There were five active student organizations in the Manning School of Business when Sandra Richtermeyer became dean in 2016. Students in the accounting, finance and marketing societies, as well as Beta Gamma Sigma and the Business Innovation Living-Learning Community, hosted guest speakers, visited local companies and volunteered in the community.
But Richtermeyer saw the potential for something more. So she made it a priority to not only grow the number of student groups, but also improve the collaboration between them.
“I really think the student college experience is enhanced so much by active engagement and involvement,” Richtermeyer said when she became dean. “The people they meet and interact with while they’re here are going to form lifelong friendships. Sometimes those are formed in the classroom, and sometimes those are formed in extracurricular activities.”
Today, 14 student organizations provide hundreds of Manning School students with opportunities to learn and network at scores of extracurricular events each semester. The rapid growth has exceeded Richtermeyer’s expectations.
“I never dreamed that at this point we would have this many active student organizations that are so connected and so healthy,” she told the officers of those organizations at the Manning School’s first student leadership dinner, held recently at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center.
The dinner, which included a lively, business-themed trivia contest and a musical performance by senior business administration major Nicole Hayek, provided student leaders with an opportunity to network and think about succession planning for their respective organizations.
“It was really cool to bring the leaders from all the organizations together in one room. I met a lot of people I didn’t know,” said sophomore business administration major Twisha Mohapatra, a member of the River Hawks Scholars Academy and Manning Women in Business – two of the organizations that have gotten off the ground in the past three years.
Others include the Management Society, the Business Analytics Society and the Real Estate Network Association. Collegiate DECA, which has been dormant for several years, has also been revived.
Three new organizations, meanwhile, have started this year: the Entrepreneurship Association, the Manning Consulting Group and the Salesforce Society.
One representative from each of these organizations belongs to the Manning Leaders Council, which was formed in 2016 to ensure cohesion and collaboration between the groups.
Students interested in starting a new organization at the Manning School usually begin by connecting with a faculty member who can serve as a liaison and advisor. A representative from the proposed organization is then encouraged by the Dean’s Office to attend Manning Leaders Council meetings, where they can receive peer mentoring and spread the word about their new group.
“The mentoring has been very helpful to the organizations going through the approval process and is one of the strengths of the Manning Leaders Council,” said Assoc. Dean Jennifer Percival.
From there, the organization submits a formal proposal to the Office of Student Activities and Leadership, working with Assoc. Director Shaima Ragab on paperwork. If approved, the organization then receives a small budget for events.
Senior business administration major Joel Dabady was among the first half dozen students to join the Business Strategy and Consulting Society last semester. The organization’s membership has since grown to more than 50 students.
“There isn’t a consulting major at the school, so we give students something they don’t get from class, which is the beauty of student organizations,” said Dabady, whose concentrations are in management information systems and analytics and operations management.
Senior business administration major James Healey, whose concentration is in accounting, joined the Accounting Society after transferring into the Manning School two years ago from an online program at another institution.
“It’s been a great way to meet other students and network with companies,” said Healey, who added that Richtermeyer’s support of student organizations is key to their growth.
“She attends our events and does a great job bringing everyone together,” he said. “It shows us that she’s interested in what we’re doing.”
Richtermeyer concluded the dinner by noting that it was a rare opportunity to bring together students from all stages of their UMass Lowell careers, of all ages, from first-year to graduate students.
“For those of you who are graduating, I hope you take your (student organization) experience here and use it to map out your professional lives,” she said. “And for first-year students, follow what the juniors and seniors are doing. Take these organizations to the next level and always be paving the way for the next person.”