The fourth annual Joseph M. Wikler Finance Case Competition was held on Friday, May 4, 2007, at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. Six teams of four to five undergraduate students taking BMGT 440 participated in the competition. This year's winners are Shane Blackmon, Sean DiBlasi, Matthew Karp, and Noah Needleman, receiving $1,000 each.
The Joseph M. Wikler Finance Case Competition provides an opportunity for students to showcase their abilities, while simulating roles in the financial management profession. Much like the Smith MBA Case Competition, students are given a limited time to develop a solution and strategy for a real-world organization's current issue. To support their strategies, students are asked to provide financial analysis using formulas and calculations learned in the classroom. Second place team members are Ilana Glatt, Kevin Lambert, Dipen Patel, Zong Peng, and Danial Politzer, each winning $500; and third place team members are Diana Bernstein, Lindsey Bernstein, Alexander Miller, and Matthew Shaffer, each winning $100.
A team of industry and academic professionals judged the students: Joseph M. Wikler, competition sponsor and a director of Oppenheimer Hedge Funds, Cathco, Inc., MedinTec, Inc., and consultant for T. Rowe Price Small Cap Value Fund; Susan White, Distinguished Tyser Teaching Fellow at Smith; Chuck Hasper, MBA '88, corporate controller at Multimax Incorporated; Ron Holtz, MBA '92, CPA, Chief Financial Officer of MaxCyte; and Jay Gouline, president of Mayfield Associates LLC and Springlake Corporation.
"The quality of the presentations this year was excellent. The students had a very difficult case - one involving a leveraged buyout. Students needed to calculate an optimal capital structure for the firm, weighted average cost of capital and then project and discount the company's future cash flows," said White. "In addition, they had to address tax issues and agency problems associated with the buyout. They did a great job with a very difficult problem. The winning group in particular did an excellent job handling the qualitative and quantitative problems in the case."
Wikler said that he wanted to do something to enhance the undergraduate learning experience at Smith and is very happy to be part of the finance case competition, saying, "It has met all of my goals."
Also through the generosity of Joseph Wikler, the Smith School's Finance Department will be presenting annual awards to reward teaching excellence and to provide incentives for further improvements in teaching. Two faculty awards will be given out each year. At least one of these awards will be given to a faculty member who teaches undergraduate courses as part of his/her teaching portfolio. One award will be given each year to either an adjunct professor or a PhD student.
The selection committee considers various performance metrics in its evaluation process, including student evaluation scores across the faculty members portfolio of courses; success in new course development; innovations in designing new content and delivery (using the financial markets lab and other resources); and continuous improvement in teaching performance. This year's selection committee included Alex Triantis, associate professor and interim department chair, and last year's award winners, Susan White and Gurdip Bakshi.
Wikler said he hopes the awards will inspire professors to make the classroom experience more enriching. This year's recipients are Russ Wermers, associate professor of finance; Elinda Kiss, Tyser Teaching Fellow; and Michael Padhi, PhD candidate.
Wikler serves as a director for a number of other private and non-profit organizations. Wikler has been professionally associated with Lemma Senbet, William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance, since their days as directors of Fortis Funds, which was acquired by Hartford Life. Wikler initiated the competitive program in consultation with Senbet, who then led the adoption process with finance faculty, naming Susan White as the faculty coordinator.
▓ Alissa Arford-Leyl, Office of Marketing Communications; Photos by Thai Nguyen