Today, more and more corporate business leaders are answering the call to step out of the boardroom and into their surrounding communities. Temple University’s Fox School of Business MBA program is no exception.
In August, 36 full-time, first-year MBA students donned their gloves and sneakers to participate in the inaugural “Give a Hoot!” day of service as part of their monthlong MBA Essentials pre-term orientation program.
Fox partnered with City Year, a nonprofit service organization that employs teams of young people from across the country, in their “Give a Year” program to perform public service in schools and communities.
A total of 51 Fox participants, including first- and second-year MBA students, alumni, faculty and staff, were shuttled to the local Athletic Recreation Center on 26th and Master streets in North Philadelphia to help repaint an auditorium and stairwell, clean up outdoors and create mural panels to surround playgrounds.
The day started with group calisthenics and cheers led by the City Year volunteers, who then assigned jobs to the Fox students.
“Our goal is to have this continue through future classes. Their decisions as CEOs, or whatever it might be, will impact their local communities,” Jason Bozzone, director of the full-time MBA and MS programs, said of Fox students. “We want to have Fox business leaders that are making ethical, moral decisions because their decisions have an impact on the community that they’re a part of.”
After reading about how a handful of MBA programs were integrating community outreach into their required orientation programs, Bozzone approached Brittni Devereaux, a second-year MBA student, to develop a plan that combined the service-learning concept with the goals of the Fox MBA program.
Christine Kiely, assistant dean of MBA and MS programs at Fox, said the day’s events served as a foundation for future classes and casework.
“Corporate social responsibility and sustainability are very important to build into curricula today. And with this service learning component, it’s not just a one-shot deal,” she said. “What we’re having the teams do this year is create the business plan for next year’s day of service.”
Working side-by-side, the MBA students, alumni, faculty, staff, City Year volunteers and even children from the recreation center put in a full afternoon of labor to brighten up the building.
Devereaux, a graduate intern for the full-time MBA program, picked City Year as a partner for the event after hearing about the organization in Professor T.L. Hill’s social entrepreneurship class.
“I’m hoping that after being involved in a day like today, students will broaden their scope to see that it’s not just about ‘my company and my team,’ but it’s about the community we live in, and the greater good of all the people that the business can affect,” Devereaux said.
That message was echoed throughout the day, including at a panel discussion after the community service work. Fox MBA students met with executives from SEI Investments, Eagles Youth Partnership and Villa, all of which are corporate sponsors of City Year. The business leaders discussed the ways in which their companies promote youth development.
“We get this idea that kids who go into nonprofit and public service sectors, like City Year, and MBA students have values that are so diametrically opposed, that they’re complete opposites to each other,” said Andrew Martel, a first-year MBA student from New Jersey. “But business success and community success go hand-in-hand. You’re not going to succeed working in Philadelphia if Philadelphia isn’t succeeding as a city.”
June 26, 2009
There were no major changes in CEO salary, bonus or deferred compensation, but the average value of perquisites and miscellaneous payments fell from $272,000 to $150,000. Steven Balsam, an accounting professor at Temple’s Fox School of Business, who has written a book on executive compensation, said companies offer executives stock options for two reasons — to motivate executives to increase the stock price and in order to retain those executives.
June 18, 2009
At Temple University’s Fox School of Business in Philadelphia, MBA students can participate in the Enterprise Management Consultant Practice (EMCP). The EMCP charges companies $20,000 for a consultancy, but managing director TL Hill estimates this is only a tenth of the commercial going rate.
Hill says the fee is offered on a sliding scale for non-profits, charities and smaller companies. He gives the example of a project working with a Philadelphia arts program that has created more than 2,000 murals around the city.
Hill says the MBA consultants helped the arts program think about ways of using its copyrighted artwork images to generate extra revenue, including selling prints and T-shirts featuring the artworks.
June 15, 2009
According to TL Hill, the managing director of the student management consulting practice at Temple University’s Fox Business School in Philadelphia, companies are increasingly interested in partnering with the school. Fox students used to complete an average of 16 projects per year but that has risen to 19 this year and will further increase to 23 next year.
“In good times we position our [programme] as ‘executive extended’, an inexpensive way to increase your capacity. Now we’re awkwardly turning people away,” says Prof Hill. “We’re not trying to compete with consulting firms. We’re not trying to make as much money as possible.”
Prof Hill says that as companies clamp down on expenses, they are increasingly giving students high-level, high-priority strategic projects, whereas in the past, they tended to give low-risk, tactical assignments. “Companies are starting to feel the pinch and are saying: ‘We need this work done and we’re watching our bottom line’.”
The Fox consulting group, which is offered as part of the MBA programme, charges companies $20,000 per project. The fee helps to pay for a clinical faculty member to oversee the project, as well as research and administrative costs.
Companies are taking the student projects more seriously than in the past, Prof Hill says. “We’re having executives flying in for meetings, they’re not calling in. You can feel the concentration of resources.”
June 7, 2009
Recently, to ease financial strain, it was proposed that the Bethlehem School Board amend two variable-rate derivative bond deals called “swaps,” which come with hefty fees. They are used to hedge against a potential increase in the underlying bonds’ variable-rate interest. Swaps also are used to try to make money. While hedging and betting with taxpayer money, the school board ignored the first law of finance. “If someone offers you something that sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said Bruce Rader, a finance professor at Temple’s Fox School of Business.
June 5, 2009
401(k) plan sponsors can automatically enroll employees into qualified default investment alternatives, including target-date funds. For those workers who weren’t contributing to their 401(k), automatic enrollment and contributions to target-date funds are better than not investing, say some experts. Ditto for older workers who invest in target-date funds of their own volition. Before target-date funds came along, many plan participants invested too much of their money in stock, said Jack VanDerhei of Temple’s Fox School of Business. “Target-date funds seem to do a good job of taking plan participants away from extreme equity positions, of having either too little or too much invested in stocks,” he said.
The Fourth Annual Social Entrepreneurship Conference was held on Wednesday, April 8, 2009, to increase awareness about social entrepreneurship. Temple University’s Fox School of Business’ Net Impact, Students for Responsible Business (SRB) and the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) made this year’s conference possible along with PNC Bank, the Fresh Grocer, Sodexho and many other co-sponsors.
The day began with keynote speaker Dr. Dickson Despommier, professor at Columbia University, discussing the vertical farm project. He explained how this is an up-and-coming endeavor to keep the production of food consistent with the constantly rising population, which will be vital in the future. “I was amazed by the talk about farming in buildings inside of urban areas,” expressed Erick Glenn, assistant vice president of the PNC Branch on Temple’s main campus.
Local entrepreneurs and organizations such as the Fresh Grocer, Trader Joes, Michelle’s Granola from Baltimore, Md., the Community Design Collaborative and many other fresh food and farming entrepreneurs were at the conference. “Supporting local producers has several benefits like protecting your community, environment, and health,” said Ben Schneible, Students for Responsible Business (SRB) president. Panelists highlighted the importance of buying local and fresh food as it helps keep the local community stronger, which in return supports area businesses.
“At the conference, students learned that purchasing locally grown food benefits communities in three ways, including the creation of businesses, jobs and revenue for local communities; providing a fresher, healthier alternative to traditional supermarket foods; and reducing green-house gases generated by commercial vehicles,” said Jaine Lucas, executive director of IEI. “Such triple bottom line businesses are proof that entrepreneurs can make profit while also doing good.”
At the conference, students listened to a panel of speakers who discussed a variety of issues surrounding fresh and local food businesses such as the “Impact of Local Food on the Food Supply Chain” and “Access to Healthy Foods in Urban Areas.”
Reed Wilmerding, an MBA student with a concentration in MIS, attended the conference because he wanted to gather information for a consulting project through the IEI for Weavers Way, a farmers market in Mount Airy. “I was able to learn what other industry experts and businesses are saying about farming,” explained Reed.
“Ultimately, we hope that students were inspired by the stories and successes of the speakers, and start to think about how they can create entrepreneurial companies of their own that benefit people and/or the environment,” added Lucas.
“I have learned a lot by listening to what the other panelists are doing to become innovative, like the hydroponics idea that was discussed,” said George Cashmark, one of the panelists and the district manager at Sodexho.
The expo of local producers allowed students to put a face to what they were learning. For example, the Fresh Grocer gave out free samples of a new product they are making in their stores, called the cocoPop, made with rice, corn, wheat and sea salt. “We are working on fresh and healthy products like this one to meet customer demand and to offer more healthy options in our grocery stores,” said Eric Kim, co-founder of the cocoPop machine.
The Fresh Grocer displayed the plans for their new store in the expo being built on Temple’s campus in Progress Plaza, behind the 1300 Residence Hall. “The opening of the store will provide more than 100 jobs for the community,” said Sheila Lajoie, director of human resources for the Fresh Grocer. One student, a north Philadelphia native, said, “There has not been a grocery store in the area for over a decade.”
In December 2009, students will be able to walk over to the plaza and buy fresh and locally grown products, which is part of the sustainability process that many students learned about at the Social Entrepreneurship Conference.
When Andy Weber, president of Farm Journal, the agricultural magazine, wanted to develop a new e-commerce model for his Philadelphia-based publication, he had a problem. His company – with revenue of a little less than $50m a year – lacked a business development division or a mergers and acquisitions department.
To hire an expensive consulting group was out of the question. So he turned to a student team from Temple University’s Fox Business School in Philadelphia.
The Fox consulting group had well-known clients, Dow Chemical had demonstrated repeat business and the price was right.
Mr Weber was impressed by the students’ work. For example, the students found several of Farm Journal’s assumptions about its potential venture were wrong. Had the company acted on those assumptions, “it would have cost us a lot of time and money”, says Mr Weber.
May 21, 2009
President Obama’s suggestion that it may be a good time for the best and the brightest to work for the government has inspired more than a few students, but a government job has other virtues. “It seems more secure from the student perspective and the benefits are good,” said Zelon Crawford, director of graduate career management and corporate relations at Temple University’s Fox School of Business.
The Sigma Chapterof Gamma Iota Sigma has done it again and brought home the prestigious Edison L. Bowers Award for the ninth year in a row — 14 out of the past 16 years!
The Sigma Chapter also received additional awards and scholarships making it the most awards won by a single chapter in the history of Gamma Iota Sigma.
Gamma Iota Sigma is an international professional fraternity for students studying risk management, insurance and actuarial science.
The Bowers Award was given at the 37th Annual Gamma Iota Sigma International Management Conference held in October 2008 in Virginia.
The Bowers Award was created to recognize the one chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma that demonstrates an exceptional, well-rounded and organized program each academic school year.
The Bowers Award takes into account public relations, industry relations, alumni affairs as well as other chapter activities. This award is the highest honor that a chapter can receive from the Grand Chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma.
Along with taking home the Bowers, the Sigma Chapter also received awards recognizing community service, membership development, public relations, alumni relations, and career development.
Finally, the Sigma Chapter was given four “Black and Gold Awards” for ‘Neighboorhood Bikeworks Fundraising Project’ and ‘The Gamma Ambassadors Program,’ ‘Creating an E-Commerce Website,’ and ‘Essentials of a Periodic Newsletter.’ These awards recognize unique chapter events and programs that can be replicated by other chapters.
In addition to these chapter awards, Sigma Chapter members and alumni received the following recognition:
Anita Benedetti Memorial Award
Kevin Johnson (Class of 2009)
This award recognizes outstanding participation with RIMS on the local and national levels.
Warren L. Weeks Scholarship
Tiffany Calhoun, (Class of 2008)
This award recognizes the effort to encourage individual members and the furthering of fraternity goals.
Elizabeth Lange Microsoft Scholarship
Paul Rossi, (Class of 2010)
This award recognizes a member’s successful chapter, family and community contributions.
Thomas J. Miles Actuarial Award
Former Sigma Chapter President Aaron Hill (Class of 2008)
This award recognizes a member of Gamma Iota Sigma that best represents the qualities of scholarship, leadership, character and service exemplified by Dr. Miles.The Sigma Chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma at Temple University will host the 38th Annual Management Conference in October 2009.
The Students for Responsible Business (SRB) hosted the first annual “Green by Design” week from March 23-27, 2009. This year’s event concentrated on informing students, faculty and staff about incorporating sustainability into business and personal practices, through a series of professional guest speakers, launching its Green Food Initiative and its eco-friendly laundry dispenser competition.
“Our Green By Design Week is focused on educating students about the opportunities in sustainable building, design and development,” commented Todd Oskin, SRB member and this year’s conference coordinator.
The week began with the commencement of SRB’s Green Food Truck Initiative; an effort to make the vending trucks around Temple University’s main campus more sustainable through a socially responsible graded ranking system. There are currently nine out of 20 trucks involved in the initiative. “We hope to have 75 percent of vendors involved, as we will be continuing this program throughout the summer and semesters to follow,” commented Jordan Salmeron, SRB member. Each truck receives a point for every sustainable action it takes. For example, offering a discount to customers who bring reusable mugs, giving paper/plastic bags only on request or purchasing local or organic eggs can earn a vendor points. Each point is worth one-fourth of a peach (SRB’s point icon), and the number of peaches the business collects will be displayed in SRB’s marketing campaign and on the truck’s sign. Therefore, students who support environmentally conscious vendors will be able to easily spot and purchase from these green trucks.
The speaker series showcased companies from diverse fields that offered a wide range of services and products including solar-powered systems, energy-efficient heat pumps and water treatment systems. The series began with SunPower Builders, the leader in southeastern Pennsylvania solar system installations. As made clear in the company’s description on its Web site, SunPower Builders merges “historic building techniques with contemporary technology.”
Josh Meyer, Temple University alumnus and key speaker, discussed the efforts of his company, PekaSys, which provides information about the top-performing sustainable products. “In the business model of PekaSys, the core idea is education,” explained Meyer. PekaSys currently features a German-imported product called, The Clear Rex Bubbler. According to PekaSys’ product description on their Web site, “The Clear Rex Bubbler is a fully biological on-site sequencing batch reactor (SBR) wastewater treatment system.” It transforms almost any septic tank into a wastewater treatment system because it can be retrofitted to an already existing reactor chamber. The system provides on-site wastewater treatment nutrient reduction and ecosystem protection.
Another noted speaker was Mordechai Levi, adjunct assistant professor in management science and operations management at Temple University, who talked about his company, Chi Sage Systems and its innovative green heat pump. The system can use multiple untreated sources such as ocean water, sewage water, lake water, river water and even more common geothermal water. By transferring energy from the source to the building or vice versa, the systems can heat or cool buildings with energy savings reaching 70 to 80 percent. Additionally, Chi Sage Systems offers energy-saving lights based on a new technology. Unlike other energy-efficient lights, its lights do not contain mercury and have a life expectancy of 60,000 hours, compared with 1,000 to 1,500 hours of regular lights. They have a luminosity of 60 lm/w, which is the same as the best fluorescent bulbs, and can go up to the equivalence of 400w, making them the only option for street lights. The lights’ color is similar to that of incandescent bulbs, thus making it comfortable and pleasant. The key to Chi Sage’s success is its ability to offer customers a no-cost installation and guaranteed savings at the same time for a long-term contract.
A two-day expo held in Alter Hall, and a student-designed laundry detergent distribution contest also occurred during the week. Student organizations and sustainable businesses Rho Epsilon, SEA, Green Depot, Big Green Earth Store, PekaSys, SRB and Joe Coffee, took part in the expo and provided information about their business organizations at their tables, while the Big Green Earth Store gave out samples of their Sun and Earth Laundry detergent. The purpose of the detergent distribution contest was for participants to design a system that will reduce or eliminate the waste from current laundry detergent dispensers. The most efficient system will be manufactured and used throughout the city and the winner will receive a cash prize. The week concluded with a “Going Green, Growing Strong” event hosted by the Alumni Association and a student and professional networking social sponsored by SRB at the Draught Horse.
February 8, 2009
Some experts say that President Obama’s executive pay reforms don’t go far enough. “Is compensation really going to be cut or are companies just going to find a way out of it?” asks Steven Balsam, a Fox School of Business accounting professor. Balsam, who told the U.S. Senate Finance Committee in 2007 that disclosure doesn’t necessarily curb executive pay, says shareholders already have information on executive pay based on disclosure requirements adopted by the SEC.
Feb. 4, 2009
Steve Balsam, Ph.D., and Fox professor of accounting appeared on Wisconsin’s Public Radio on Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009. Host, Kathleen Dunn and her guests discussed new proposals for limiting executive compensation.
Feb. 4, 2009
Under the new rules, expected to be adopted shortly, executives at large banks receiving so-called “exceptional assistance” and other financial institutions applying for capital are having their salaries limited to $500,000. However, Temple University professor Steven Balsam argued that executives shopping for work have nowhere else to take their resumés. “Where are they going to go?” Balsam asked. “There are not that many jobs available in the banking industry.”