Theory into Practice

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Mara Winick, a business administration professor, creates valuable opportunities for students to put into practice what they learn in her classroom. For this work, she was honored last fall as one of four national finalists for the Thomas Ehrlich Civically Engaged Faculty Award.

Winick works with community organizations to envision team projects that use and develop writing and speaking skills; analytical skills including accounting, modeling and GIS; knowledge of nonprofit or government entities and language skills.

“Students must understand and practice communication, group decision-making and critical thinking that is characteristic of high-performing teams. We work on these skills in class through self-assessment, practice and comparison of our behaviors and attitudes to that of high performing teams.” Winick says.

On campus, teams have worked with Community Service Learning to plant a community garden that serves as a classroom and produces food for Bon Appetit to use in the Commons. Teams also completed a plan for a University vineyard, now in progress, and a reusable Christmas tree farm where trees can be leased from the University and returned for use the following year.

Off campus, teams have worked with Loma Linda University Health, the Banning Police Department, Inland Harvest, The Children’s Fund and the City of Redlands. For the city, students monitored and tracked public parking use, researched paid parking systems in other communities and projected revenue scenarios from which the city manager and city council could make an informed decision about whether to charge for public parking.

Organizations are excited to work with the student teams, and Winick now has more requests for teams than she can fill.

As a business professor, says Winick, being a national finalist is especially meaningful. “I am delighted that a larger community will know that business faculty too are working to produce students who are more thoughtful and knowing of their actions; these students will be the decision-makers and leaders of tomorrow.”

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