Smiley Professional Events: History


The events program in the UW-Stevens Point School of Business and Economics has evolved through the years and in 2019, the program was named in honor of Mark and Julie Smiley.

About Mark and Julie Smiley

SmileysMark and Julie Smiley met while attending UW-Stevens Point in the early 1980s. Mark is a 1985 business administration alumnus and Julie is 1987 communication alumna. Since their time at UWSP, the Smileys settled in Baraboo and founded a manufacturing company headquartered in Port Washington called Badger Paperboard Inc., which continues to grow and expand to new locations throughout the U.S. Mark and Julie also raised a daughter and a son, both of whom now take active leadership roles in the family business. 

Mark traveled back to Stevens Point to participate in an School of Business and Economics (SBE) alumni panel discussion in 2014 as part of what is now known as the Smiley Professional Events. Since that time, Mark and Julie have established two UWSP scholarships in business and communication as well as a program fund to support a variety of SBE student opportunities such as soft skill development and professional preparedness workshops and dinners, peer-to-peer financial coaching and professional organization membership.


How did the program now known as Smiley Professional Events begin?

Plans began in spring 2010 as faculty in the School of Business and Economics wanted to strengthen our school’s student culture in two key areas:
  • Professionalism: our students should be developing habits and appreciation of lifelong learning and community involvement.
  • Career preparation: our students should be building skills for job searches, networking and interviewing.
The basic structure of the SBE Events program was developed during a summer 2010 Market Research class taught by Prof. Elizabeth Martin. Prof. Martin challenged her students to answer the question: if you could design the ideal extra-curricular events program, what would that look like?
 
The class was divided into four teams; each team worked on different angles of the problem and reported back regularly to the full class. The teams began with open-ended, exploratory research questions. They interviewed relevant “experts,” such as faculty, staff and select students, and scanned the environment to see what other schools were offering with respect to extra-curricular activities. The student researchers wrapped up their projects with focus groups of fellow students and a small survey.
 
Using many of the findings discovered by the student researchers, the SBE Events program was launched in fall 2010. Some of the many ways the student research helped shape the SBE Events program include:
  • Since students often don’t read email, it’s important to also have SBE Events info posted online and mentioned by professors in class.
  • Students are busy and need to see immediate rewards for how they spend their time. Hence, SBE students can earn credits in their core classes by attending events and do not have to also complete written assignments about the events.
  • Students have a wide range of career goals and preparation levels. Having many different SBE Events allows students to customize their professional development.
  • Students enjoy hearing not just from successful, seasoned professionals but also from fellow students and recent graduates. SBE Events programming therefore has a strong student and recent alum component.
Since its launch in fall 2010, the Smiley Professional Events program has grown to include more students and a greater variety of programming. There’s always something new happening!
  
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