Marketing professor Michael Hohn doesn’t like fake case studies. He prefers bringing the curriculum to life by instigating legitimate projects with real impact. That’s exactly what his Sales and Marketing class did last semester.
Director of Student Life Kim Stave “hired” Hohn’s class to help her department answer an important question: How can Multnomah University increase occupancy in the dorms? The business majors divided into three teams to create a value proposition, conduct research, gather data and analyze their findings. This allowed them to offer evidence-based recommendations to their client.
“As we worked on the project, it was awesome to see how we were immediately able to apply what we were learning in class,” says business student Valerie Wakefield.
Her classmate Robbie Miller concurs. “Our business classes taught us that we’d need extensive and thorough research to do a good job on this project.”
The amount of data they gathered even kept Hohn on his toes. “It was the most memorable of any projects that I can remember!” he says.
After administering a competitive analysis, Miller and his team came up with a few proposals to make dorm life more attractive, such as planning more student events on campus and adding a new communal student area. “A long-term goal is to create a space for students to gather other than the JCA,” Miller explains. “It’d be a space where people would walk to and not walk through.”
At the culmination of their work, the students presented their findings to the judges, a group of faculty and staff members, including Business Department Chair Lee Sellers and Multnomah University President Craig Williford. The teams were judged on the depth and scope of their research as well as the quality of their recommendations. The group with the winning proposal was awarded dinner at Portland City Grill with Sellers, Williford and Stave.
Although the students are young in their careers, Stave and her department found their work extremely helpful. “Our students are intelligent and creative, and they came up with some ideas that we will certainly consider implementing,” says Stave. “The fact that all three groups, each approaching the project from a different angle, came to some of the same conclusions was significant to me.”
The students feel confident that the experience afforded them important skills for their future jobs. “This project was good practice on how to communicate well with group members and stay on the same page,” says Miller.
Wakefield agrees. “I was able to practice skills that are useful in most any profession,” she says. “I’ve even applied some things we learned in my everyday interactions!”