$1 Million for Business Excellence
CHESTERTOWN, MD—Washington College’s Department of Business Management will launch an ambitious new effort focused on student research and experiential opportunities thanks to a $1 million grant from a Warehime family foundation. The funding will create the Warehime Fund for Student Excellence in Business, which, when fully matured, will provide the department $50,000 a year to support student research, entrepreneurship, professional networking, and other initiatives to complement the department’s curricular offerings.
“It’s extraordinary, and we are so grateful to Beth Warehime and the foundation,” says Susan Vowels, chair and associate professor of business management. “Our goal from this gift is to provide the opportunity for every one of our students, whether in the major or the minors we offer, to participate in at least one of these experiences.”
Warehime ’13, who majored in business management with a minor in sociology, says choosing WC’s Department of Business Management was “a no-brainer … as one of our main focuses as a foundation is on education.”
“I’ve always valued my liberal arts education that I received from Washington College, and I do think it’s shaped me into the person I am today. Without the small classes, allowing for a great student/professor interaction, I would not have been able to customize elements of my education that enabled me to focus on my particular interests,” she says. “I had such an incredible experience during my four years as an undergrad, and I would love to be able to help others have that same experience.”
The Warehime Fund for Student Excellence in Business will support a variety of opportunities including:
- Funding advanced research techniques in senior capstone experiences (SCEs), such as performing primary research through surveys or interviews, traveling off-campus to learn first-hand about firms or business techniques, and using analytical tools on research databases;
- Establishing Warehime Fellows, students who will work closely with faculty mentors to produce high-quality academic research, with the aim of submitting their final products for publication in peer-reviewed journals;
- Funding student participation in academic and practitioner conferences to present research, network with professionals, and increase their knowledge of the latest in business theory and practice;
- Funding student participation in case competitions, experiential-learning focused activities such as Enactus team summits and national competitions;
- Funding of student pursuit of entrepreneurial projects outside of their SCE.
The business management major is one of the most popular at the College, with 165 students in the department in academic year 2018-2019, Vowels says. It already has distinctive hands-on programs including the Brown Advisory Student-Managed Investment Fund Program; offers minors in accounting, finance, international business, and marketing; contributes to the interdisciplinary communication and media studies major as well as interdisciplinary minors in data analytics and information systems, as well as the minor in arts management and entrepreneurship; and annually takes about two-dozen students abroad for the summer international business experience.
In addition, post-graduate partnerships with the College of William & Mary Mason School of Business and Loyola University Maryland provide paths for students seeking master’s degrees in accounting, as well as the Emerging Leaders MBA provided by Loyola University Maryland. Students who are business minors can also take advantage of a post-graduate partnership with Wake Forest University’s School of Business to pursue a master’s degree in management.
The grant will “help the department go to another level,” Vowels says, allowing flexible use of the money, rather than restricting funds to a single program. “The innovative part of this fund is that this will evolve as the curricular needs evolve, as student interests evolve, as the business world evolves, and as external opportunities evolve.” The research opportunities in particular are “a totally new piece. Now we will be able to provide students with funding if they want to do something extraordinary for their senior capstone, if they want to spend time with a particular firm, or need a special software package for their SCE.”
Vowels says the foundation’s goals and the College’s aligned perfectly in the emphasis on student experience.
“The foundation has the mission of impact, innovate, educate. So they are looking for innovative use of the funds they are providing to come up with substantive student impact. Their focus is on students, and that’s where the focus is for us as well.”
For the coming year, the department is working on planning to ensure “we are good stewards of this money,” Vowels says. By fall of 2020, students and faculty should be able to begin taking advantage of the new opportunities that the Warehime Fund for Student Excellence in Business will make possible.