Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) states in its mission that it strives “for academic excellence in all programs, preparing women and men to contribute to the world through service and leadership.” Based on the achievements professor Stephen Morrissette, Ph.D., sees his business students earn during a worldwide simulation each semester, they are certainly prepared to lead.

All graduating seniors in the USF business degree program take a capstone course that includes a business simulation. The simulation, conducted through capsim.com (the world’s most widely-used business simulation), presents groups of students with the task of running a manufacturing company for eight virtual years. After being placed into small teams, students must make a variety of key business decisions in the areas of product design, pricing, sales forecasting, production decisions (expanding/contracting plant capacities, TQM programs, etc.), and financial considerations (borrowing money, paying dividends, issuing/repurchasing stock, etc.) for the next twelve weeks that impact their business during the course of the simulation’s eight-year period.

While navigating the simulation sounds challenging enough, important to note is that the simulation is actually part of an online competition that attracts over 5,000 collegiate teams from across the globe each semester. However, even when competing against a global pool of teams, USF has had at least one of its teams place in the top ten percent of the world each semester for the past ten years. Also during that time, two teams actually placed in the top one percent of the world.

Additionally, a panel of local business professionals who are from a variety of backgrounds and who can provide tangible, real world and relevant feedback evaluates the work of each team. For Morrissette, the response by the local panel speaks as clearly as the results of the online competition.

“The level of achievement these students reach with the online competition is exemplary, but I am equally impressed by the panel’s reaction to our students and their work,” Morrissette said. “In fact ninety percent of the time, the judges said they would hire the students they saw presenting. That is remarkable.”

Students who participated in the simulation had several takeaways from the experience, namely the value of communication in the business world.

“The biggest takeaway from the panel of professionals was just how important communication is in business. Being able to tell the story in a way that grabs the attention of your listeners is crucial in being able to deliver the proper presentation of your information gained throughout,” said John Riordan, who participated in the simulation and has since graduated from USF with a finance degree and minor in management.

“The simulation was something that you cannot truly prepare for, but rather a way to teach us to learn on the fly. There was no exact way to reach the goal of a successful company, but rather weekly teamwork and communication that led us to our success,” Riordan added.

Even with the high level of success they have achieved over the course of the past ten years, Morrissette remains focused on and impressed with the merits his students achieve each individual semester.

“It is amazing to see our USF students outperform thousands of teams from across the world.  They must make all the decisions to run a company including product design, setting prices, developing marketing plans, buying new equipment and expanding factories as well as financial decisions such as borrowing money and paying dividends. Students show great teamwork skills as they figure out how to compete and beat the competition – USF students know how to work hard and how to win,” Morrissette said.

USF teams that place in the online competition’s top 10% of the world receive an academic award to recognize their performance. The award includes a cash prize sponsored by Old Plank Trail Bank, a Wintrust Bank.

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves over 4,000 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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