, a two-day event presented by the IESE Responsible Business Club, is Europe’s leading student-run conference on responsible business. It brings together hundreds of business school students, social entrepreneurs, industry experts, and professionals from around the world to discuss current trends and initiatives on such topics as social entrepreneurship, corporate responsibility, microfinance, healthcare, energy and environment, and careers. The conference also includes a “cleantech” seminar designed to spark venture capital investment in start-ups.
Elizabeth Curran, student chairperson for the 2009 conference, said this year’s meeting drew a nearly 50 percent increase in interest from the MBA community. Some 80 students worked for nearly a year to plan the conference. “We used communication skills, analytical skills, and negotiating skills,” Curran said. “It all came back to the MBA experience.”