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College of Business Administration honors student puts research on professionalism to practice

Tuesday, May 6, 2014



MANHATTAN — When Tina Ratcliff, Emporia, began her honors research project, she was hoping to make connections on the different ways that business executives and college students thought about the concept of professionalism.

After completing her report, "Professionalism: Differences in Perception between Executives and Students," the College of Business Administration senior in entrepreneurship, with a concentration in marketing and sales, was troubled to find that her fellow students didn't find the area of ethics to be nearly as important as executives did.

"I found that only 25 percent of students ranked ethics as the No. 1 or No. 2 most important characteristic of professionalism," Ratcliff said. "On the other hand, 66 percent of professionals ranked ethics as the No. 1 or No. 2 most important characteristic. That led me to question: Do students understand the importance of ethics in the business world?"

Most students would be happy to complete their research and move on to graduation, but Ratcliff's concerns about her peers' attitudes on ethics caused her to turn the project into a College of Business Administration Professional Advantage seminar. She worked with faculty and staff members to create a seminar that could be turned into a teaching tool for both students and faculty.

"Tina is an exceptional student who used her honor's project to truly make a difference," said Olivia Law-DelRosso, director of the college's Professional Advantage program. "Her project brought together executive mentors with students to help students understand ethics and its practical applications to business. Her seminar provided students tools they can use in the future as they encounter ethical dilemmas."

Ratcliff is active on campus as the past president of the Beginning a Promising Profession Club, president of the Honors Executive Board for the University Honors Program and a College of Business Administration student ambassador. She is a 2010 graduate of Madison High School.

"Tina was a joy to work with because she is motivated, organized and very bright," said Kevin Gwinner, professor and head of the department of marketing and Ratcliff's faculty mentor. "She conceived the research project topic, drove its implementation and acted on the results — all with very little faculty supervision. The end product is a piece of scholarly work that not only will likely be published, but ended up helping many current students learn more about professionalism in the workplace."


Kevin Gwinner

News tip

Emporia, Madison and Manhattan 


College of Business Administration

Written by

Moraiah Mitchell