Business Schools

Texas B-Club Back on Campus


McCombs undergrad business council's inappropriate activities. Plus: GMAT hits the road; Michigan State, Illinois teams win competitions

With such a strong focus on career development and classwork, it's sometimes hard to forget that undergraduate business majors are simply that—17- to 22-year-old college students. But that doesn't mean they're immune to having a little fun and even getting carried away sometimes.

A University of Texas at Austin McCombs School club is familiar with that desire. After a semester-long suspension for blurring the lines between professional and social activities, the Undergraduate Business Council will begin operating again on campus in January. The group is the governing body for McCombs students.

"It was acting more like a fraternity and not a government group," says Urton Anderson, associate dean for undergraduate programs at McCombs.

An incident involving a student accidentally swallowing a razor blade during a club skit triggered inquiries into group members' behavior, said Anderson. The student, who ended up being fine, went to the emergency room. The episode was then reported to the dean of students. Anderson made it clear that the razor blade-swallowing was an accident and not a form of hazing.

Chris Dorsey, president of the council, says the club had a "culture of risky behavior," that included sexual promiscuity, alcohol use, and announcing parties during meetings, Dorsey said. "When you're supposed to be the governing body of the school, you're held to higher standards," he says.

The university and organization executive board have taken several measures to ensure that everything is kept business-minded. A school staff member will be at all functions, which can only be held on campus. The students appointed an internal controls officer to increase transparency, monitor the council listserv, and keep an open relationship with the adviser, among other duties.

"The students did a good job on the proposal they put together. Things are working out. They do contribute a lot. They just needed a little straightening out, and if they want a social group they have to form another organization," says Anderson.

GMAT Goes Mobile

Taking the GMAT is an essential part of the graduate B-school application process. But an inconvenient test center location is a major disincentive for some students hoping to enter business school.

That's why the folks who run the GMAT have taken action. For the first time, a bus tricked-out as a mobile test center is traveling to areas where the test is not easily accessible. The 49-stop tour is heading mostly to historically black and Hispanic schools and military institutions, ending on May 31.

"We thought, 'What if we created a Dr. GMAT? A doctor that makes house calls,'" says David A. Wilson, president and chief executive of the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the exam.

The mobile center has six testing stations with the same stringent security measures as other testing facilities. For a current schedule of the test sites, go to gmac.com.

Biz Programs Compete

Students from sports powerhouses competed in games other than football in November. At the first annual Fisher Biz Quiz National Challenge, held at Ohio State's Fisher College of Business, teams from 11 undergraduate B-schools battled each other in their knowledge of various aspects of the corporate world.

Each participating school brought a team of three students to the Biz Quiz. In different rounds, they answered questions on an individual basis and as a team. Questions came from recent stories from The Wall Street Journal, a sponsor of the challenge.

The trio from Michigan State University's Broad College won the overall competition, followed by Wake Forest's Calloway School and Penn State's Smeal College. MSU's undergrads won a $3,000 cash prize.

Idea Wins Interviews

A team of undergrads from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has the chance to interview at Microsoft's (MSFT) headquarters in Redmond, Wash. And it's all thanks to mtvU—the college-focused branch of MTV Networks (VIA).

The Illinois students won this season's Quad Squads, a TV show that puts students from rival colleges head-to-head in business-related competition. Illinois and Indiana University students had to create and implement plans to increase awareness and use of Microsoft's Windows Live Local Search mapping program.

"From the moment students set foot on campus, [they figure out] how four years are going to translate into the dream job and dream career. We've tried to develop mtvU as an incubator for careers," says Stephen Friedman, general manager of mtvU.

Illinois was chosen because the university's group built its presentation around one idea—a mobile marketing tour that targets college students on spring break. Basically, travelers would have access to Windows Live Local Search to find local hotspots and events.

Gordon is a reporter for BusinessWeek.com in New York.

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