A Head-Start on Real-World Applications

The Hankamer School of Business Undergraduate Experience

by Eric Krell

When Terry Maness, dean of the Hankamer School of Business, describes Baylor University’s latest active-learning offering – an alliance with SAP that familiarizes students with one of the business world’s most prevalent enterprise software systems – he uses a phrase that captures the value of the entire undergraduate Hankamer experience.

“We’re interested in giving students real-world applications,” Maness emphasizes, “rather than strictly having them learn from textbooks.”

A diverse collection of hands-on learning opportunities – which include managing a $4.6 million investment fund, operating a record label, running a call center, weighing early-stage investment opportunities with angel investors, researching eco-businesses in the Dominican Republic, collaborating with Tsinghua University students, parsing current ethical issues with U.S. regulators at Baylor’s annual ethics conference and much more – support Maness’ claim that Hankamer distinguishes itself on the basis of a deep commitment to active, or engaged, learning.

Yet, the word “application” also points to a deeper quality, the underlying cultural software on which Hankamer operates. The School is coded to create a valuable output: professionals equipped with real-world experience and the moral fiber to make immediate positive contributions to the organizations they join upon graduation. Faculty attention and the student body’s character represent the killer apps in Hankamer’s system.

“The faculty really cares about our students,” Maness asserts, “and that’s something we prioritize when we recruit and hire professors.”

The investment in attention produces impressive returns, according to current students and recent graduates.

Todd Pollack, who was among the first Sports Sponsorship and Sales (S3) majors to graduate from Hankamer in 2006, currently serves as the San Francisco 49ers’ manager of ticketing and suites. He credits the S3 program’s pioneers, professors Kirk Wakefield and Darryl Lehnus, with “always being willing to take students’ advice while maintaining a firm sense of direction.”

The S3 program, Pollack adds, “does not work in theory, but in real-world situations – from role-playing to cold-calling to the internship [component]. It is everything employers look for. I am grateful for everything the program offered, and it was the launching point for what I expect to be a long, successful career.”

Majoring in Active Learning 

“We have such a broad offering of programs,” reports Mark Dunn, Hankamer’s associate dean for undergraduate programs and professor of Marketing, while discussing the school’s 24 business majors. “And that’s one of the qualities that makes the undergraduate experience so exciting.”

In addition to formal programs, Hankamer also attracts a high number of guest speakers, some of whom make a lasting impression, according to Jesus Rios, a 2010 graduate who majored in Accounting and Finance.

Rios met Ernst & Young LLP principal Steve Napier, who works in the firm’s valuation services division, at an accounting honor society banquet. “I was fascinated by what his work consisted of and knew that was the career I wanted to pursue,” Rios recalls. “He also talked about certain characteristics and habits that are necessary to be successful. Mr. Napier is currently my mentor and has given me guidance in preparing for my career.”

The following Hankamer programs, which feature prominently among a more comprehensive rundown of the School’s offerings(www.baylor.edu/business/undergraduate), support Dunn’s point.

Baylor Entrepreneurship Program

Launched in 1977, Baylor’s Entrepreneurship Program is one of the longest-running and most comprehensive (with 20 different undergraduate courses offerings) in the United States. The program was ranked 4th nationally by Entrepreneur Magazine and The Princeton Review in 2009.

“We provide a very broad set of skills as well as many specialized courses in areas such as family business, social entrepreneurship, technology entrepreneurship, international entrepreneurship and more,” notes professor Kendall Artz, who serves as director of the program and department chair of Management and Entrepreneurship.

The global component includes four international programs: Europe, Africa, China, and Latin America. In May, for example, students in the program traveled to Costa Rica for two weeks to analyze the impact of recent trade agreements on the Latin American country through discussions with business and political leaders and visits to factories and other businesses.

The program also features the Baylor Angel Network (BAN), an organization that enables students to collaborate with investors in scrutinizing quality seed and early-stage investment opportunities. Additionally, an Entrepreneurship Living-Learning Center provides an opportunity for entrepreneurially-minded students from all fields of study to live together (in facilities that include dedicated space and tools to develop student-led start-ups) and interact outside the classroom on a daily basis.

McBride Center for International Business

Established in 1992 to provide coordination and support for all of Baylor’s global activities, the McBride Center for International Business offers what its director, Herman Brown Professor of Economics Steve Gardner, describes as a “full spectrum of international immersion.”

These programs range from week-long international trips with Baylor classmates and professors to the United Kingdom to much more immersive semester-long abroad programs (taught in local languages) at universities in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and throughout the Western hemisphere.

In addition to overseeing the international programs and curriculum, and operating a range of study abroad programs, the McBride Center also provides global experiences on campus in Waco, through exchange relationships with leading universities around the world (including China’s Tsinghua University in Beijing) and through the Global Business Forum, an international conference held each spring semester.

BEST and Business Fellows

The Business Excellence and Scholarship Team (BEST) program and Baylor Business Fellows major provide high achievers with unique and flexible learning experiences.

The two-semester BEST experience, which accepts 25 to 30 students each year, resembles a strategic management honors program that includes consulting projects with private companies, other field case work and an international trip.

The Fellows major began in 2007 and serves as a polymath-friendly experience for bachelor’s of business administration (BBA) students who are drawn to flexibility in course selection inside and outside of the business school.

“This major is predicated on the notion that students who are individually motivated and/or who have a superior academic background thrive with greater flexibility,” notes Allen Seward, director of Baylor Business Fellows, department chair and associate professor of Finance and Insurance. “It allows students to pursue multiple majors and multiple minors.”

Sports Sponsorship & Sales (S3) and Music & Entertainment Marketing (M&E)

Both of these singular programs operate on a simple and valuable principle, according to their director, Marketing professor Kirk Wakefield: since generating revenue is the engine that runs music, entertainment and sports business, why not equip students with sales skills and real-world experience before they enter these businesses as professionals?

Students enrolled in the S3 program work for professional sports teams through internships and gain sales skills through an on-campus call center before they graduate. The program’s advisory board counts more than 25 executives from professional sports teams and sponsor companies around the country as members. Similarly, Music & Entertainment Marketing majors gain the chance to scout real musical talent, produce real CDs and conduct real marketing campaigns for their artists through Uproar Records, a record label run entirely by Hankamer students. Just ask Jillian Edwards, a Baylor student produced by Uproar who was subsequently signed by a prominent record label in Nashville.

The M&E program also features an advisory board brimming with entertainment companies (EMI, Word Records, Disney Studios, South by Southwest, and Live Nation to name only a few) that provide Hankamer students internships.

“We will get you in the door because of our advisory board members,” Wakefield notes. “And we will provide you with the experience and training you need to get a job.”

Investing in Faculty Attention

Pollack says he began his career, through an internship for the Los Angeles Kings, “purely based on the networking that Dr. Wakefield had conducted.” One month into the internship, a full-time sales position opened and Pollack received his first full-time job as a sports-marketing professional.

Similar accounts of faculty attention crop up regularly in conversations with current Hankamer students. Victoria Sanchez, the 2009-2010 Hankamer Student Organization president who will graduate with an Accounting major in 2011, describes her relationships with professors as the most fulfilling aspect of her educational experience.

As a freshman in an Introduction to Accounting course, senior lecturer Becky Jones spotted Sanchez’s passion for the discipline and nominated her for a KPMG internship program. “I never would have known about the program if she did not encourage me to apply for it,” says Sanchez, who expects to complete her third internship with KPMG next spring. “She also wrote my recommendation.”

As Maness emphasizes, hiring professors who place a priority on classroom teaching, interaction and mentorship represents a long-term administrative priority. By balancing that emphasis with providing faculty ample time to flex and sharpen their research skills, Hankamer boasts a very high faculty retention rate. “When we hire professors who are 35,” Maness notes, “we hope they will be here another 30 years.”

Treating Character as a Killer App

Faculty attention is part and parcel of what Dunn describes as Hankamer’s (and Baylor’s) “values-based” approach to education. In this sense, the faculty seeks to help foster a quality residence within the student body.

“Most students make a significant transition in their faith during their time as Baylor undergraduates,” Seward notes. “They take personal responsibility for their own faith. They’re also taking responsibility for their own lives, while learning how to balance complex schedules so that they are involved academically and also involved in responsible organizations off-campus. Giving back to their community is a priority for our students, and I think we do a pretty good job of providing those opportunities.”

Amy Wofford, who will graduate in 2011 with a double major in Entrepreneurship and Marketing, originally selected Baylor in part because of its Christian environment and wide range of extracurricular offerings. Since enrolling, Wofford has volunteered her time participating in backyard Bible clubs for at-risk children in Waco.

“Our students tend to be well-grounded,” Artz observes. “They have a relatively clear picture of how their lives fit in with the larger scope of the world in which they live. They make choices about their careers not just based on potential financial rewards but also based on their desire to make a positive difference in the world overall…I think that probably stems from their Christian heritage.”

Artz has also witnessed a growing interest in social entrepreneurship in the past decade. “There’s a greater philanthropic focus among students today compared to students of 10 to 15 years ago,” he reports. “And I think that may be a nationwide trend.”

Looking Ahead

Indeed, many current Hankamer students mention social entrepreneurship before they mention social media, which may strike some older readers as surprising. Asked to describe their use of social media, Rios and Wofford sound more like business veterans – “smart second movers” as opposed to over-eager early adopters.

“Although I love technology, I do not feel that social media is a big part of my life as a student,” notes Wofford, who maintains a Facebook account mainly to keep in touch with friends and family. “If I see in the next year or so that the current social media used is not a fad, then I will most certainly join in and use it for my own marketing and business purposes.”

For his part, Rios credits the Internet as his most valuable research engine yet he also mentions a much more personal form of social media that provided value: the visiting public speakers he listened to as an undergraduate. Rios says that the public speakers, extracurricular and international experiences, classmates, challenging classroom experiences and, above all, professors, combined to “set the foundation for me to succeed and fulfill all of my aspirations.”

“Professors did more than just prepare me for the next exam,” Rios said. “They ensured that I was prepared for the real work after graduation. They supported their teachings in class by exposing me to real, hands-on experience in business situations. I also learned to be a person of integrity.”

And integrity may be the most valuable and longest-lasting lesson Hankamer can impart.

Hankamer at a Glance

In 2009, the Hankamer School of Business celebrated 50 years of maintaining accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). AACSB International accreditation represents the highest standard of achievement for business schools worldwide. Institutions that earn accreditation confirm their commitment to quality and continuous improvement through a rigorous and comprehensive peer review.

Students: 2,670
Male Students: 1,609
Female Students: 1,061
Majors: 24
Average GPA: 3.089
Average SAT: 1194

Top 10 Most Common Majors
1. Accounting
2. Marketing
3. Finance
4. Management
5. Baylor Business Fellows
6. Computer Information Systems
7. Entrepreneurship
8. Real Estate
9. Economics
10. International Business

Hankamer Student Organizations:
Alpha Kappa Psi; Advertising Club of Baylor; American Marketing Association; Association of Information Technology Professionals; Association of Logistics, Procurement and Supply Chain Students; Baylor Association for Human Resource Management; Baylor Business Women; BU Investments Society; Collegiate Entrepreneur’s Organization; Delta Sigma Pi; Financial Management Association; Future Healthcare Executives; Gamma Iota Sigma; Hankamer Student Organization; Pi Sigma Epsilon; Sports Sponsorship & Sales Club; Uproar/The Industry

Hankamer Honor Societies:
Beta Alpha Psi, Beta Gamma Sigma, Financial Management Association National Honor Society, Omnicron Delta Epsilon


undergraduate article



Baylor Business Review, Fall 2010

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