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BEST program seeks applicants

Jan. 28, 2004

By Melissa Merriman, reporter

In addition to being recruited by major corporations to be the best they can be, now Baylor students are being recruited to join the BEST class as well.

BEST, which stands for Business Excellence Scholarship Team, is a two-semester course that takes the place of a business policy course and an upper level elective. The program provides an opportunity to gain professional skills through involvement in various learning methods, teamwork, assigned field cases and international exposure.

The program is not designed for just anyone interested in gaining these skills. According to Dr. Terry S. Maness, dean of the business school, BEST is an advanced strategic management course designed for academically excellent students.

'Each member is a respected leader in his or her own right,' Jessica Murphy, a BEST recruiting committee member and Dallas senior, said.

The 2003-2004 BEST students are now seeking those who meet the criteria this week. Qualifying students must be juniors according to credit hours, must have a 'good' GPA and must be able to commit to BEST for both semesters of the 2004-2005 school year.

The BEST program began at Baylor in 1991. There are 28 students in the program, but the class size can vary year to year depending on the number of qualified applicants and the quota set by the Hankamer School of Business.

BEST functions as an honor society within the business school, and students are chosen through a tedious application and review process, according to BEST members.

Students must first ask a professor for nomination to the program. After nominations are received, qualified nominees must fill out an application and submit a resume. Applicants are then selected for interviews with the BEST recruitment committee, which consists of BEST members.

'Because of the open-forum class setting, each student is forced to think for themselves and approach a situation from a total business perspective, not just a financial or marketing viewpoint,' Murphy said. 'But the benefits don't end there.'

Many major companies are aware of the BEST program and specifically recruit team members.

Kim Keyes of JP Morgan said her company looks to BEST students because 'they are obviously hard-working, ethical and well-prepared individuals.'

That preparation comes from practice, and some BEST students say they get practice by solving real business problems through their assigned field case.

'Every project is unique,' Andy Wiltz, a BEST recruiting committee member and Topeka, Kan., senior, said. 'You learn from everything.'

One way they learn is through five different field cases.

Each field case company is managed by small groups assigned to work directly with their respective company on a year-long project.

'We work for them,' Wiltz said. 'We analyze what they do best and find where they can improve.'

Field case projects range from real estate development to supply chain management and web design.

In addition to field case work, BEST students participate in team building exercises, host a variety of guest speakers and take international trips.

Last semester students took a one-week trip to Montreal and Ottawa, Canada, where they attended lectures, visited a waste management plant, visited Parliament and still found time for a hockey game.

'Our trips give us insight into other cultures and businesses, but we still have free time to explore the city and enjoy ourselves,' Wiltz said.

This semester, the BEST students look forward to a six-day trip to San Jose, Costa Rica, to study the culture and visit various local businesses.

'It is such an honor to be part of this program,' Murphy said. 'You will never again have the opportunity to work with such top-notch students. I would have not traded this experience for anything.'

Interested students can pick up a professor nomination form in the business school management office or on the BEST Web site at www.baylor.edu/best. Nomination forms are due by 3 p.m. Friday to be considered for the recruitment process.