community

Business students team up with local firms and nonprofit organizations

Students in The University of Tulsa’s Collins College of Business regularly share their expertise with companies and nonprofits in Tulsa and surrounding communities. These projects not only give the students real-world experience, they also help local businesses and nonprofits find creative solutions to expand their brands and better reach consumers.

Professor Charles Wood wearing a green shirt and smiling
Professor Charles Wood

Professor of Marketing Charles Wood believes that hands-on experience is a valuable tool for learning about the world of marketing. “The purpose of all of these collaboration projects is for students to apply concepts they learn in class to real-world settings,” Wood said. “For an applied discipline such as marketing, real learning occurs best when students are required to synthesize and experientially use theories and concepts in new contexts.”

Dee Harris of Tulsa’s Family and Children Service Center worked with TU business students in both the spring and summer semesters. “Professor Wood’s classes are the perfect example of balancing student learning with community need,” she said. “I’m thrilled to be a partner in real-world learning as it invigorates students and provides nonprofits with a new perspective about our marketing and communication plans. I always look forward to collaborating with students and enjoy watching them discover, create and solve.”

Integrated Marketing Communication

A potent example of this university-and-community engagement arose in the spring 2020 Integrated Marketing Communication course. In this course, undergraduate students formed teams and worked with seven local nonprofit and for-profit organizations. At the beginning of the project, representatives of the organizations came to campus multiple times to check-in with the students’ progress and provide assistance where needed. Then, once the COVID-19 pandemic altered the semester plans, the meetings between student groups and their organizations continued, albeit online.

Despite the unexpected transition to online classes, the students and their companies maintained a close working relationship that promoted growth for both parties. The student teams developed and managed a full Google AdWords campaign to help their clients achieve their goals. A local social media expert, Joe Hart, came to these sessions and supported the teams throughout the semester.

Consumer Behavior

During the summer, community engagement continued, but this time with graduate students. A consultancy brief project in the master of business administration (MBA) Consumer Behavior course paired small groups of students with 10 local companies including Scoops Rolls and Creamery, Runners World and Marshall Brewing. Each group of students listened to their partner-firm’s concerns and developed personalized plans to meet their needs.

For the summer course, Wood explained, “the only selection criteria provided was that the business be locally owned. Students were encouraged to choose their own clients based on what they believed was the organization’s potential and clear need for some advice and assistance, meet with the owners and then proceed from there.”

All the groups delivered potential aids to the companies, including ideas about better use of social media, customer loyalty programs, community engagement, retail layout improvements, partnerships, branding and promotions.

Danny Donley smiling and wearing a blue polo shirt
Danny Donley, MBA student

One student in the MBA course, Danny Donley, said of the summer experience: “The chance to work hands-on with a real company in our community that is struggling a little extra because of the COVID-19 pandemic was a tremendous experience. My team worked with a small massage therapy company and helped use our knowledge and research to immediately revitalize the company’s marketing strategy and reach. We had the opportunity to put creative ideas into action to test our own skills while benefiting a local firm, which is rewarding in two ways.”


A business degree from TU will bring you in contact with faculty members at the forefront of their fields who are excellent teachers as well as scholars. Learn about this vibrant, welcoming community.

Schweitzer Leadership Summit addresses Tulsa health disparities

The first-ever Schweitzer Leadership Summit welcomed more than 60 graduate students and professionals from across the country to Tulsa earlier this month to learn how local leaders are improving health disparities and strengthening the Schweitzer Fellowship U.S. network.

The event was hosted November 2-4 by current and past Albert Schweitzer Fellows who saw an opportunity to bring their counterparts to Tulsa and expand the organization’s network of alumni through meaningful engagement.

The role of a Schweitzer Fellow

schweitzer leadership summit“Schweitzer Fellows and alumni are talented, passionate individuals who do ground-breaking work to address health disparities,” said Rachel Gold, director of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Tulsa chapter. “The goal of this leadership summit was to reinforce the energy, passion and spark that drove Fellows and alumni to the Schweitzer Fellowship in the first place, and that will continue to inspire them towards reaching their leadership goals.”

Schweitzer Fellows are competitively selected from graduate and professional degree programs statewide in traditional health-focused fields such as medicine, nursing, dentistry and public health as well as related fields including education, social work, law and the arts. Schweitzer Fellows gain knowledge and experience in innovative project design, leadership and community health by designing and implementing yearlong initiatives that address health disparities and social determinants of health such as poverty, the environment and education.

schweitzer leadership summitPast projects include a concept developed by University of Tulsa clinical psychology doctoral student Danielle Zanotti, a member of the inaugural class of Tulsa Schweitzer Fellows in 2016. Zanotti implemented a program to help veterans strengthen parenting skills and gain developmentally appropriate knowledge about what to expect from their children. The community site was The Coffee Bunker — a place in Tulsa where veterans can connect. After her year of Schweitzer service, Zanotti was selected for an internship at a VA hospital in Houston and plans to return to Oklahoma to pursue her career in mental health and community leadership.

A deep dive into Tulsa, growing as a leader

Other fellows such as Ekene Ezenwa, a third-year student in the University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine, focused their projects directly on health education. Ezenwa and her Schweitzer Fellow partner established a health leadership program called HEAL at Union Middle and High Schools, where they connected participants to health professions and supported them in designing health workshops for younger students.

“This fellowship is good for anyone who wants to do a deep dive into Tulsa and be able to not only help the community grow but also grow as a leader,” Ezenwa said. “The Schweitzer Fellowship provides participants with so many resources and so much guidance to do the things they want to do – design projects that the community really wants and needs, learn how to successfully write grant proposals and advocate in the community.”

Through careful planning, including a series of virtual meetings with counterparts around the country, the Schweitzer Fellowship Leadership Summit planning team, including seven Tulsa Schweitzer alumni and Gold, created an agenda that shone a spotlight on the status of health and social issues in Tulsa, the second-largest city in a state that ranks 48th, 49th or 50th in many national health measures. Gold says Tulsa was the perfect backdrop for Schweitzer Fellows and alumni to reunite and take a closer look at Tulsa efforts to reduce community health gaps while brainstorming new strategies for improving health outcomes.

“This conference reinforced the leadership skills of our planning team, refined their own career goals related to improving health and promoted self-awareness of their capabilities and visions for the local and national Schweitzer Fellowship communities,” Gold said.

Renewed inspiration from a Schweitzer alumna

schweitzer leadership summit
Leslie Hsu Oh

Award-winning writer, skilled photographer and honored public health leader Leslie Hsu Oh served as keynote speaker for the event. As a 1997-98 alumna of the Schweitzer Fellowship at Harvard University School of Public Health, she founded the Hepatitis B Initiative to tackle the prevalence of hepatitis B in Boston’s Asian communities by offering free screenings and vaccinations. Her Schweitzer project is still in operation.

schweitzer leadership summit
The Gathering Place

A special session led by Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and University of Tulsa President Gerard Clancy discussed health disparities in the city. Participant-led workshops at Tulsa’s 36 Degrees North entrepreneurial hub focused on approaching mental health through a social justice lens, gratitude as an act of leadership and transforming health care organizations through immigrant-friendly policy. Conference attendees visited facilities for Women in Recovery, the Take Control Initiative, the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation, the Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges and Community Health Connection. The weekend concluded with a tour of The Gathering Place.

schweitzer leadership summit
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum (left) and TU President Gerard Clancy

Sponsors included the TU Oxley College of Health Sciences, Morningcrest Foundation, George Kaiser Family Foundation, TYPROs, the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma and Trust Co. of Oklahoma.

True Service: Cycling for a cause

Geology junior Grant Morey of St. Louis is wrapping up a summer-long cycling excursion from Virginia to Oregon, constructing homes with the organization Bike & Build. A competitive road racer, Morey said the project presented an opportunity to ride across America with purpose. The service-oriented cycling trip engages young adults with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together, YouthBuild and local nonprofits while raising awareness of the need for affordable housing. Participants ride an average of 66 miles per day while relying on the generous hearts of churches, community centers and schools for food, rest and showers.

Students empowered to serve

grant morey in cycling garb stands next to a fence overlooking wooded hillsMorey’s desire to combat one of America’s leading social issues is a common attitude among the TU student population. The TU community empowers students to get involved and make a difference in the lives of those struggling in their home towns and around the world.

“In Tulsa, I’m in contact with homeless people all the time, and it’s just heartbreaking to see,” Morey said. “Hopefully, by the end of the trip, I will have made some sort of difference. I hope it’s life changing.”

Morey’s adventures on a bike began when he found Tulsa’s cycling community as a TU freshman. During a local group ride one evening, he made several friends who became cycling mentors.

“I have two lives — one here at school and one out cycling,” Morey said. “It takes a lot of my time, but I just love getting outside, pushing myself and hanging out with new people. It’s just a great sport.”

Morey is primarily a road cyclist with category 4 racing status, but he hopes to improve his rating to a 3 by the end of the year. Tulsa is home to several annual cycling festivals such as Tulsa Tough that offer an array of criterium races, but he said he prefers the open road. “I’m more of a road race guy — longer distances with some hills. I like the idea of an endurance challenge.”

Cycling in Tulsa

grant moreyHe averages about 10 hours a week on his GURU bike that he has carefully upgraded for performance, joking that it “is probably nicer than my car.” Between maintenance and travel to rides, Morey devotes anywhere from 15 to 20 hours a week to cycling at some of his favorite locations such as Riverside and the hills north of the city.

“Tulsa is a great area to ride because you can get out to the open roads quick,” he said. “There’s not a lot of traffic, and it’s a great community for cycling.”

Morey also is a regular at Tulsa’s Wednesday night rides that attract hundreds of cyclists each week. This spring, he spent almost every weekend racing competitively within the region. Morey said cycling helps relieve the worries and stress of a demanding school schedule.

“For anybody interested in riding, I’m always happy to talk to them or ride with them,” he said. “You just have to find the right people to help you along and get started.”

Watch from earlier this spring as Morey discusses cycling in Tulsa and the Bike and Build project.

Once Morey concludes his Bike & Build tour in mid-August, he plans to study abroad this fall in Copenhagen and research glaciers in Greenland. In addition to his degree in geology, he is earning minors in environmental policy and philosophy to prepare for graduate school and a career in the Earth sciences field.

“I love being outside, and I’ve always loved math and science,” Morey said. “I want to do something that helps the Earth or helps me understand it better.”

After choosing TU for its small size and comfortable distance from his St. Louis home, Morey is now certainly True Blue, falling in love with the campus, the city and the sport of road racing.

Learn more about Morey’s journey across the United States or follow the Bike & Build group on Instagram at #cus18.