The Kogod School of Business (KSB) notified students through an email from Dean John Delaney on Nov. 29 that the school would not be hosting its Annual Kogod Case Competition this year in order to shift the focus to the launch of the new Business of Diversity program.
Delaney called the cancellation a “strategic decision” in the email, that is “based on current trends on campus and around the world.” He encouraged students to participate in external case competitions and the Business of Diversity program instead. The new diversity program began on Nov. 30 with two discussion sessions to give students a chance to share their “experiences and strategies for having potentially difficult conversations,” according to Delaney’s email.
The Annual Kogod Case Competition is a premiere event on campus, during which a panel of judges ask undergraduate and graduate students to present solutions to real-world business cases, according to the KSB website. The first three places in each division win cash prizes and the top teams have the opportunity to advance to regional competitions.
The new Business of Diversity program will include a series of events, such as a panel on women in accounting, a panel on identifying as LGBTQ in the workplace and a workshop on the role of fake news in the 2016 election, according to Associate Director of Graduate Programming and Student Activities Andrew Toczydlowski. The staff in KSB are working with students, alumni and business professionals to coordinate these events on diversity and inclusion.
Toczydlowski said he and Kate Irving, associate director of Undergraduate Programming and Student Activities, formally proposed the case competition’s hiatus and their new Business of Diversity program to Dean Delaney in mid-November. They did so because the competition needed some improvements, which KSB staff are currently working to address during the year off, Toczydlowski said.
“Re-envisioning the competition had been on our minds for some time but our new dean encourages evaluation,” Toczydlowski said in an email. “The proposal was approved so we could benchmark, increase academic value and do a structural overhaul to the competition this year.”
While KSB is encouraging students to take part in other programs, Toczydlowski said the diversity program is not a substitute for the case competition, and that the competition will return in 2018.
“The Business of Diversity wasn’t necessarily a substitution. It was a tandem announcement to say we have other programming in Kogod in lieu of a case competition this year,” Toczydlowski said. “The subgoal of [student participation in] these external competitions is being able to benchmark what these [external] organizations are doing so we can get some best practices from there.”
Toczydlowski said a few examples of external case competitions that students could participate in included an MBA analytics case competition and a sustainability competition for Nespresso.
Both Toczydlowski and Irving emphasized the importance of external case competitions for students during this hiatus.
“Moving forward with the Business of Diversity program, there’s more money to give students to participate in external case competitions that are much more geared towards their particular specialization or major,” Irving said.
Toczydlowski said that the faculty and staff in KSB are working together to reformat the case competition into something more beneficial for students. This could mean inviting other universities to participate, offering the opportunity for students to work on live cases with legitimate companies and incorporating the themes of diversity and inclusion, he said.
“[This year] is the hiatus; it will absolutely be coming back in 2018,” Toczydlowski said. “We are trying to make it more academic. We realized that with the Kogod Case Competition, we were duplicating what’s happening in the classroom. So [we have to] think of some innovative approaches to how we can reformat the competition for 2018.”
Toczydlowski and Irving said they received mixed emotions from students on the news of the competition’s cancellation. Kogod sophomores Haewon Jeong and Sammy Boyd both said they were disappointed by the news.
“Originally, I was really surprised,” Boyd said. “The case competition is something that Kogod emphasizes to students and prospective students. I am kind of disappointed because I was hoping to compete this year. And although it’s important to learn more about diversity and inclusion, especially after this election, I feel like panels and discussions aren’t the same immersive business experience as the case competition.”
Jeong said he understands the need to emphasize diversity and inclusion, but he still did not agree with the decision to cancel the competition.
“As an immigrant and minority myself, I recognize firsthand the need for increased diversity and inclusion that allows more opportunities for disadvantaged students to be successful,” Jeong said in an email. “I am weary of whether cancelling the Kogod Case [competition] to make room for such [a] program was the right decision. A lot of students who participate earn real world connections that lead to professional opportunities and skills that lead to future success through the Kogod case [competition].”
Jeong and Boyd said they planned on participating in the newly reformatted competition next year.
Correction: The original story incorrectly stated that an example of an external case competition was "one on analytics for the NBA." It has been updated to correctly say "an MBA analytics competition," referring to a Master's of Business degree.