Naveen Jindal School of Management Adds Community Service Requirement for Graduation

students with honeydew melon

Jindal School students can earn community service hours through the Office of Student Volunteerism, where Vivian Nguyen (left) and Vidya Mohanraj served as student leaders in 2017. Volunteers harvest produce, including honeydew, most of which is donated to local food banks.

To amp up students’ sense of belonging in the bigger world beyond campus, the Naveen Jindal School of Management at UT Dallas is initiating a new program this fall that will require all undergraduates to dive deep into community service.

All incoming freshmen and new transfer students will be required to fulfill 100 hours of community service or work on business-related projects for nonprofits prior to graduation.

Marilyn Kaplan PhD'98, associate dean of undergraduate programs, said the Jindal School is launching the initiative because one of its primary goals is to produce well-rounded citizens who engage with and become part of their communities.

“We want to produce graduates who know how to give back and who understand all parts of society — not just people who are good at crunching numbers,” she said.

“Community service is a form of leadership training,” said Dr. Hasan Pirkul, Caruth Chair and Jindal School dean. “Students learn how to communicate a clear vision of the organization they serve, analyze issues, solve problems, delegate tasks, build trust, and influence and motivate others to contribute to the cause. These are valuable skills that any employer would expect when they look to hire someone.”

Students will have several options for accumulating service hours. They can volunteer at approved nonprofit organizations; they can enroll in courses that have a service component; or they can participate in a combination of the two.

Qualifying course projects might involve creating a marketing plan for a nonprofit, helping an organization with financial statements, or undertaking other assignments to help a charitable or service agency.

Pirkul has been focusing on new ways to deliver the highest-quality management education within the context of 21st-century society’s complex realities. A first step toward that objective was launching an internship requirement in 2014.

Internships allow students to consider different companies and explore different positions “to really figure out what they want to do in their career long before they’ve graduated,” Kaplan said. “It has gone so well that we decided to add a layer of community service to their education.”

Although 100 hours of community service may seem daunting, she said, it breaks down to 25 hours a year or 12½ hours a semester.

“Students could knock that out while studying abroad, over a single weekend, during Alternative Spring Break, or even by volunteering an hour or two at a time at various points during the course of a semester,” Kaplan said. “If students did just two hours of volunteer work every week, they would fulfill their obligation in less than a year.”

100 Hours in One Semester 

Robert Wright, a senior lecturer in the organizations, strategy and international management area, teaches a social entrepreneurship course, Social Sector Engagement and Community Outreach (ENTP 4340), that will fulfill the 100 required hours in a single semester.

“The students will apply skills developed through their academic studies to real-world issues encountered by small, developing businesses,” Wright said. “Think of these projects as consulting assignments and the businesses as clients. Teams will deliver targeted solutions to identified problems designed to allow success in the context of a single semester.”

Wright, who serves on the board of directors of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and is a partner in the law firm Wright Connatser, has been working with the United Way to design an application that can log and track the service component of the course.

“This community service requirement has the potential to enrich the lives of Jindal School students by giving them a community expression, or it may even change the course of their lives by sending them down a path of working in community service,” Wright said.

Service Opportunities

The Jindal School has collaborated with both the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and the UT Dallas Office of Student Volunteerism to connect students with a wide range of service opportunities. Students can sign up for volunteer work that suits their interests and skills and will be able to log completed service hours using project-management software.

Students who already perform community service through fraternities, sororities or student organizations will be able to count those hours with organizations that have been approved as partners.

Other course offerings for fall 2018 that can fulfill part of the new service requirement include:

Business Basics (BA1100), a required core course for all incoming freshmen, has a community service component that satisfies five hours of a student’s obligation.Product and Brand Management (MKT 3320) offers students a chance to earn 20 service hours working with a nonprofit on a project in advance of North Texas Giving Day.Digital and Internet Marketing (MKT 4330) may fulfill 10 hours as students develop Google AdWords campaigns for small businesses if the campaign is for a nonprofit.Marketing Research (MKT 3340) may satisfy 20 hours of the community service obligation as students conduct a survey and analyze the results for a nonprofit community partner.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

Tagged: SOM