Dean Raines named ‘Most Supportive Dean of the Year’ nationally
Following a fourth consecutive year as regional champions, the Belmont University Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team competed this week at the SIFE USA National Exposition in Philadelphia, finishing as the first runner up in their semi-final league. This placement translates to the Belmont SIFE team being among the Top Eight teams among the 370 total SIFE teams in the country. SIFE is an international organization that mobilizes students around the world to make a difference in their communities while developing the skills to become socially responsible business leaders.
In addition, Dr. J. Patrick Raines, dean of the College of Business Administration at Belmont University, received SIFE’s “Most Supportive Dean of the Year” award. Katie Ragsdale, a member of the Belmont SIFE team and entrepreneurship major, was called to the stage to make the presentation to Dean Raines. The Belmont team was also selected as a finalist for the 2009 SIFE USA Topic Competition for six of their projects and landed a trophy as first runner up in the Program Sustainability area.
Dr. John Gonas, assistant professor of finance and the 2008 Tennessee Professor of the Year, serves as a Sam Walton Fellow responsible for advising Belmont’s SIFE students. Adjunct instructor Cate Loes and Assistant Professor Jason Stahl also serve the team as Sam Walton Fellows. Stahl noted, “SIFE is such a great way to combine service with knowledge. Our students exemplify what a good education mixed with an earnest desire to help others can achieve. The projects at the national SIFE competition are top notch. It’s truly an honor to be ranked so highly amongst the best SIFE programs in the nation.”
Dean Raines added, “The depth and impact of the projects this SIFE team has undertaken are truly remarkable. Our Sam Walton Fellows did a fantastic job coordinating all of the projects and working with the students. Every student did a fantastic job completing the projects and presenting their results. They received excellent comments from the business executives judging the competition.”
Dr. Gonas remarked, “We certainly appreciate the awards we have received, yet are humbled to have been blessed with so many opportunities to take what we’re teaching and learning in the classroom and make sustainable, life changing impacts in our community. In our four years of existence Dean Raines has been there every step of the way. He has yet to miss a final rehearsal or any of the eight SIFE Regional and National Expositions. Our students truly enjoy his friendship and advice, and his award reflects their appreciation for all of his support and encouragement.”
During the 2008-09 academic year, the Belmont University SIFE Team organized 10 projects on campus and in the community. They addressed issues including refugee resettlement, financial literacy, business ethics, success skills and environmental sustainability. Students spent more than 1,300 volunteer hours developing and completing their projects. In addition to their work as SIFE members, they are involved in many other organizations and continue to progress toward earning academic degrees in one of four colleges across campus.
A few examples of the projects taken on by Belmont’s SIFE team are as follows:
• The students taught market economics to recently resettled Burundi refugees, creating a DVD in four languages to help teach refugees across the nation how to open bank accounts, write checks, use a debit card, and pay for purchases with money held in the bank account.
• SIFE students prepared a recent graduate of the Magdalene Thistle Farm’s program to take college entrance exams, apply for admission, and gain entrance into Nashville Tech’s Pre-Nursing Program.
• They wrote, designed and illustrated a children’s book titled Freddie’s Organic Farm, a first-person narrative written in both English and Spanish, educating readers on the benefits of organic farms.
• They wrote a question that was asked of the candidates at the Town Hall Presidential Debate and hosted an Ethics Essay Competition based on that question, providing cash prizes for the top essayists, and visited Metro Nashville Public Schools to educate students about voter issues prior to the election.
SIFE is an international non-profit active on more than 1,400 university campuses in 48 countries. SIFE Teams create economic opportunities in their communities by organizing outreach projects that focus on market economics, entrepreneurship, success skills, environmental sustainability, business ethics, and financial literacy.