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Fisher Spotlight
--1999 Annual Report--
-Fisher College of Business-
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Image-"Knowledge is Power"Image-"Knowledge is Power"
Image-"Knowledge is Power"Image-"Knowledge is Power"
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Patrick McCusker of the Wexner Center discusses strategy with Shawntera Hardy.
 
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Student Opportunities
Peter D. Easton

Leslie Edwards, Matt Howes, and Shawna Hardy

Undergraduate Honor Students


When a leading center of contemporary art looked to better position itself with the Ohio State community, it didn’t turn to Madison Avenue for marketing solutions. It looked to students. Undergraduate honors students to be exact.

It was a perfect fit, says Patrick McCusker, associate director for public affairs at the Wexner Center for the Arts. "One of our goals at the center is to help students develop lifelong patterns of arts attendance. On the occasion of our 10th anniversary we especially wanted to reach this audience. What better way than to work directly with our target market?"

Under the guidance of marketing professor Roger Blackwell, the class defined key strategy issues facing the center. "We conducted audience surveys and focus groups to collect data that was then presented to Wexner administrators," says honors student Shawntera Hardy. "As a group that shares a lot of classes together, we feel pretty comfortable with each other. It helps when you work as a unit. You can capitalize on the combined strength of the team."

According to McCusker, the collaboration offered the Wexner Center an opportunity to zero in on its campus audience. "We knew we were doing many things right, but the class recommendations helped us focus our activities and kept us moving in the right direction.

"Finding answers to business problems is just one way Fisher undergraduate students learn. In Professor Rick Murdock’s honors accounting class, creating independent research is the name of the game. In this unique Fisher course, students are taught how to conduct, prepare and present original research. "The students are first exposed to many different types of accounting research. Then we let curiosity take over. It’s not me telling my students what to study. It’s them saying, now that we’ve seen what’s out there and how it’s been done, we’d like to tackle this problem and see what original conclusions we can draw," says Murdock.

According to student Matt Howes, completing a thesis and graduating with distinction, although rewarding, is no easy task. "It takes an additional year to complete the course. The summer is filled with developing questionnaires, analyzing statistics and gathering empirically based data. The research is defended and then critiqued by faculty advisors who have been instrumental throughout the process."

The key to success for many Fisher students is individual attention and coaching by faculty. When undergraduate honors student Leslie Edwards first decided to write her thesis on popular music and its effects on advertising, she was passionate about her topic but had no idea where to start. That’s where her mentor and marketing professor Leslie Fine came in. "She taught me what research is all about," says Edwards. "She was with me every step of the way. Together we set up a timetable and schedule, and then met every other week to keep me on track."

Through Professor Fine’s expertise, Edwards learned how to administer a survey, conduct an experimental design and analyze data. "Professor Fine’s skills as a researcher really complemented my ideas. She was truly my inspiration in getting through the process."

The independent research experience has certainly paid off. Edwards’ work not only helped her to graduate with honors and distinction this summer; it earned her a place in Ohio State’s Denman Undergraduate Research Forum. Shawntera Hardy was also accepted into the competitive forum and walked away with first place for her research on elderly consumer fraud.

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