The team of Laura Dougherty, Colby senior, Jill Moeder, Hays senior, and Megan Rinkenbaugh, Augusta junior, competed against schools such as the University of San Diego, San Diego, Calif., the eventual winner, and the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa., the third-place team.
Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas State University, Manhattan, and Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio, also fielded teams.
The competition, consisting of a written case study analysis, a poster session and a final presentation connecting the case study to conference presentations, was part of the ILA’s 14th annual global conference. The theme was “Leadership Across the Great Divides: Bridging Cultures, Contexts, and Complexities.”
“The Department of Leadership Studies is incredibly proud of the work that these students did, not only to prepare for the contest, but to represent themselves, the department and the university throughout the competition and conference,” said Dr. Jill Arensdorf, chair of the department.
Each student received a one-year ILA membership as a prize.
“I was grateful to have the opportunity to listen to and learn from leadership scholars, academics and practitioners from all over the world,” said Moeder. “Being able to represent Fort Hays State University and the Department of Leadership Studies at the ILA Student Case Competition was an honor. I enjoyed having the opportunity to put the leadership lessons I have learned into practice.”
“I learned a lot, not only from the conference but from Laura and Jill as well,” said Rinkenbaugh, praising her teammantes. “ILA in Denver was a really great experience.”
Arensdorf said the process began about the middle of September when the students received the case study. All 14 teams in this year’s undergraduate competition worked the same case, which involved a real-world children’s learning center that was facing problems in organizational structure and with employees. The identity of the company was concealed, said Arensdorf, but the situation was real.
Dougherty, Moeder and Rinkenbaugh then prepared a brief with their recommendations and solutions. They analyzed the situation and proposed solutions based on theoretical framework and what would work in that specific situation, said Arensdorf.
“They had to use the content from their leadership studies classes in their work,” she said. “It was exciting and rewarding to see them making the connection from the classroom to these real experiences.”
The team submitted its brief about two weeks ago, before the conference in Denver. The first night of the conference, the team exhibited its poster at the poster session. The final stage of the competition was the presentation to the three judges who had evaluated the written brief and the poster session. In the final presentation, the students not only had to present their case, but they were also expected to work into their case what they had learned at the conference itself.
“It was about a month-long process for them,” said Arensdorf. “Going through the process and competing was worth a lot for them and for Fort Hays State, to have our team show so well and to be ranked so highly at the closing.”