The Added Dimension

Mirroring the increasing complexity of the business world itself, student clubs at Commerce continue to grow in number and become more specialized in focus, while offering broader ranges of services and experiences to their constituencies.


The number of clubs and business fraternities at CBA now stands at almost thirty, representing a cross-section of professional interests and social opportunities. Some of these organizations are just getting started. Others are venerable institutions on the business campus, dating back to vastly different decades. What the groups all share is the commitment to opening new opportunities for students, thus helping their members to get the most out of the precious days of student life. Bringing in speakers from the business world to talk on current issues and career paths has long been an important activity for these clubs.  So has maintaining those all-important, all-too-fragile ties to alumni. With the passing of years, our students have, with characteristic ingenuity and innovation, created other ways in which the clubs of CBA can make a difference, from peer advising sessions and résumé-writing workshops to Web sites, socials, and road trips.

As part of a continuing series on student organizations at CBA, this issue of InSight presents profiles of five of the college's discipline-related undergraduate groups. The honorary societies at CBA will be featured next.

American Marketing Association

The American Marketing Association has a very special place at Illinois — both the association itself and the association's first student chapter started on this campus.  It was 1937 when the AMA was founded by Paul D. Converse, an esteemed professor of business administration at Commerce.

Students who join the AMA at Illinois thus join a venerable university tradition, becoming members in the AMA's first student chapter, which dates to 1949 and has won national and regional recognition. In 1998 the chapter was named Outstanding Regional Chapter-Midwestern Region and also received awards for Chapter Programming and Outstanding Marketing Week. Membership stands at around 150 students, about two-thirds of whom are actively involved in nine committees. Public relations marketing projects comprise the club's flagship efforts, and, during the past year, clients have included Kaplan Educational Centers, Hawaiian Vintage Chocolate (a coffeehouse and chocolatier on Green Street), Delights! (the popular frozen yogurt and ice cream store), and (an e-mail service). Vicky Cheng, president of AMA, said that Kaplan was so pleased with the project, which included promoting free practice tests of the LSAT and GMAT, that the marketing campaign will go national next year through efforts by AMA chapters at Purdue, Ball State, and other schools. "The public relations projects are a win-win proposition," noted Cheng. "They provide students with the opportunity to make and follow a marketing plan and build teamwork skills while working for a real company with real marketing issues. At the same time, the company receives free marketing advice and fresh ideas from students. Both parties are learning from each other." An AMA member since she was a sophomore, Cheng became very involved with the chapter in her junior year — notwithstanding the somewhat surprising fact that she's majoring in accountancy. "Many of our students are not marketing majors," she said, noting that the club has proved particularly attractive to finance and MIS majors. Company speakers, who tend to get recruited through alumni and personal contacts, as well as Commerce Career Fair, have in the past year included representatives from Leo Burnett, Lucent, General Electric, Black & Decker, CDW, and Northwest Mutual Life, and have offered perspectives on career paths in such areas as advertising, brand/product management, sales, and marketing research. The club maintains regular office hours
at its cubicle in the Illini Union, providing résumé and data sheet critiques and counseling on interview techniques. The chapter's fundraising committee does one philanthropic activity each semester: beneficiaries have included Alternative Spring Break and Habitat for Humanity. One of the highlights of the year is the club's annual Etiquette Dinner, which provides a hands-on forum for learning about business etiquette. Another key club initiative is Marketing Week, a national AMA effort that includes panel presentations, socials, and other events. Benefits to members also include discounts on professional publications, an employment kit, a newsletter, and software.

Advisor: James Hess, Business Administration

Economics Club

After a period of "creative destruction" — which has included rewriting the group's constitution and becoming a registered student organization — the Economics Club is back, sporting a new Web site and lots of plans. With a core membership of around forty-five, the club has a tradition of serving as a connection that brings together CBA and LAS students who are majoring in economics and finance. Until the new student lounge in Commerce West is completed, there is "no central meeting place for business students," noted Doug Paxson, a junior economics and finance major from LAS, who is serving his second year-long term as club president. "Other than going to class, the club is about the only place in which I've met other business students," remarked Paxson. Involved with the club since he was a freshman, Paxson said that the club hosts at least two speakers each semester and has offered peer advising — which take place just prior to registration — for the past four semesters. Plans call for inviting more speakers, promoting social activities, encouraging greater student/faculty interaction, and taking on one or more service projects. "We aim for two events per month. But one of the problems we face is a lack of resources," said Paxson, with charming candor. "The bigger clubs have more money — like for pizza. We always have our best attendance when we can find a way to get pizza there."

"We're really growing right now," he concluded. "We've got major energy. The club has the potential to be an important part of college life — to offer students something beyond taking fifty minutes of notes and going home."

Advisor: Colleen Houlihan,

Information Systems Association

With a membership that's now at around 120 students and increasing steadily, the growth of the Information Systems Association reflects the growth of the interest in MIS. Offered as an emphasis in the undergraduate program in business administration, and also a second-year track for Illinois MBA students, MIS — the acronym for management information systems — provides sought-after computer skills that are highly marketable. "In the fall of 1993 there were 27 MIS majors. In the fall of '99 there were 330," said Kristen Harding, a senior in MIS who is club president. "Even so, the supply of MIS majors can't meet the demand right now." To keep its membership informed about career prospects and opportunities, the club arranges for speakers at its general meetings, which are held four or five times a semester. This spring's schedule has included visits by representatives from Arthur Andersen, Hewitt & Associates, KPMG, and Ernst & Young. The club gives each presenter a special thank you gift — a book of members' résumés. These have proved to be "a huge asset" according to Harding. They provide a convenient source of information on the skills of MIS students whom the companies may want to recruit. The club also provides advice to younger members about MIS classes and the professors who are teaching them. Plans call for a new shadowing program, in which juniors will pair up to shadow systems analysts at major firms such as Andersen, PWC, and Hewitt. In April, there will be a field trip to Andersen Consulting in Chicago.

Advisor: Peter Silhan, Accountancy

What the groups all share is the commitment to opening new opportunities for students, thus helping their members to get the most out of the precious days of student life.

Phi Beta Lambda

For members of Phi Beta Lambda, the annual State Leadership Conference in April is "the highlight

of the year," according to Kari Proper, a junior IDM major who serves as secretary for the group. Part of a national organization which is also the umbrella for Future Business Leaders of America at the high school and middle school levels and for a professional division of business people, educators, and faculty, Phi Beta Lambda dates to 1937. Gamma Pi, the Illinois chapter, was founded in 1984 and currently has around fifty members. The state conference provides the group with a special opportunity to meet with members from twenty-two chapters at other colleges and universities throughout Illinois. The Fall Leadership Conference and national conferences draw students from around the country — though getting there isn't always easy. "The Fall Leadership Conference was in North Carolina," said Proper. "So we decided to take a bus trip to Chicago and visit the Board of Trade instead." Easygoing informality and spontaneity are hallmarks of the group. Career Night features invited speakers from companies such as General Electric, Walgreen's, and Martin, Hood & Friese, a local accounting firm. The group also offers various workshops and supports the March of Dimes, while social events run to hiking and walleyball. "Phi Beta Lambda is a flexible group — what you put into it, you get out of it," said Proper. "It's an easy way to get into a leadership position — to get involved a lot more and take on a lot of different responsibilities."

Advisor: Michael Dyer, Finance

Project Discovery Accounting Society

"Accounting is a dynamic and changing field, with a dynamic and changing curriculum. Our club gives members a forum to keep up with the changes and to talk to prospective employers," said Laura Gregory, a senior accountancy major and presi-dent of the Project Discovery Accounting Society. In fact, said Gregory, accountancy has become so pivotal that "our membership is not limited to accountancy majors. Business administration and finance students also join, because they want to find out about the changes going on." The society was formed in 1996, when the Project Discovery Student Association and the Accounting Club, founded by Shari Greco Reiches (BS `84) and Neal Goldstein (BS `84), were merged. The union reflected the implementation of the groundbreaking Project Discovery curriculum that in the fall of 1997 became the sole undergraduate accountancy curriculum available to Commerce undergraduates. The club now has around 200 members and offers a variety of activities, including a fall banquet, a career night, and a Public Profiles series that brings representatives from top accounting firms and other companies to meet with students. The 1999_2000 schedule has included presentations by speakers from Merrill-Lynch, Quaker Oats, and several top accounting firms. Said Gregory: "Our membership is especially interested in finding out what perceptions are in the big firms as far as the new 150-hour requirement for the CPA exam. These meetings provide a good forum in which students can find out whether a company supports internship experiences for the fifth year of study. It makes the students feel better about completing a program that requires a lot of extra time and effort."

The club also offers résumé-writing workshops and tutoring services. "The professors have really been requesting that we make extra help available to students," Gregory said. New this semester — a panel presentation for younger students on what to expect in the accountancy program. The panel will be held in April, just prior to registration, and will be conducted by officers of the club and older members, who will offer discussion and advice on different faculty teaching styles and recommended classes. "We're really excited," concluded Gregory.

Advisors: Ira Solomon and Richard Ziegler, Accountancy


I N  M E M O R I A M

Deogratias Asiimwe died in July 1999, in Champaign. He was 49.
A native of Fort Portal, Uganda, he was to have graduated with the Illinois MBA Class of 2000. "Deo," as he was affectionately known, studied at St. Mary's Seminary Virika in Fort Portal, and was ordained as a deacon. In 1979 he came to America, where he earned a B.A. in communications from Boston University. He lived and worked in Boston, San Diego, and Chicago,
 and served six years with the U.S. Navy. A memorial service was held for him on September 2, 1999, in the Levis Faculty Center. Written by his friends in the Illinois MBA program, the notes for the service observed that "Deo touched the hearts of many of his classmates. His infectious laugh and smile brightened the days of those around him. He always put the needs of others before his own. For that, we love him. He was a good man with a loving heart. Deo touched our souls and will be greatly missed." The MBA program has dedicated a plaque in his honor, to be hung in David Kinley Hall. His friends and Commerce classmates and professors also made a donation in his memory to the American Diabetes Association in Decatur. He is buried at the National Veterans Cemetery in Danville.