Monday, December 16, 2013

Top finals week snacks

Sweet and salty pretzel noms

There are many variations of the melt-something-on-a-pretzel snack, but it’s by far the best with a peanut butter cup.
 Link to recipe
via Hershey's

Snack crackers

Why would you go through the trouble of making flavored crackers when you could just buy them? Because these are that good! And don’t forget to serve them in fancy little dish as shown here.

Fruits and veggies

They’re good for you and stuff. Plus, your body would probably appreciate the occasional carrot between handfuls of dry cereal and Diet Coke.

Nature Valley Granola Bars

They require no cooking, and they’re delicious. Added bonus: you’ll inadvertently leave a trail of crumbs so your friends can find you in Anschutz after you pass out and almost miss your 7:30 a.m. final.


Another easy snack, and for those of you who don’t scour Pinterest into the wee hours of the morning, did you know that you can make your own healthier version with only popcorn kernels and a brown paper bag?
 Link to recipe
via Squawkfox

S'mores treats

First you take the graham. You stick the chocolate on the graham. Then, you roast the ‘mallow. No, not really. They’re just like Rice Krispies treats, but with Golden Grahams.

Dark chocolate

Science says dark chocolate is good for your heart and brain, and science is never wrong.


They’re healthy, but you know those S’mores treats are calling your name. Why even bother with the almonds.

Pyramid Pizza Bonez

Bonez: a delectable ring of dough stuffed with a week’s worth of dairy servings. When you don’t have anything left to give and it’s time to eat your feelings: BONEZ TIME. When a “z” replaces an “s,” you know it’s about to get real.
by Annie Montemayor

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Top 10 finals study spots at KU

Studies suggest varying your study locations can improve your memory, so get your book and your buddies, and try out some finals study hot spots.

1. Java Break

What could be better for finals than 24-hour coffee? With its basic drinks, specialty drinks and food, Java Break makes for a perfect hole-in-the-wall study spot. Plus, there are power outlets everywhere!

2. Signs of Life

A little smaller than Java Break, Signs of Life is a wonderful spot to grab a table with a study buddy. The art gallery and bookstore make for the perfect break when studying fries your brain.

3. Anschutz Library

With its combination of group and individual study spots, Anschutz provides a focused library feel and a little background noise. Be careful not to strike up too many conversations at Club ‘Schutz.

4. Watson study area

Watson is a great place to go if you’re into quiet, uninterrupted study. Feel free to come with a friend, but keep your voices low.

5. Watson stacks

Looking for a place so quiet that a pin drop echoes? Try the desks sprinkled throughout the stacks. But don’t get lost in there!

6. Spahr Library

If you’re looking to get away from the main libraries, try Spahr. The engineering library might just be the perfect place to get away from the insanity.

7. The Underground

If you like your studying with a little background noise, give the Underground a shot. With a whole cafeteria and coffee shop available, the Underground has everything you need to settle in on your laptop for a few hours.

8. Residence hall study rooms

If you want to avoid the cold, try your hall's study rooms. Get your roommates or suitemates together, head down there and have a study party.
Photo credit: Jan Morris Nitcher

9. Home

If you’re off campus, your home might be a good spot to try. You can have all the study snacks you want without worrying about ordering delivery. Just be careful to avoid Netflix!

10. Dillon’s cafeteria

If you’re looking for something a little different, try the Dillon’s cafeteria.
by Allison Kite

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

B-school staff share finals week memories

Although it’s been a few years since most of them crammed for finals, staff members at the KU School of Business had plenty of memories to share from their undergraduate days. Enjoy a few highlights — happy studying!

1. Alicia Green, academic advisor

2. Amy Thomas, event coordinator

3. Dee Steinle, MBA administrative director

4. Dave Byrd-Stadler, MBA career services director

5. Kelly Watson Muther, dean's chief of staff

Monday, December 9, 2013

Friday, December 6, 2013

Who gets an MBA?

A KU MBA is all about business, but it’s not only for business undergraduates.

Dee Steinle, the administrative director of masters programs at the KU School of Business, fights the stereotype that most MBA students have business backgrounds.

“There are ways an MBA can benefit those with a business undergrad,” Steinle said. “But absolutely the best fit for an MBA is really someone who is launching a career change that comes from a non-business background.”

The reality is that there’s a diverse student body in the MBA program, and people chose it for a variety of reasons.

Steinle believes that the MBA program is not only well designed for people with non-business backgrounds, but it’s best designed for them.

 “The notion is that a person can have an expertise in another area such as journalism or engineering and take that knowledge, with some experience preferably, and come into the MBA program to gain a systematic business education,” she said.

When students come out of the program, they have a well-rounded education, which allows their passions to drive business.

The MBA program consists of students with backgrounds in English, literature, hard science, engineering and even veterinarian science. Paul Epp, a second-year MBA student, is a professional musician and recording artist.

“He definitely has everything he needs to be successful,” Steinle said, “whether it’s in a business of his choice or starting his own business.”

Many graduates adapt their MBA to suit their own personal interests, allowing them to apply their degree in a variety of business settings. To learn more about an MBA, visit

by Mackenzie Leander

Monday, November 25, 2013

RedTire program earns recognition for innovation

RedTire is one of the most effective initiatives for engaging regional and local economic development according to a report published by the U.S. Department of Commerce (USDC).

The Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) at the Economic Development Administration (EDA), a bureau within the USDC, collected information about entrepreneurial programs from universities all over the country, including 131 research universities. The OIE published its findings in a report titled, “The Innovative and Entrepreneurial University: Higher Education, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Focus.”

The report said “the goal is for universities and colleges to look at these examples for inspiration and relevance to their programs and objectives.” RedTire, launched in June 2012, is one of those examples.

When rural business owners retire, many times the business closes simply because there is nobody to take over. RedTire matches businesses facing that dilemma with qualified Kansas graduates who want to own a company, thereby keeping the businesses open so they can continue to contribute to the local economy. Wally Meyer is director of entrepreneurship programs at KU and the director of RedTire. He said more than 100 businesses are participating in RedTire and they all provide essential services to the community.

“We also have about 150 candidates who have submitted their applications as replacement managers for the business owners who are retiring,” Meyer said. “We are currently in the process of matching those replacement management candidates with the businesses looking for successor management.”

The report praises the efforts of universities to support and revitalize local and regional economies through innovation and entrepreneurship.

For more information about RedTire or to apply, visit

Friday, November 22, 2013

Speaker engages business students in personal finance presentation

Adam Carroll
By talking about loans, cards and cars, Adam Carroll made personal finance a relatable topic for KU students.

On Nov. 13 Carroll, founder of National Financial Educators and Succeed Faster, presented “Winning the Money Game,” a financial talk based on the book he coauthored in 2005 by the same name.

Carroll told students about his experience with debt, living off loans as a college student, using the money for more than his school expenses.  He lived as a rich college student and paid for it as a broke professional.

“When I graduated from school, I had $20,000 in student loans, I had $8,000 in credit card debt and I was upside down in my car,” he said.

To make up for it, Carroll and his wife lived on one income in the early years of their marriage and used the other to pay down their debt.  He said starting early and living frugally allowed them to live more comfortably now.

“If you do for two years what most people won’t do, you’ll do for the rest of your life what most people can’t do,” he said.

Beginning in college, Carroll said, debt becomes an increasing challenge for many Americans as they’re “borrowing from tomorrow.”

93% of college sophomores have one to two credit cards.
Those students owe an average of $2,700.
The average household carries 14.7 credit cards and owes an average of $9,317.

Carroll used a model of a “spender, even Steven and saver” to demonstrate spending habits and what he calls, “needifying our wants.”  Americans justify unnecessary purchases by saying they need the product, causing many to spend beyond their means.  Carroll said this forces many Americans to live paycheck to paycheck.

“You have to have more money at the end of your month.  Not more month at the end of your money,” he said.

Carroll encourages the idea of becoming an investor-consumer and looking for ways to create more income instead of merely working for a salary.

“Put your money to work for you.  Employ it,” he said.  “So at some point you don’t have to go to work for your money.  It works for you.”

Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity, Student Alumni Association and the School of Business sponsored the event.  Learn more about Carroll at Carroll donated copies of his book, and Delta Sigma Pi is selling them for $15 to raise money for its chapter.

by Allison Kite

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

MBA alumna joins Kansas gubernatorial ticket

KU alumna Jill Docking made headlines in October when Lawrence Democrat Paul Davis announced her addition to his 2014 bid for Kansas governor.

A long-time resident of Wichita, Docking has been an active player in Kansas public policy, including a 1996 run for U.S. Senate.

“Civil commitment and community are vital to the success of democracy,” Docking said, “and my husband, Tom, and I take seriously our commitments to our city and our state.”

Since earning her KU MBA in 1983, Docking has spent more than 25 years in the financial services industry, and credits her business background for guiding her political career.

“The skills learned in the business classroom — to analyze data and make sound decisions on policy — are critical in both the public and private sectors,” she said.

Docking fondly remembers her time in Summerfield Hall, noting that “a day focused on facing down Maurice Joy or Larry Sheerer taught me critical skills for life — preparation, perseverance and humility.”

She shares Dean Bendapudi’s desire to bring private sector solutions to public problems, and notes that partnerships between the private and public sectors enhance the strength of both.

“It’s my hope that business school alumni will choose to dedicate a portion of their lives to public service through community boards, local elected office or, of course, state or federal office.”

In 2010, Docking received the School of Business Distinguished Alumni Award. She has served the school as a member of its board of advisors, executive committee and finance advisory board.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Business school to celebrate social entrepreneurship

This week, the KU School of Business celebrates Global Entrepreneurship Week through the lens of social enterprise, but the concept of social entrepreneurship is not a new idea.

John Muir, known as the Father of the National Parks, founded the conservation organization Sierra Club in 1892; Susan B. Anthony campaigned for women’s rights and played a major role in the adoption of the 19th amendment; and Kailash Satyarthi continues to fight against child labor in India and around the world.

Fueled in part by economic situations, social entrepreneurship is growing like never before and KU business students want to get involved.

“We continue to see an increasing interest in social entrepreneurship from students,” said Charlotte Tritch, associate director of entrepreneurship programs. “Global Entrepreneurship Week is a perfect platform to expose students from across campus to the concept of social entrepreneurship, and shows how students can use entrepreneurial thinking to solve today’s social challenges.”

This year, nearly 75 percent of the countries in the world will participate in the global movement. Events at the Lied Center include a student competition of ideas to promote economic growth in Wyandotte County, a panel of area social entrepreneurs, and remarks from U.S. Senator Jerry Moran and School of Business Dean Neeli Bendapudi. The events this Friday will conclude with a networking lunch providing an opportunity to speak with the panel members and other guests.

The goal of Global Entrepreneurship Week, now in its sixth year, is to inspire people around the world to move forward with their ideas and to encourage the spread of an entrepreneurial mindset.

Students get inside look at KC startup scene

Nov. 15 marked the first ever Silicon Prairie News startup job crawl in Kansas City, sponsored by The University of Kansas School of Business.

The job crawl allowed Kansas City area university students to network with entrepreneurs and learn more about the startup community.  Startups and organizations involved in the crawl are looking to involve students in the startup community.  Foster Casterline, a KU information systems student and primary organizer of the crawl, has worked with the startup community and said he believes students can get a competitive advantage by working for a startup during their college career.

“There’s a lot more pressure on you, and you’re going to have to work a lot harder, but you’re going to learn so much more about it and how to run a company, ” Casterline said.

Brittany Mascio, events coordinator at Silicon Prairie News, said the organization wants to partner with universities to spread the word about the startup community and inform students of opportunities.  She said she believes events like the job crawl allow students to see a range of career options.

“It opens their eyes to other options they might not have been aware of,” she said.

Students arrived first at EyeVerify, a member startup of the Kansas City Startup Village. The village is a community of 25 startups, founded to provide support for entrepreneurs after the introduction of Google Fiber.

Students heard from several founders of KCSV startups including Jeff Rohr, CEO and founder of SquareOffs.  During a debate with a friend, Rohr recognized the need for a platform that allows people to discuss and share their viewpoints on a number of matters.  The realization inspired him to found SquareOffs, a debate forum that can be housed in publishers’ websites similar to a YouTube video.

The bus next took students to BetaBlox, which serves as an incubator for startups, assisting them with law and tax issues.  BetaBlox presented its current projects to students and told them about the type of employee they are looking for.

The final stop on the crawl was the Kauffman Foundation where students were able to network with startups that are hiring.

Nate Olson of the Kauffman Foundation founded the One Million Cups program, which allows entrepreneurs to present their ideas to an audience and receive feedback.  He encourages more students to attend the event as a way to be involved in the startup community, because he wants to keep talent local.
“Our interest is keeping talent in the region and getting smart people to start companies and to work in companies,” he said.

Olson said there isn’t only one way to get started in entrepreneurship careers after college.
“When you get done with school, there is no right path,” he said.  “There is only forward.”

by Allison Kite

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Serial entrepreneur shares life story with student clubs

Startup specialist Christian Fisher visited the School of Business on Wednesday night to talk shop with members of the entrepreneurship and information systems student clubs.

Fisher has worked for startups, such as Twitter, as well as created some of his own. His current project, Briefcase, gained funding from SparkLabKC, which brought him from the West Coast to the Midwest about a year and a half ago. Briefcase is a job search app that delivers real-time push notifications to job seekers while keeping track of the application process. The application’s aim is to make it more convenient for people to stay on top of their job hunt from anywhere.

As he spoke to a packed classroom on Wednesday, Fisher said Briefcase was the culmination of a lifelong goal to help people get jobs through the use of technology.

Fisher grew up in a low-income neighborhood in East Oakland, Calif., where his mom worked three jobs, and at night, she attended school through an online program. The opportunity that provided his family set in motion Fisher’s lifelong objective to use technology to enrich peoples’ lives, he said.

After Fisher shared his personal story, he answered students’ questions about entrepreneurship and life in the startup industry.

“The benefits are crap. The pay is crap. But you get to work with people who share your vision,” he said.

Fisher said people find their way into the startup community and entrepreneurship in varying ways. Some may start their career working for a large company, and others may jump right into a startup on their own.

“Everyone’s path is different,” he said.

No matter how entrepreneurs get started or the challenges they may face, he added, it’s all about disrupting the idea of the status quo to improve how people live.

by Annie Montemayor

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

School focuses on building global competency

The School of Business is responding to the increasingly global nature of business by providing study abroad opportunities for graduate students.

The business school makes study abroad programs available for graduate students in the MAcc and MBA programs to supplement their classroom education.  John Hedeman, the new director of student international experiences for the Institute of International Business, emphasized the increasing importance of studying abroad during business education.

“I firmly believe that business students must develop knowledge, skills and attributes that make them a globally competent as possible because in the 21st century, all business is global,” Hedeman said.

Business students make up 16 percent of all students studying abroad, making it the second largest department on campus for study abroad.  Hedeman said the business school is hoping to prepare its students with a global mindset.

“The business school is putting all the resources in place for its students to become globally competent,” Hedeman said.  “I look forward to the time when being globally competent is the norm and not the exception among our students.  From past experience, I know this goal is reachable.”

Because business graduates are dealing more and more in international business, Dee Steinle, administrative director of masters programs, agrees that studying abroad allows students to add perspective to lessons from their classes.

“It enhances what we already teach and takes it to a new level,” Steinle said.

Steinle also said that studying abroad can help broaden your global knowledge and stretch your boundaries.

“It enlarges your world.  It enlarges your perspective” Steinle said.  “You understand what it is to be out of your element and out of your comfort zone.”

The business school maintains study abroad programs all over the globe, allowing students to select based on their language abilities, preferences and the area of business they want to study.  Graduate study abroad opportunities area available to business students in India, Costa Rica, France, China, Italy, Germany and Panama.  The business school recently added an entrepreneurship study abroad in Israel available winter break 2014.

Learn more about graduate study abroad opportunities online.

by Allison Kite

Monday, November 4, 2013

Meet the Professor: John Hedeman

This year the business school welcomes John Hedeman as the new director of student international experiences within the Institute for International Business. Hedeman is responsible for international programming and experiences for KU students. He previously worked at the College of Business at the University of Illinois, where he created undergraduate programs that emphasized leadership and international experience.

How did you become interested in student international experiences? 

While working at the University of Illinois my goal was to inspire all the students in the business school to participate in an international experience during their four undergraduate years.  I led student groups to Germany, Japan, Korea, Brazil, Turkey, China and India and witnessed firsthand how important the international experience was to the skill development of each student. I firmly believe that business students must develop knowledge, skills and attitudes that make them as globally competent as possible because in the 21st century all business is global.

What are your goals for the Institute for International Business this academic year?

I have three primary goals for the current academic year:
1. To get to know as many of the KU business faculty, staff and students as possible.
2. We are working on a project with the campus Study Abroad Office and the KU Business Advising Office to map courses at international universities which will provide value added experiences for KU Business students studying abroad for a semester.  
3. EY, the Big 4 accounting firm, has provided KU Business with a generous gift to support our efforts in enhancing a global education for our students.  We will be working with EY to implement the plan which includes an exciting global certificate program for students that we hope to unveil soon.
What are some of your most memorable experiences leading students internationally?

-Interviewing women in India who manage a budget of approximately $40 a month to feed, clothe, and educate their children.  If our representatives in Washington were as good with budgets, we would be in a stronger financial position.
-Visiting the Joint Security Area in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea and getting the opportunity to step across the line that separates these two countries.  Of course, we were well guarded by the soldiers of South Korea.
-The greatest experience of all takes place after travel when I observe students sharing the excitement with other students and encouraging them to study abroad.

What do you enjoy about being a Jayhawk?

I am impressed when Dean Neeli Bendapudi talks about KU being at the intersection of “smart and nice.”  I love the Kansas and KU spirit of smart and nice.

by Mackenzie Leander

Friday, November 1, 2013

Meet the Professor: Charlotte Tritch

Charlotte Tritch is associate director of entrepreneurship programs and a lecturer at the School of Business. KU's Center for Civic and Social Responsibility in October recognized Tritch for her outstanding involvement in experiential learning and community engagement. 

What makes you passionate about entrepreneurship?

First, to define how I think of entrepreneurship is that it’s a mindset. Some people think it means starting the next Apple in their garage, and it can mean that, but it’s really more about the idea of ‘How do you recognize opportunities and act upon them?’ It’s exciting to me because entrepreneurship can be for everyone. The idea of entrepreneurial thinking can be applicable to anybody in many situations; it does not have to be a Silicon Valley startup. That is what makes it exciting for me and fun to be involved with.

Why is service learning and community engagement important?

I think in business courses it is important to bring in as much experiential learning as possible. In my mind, working with community organizations or nonprofits, which have a lot of the same issue as for-profits, is important. It’s valuable to use those skills you’re learning in the classroom to benefit these organizations. So if we can figure out ways to marry those two, it’s a great fit.

What project are you currently working on? 

Global Entrepreneurship Week, started by the Kauffman Foundation, is made up of tens of thousands of events happening across 130 different countries at once the week of Nov. 18. People can form independent events and register them at KU. Our main event is Friday, Nov. 22nd at The Lied Center. Students compete to come up with a social innovation concept that could benefit eastern Kansas, which struggles with poverty and unemployment. Then a panel of social innovators and entrepreneurs will talk about how they’ve gotten their ideas, why they became entrepreneurs and why they became interested in social entrepreneurship. At the end, a free lunch will be open to anyone on campus.

What are your goals for the entrepreneurship program this academic year?

We are putting a focus on social entrepreneurship. I want to see more cross-campus involvement. I think we have a great presence and strength here in the business school. So, one of my goals with this is to bring in students to introduce them to entrepreneurship and how it can impact their goals across campus.

What courses in the entrepreneurship program do you most enjoy you teaching and why?

I teach three courses and I like them all!
-Corporate Entrepreneurship, it was just approved to be a permanent course. The idea behind it is how to apply entrepreneurship to a large established company.
-Management of Small Businesses, it’s fun because we work as consultants with local small businesses. Students get to interact with business owners and help them tackle problems.
-Entrepreneurship in Practice, it’s exciting because it’s very untraditional. We work on a simulation throughout the course and on a major project. This year’s project is with Van Go, Inc., an art-based social service agency in east Lawrence.  
How did you get to where you are as associate director of entrepreneurship programs?

My background is in industry. After getting my MBA in Chicago, I spent my time working for both small and large businesses in mainly strategy roles, as well as running my own marketing consulting firm. Then I learned about the entrepreneurship program here at KU. It just sounded like a terrific opportunity so I pursued it. Now it’s my third year here.

What are one or two of your proudest professional highlights during your time at KU?

I would say my Entrepreneurship in Practice class last spring. We did a big project with the Center for Civic and Social Responsibility. The project students worked on all semester was presented high-level KU administrators, including Sara Rosen, senior vice provost for academic affairs. I was really proud of the students and how hard they worked.

by Mackenzie Leander

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Millennial interest drives KU entrepreneurship programs

In the last decade, as the Kansas City startup scene flourished, KU built a program to prepare students for careers in entrepreneurship.

Wally Meyer
The KU School of Business created its entrepreneurship program in 2007.  Only six years later, nearly 300 KU students are enrolled in ENTR classes each semester, making entrepreneurship the largest concentration offered at the business school.  Wally Meyer, director of entrepreneurship programs, believes that the millennial generation is geared toward entrepreneurship, partially because of its popular role models.

“Some of this generation’s heroes are Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and LeBron James — who is not only an extraordinary athlete, he’s an extraordinary entrepreneur,” Meyer said.  “And you see these guys and you say, ‘Why not me?’ which is a great attitude.”

Meyer has seen an exponential growth in students’ interest in the past few years.  Because of KU’s proximity to Kansas City, students watched as the startup bug infected the city.  However, Meyer said he believes it takes tenacity to be a great entrepreneur.

“They have to love what they do because this is hard work and they’re surrounded by nay-sayers,” he said.  “They’re surrounded by people who say, ‘You can’t do that.  That’s not going to be successful.’”

Students at KU can get involved in entrepreneurship and learn more about the startup scene through the Entrepreneurship Club, Enactus or entrepreneurship opportunities in Kansas City, like Kansas City Startup Weekend.

Students like Caleb Christianson have taken their education beyond the classroom with Kansas City Startup Weekend.  Christianson, a senior in the entrepreneurship certificate program, got involved last spring with the event, which places entrepreneurs in teams and challenges them to start a company over the course of a weekend.

“It’s very short and very condensed because it’s only over the course of 54 hours,” Christianson said.  “So these teams can go through the whole motions of starting a company and then they don’t get very deep into it because they’re only doing it for a weekend.  But they can go through and see what it takes to market a company.”

 One Million Cups, a Kansas City and Lawrence initiative, is another opportunity that allows entrepreneurs to present their ideas in front of a crowd and receive input.

“The Kauffman Foundation has been putting on these events called the One Million Cups every Wednesday morning where two entrepreneurs get up and talk about their ideas,” said George Bittlingmayer, finance professor.  “This is heavily attended and very popular.  Recently, Lawrence got its own One Million Cups.”

To learn more about entrepreneurship at KU, contact George Bittlingmayer, Wally Meyer or business school student organizations.

by Allison Kite

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Alumna receives inaugural supply chain management award

Keiko Arai graduated from the KU School of Business with a supply chain management (SCM) degree 2.5 years ago and is already turning heads.
Keiko Arai

In August, the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) announced that Arai is one of three recipients of the Young Professionals Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes up-and-coming supply chain management and logistics professionals 30 years old and younger who contribute beyond what is required of them and have the potential to impact the profession in the future.

Arai works at Bell Helicopter Textron in Fort Worth, Texas, a job she landed after attending a business school career fair. She also participated in Textron’s two-year-long leadership development program in integrated supply chain management.

CSCMP will highlight her achievement at its annual global conference Oct. 20-23 in Denver, giving Arai exposure to professionals around the world. In addition to the recognition at the conference, she will be featured in CSCMP’s Supply Chain Quarterly magazine and invited to participate as a speaker or a panelist in a young professionals session at the conference. This is the awards first year and Arai said that makes the accomplishment a little more special.

“When it came to the selection of the recipients, there was no one to whom we could be compared,” she said. “Therefore, we were chosen to set the bar for future recipients.”

Arai plans to go back to school and hopes this award will help her get into a great MBA program. While at KU, she was a member of the Supply Chain Management Club. She credits the business school for giving her the opportunity to help the club grow.

“We received a great amount of support from the faculty members,” Arai said. “The KU School of Business sponsored a majority of our major events, making it possible for many students to attend.”

Roger Woody, SCM external development director at KU, nominated her for the award.

“She is certainly one of the most energetic of any student I’ve known,” Woody said, “and she has continued to exhibit that energy in her young career.”

Arai is from Overland Park, Kan., and is currently a project lead in the Mexico strategic transitions group in global outsourcing/procurement.

by Dan Dutcher

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

KU grad, British knight talks perceptions of America abroad

Students in Angela Murray’s marketing class Monday morning were treated to a lecture titled “The Image of America Abroad” from Sir Robert Worcester.

A University of Kansas graduate, Worcester now lives abroad in England, where he founded MORI, Market and Opinion Research International, in London. As a former president of the World Association for Public Opinion Research who was knighted by the Queen of England, Worcester shared some of his vast marketing and opinion research knowledge with students.

Sir Worcester and Angela Murray
Through his presentation, Worcester led students through the progression of the public opinion of America abroad since 2008, also including advice and experiences from his career in public opinion research.

“You have to ask the right questions of the right sample and add up the results correctly,” Worcester said of his field, which is easier said than done, he added.

Working across language and cultural boundaries, effective international market research has to adapt to its sample, he explained. Changing one word in the translation of a question can completely reverse a survey’s results.

Worcester told students that market research is not only an important and interesting career, but it also creates an opportunity to work with an impressive list of clients.

From presidents to prime ministers, major religions to the biggest of businesses, he’s worked for them all, Worcester said.

by Annie Montemayor

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Meet the Professor: Diane O’Byrne

Diane O’Byrne joins the MBA team here at the School of Business as coordinator of the Kansas Impact Program, a year-long initiative that provides MBA students with team-based consulting experience by taking on some of the state's thorniest management issues.

Why did you decide to join the Kansas Impact Project (KIP)?

After meeting Dean Neeli and understanding her passion and vision for the project, I knew I wanted to be involved. Meeting MBA director Catherine Shenoy sealed the deal!

What is your philosophy on higher education and how does that tie into KIP?

My philosophy is that higher education should help students find their passions and paths in life.  It’s an opportunity to help students develop a sense of how they may impact the world with their intellects.   KIP is the ideal project for everyone involved!  It's a tremendous opportunity for the University of Kansas School of Business to give back to our community.  Our non-profit partners benefit from the bright and dedicated minds of our incoming MBA students who assist them in solving a challenge they are facing.  And what an opportunity it is for our students!  They are taking all the tremendous knowledge they are learning in their academic coursework and actually applying it to solve a significant issue.

What are your goals for KIP? 

My goals are simple: 1. To add depth to the skills and knowledge of our MBA students. 2.  To have a significant impact on the non-profits we serve in the state of Kansas.  3. To face head-on Chancellor Gray-Little's challenge of finding ways to serve our entire state.

What most uniquely qualifies you to run KIP?

My greatest passions are education, business and non-profit missions.  KIP combines the three perfectly.  I have been on the KU campus for more than 20 years, so my heart is in higher education.  I have been fortunate to sit on many non-profit boards through the years and continue to see the day-to-day challenges they face.  As an entrepreneur who has owned a business for over 20 years, I see the business applications to help our partners.

What do you think students value most about KIP?

I hope they value the immediate opportunities to immerse themselves in a challenge presented by a non-profit and have an impact on our Kansas community. Additionally, I hope they understand sound business solutions are applicable to the non-profit world.

What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments during your time at KU?

I am most proud of my students and the success they continue to find, whether it’s personal or professional.  I often receive a note, LinkedIn message, Facebook message or email from my former students and I love hearing about where they are now and the impact they are having helping others.  I ran into a student who is now a recruiter for a company attending our business career fair, who graduated in 2002.  When she saw me, she repeated a concept she had learned in my class all those years ago!  She said she regularly quotes me when helping others find the right career paths.  It just doesn't get any better than that; to know that my students truly learned and are still applying the knowledge and skills I taught them to help others.

What strengths and expertise will carry over from the journalism school and contribute to the business school?

I taught in the strategic communications track for the journalism school and those are skills I hope to bring to our business students.  No matter what your position is in the business world, the more effective you are at communicating, the more success you will enjoy.

What do you love most about being at KU?

For me, there is simply no greater reward than watching that light bulb go off in someone’s head.  The look on their face when a concept or idea we've discussed clicks in and they immediately see the application.

Even though I have taught at KU, I am still a "newbie" in the business school and I love how welcoming the MBA team has been as well as the other faculty members.

by Mackenzie Leander

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fortune 100 CEO addresses trust in financial services industry

TIAA-CREF CEO Roger Ferguson addresses audience at 2013 Sutton leture
Roger W. Ferguson Jr., president and chief executive of TIAA-CREF, packed the house at KU Edwards Campus Oct. 16. Students, faculty and the general public gathered to hear his talk on the process of, and need for, rebuilding trust in the financial services industry.

He began by bringing attention to the fifth anniversary of the U.S. economy’s devastating meltdown. The unemployment rate is still high, he said. He added: We have not yet escaped the after effects of the 2008 financial meltdown.

Ferguson discussed the importance of trusting the financial services industry and what an important tool financing is in society.

“Financing is creating the architecture for setting goals,” he said. He elaborated on the four different steps necessary to bring the financial service industry back.

First, considering what is in the best interests of stakeholders through a long-term view. Second, holding management accountable for supporting a culture of long-term thinking, a no surprise environment and an ethical performance. Third, regulating and supporting a broader view of roles within the industry by asking, “what kind of culture is this?” Lastly, long-term stakeholders are responsible for influencing the company to be honest and behave with values.

“We can rebuild trust by handling a better ethical performance,” he said. “Ethics is an enabler of our dreams and aspirations.”

To wrap up his lecture, he passionately discussed the importance of trust. Ferguson used TIAA-CREF as an example of why trust is so crucial.

“People put their life savings into TIAA-CREF and this is because they trust you’ll be there in 75 years,” he said.

When answering questions from the audience, he highlighted how far we are from achieving trust in the financial services industry. Ferguson acknowledged that trust is simply not returning, noting how Millennials perceive financial services.

TIAA-CREF, a Fortune 100 financial services company, is the leading provider of retirement services. Ferguson’s lecture served as the 2013 Walter S. Sutton Lecture, co-sponsored by the School of Business and KU’s International Center for Ethics in Business.

by Mackenzie Leander

Friday, September 20, 2013

Marketing professor mentors two of top three teams in case competition

The teams from assistant professor Jessica Li’s integrated marketing communications class waited nervously for the Target representatives to tell them the results of the case competition. Weeks of hard work led to this moment.

The case study, made possible by marketing and strategic management lecturer Joyce Claterbos, was titled, “The War for Guests.” It involved developing a marketing strategy to help Target attract more customers. Li mentored two of the teams, whose presentations were also part of the final project for her class.

“For the final project, I let them choose between several options including participating in the Target competition,” Li said. “I hoped that by doing the case competition they would use some concepts and principles we learned in class.”

Zach Watchous, a member of one of the teams Li mentored, explained one of their ideas, a groceries-to-go service. Using a smartphone, a customer would input a grocery list and the Target employees would have the items waiting curbside when the customer drove up.
Credit: SXC

“You do this maybe 30 minutes before you leave work,” Watchous said. “Someone who doesn’t want to go to the store has their groceries that much faster and pretty much effortlessly.”

Jayant Narula said his group focused on three points. The first was a marketing campaign that focused on Target’s superior customer service. The second, a technological enhancement of sales strategies and devices, is meant to ensure everyone who walks in the store buys something. Marketing communication was the third point, and Narula said his team used the teachings from Li’s class more on this point than any other.

“It was about conveying all of our strategies and positioning effectively and efficiently so the customer knows our policies and why we’re above and beyond the competition,” he said.

Both students agree that the experience of the competition will benefit them in the future.

“It’s one thing to present to your class,” said Narula. “It’s another thing to compete with others while Target employees, people who are actually in the industry, judge you.”

Li believes these kinds of experiences are crucial to a good business education.

“I think it’s important for students to get as much real world experience as possible in their class,” she said. “Using opportunities that are out there to get the students more exposure to actual companies and experiences that can help them in their careers later on is definitely something I’m going to build into my future classes.”

by Dan Dutcher

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

MAcc student travels to Central America to teach financial literacy

When Adam Buhler learned about Project Belize, he knew it was an opportunity he couldn’t resist. Buhler graduated from the KU School of Business in May with an accounting degree and is now earning his master of accounting. This summer, he worked as an intern for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and when the company chose him to participate in its annual financial literacy education program, he was ecstatic.

Project Belize, started in 2008, seeks to incorporate basic financial skills into the public school systems of developing countries. Each year, employees from every level of PwC travel to Belize City to help, primarily, high school students learn budgeting and basic entrepreneurial skills. The group also works with teachers, principals and parents.

During the summer, the kids in Belize City can choose to go to various camps such as sports camps or art camps. Buhler worked at a local high school with teenage students who chose to attend the financial literacy camp.

Shortly after the camp started, Buhler, and the teachers with whom he was working, discovered that one of the students, a 17-year-old, didn’t know how to read or write. Feeling discouraged and ashamed, the student contemplated not coming back the next day.

“I sat down with him, read him the instructions and helped him spell words,” Buhler said. “As I helped him with that first project and got him engaged with things, he got really excited. He thanked me several times the very last day and he was sad that we were leaving.”

All of the volunteers wore T-shirts provided by PwC and on the last day, the students signed them. The students in Buhler’s class decided it would be cool to trace their hands onto his shirt.

“It was a really touching experience having them leave an imprint on our shirts and on us personally,” Buhler said. “It was very special. They just have an inviting and loving spirit.”

Buhler credits the business school faculty and staff for landing the internship at PwC. He said their encouragement to get as much out of the internship as possible is what gave him the motivation, drive and desire to participate in Project Belize.

“This was, far and away, the most outstanding experience of my internship,” Buhler said. “Without the KU School of Business and the relationships and connections I’ve made here, I would not have had that experience. I believe that whole-heartedly.”

Buhler was the only person from the state of Kansas to participate and said it was fun to represent KU. Kansas is recognized around the world as a basketball school, but the volunteers from Project Belize now know that KU also has a great business school.

To view more pictures of Buhler’s trip, go to his photo album.

To learn more, go to the PwC Project Belize website.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Business alumnus speaks on finding professional success

Monday marked the season opener of Monday Night Football, but that didn’t deter the hundreds of people who filled the Lied Center to hear Robert Kaplan speak. Kaplan talked about leadership, self-discovery and answered questions from the audience at the 2013 Chandler Lecture.
Robert Kaplan gives 2013 Chandler lecture

The KU School of Business alumnus started the evening with his definition of a leader and how people become leaders. The cliché, “Leaders are born, not made,” is inaccurate, he said.

“Not only can leadership be learned,” Kaplan said, “but I have not yet met a leader, who has been successful over a sustained period of time, who didn’t have to learn how to be a leader.”

Kaplan also spoke about the topic of his new book and the title of the lecture, “What You’re Really Meant To Do: A Road Map for Reaching Your Unique Potential.” He outlined three steps everyone can take to maximize their potential for success. The first is to find your strengths and weaknesses, as related to a specific job. Second, understand what you really love by finding your passion. The last step is to understand yourself. Kaplan suggested writing down your three stories: The facts of your life, your success story and your failure story. Everyone, he said, has these stories.

“I don’t know where this will take you,” he said, “but if you do this, you will be happy.”

At the end of the lecture, he talked about what separates good leaders from great leaders. One of those things, he said, is character.

“Do for others without regard of what’s in it for you,” Kaplan said.

He also noted the importance of good professional relationships within a company. Face-to-face meetings and conversations have to happen, he said. “You can’t build a good relationship through email.”

He answered a few questions from the audience and, at the reception afterward, signed copies of his book.

Kaplan is the Martin Marshall Professor of Management Practice in Business Administration and senior associate dean for external relations at Harvard Business School.

by Dan Dutcher

Friday, August 9, 2013

Alumnus named CFO of the Year

From left, Bryan Griffin, CFO, is congratulated by
Mike Ferguson, President and CEO
School of Business alumnus Bryan Griffin was recognized this summer by the Kansas City Business Journal as a Chief Financial Officer of the Year for 2012. Griffin is the CFO and a member of the Executive Management team for Overland Solutions Inc., a company that provides outsourcing services for the insurance industry.

The awards program, now in its sixth year, honors the Kansas City area's top financial executives. Applicants were judged for their contributions to the companies' growth and financial success, their roles in corporate management, strategic involvement and community service efforts.

Griffin is one of three recipients chosen for the medium-sized company category. He helped guide OSI toward improvements and profitability by working with his peers and the CEO.

Since graduating from the KU School of Business in 1987 Griffin has also worked for Deloitte and Wells Fargo. He joined OSI in 2004.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Alumna finds the right fit in Silicon Valley

In 2008, a young woman’s college career ended and her business career began. Shalie Gaskill is a graduate in finance and marketing who recently accepted a job offer from Box, a enterprise software company in the San Francisco Bay area. The winding road from KU to Stanford, where she earned her Master of Business Administration degree this spring, to the technology-driven Silicon Valley, is not the path she expected to travel.

When Gaskill arrived at KU, her interests leaned toward sports management and marketing. But, like many undergraduate students, she discovered a subject she enjoyed even more.

“During school, I realized that sports weren’t actually what I was most passionate about,” Gaskill said, “but I did love looking ahead for trends and winners. Technology had both of these characteristics, plus there was so much to learn. I was immediately invigorated.”
Shalie Gaskill with Chancellor Gray-Little

After KU, Gaskill worked at Sabre Holdings, a technology company headquartered in Texas. She became the first analyst in Hospitality Solutions, a new group focusing on hotel software products, Gaskill said. The position connected her with senior leaders in the company.

“This created opportunities to be part of various side projects lead by company executives,” Gaskill said. “Looking back, I think these side projects, which I took on in addition to my full-time role, lead to my progression.”

When Gaskill was a senior at KU, Mark Hirschey, Anderson W. Chandler Professor of Business, helped her create a five-year plan, culminating with a doctorate degree. In 2010, Hirschey passed away, yet even death couldn’t stop him from continuing to make a difference. Out of that loss came the inspiration Gaskill needed to continue her education and move one step closer to the goal they set together two years earlier.

But the Stanford Graduate School of Business is not easy. At first, she admitted, it was extremely intimidating.

“I knew the formulas in finance and the P’s of marketing, which I attribute to my time at the KU School of Business,” she said. “The classroom setting, on the other hand, was something I wasn’t prepared for. At Stanford, none of our classes are lecture-based. Instead, we discuss a case and learn a decision-making framework. The protagonist of the case is usually in class to comment on what actually happened.”

The network of KU business alumni spans the globe, and Jayhawk values are ingrained in the most populous cities in the U.S. Even though Dallas was a perfect fit for her career in 2008, Gaskill said she still wonders what opportunities she missed by not knowing who to reach out to and what to ask while at KU.

“At the time, I felt lucky to have an opportunity in technology in Dallas.” Gaskill said. “I wish I would have looked at other areas of the country like San Francisco, Chicago and New York and reached out to alumni to see if there were any opportunities available.”

Regardless of where Gaskill’s career leads, the fond memories of her days in Lawrence, KU and the School of Business follow along.

“KU is a very special place and was an amazing time in my life,” Gaskill said. “While you’re in school, it feels like nothing will ever change. But once you’re gone, you quickly realize that it’s never going to be the same.”

Gaskill earned her MBA and she is once again leaving college to continue her career. Now she can’t picture herself anywhere other than Silicon Valley, at least for now.

“This place is electric,” she said. “Everyone is so motivated and working on things that have the ability to change the world. It’s truly inspiring!”

Friday, May 10, 2013

Students pitch creative recruitment ideas to Payless

Students at the University of Kansas School of Business on May 9 pitched social media recruitment campaigns to the human resources department at Payless ShoeSource.

Six teams from Recruitment and Selecting Effective Employees (MGMT 413) worked on a semester-long project to hone in on creative ways to build the Payless brand on social media and to help prospects find their perfect “fit” at Payless.

Students from the winning team, the Wheel Deal, with HR
reps from Payless and Prof. Venkat Bendapudi
“We researched Payless’ career website and evaluated its current social media sites. We also did extensive research on competitors’ sites to see what they were doing and find inspiration and conducted a focus group,” said Andrea Serrano, senior in management from Olathe, Kan., who presented her ideas with her team to Payless.

The six groups were also required to recruit an additional team member to help them build these social media plans, which helped the students learn what worked and didn’t work to get others interested and involved.

“Through our recruitment process I learned it was a little more difficult to reach out to the student body than I had actually realized it would be,” Serrano said. “While recruiting we had to look for a member who would complement the skills of the other members and pull the team together.”

In developing the social media plans groups tapped into networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

“Pinterest is a newer social media and less crowded with job postings than obvious networks like Twitter and Facebook,” Serrano said. “It’s only four years old with more than 50 million users, so using this as a recruiting site could put them ahead of the game.”
A team pitches its ideas to Payless HR reps

Payless awarded the top three teams with monetary prizes, although it wasn't just the winners who learned from this experience.

“My favorite part about the project was creating a product from scratch that was our own ideas and something that a company could actually take with them and use,” Serrano said.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Students receive award for designing a difference

Two students from the University of Kansas School of Business received the Community Service Program of Year Award in April at the Jayhawk Choice Awards. Their campus clubs teamed up to make a campus-wide and international difference.

Sherry Farrahi, sophomore from Leawood, Kan., majoring in management and leadership and president of the KU Fashion Club, teamed up with Brandon Kuzara, junior from Colorado Springs, Colo., majoring in marketing and president of KU Enactus, for an event called Dresses for a Difference. The event was held in March on campus which invited students to create a simple dress out of only pillowcases and a few basic sewing materials at the Kansas Union between classes. The finished dresses are to be donated to the Dundori Orphanage in Kenya with help from the Dundori Orphans project, which was founded by Scott Moir, senior in accounting from Manhattan, Kan. More than 100 students helped create 102 dresses to be donated to young girls in Kenya.

The clubs collected the pillow cases during an event hosted in the fall of 2012 in anticipation of Dresses for a Difference.

“The members worked together to put on a great event, including applying for grants, collaborating with other on-campus clubs, and preparing a schedule for the event,” Farrahi said.

The dresses will be transported to Kenya this summer with help of the on-campus organization Kansas2Kenya. Professor Bob Basow of the School of Journalism will be handing off these dresses to the owner of the orphanage in early June.

Learn more by following @KU_FashionClub, @kusife and @dundoriorphans.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Information systems club shines at civic hacking competition

The Information Systems Association of KU, known as IS@K, is making waves in the Kansas City technology community with its recent success at a civic hacking event.

The 24-hour Hack of the Sexes competition took place April 26 and 27 at the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, sponsored by a number of Kansas City technology companies, including Sprint, and the city of Kansas City, Mo.

Civic hackers are designers, artists, engineers and other tech professionals who collaborate to create open source solutions to challenges facing local communities, cities and states. Some of the civic issues highlighted at the event included environmental sustainability, education and citizen engagement.

KU IS@K member focuses on Hack of the Sexes competition
“Hack of the Sexes combined groups of people with different talents – graphic design, programming, business – in an effort to build a website or application that solves a civic problem,” said Michael Luchen, senior information systems major and IS@K president. “Participants were able to gain real-world experience in solving community challenges through tech solutions while learning from experts in the Kansas City tech community.”

KU IS@K participants in the “hackathon” divided into separate teams, working with students and professionals outside of KU, to increase the club’s visibility and gain networking opportunities.

Frank Dillon, a KU information systems major and IS@K member, pitched the Feed the Meter app, which uses smartphone technology to allow people to pay for parking meters.

“The participants were so impressed with Frank’s idea of a parking meter app that he actually got to lead his own team to create the product,” Luchen said.

Information systems student Pratik Gadhia was also on the Feed the Meter team, and posed the idea of integrating QR codes into the concept. Chad Kozicki, a KU IS@K member, was part of the PlanIT KC team, which devised an app that allows city developers to understand the value of environmentally focused design.

IS@K board member Scott Howell III was on the grand-prize winning team, which created The Giveback, an app that allows charities to connect with citizens interested in volunteer opportunities. The app will launch summer 2013.

For more information on IS@K, connect with the student club on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Personal Finance: Investing for your future

Executive-in-residence William Lewis lectures to Personal Finance students

“It’ll all add up in the end,” said Theresa Tran, a senior at the University of Kansas. “Finance 101 has taught me to think about my budget and how to plan for the future.”

Tran, a biochemistry major from Liberty, Mo., will attend optometry school in the fall. She learned about the course through a friend who had taken the course and recommended it to her.

“I couldn’t have taken it at a better time because I now understand I can protect my belongings when I move to a new city with renter’s insurance. I even know how to check my tire pressure,” she laughed.

Personal Finance, or FIN 101, taught by executive-in-residence William E. Lewis, was first offered in 2007. The course addresses personal topics that are relatable to college student’s everyday life, and how they can plan for the future.

“Finance 101 gets personal with students and expects them to think constructively about real life financial issues,” said Adam Casady, a teacher’s assistant for the course and Master of Accounting student from Lawrence. “It introduces students to material that will be applicable for the rest of their lives.”

The material covered throughout the semester brings attention to other every day bits of life when calling on students to test what they already know.

Casady said he was introduced to new material because he never took the class as an undergraduate.
“I was learning the material as the course went on. It was a lot of stuff I didn’t know either, so I was basically learning it along with the students,” he said.

Tran said she remembers the day that the students were all asked if they knew where to find their tire pressure, if they knew the type of car insurance they have.

“I was shocked when he said that credit cards are safer to use than debit cards as long as you’re responsible,” she said. “It was a really fun class that was engaging and useful. And knowing I have a lot of debt in the making over the next few years, I’m confident that I now know what that really means and how I should manage it all.”

FIN 101 is currently enrolling for fall 2013. The class is open to all KU students.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Alumnus named one of the best in his field

A School of Business alumnus is listed among the best buyside analysts in the world. Andrew Carlson earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the school in 2011 and now works for Whetstone Capital Advisors in Mission Woods, Kan.

In less than two years with the company, he caught the attention of SumZero, an online networking community of hedge fund, mutual fund and private equity professionals. SumZero recently released a list of the top 14 buyside analysts.

“I was surprised and honored by the peer recognition associated with being selected for the SumZero list,” said Carlson, whose average peer rating is 9.66 out of 10, the highest on the list.

Among the elite company in which Carlson now finds himself are analysts from the business schools of Stanford, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Senior finance student wins top award

Each year, the Kansas City chapter of Financial Executives International grants academic awards to students majoring in accounting or finance. FEI Kansas City awarded senior finance student Daniel Bjornson the Oracle-FEI Excellence Award during an awards ceremony April 9. The award, worth $2,500, is the highest honor given.
Daniel Bjornson, KU finance senior

“It’s a nice recognition,” Bjornson said, “but in addition to the money, I will get invitations to future FEI events where I can talk with CFOs and other top executives and learn about their career paths.”

The FEI awards are given to students who show outstanding academic performance, evidence of leadership potential and service to the college and community. Bjornson was in charge of The Big Event at KU last year, a grassroots community service project.

“Last year, participation rose from 500 (in 2011) to more than 2,000 students,” Bjornson said. “I’m proud to say that I was involved.”

As a sophomore, Bjornson brought Project LIVELY (Life, Interest and Vigor Entering Later Years) to the University of Kansas. Project LIVELY is a Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department program that assists elderly residents of the community and helps them stay in their homes as long as possible. Bjornson recognized the opportunity to help and knew that many KU students would be willing to lend a hand.

Bjornson is also a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, the Finance Scholars Program and the KU Honors Program. His involvement in the community and the university is a characteristic he encourages new business students to adopt.

“Take advantage of all the opportunities the School of Business and KU have to offer,” he said. “You’ll never know if you like something unless you try it, so try new things and get involved.”

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Two business students selected as 2013 Men of Merit

Each year, the Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity at the University of Kansas recognizes KU men who challenge norms, lead by example and contribute to KU and the Lawrence community. Among the 15 men selected for 2013 are two students from the School of Business: Eric Driscoll and Thomas Plummer.

Driscoll is a senior in accounting who will graduate in May and Plummer is a junior majoring in management and leadership.

“I definitely caught me off guard,” Driscoll said. “I know fellow students who have gotten it in years past and I always thought it was a great goal.”

He said the many organizations and events he’s been a part of have expanded his horizon. One of those events is LeaderShape, a week-long leadership enhancement program. Participants learn about their own strengths and weaknesses and about other students who attend. Driscoll said the week made a big impact on him.

“You realize that even though we, on the outside, look so different or are involved in different activities,” he said, “there are so many things that are the same.”

Driscoll also served as vice president of administration for Student Union Activities and treasurer for Mortar Board honor society.

Thomas Plummer is no stranger to student organizations either. Last summer he studied abroad with the CIMBA program and he is currently the chief of staff in the Student Senate.

“The experience has taught me enormous amounts about dealing with people and understanding the ideas and concerns of groups that may not usually be heard,” he said about his time in the Student Senate. “It’s about being as inclusive as possible and helping to enhance the student experience at KU.”

The honor of being named a 2013 Man of Merit was also unexpected for Plummer, but he’s not the only one from his home town of Towanda, Kan., on the list. One of his friends from high school, Coulter Cranston, received recognition as well.

“I was unbelievably excited and honored to be selected,” Plummer said. “It’s very humbling to be in the same club as many friends and mentors of mine.”

Both students are familiar with making decisions that will have an impact even after they graduate.

“Making change happen is like dropping a pebble into a pond,” Plummer said. “The action doesn’t need to be big, dramatic and obvious. The importance are the ripples that are created.”

Joining SUA was one of the best decisions Driscoll said he’s made while at KU because it teaches students how to interact with people and how to wisely manage time. He stayed involved with it because of his experience as a freshman.

“The executive committee we had when I was a freshman really made a positive impact on everyone involved,” Driscoll said. “I truly enjoyed it and wanted to have that same impact while I was there.”

Both men realize the meaning of this recognition and see it as encouragement.

“It’s a friendly reminder to show you that you’re doing things in the right light,” he said, “and to continue in that way and it’ll help lead you to be successful in the future.”

Plummer has one more summer before he graduates and is currently looking for an internship.

“This honor will hopefully tell potential employers that I am not your normal, cut and dry college student,” he said. “I don’t think it alone will get me a job, but it allows them to see more into my personality and who I am as a person.”

The Men of Merit program is in its fifth year and complements the Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity’s annual Women of Distinction calendar.