UNI students compete in first Diversity Case Competition

The University of Northern Iowa's College of Business Administration held its first Diversity Case Competition on Jan. 26. The competition provided students the opportunity to develop important professional skills such as analyzing and responding quickly to issues involving diversity.

Five teams, which consisted of UNIBusiness majors and students from other UNI colleges and programs, were asked to find a solution to this diversity-related problem: "UNIBusiness is facing challenges in recruiting and retaining underrepresented students."

Diversity Case Competition
One of the five teams selected to participate in the final round
of the UNIBusiness Diversity Case Competition presents their
solutions to a diversity-related issue.

The student team, whose recommendations included integrating diversity instead of educating about it, staffing more people from underrepresented backgrounds, introducing a Diversity Ambassador and making UNI a model on diversity, won first place in the competition.

The team, which received $2,000, was comprised of Philip Musson, a senior majoring in Spanish; Ethan Thompson, a junior majoring in marketing: management; and sophomores Megan Heemstra, majoring in marketing: advertising and Michelle Prieto, a management: human resources major.

"The UNIBusiness Diversity Case Competition was an opportunity for students to think about important diversity-related issues," said Mary Connerley, professor and head of the UNI Department of Management. "The students are to be congratulated for taking this competition so seriously and for coming up with a wealth of ideas for increasing underrepresented student populations on campus and specifically, in the college."

"This competition gives students, not only those in the College of Business Administration, a chance to share their ideas and create solutions to solve diversity-related problems," said Heemstra. "It also gives students an opportunity to increase their professional speaking skills."

More than 15 teams entered the competition, five of which were selected to present their case solutions in the final round. Each team was evaluated on the feasibility and depth of their recommendation, presentation skills, flow and organization, creativity and their responses to the judge's questions.

Serving as judges in the final round were Carly Williams, U.S. diversity sourcing leader from PricewaterhouseCoopers; Angela Weekley, community inclusion manager at Veridian Credit Union; and Gloria Gibson, the executive vice president & provost at UNI.

"I have heard positive comments from the student participants," said Connerley. "Many talked about learning new things about what the college and university already do to increase underrepresented student populations. Others reflected on the benefits of increasing underrepresented student populations."

UNIBusiness hopes to continue the Diversity Case Competition in the future. "If this becomes an annual event, it will be a space for open and honest discussion about all types of diversity," said Kofi Sam, a graduate assistant in the Public Policy Program and Diversity Case Competition participant. "Clearly, people can see racial differences, but beyond that there is gender, sexual orientation, national origin and so many more. People will get to learn about diversity in a different light."