The Economics and Business Department provides cadets with a fully enriched program by offering varied opportunities and activities outside the classroom. Some of these opportunities are available only to ECBU cadets. Others are through VMI clubs and initiatives that ECBU faculty advise.
Founded in 2018, the VMI Personal Finance Club strives to help cadets learn to manage their finances while they are enrolled at VMI and after they graduate from the Institute. The club is open to all VMI cadets regardless of major; prior knowledge about personal finance is not required. Topics that the club has investigated have included: applying for student loans; improving credit scores; managing cash; and planning for retirement and for other saving goals that are highly applicable to cadet life such as paying for class rings. In true VMI fashion, the club seeks not just to assist its members but also to help the City of Lexington and the surrounding communities, when opportunities arise. Prior club presenters have joined the club from such distinguished organizations as Mass Mutual, Wells Fargo, the VMI Dean’s office, residents of Kendal at Lexington-Borden Health Center, Economics and Business faculty, and the VMI Student Loan Office.
PFC Advisors: Maj. Kathy Simms and COL Raymond MacDermott
The Watjen ECBU Leadership Development (WELD) Program is made possible by the generosity of Thomas (‘76) and Nanette Watjen. The program consists of five distinct components:
- The WELD Study Abroad Programs and Scholarships provide ECBU cadets the opportunity to directly engage with other cultures, and other political and economic systems, so they learn to be compassionate citizens and effective global leaders. Program Committee: COL Tinni Sen (Chair) and COL Barry Cobb
- The WELD Cross Cultural Internship Program provides ECBU cadets the opportunity to work in different cultures and economic systems so that they excel in a global business environment and are effective global leaders. Program Committee – LTC Jennifer Gerow (Chair) and MAJ Steven Landgraf
- The WELD Undergraduate Research Program facilitates ECBU faculty-led undergraduate research to foster cadets’ intellectual curiosity, support cadets’ academic growth, and provide opportunities for cadets to apply and improve their economics and business knowledge and skills. Program Committee– COL Raymond MacDermott and Maj. Tim Murray
- The WELD Leadership Initiative provides opportunities for members of the ECBU honor society and ECBU clubs/organizations to attend conferences, invite speakers, and organize discussions on topics related to economics and business. Program Committee – Dr. Bing Jiang (Chair) and COL Sam Allen
- The WELD Practicum Assistant Grant Program encourages ECBU cadets to apply their knowledge and skills to serve the local community and help local non-profit organizations, and foster cadets’ sense of public service. Program Committee – COL Jeff Smith (Chair) and COL Atin Basu
WELD Program Coordinators: COL Cliff West and COL Valentina Dimitrova-Grajzl
ESTABLISHED [ECBU] CLUBS & PROGRAMS
The purposes of Beta Gamma Sigma are to encourage and recognize scholarship and achievement among students of business, management, and administration, and to encourage and promote personal and professional improvement and a life distinguished by honorable service to humankind. Benefits include internships and volunteer opportunities, graduate scholarships & tuition discounts, test prep, application fee & GMAT/GRE waiver, insurance, travel, and professional attire. Membership in Beta Gamma Sigma requires junior standing or higher, rank in the upper 10 percent of the class, and invitation by the faculty advisors.
BGS Advisors: LTC Jennifer Gerow and COL Barry Cobb
Our department places special emphasis on assisting cadets who are interested in participating in internships. Our internship coordinator assists cadets in securing summer internships in various fields of business and economics.
Internship Coordinator: Bruce MacDonald
Under the supervision of a department faculty advisor, cadets may earn up to three hours of academic credit as an economics or a business elective in a minimum eight-week, full-time summer internship. Cadets can pursue internships with a private firm, a governmental agency, or a non-profit organization.
Internship for Credit Coordinator: LTC Jennifer Gerow
Formed in 1963 from the merging of two other honor societies, Omicron Delta Gamma and Omicron Chi Epsilon, Omicron Delta Epsilon has 535 chapters with more than 10,000 active members. It has two goals - to recognize outstanding achievement in economics and to encourage a closer academic and social relationship between honor students and faculty on an informal basis. The criteria for eligibility are: 12 semester hours of economics classes, minimum 3.0 GPA in Economics classes, and a minimum of 3.0 Cumulative GPA.
ODE advisors: COL Sam Allen and COL Valentina Dimitrova-Grajzl
VMI Clubs & Programs with ECBU Faculty Advisors
The club focuses on three key activities – building bridges between VMI cadets, faculty, staff and the local community; engaging in society through service; and enhancing diversity by providing a forum for discussion. Service projects that we have done in the past include building houses for Habitat for Humanity, walking dogs at the local SPCA, volunteering with the local food pantry, volunteering for community events at the Boxerwood Gardens, and volunteering at local schools.
Club advisors: COL Valentina Dimitrova-Grajzl (ECBU) and LTC Sara Whipple (Psychology)
The Cadet Investment Group (CIG) is a student-led organization that is charged with making investment decisions with actual cash. Including overall leadership, the group typically numbers between 30 and 40 members. Currently, there are two different groups that manage approximately $200,000 in total. Group A is charged with selecting investments from a pool of companies that have a market capitalization greater than $10 billion, categorized as Large Cap. Group B chooses from companies that have a market capitalization between $500 million and $10 billion, categorized as Small and Mid Cap. The group meets weekly and reviews overall fund performance, reviews the performance by each group, discusses current events and their impact on the financial markets, learns about investing and the financial industry, and then cadets present buy or sell packages, as necessary. Cadets run a “murder board” (i.e., ask a thorough set of critical questions) for each presenter with the goal that only the best ideas get added to the fund. Cadets vote on portfolio additions or deletions, requiring a majority to execute a transaction, either buy or sell. The CIG also takes an annual trip to the heart of investing in the U.S., New York City. On this trip, cadets meet with VMI alumni working on Wall Street in a variety of jobs.
CIG Advisors: COL Jeff Smith (ECBU) and MAJ Tim Murray (ECBU)
Founded in 1972 as the Institute’s Black student organization, the VMI Promaji Club has evolved into an organization committed to supporting and advocating for all students of color, while providing an inclusive community for these students and those who support them.
Promaji Club advisors: COL Tinni Sen (ECBU) and COL Keith Kline (Psychology)
The VMI Running club encourages and supports runners at all levels in a variety of distances. Members of the team train for and compete in road and trail races. Race distances include 5Ks, 10K, half marathons, marathons, and ultramarathons. The team competes locally and travels to regional and national competitions as well.
Running Club Advisors: COL Sam Allen (ECBU) and Mr. Sean Cook
The Shepherd Poverty Program is a joint effort by multiple schools to educate their students about poverty and to provide an opportunity for students to help tackle poverty. The Program consists of a 3-credit interdisciplinary course on Poverty and Human Capabilities taught by ECBU professor COL Tinni Sen (Academic Director of the Shepherd Poverty Program) and a summer internship through the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty. More information about the program can be found at: https://www.vmi.edu/cadet-life/civic-engagement/