sealPurdue Business, Finance and Technology Briefs

May 1998

MBAs learn to 'make a difference'

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The Krannert Graduate School of Management at Purdue University and other business schools around the country are using community service activities to teach leadership and a sense of community to students.

For the third time in as many years, the approximately 100 graduate students involved in Krannert's Management Volunteer Program, or MVP, have won the national "MBAs make a difference day" award.

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The "make a difference day" challenge is coordinated by the College of Business and Public Administration at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Lori S. Franz, associate dean and director of graduate studies in business at Missouri, says the friendly competition started six years ago in conjunction with the national make a difference day sponsored by the USA Today newspaper .

"Each fall we send out a challenge to the business schools in the Big 12 and the Big 10 to organize community outreach activities during the October make a difference day weekend," Franz says. "The schools have to document what they have done and submit an entry for judging by a panel here at the University of Missouri. We announce the national winner in the spring. Our hope is that participating in these projects gives the students a chance to connect with the community around them and to exercise their leadership skills by helping others."

At Purdue, the Management Volunteer Program was established in 1991 by graduate students with an interest in community service work. The organization is funded by corporate donations earmarked for leadership development activities.

Rose Kelly, a second-year graduate student in operations management and co-president of the Krannert volunteer group, says that in addition to feeling good about themselves, members of MVP benefit in practical ways.

"Getting out and helping others in a soup kitchen or day care center gets students out from under the books and pressures of graduate school for a while," she says. "It's a wonderful way to learn to deal with all types of people, and it might generate a lifelong love for community service."

Kelly, who has volunteered as a literacy instructor at the Hanna Community Center in Lafayette, says she plans to continue to support adult literacy in her new position with Ford Motor Co. in Detroit.

The 1997-98 winning projects by the Krannert MVPs include:

  • Planting trees in West Lafayette.
  • Hosting a Halloween party for the children from Head Start.
  • Demolishing a house to make space for construction of a new Habitat for Humanity home.
  • Providing baby-sitting services for graduate students with children.

The Krannert group also was awarded the 1998 Dean Betty Nelson Service Award, sponsored by Purdue's chapter of Mortar Board. The award was established in 1996 to honor Purdue students and organizations that have excelled in community service.

CONTACTS: Lori Franz, (573) 882-2750; e-mail,
Rose Kelly, (765) 463-0987

Loan consolidation: Fiscal savior or final step
to financial ruin?

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Loan consolidation -- paying off several smaller debts with one larger loan -- has just delayed financial disaster for many consumers rather than helped them avoid it, according to a Purdue University expert on family finances.

"Loan consolidation often leads to the next step, and that's bankruptcy," says Purdue Cooperative Extension Service specialist Janet Bechman. "Consumers who consolidate loans without changing their spending habits are likely to dig themselves deeper in debt, not out of it."

Bechman, who is an accredited financial counselor, says that in some instances, consumers could actually pay off their debt sooner without loan consolidation. "Loan consolidation is a means of paying off existing debts over a longer period and at a greater overall expense. If people concentrated on paying off their bills one by one, they might pay more per month in the short run, but actually come out ahead faster than if they had taken out another loan," Bechman says.

She suggests that consumers chart out their monthly bill paying and compare it to the cost of a consolidation loan. "Normally, as you pay down your debt, your total monthly payments decrease. However, with a loan consolidation, the payment will remain fixed for the entire length of the loan," she says.

Bechman says another drawback is the initial sense of freedom some consumers feel after consolidating loans. "They see that their bills amount to $80 a month now rather than the $100 before. In their mind they reason that they used to be able to pay out more per month, so rather than stop spending, they spend more," Bechman says.

Not all loan consolidations are bad, but Bechman says they should be used by consumers who understand themselves and are able to apply self-discipline. "If you comparison shop for your loan and select a reputable lender, then you might find it helpful in the event of an unexpected loss of income -- such as an accident or job loss," she says.

While the name may be different, generally half of all second mortgages are used to consolidate debts, according to Bechman. "The unfortunate thing is that people can lose their houses when they default on a second mortgage or home equity loan," she points out.

CONTACT: Bechman, (765) 494-8309

Purdue software makes Internet
more training-friendly

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A new educational software program developed at Purdue University is making it easier than ever for teachers and corporate trainers to put the power of the Internet to work in their classrooms.

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Test Pilot is a new application that allows instructors to design surveys, tests and tutorials that students can take on any computer that is connected to the Internet.

More than 350 universities and companies from all over the world were involved in the testing of the software, and now there is a growing demand from corporations interested in using it for industrial, managerial and clerical training.

"It really opens up the use of computers for instruction," says Test Pilot author Malcolm Duncan, the associate director of Purdue's BioMedia Center of Instructional Computing. "The program not only generates the test or tutorial, it also grades it so students can get immediate feedback as to how they did. And Test Pilot's combination of simplicity and affordability make it unique among the educational software currently available."

On-line instruction is not new, but the instructors using it have had to be able to create a Web page and then write a program to handle the data, or pay an experienced webmaster to do it for them. Test Pilot Test runs on both Macintosh and PC systems and may require a webmaster for a one-time installation on a school's Web server, but after that even the most computer-phobic teacher can begin creating tests.

"Once the data base portion of the program is installed, instructors use simple pull-down menus and forms to write questions and set the format," Duncan explains. "The software also allows for the import of graphics and video and audio snippets, so it can be used for virtually any discipline or subject."

Duncan says the most common use so far is for the creation of tutorials, which give teachers a way to track how well students are grasping material before actually testing them on it. And because the tutorial is on the Web, students can take it from their offices, homes, or a library -- virtually anyplace that has a computer with Internet access.

Test Pilot costs $120 for educational institutions and $495 for businesses. Some Web servers may require a server extension to run the program, which costs an additional $50 or $195, depending on the type of customer. A demonstration of the software can be found at .

CONTACT: Duncan, (765) 494-6610; e-mail,; Web,

Compiled by Kate Walker, (765) 494-2073; e-mail,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,


Krannert School of Management graduate students Cory Carter of Greenfield, Ind., Jason Stickles of Athens, Ala., and Randy Hountz of Sunman, Ind., (left to right, facing camera) help clear a construction site for Habitat for Humanity. Their volunteer work is part of a business school program that teaches leadership and community service. (Photo courtesy Krannert School of Management.)
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Program author Malcolm Duncan demonstrates Test Pilot on the computers in Purdue's BioMedia Center for Instructional Computing. The software allows teachers to design tests and tutorials that students can take on any computer that is connected to the Internet. (Purdue News Service photo by David Umberger)
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