These St. Bonaventure students organized a 3-on-3 basketball tournament this past semester as part of a class project. Held in memory of Dr. John J. Watson, a marketing professor who died in May, the event raised $3,600 for the Chris Dudley Foundation, which assists people who have diabetes. From left are Justin Walker, a junior marketing major from Canandaigua, N.Y.; Zachary Clark, a senior management major from Auburn, N.Y.; James Reed, a junior finance major from St. Charles, Ill.; Mike Iulianello, a junior marketing major from Webster, N.Y.; and Taylor Lang, a junior marketing major from Meadville, Pa.
ABOVE: One of the fliers posted on campus to promote the Taste of Bonaventure event.
BELOW: Hungry students join the Taste of Bonaventure buffet line in the university Rathskeller.
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — For anyone who has ever argued that classroom instruction is no match for hands-on experience, welcome to the best of both worlds: Marketing 310: Event and Sponsorship Marketing, a course offered by the School of Business at St. Bonaventure University.
Students in this class not only get valuable real-world experience in planning and staging an event, but in the process they raise real money – more than $5,000 last semester alone – for charities.
This past semester, student teams organized and held six events, raising approximately $5,300, all of which was distributed to charitable organizations such as Toys for Tots, the SPCA and St. Bonaventure’s own Warming House, one of the oldest student-run soup kitchens in the nation.
In the four years that the class has been offered, students have raised more than $18,000 for organizations on campus and in the community. Events have included such things as a youth hockey clinic, a “Taste of Bonaventure” event offering samplings from campus eateries, a chicken wing-eating competition and a pizza sale.
“The basic objective of the course is to provide students with broad insights in the managerial decision-making involved in the development, planning, and implementation of events supported by sponsorships for various enterprises,” said Dr. Michael Russell, professor of marketing at St. Bonaventure.
Students in the class are divided into teams. Each team comes up with an event, approved by Russell, then gets to work on the many and varied aspects that go into event management, including soliciting sponsors so that the event actually raises money. This is where the classroom and the real world intersect, said Russell.
“The course is designed to enhance student skills in a number of areas: written and verbal communication, organization and planning, time management, and the ability to work together as a team,” he said. “The challenge for students is to effectively put their knowledge to work.”
They sometimes find themselves adrift in uncharted waters. For example, said Russell, “Individual teams have to handle everything, even their own publicity, and many team members have never developed a press release or dealt with the Office of Communications on campus.”
Students also have to learn to expect the unexpected, and to be able to think on their feet. There was momentary panic when a disc jockey failed to show for one team’s event last semester. But a quick-thinking team member ran home, got her laptop, and plugged into a music website. Disaster averted.
Students give the class high marks.
“It was a truly great experience,” said Jaclyn Prechtl, a junior marketing major from Bemus Point, N.Y., whose team staged the “Taste of Bonaventure” event. “As individuals we had to take charge and carry responsibilities that had to get done so the entire group did well. We had to rely on one another. It wasn’t always easy, but we were able to overcome some obstacles and make the event a success.”
Senior marketing major Bridget Monahan from Lyndhurst, Ohio, a member of a team that held a Christmas formal on campus as a fundraiser for Toys for Tots, said the experience showed her “the importance of working with teammates to accomplish a goal.” It was also rewarding, she said, especially when the proceeds were presented to Toys for Tots. “This warmed my heart because I was able to see firsthand the effect (our project) had on the local community,” she said.
The class is definitely a win-win, said Professor Russell.
“This class is a great opportunity for our students to demonstrate the skills they have learned in school and, more importantly, an opportunity to give back to the community. These experiences encourage the type of community involvement we hope our graduates will continue in their professional careers,” he said.
About the University: Inspired for more than 150 years by the Catholic Franciscan values of individual dignity, community inclusiveness, and service, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them.