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Building a Capstone Community

MBA Capstones Serve Local Schools, Organizations, Build Community


Bishop Lynch Capstone TeamDate published: Feb. 6, 2020

UD’s MBA program culminate in the Capstone Experience, which has provided business solutions and strategy to hundreds of corporate and community organizations in its half-century of existence. In the Capstone, which is taken in the last semester of the MBA and M.S. programs, each student participates on a team, under the guidance of a professor, to work with a real organization on a comprehensive client consulting project. The team develops a scope of work (or proposal), researches the firm/industry, interacts with the client on an appropriate basis and presents their project findings/recommendations to the client in the form of a report, presentation and/or debriefing near the end of the semester, thereby helping to inform and improve the business. 

This past fall, MBA students worked with clients such as Bishop Lynch High School, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit System (DART), the Dallas Mavericks and the Federal Reserve Bank. Both the Bishop Lynch and DART projects are longer-term than a typical Capstone; they each had one component, with one team of MBA students, in the fall, and will have a second component, with a second team of students, in the spring.

The Bishop Lynch Capstone focuses on the school’s new House System, in which students are divided into eight houses, each named after a Dominican saint to honor the school’s Dominican heritage, led by an appointed dean and comprising 125-150 students across grade levels. The Capstone teams will study this system to offer research-based findings on the program’s increased mentorship, pastoral care and student leadership opportunities. The system made its debut this academic year and helps to further promote the school’s mission to develop the whole person. 

The Bishop Lynch Capstones occur in conjunction with a new community partnership between Bishop Lynch and the University of Dallas. 

“What will be particularly valuable in this partnership is the perspective of Catholic school education through a K-16 lens and the synergy of schools like UD and BL coming together,” said BL Principal Chad Riley, Ph.D., BA ’94. “This partnership can be a model of what that can look like. You can expect us to be active partners.”

Possibilities for the partnership include an ongoing Capstone relationship between BL and the Gupta College of Business and career and educational opportunities for BL employees and UD students, in addition to joint service projects and utilization of university resources.

“We want to look at what other opportunities exist for a partnership that are beyond what’s traditional,” said Riley.

“We want to be positioned to meet the needs of a growing city and the needs of a growing church,” added BL President Chris Rebuck, MCSL ’18. 

DART Capstone teamThe DART project, meanwhile, is exploring the company’s benefits plan and how it might be redesigned in order to better serve both current and retired employees. The team conducted qualitative interviews with current employees, managers and retirees, first working to assess the perception of the plan as it is now. They gathered that while there’s a perception of there being an issue with health care, this may not be the case in actuality. Certainly, the employees and retirees perceive health care as their most important benefit. Other benefits seen as particularly valuable are tuition reimbursement, flex time and DART passes. Benefits not currently offered that employees would like to see include the option to work from home and on-site childcare.

Overall, the fall DART Capstone team determined that DART’s benefits package is competitive among similar employers, and generally, the employees and retirees are happy with it. The largest struggle seems to be that the employees often don’t fully understand their plans, and the lack of knowledge or comprehension can lead to them not taking full advantage of what is offered. Also, emerging trends in nontraditional benefits should be incorporated to appeal in particular to younger employees. 

In the spring, the DART Capstone team will conduct a survey to identify the most valued nontraditional benefits such as free yoga classes, zoo days and other ways of creating culture (a “community benefit”). A new benefits package might also emphasize wellness versus well-being, be more transparent and work to educate employees on what is available to them.

“Here at DART, in terms of attracting and retaining employees, we’re very good,” said Mark Haerr, DART’s assistant vice president of budget and financial planning and revenue administration, who used to be an adjunct instructor in the Gupta College of Business. “So we decided to get the UD MBAs involved to assess benefits. UD MBAs are the best!”

The Capstone Consulting Experience has been a valuable resource for hundreds of organizations, providing actionable solutions to business problems or opportunities for growth. If you would like your organization to benefit from the Capstone Consulting Experience, please contact Rebecca Almanza at ralmanza@udallas.edu.

Watch the newly developed MBA Capstone video now available on our Capstone Consulting Experience page here.

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