SALT LAKE CITY -- Executive MBA students from the David Eccles School of Business at The University of Utah raised $160,000 in cash and in-kind contributions to help the Utah chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation grant wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.
Student teams participating in Professor Harris Sondak's advanced negotiations class raised the funding and contributions from business, corporations, foundations and individuals within their own social and business networks - even digging into their own pockets for $10,000 of that total.
"We wanted to put students into a position where they could work as teams toward a meaningful, shared goal, in this case working toward a beneficial outcome while becoming embedded in community service," said Sondak. "This was a very different approach from the usual classroom role-playing used to teach negotiation skills."
Sondak, who adapted the project from one originally developed by the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, declares the effort was a "huge success," not only in terms of donations, but as a lesson for future business leaders about how commerce and community should intersect. Students presented the funds to Make-a-Wish Foundation leadership on Friday, April 13, 2012, during an event held on campus.
"We are honored and humbled to receive such a generous donation from these students, their friends and colleagues," said Shar Lewis, CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Utah. "The hard work and good deeds of these students will forever impact our children."
Nationally, Make-A-Wish grants special trips and experiences -- everything from family trips to Disneyland to visits with celebrities or attending such events as the NBA All-Star or Super Bowl games -- to one child in the U.S. every 40 minutes. The organization's Utah chapter (www.utah.wish.org) grants 160 wishes a year; more than 2,700 children have had their wishes granted in Utah since the state chapter was founded in 1985.
"This real-world assignment really made the classroom's lessons truly come alive," said Aaron Hall, Executive MBA candidate. "The fundraising component took students out of their comfort zones. It was much more collaborative and much more purposeful."
"Watching the students meet and even exceed their fundraising goals makes me proud on both a personal and academic level," said Brad Vierig, director of the David Eccles School of Business' Executive MBA program. "This just shows the depth of character and quality of our students and faculty."