By Erica Quinones
New opportunities are arising within the Department of Business Management through the recent $1 million grant from the Warehime family foundation.
The foundation’s grant created the Warehime Fund for Student Excellence in Business which will provide the department with $50,000 a year, according to a Sept. 20 Washington College press release.
Funds will benefit different student initiatives and programs like student-professor scholarship, conference trips, Senior Capstone Experiences, and the Enactus program.
Currently, how the different programs work will be designed over winter break. However, some ideas as to how the funds will be invested are being laid out.
One such program is the Warehime Fellows. The fellowship is focused on expanding professor-student co-publishing in peer reviewed academic journals, according to Chair and Constance F. and Carl W. Ferris Associate Professor of the Department of Business Management Dr. Susan Vowels.
The application process for the fellowship will be discussed over winter break.
Warehime Fellows are not the only ones given professor-student academic possibilities.
According to Dr. Vowels, transporting students to conferences gives them an opportunity to work with faculty and find new job opportunities.
As the professors within the business department work within different areas of the discipline, they have access to a variety of different regional conferences.
These conferences provide another venue for students to share their work and meet other members within the industry.
“Students are interested in different areas within business, now they have the opportunity to work with faculty to take projects they have already worked on — could be in the classroom, could be Senior Capstone, could be a completely separate project — and go to a conference where they can present what they are doing, and also meet other people within that area and discipline,” Dr. Vowels said.
The conference gives them new opportunities to network for summer internships or post-graduate employment while receiving feedback on academic work.
Before they can present their work, students must conduct their research. The largest project for business majors is their Senior Capstone Experience.
Students in the business major can choose three separate Senior Capstone Experiences they can complete: Strategy Capstone, Business Plan Capstone, or a Special Topic Capstone.
Those who choose strategy analyze a company to make recommendations on their functioning; business plan capstones design their own company with a solidified plan that could be produced to a bank or donor for funding; special topics ask a research question on a specific area of business.
Under each experience, students face different challenges, sometimes fiscal.
The strategy experiences focus on businesses from afar, however, with the Warehime Fund, an opportunity to directly study the company arises.
Students creating their own business plan often spend their personal money to build company mock-ups, an add-on fundable by the grant.
Meanwhile special topics students often need access to proprietary data bases which can be purchased by the department.
While the requesting process is not solidified, Dr. Vowels said that students must have a clear idea of how their capstone will be improved by and how they will apply the funding.
Not all projects beneath the Warehime Fund are for the business department only. Projects like the “Entrepreneurial Action for Others Creates a Better World for Us All” (Enactus) group is cross-disciplinary.
Enactus is an on-campus group that identifies needs within the community, how to address them while following the United Nations’ Sustainable development Goals, and how to create a project that will sustain itself without future student involvement, according to Assistant Professor of Business Management, Sam M. Walton Free Enterprise Fellow, and Faculty Advisor of Enactus Professor Lansing Williams.
The WC Enactus team has created several projects, including “Soap for Hope,” an initiative to teach Haitians to make soap and improve sanitation after the 2010 earthquake. The project spread to the Kent Center, which works with disabled people.
Enactus does not only organize projects but presents them. Each spring, American Enactus teams meet for a national competition in the Midwest.
Over 200 teams gather to give 17-minute presentations on their current projects in front of senior executives of major corporations like Wal-Mart and Hershey’s. The original teams are cut down to four who present in front of around 3000 students.
The competitions serve as opportunities to gain experience in organizing, presenting, and completing projects. Students learn to present in front of executives and answer questions. But there are also networking and job fair opportunities, according to Williams.
“We have had a couple students who are petrified at the idea [of presenting], but they agree to be on the team. They are scared to death, but they love it. And they have so much confidence by the end of the competition,” Williams said.
While the Enactus team does attend the national competition annually, it is expensive.
They must rent hotel rooms, pay airfare, purchase meals, and print team biographies and annual project reports. Because they cannot get Student Government Association funding for the airfare, according to Williams, the group can only bring eight members.
With the Warehime Fund, they can bring the entire group to competitions, providing every student the opportunities the national competition presents.
The guidelines for each program and how money will be allotted is yet to be decided, however, the flexibility of the fund makes it easier for the department to fund future programs, according to Dr. Vowels.
“It has the potential for us to identify future projects and initiatives,” Dr. Vowels said. “If it is something that has a lot of student interest and demand, and we have support, then it may be something we can spin off. Just like businesses do.”