Business ethics competition puts students to the test

Business students tested their ethical reasoning skills in a new college-wide business ethics competition Oct. 27. The Business Ethics Cam Slam was open to all undergraduate business majors and minors. Teams of three students had 90 minutes to analyze a business ethics case, develop an ethical framework and solution and create presentation slides and a 10-minute video. The top four competitors then defended their ethical choices to a panel of judges to win prize money.

Applied Instructor of Management and Marketing Claire Cornell served as faculty adviser for the competition. While Cornell chose the ethics case and secured judges representing area law firms and corporations, she enlisted the help of students in TU’s NOVA Fellowship program to coordinate promotion and logistics. NOVA Fellows Dustin Pumphrey (BSBA ’17), an MBA student; Steve Neal, a senior CIS major; Michael Wentz (BS ’17), an MBA student; and Ram Disabar, a sophomore petroleum engineering major, took on tasks from producing a promotional video to overseeing the technology teams used to create their final videos. Fourteen teams competed, exceeding the planning team’s goal of 10.

The competition positions students as corporate executives faced with a business case. The teams must pick an ethical framework, identify the stakeholders and short- and long-term effects, analyze the triple bottom line and make a recommendation for the business. Senior marketing major Keegan Sandusky says, “The competition gave me a chance to experience decision-making in a way I hadn’t had to before.” Teammate and senior sports management major Max Griffin adds, “It shows you all of the different things businesses have to consider. It’s important to know when you’re about to enter into a business environment what kind of things they have to deal with. It really prepares you to start working in the job force.”

Karoline Newell is a senior majoring in organizational studies, which blends the study of management, communication and psychology into an interdisciplinary program. “I think that makes my involvement in this project even more important,” she explains. “Collaboration between the arts and business brings a new, creative perspective that benefits everyone.” She adds that the process was an interactive, innovative learning experience. “Between the time pressures and the group dynamic, the competition really forces you to put your ideas out there and go with your gut. We had a great time because we were able to apply what we learned in the classroom and collaborate with peers.”

Teammate Stacey Johnston, a senior majoring in management, says the time limitation proved the most challenging aspect of the competition. “We had lots of ideas, so condensing them to effectively portray our views in such a short amount of time was difficult. But, our team was great at communicating and we had previously practiced working under time constraints, so we felt decently prepared ahead of time.”

That preparation paid off: Their team, which also included senior marketing major Caitlyn San Pablo, took top honors in the competition. Newell encourages students to get involved in future competitions as a fun way to add professional experience to their résumés. “TU is doing a great job of bringing ethics to the forefront of business studies and working to create a class of young professionals ready to enter the workforce with an arsenal of skills.”

Competition winners

business ethics competition
Dean Gale Sullenberger with first place team Karoline Newell, Caitlyn San Pablo and Stacey Johnston
Janet Cairns assists second place team Tyler Good, Max Griffin and Keegan Sandusky during the competition
Third place team Daniel Bucklin, Julie Combs and Joey Zitzman present their case during the interview



Jared Mason
Program Support Manager/Ethics Officer
L3 Technologies/Aeromet

Patrick Cipolla
Vice President and Associate General Counsel – Compliance & Ethics

Amber Waid
Attorney at Law

Sarah C. Miller
Hall Estill Attorneys at Law

Graham Branan
Executive Director
The Metropolitan Environmental Trust

Competition judges Sarah Miller, Amber Waid, Jared Mason, Graham Branan and Patrick Cipolla