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RAIDS LEGACY STILL FELT IN BUSINESS AT BLUFFTON
Much of what faculty and students in Bluffton Universitys business program do today has roots going back 50 years and more.
Student internships and academic collaboration with the local business community, for instance, date to initiatives introduced by the late Howard Raid during his more than 30 years as a business faculty member, beginning in 1947.
Dr. George Lehman, chair of Blufftons Division of Business Studies, discussed Raids legacy Nov. 30 in his annual lecture as the Raid Endowed Chair in business.
Before there were internships, there was the Rapid (Bluffton) Slaw Cutter Co., a community business bought by Raid and Carl Lehmanthe business manager at then-Bluffton Collegeand run by students from 1962-82.
Raid and Lehman "ceded the full management of the company to a student group," whose members handled all aspects of the business, including accounting, payroll, sales and manufacturing, George Lehman said.
From 1965-70, sales ranged from $8,000-$12,000 per year, he noted, calling the company "the most visible symbol of business education at Bluffton" at the time.
"This was a significant learning experience for students," who reported their accomplishments each semester and, he added, provided ongoing proof of the benefit of hands-on business experience.
A student-run business would still be a good idea, he maintained, citing the possibility of an enterprise in which students could work for other companies, monitoring whats said about them on social media.
The business programs current collaboration with the local Bluffton Center for Entrepreneurs also "fits the spirit" of work that Raid did, including a Bluffton business census that he initiated by 1950, Lehman said.
The census, an annual publication until 1993, started as a sort of expanded telephone book for community businesses, with their names, addresses and phone numbers, he explained. After the first year, it also contained information about how many businesses had come to town and how many had closed during that year, he continued.
The business professor said his review of archival material indicated that the census "seemed to be important to people" as both a source of good information and a college-community connection.
In another community-minded initiative, Raid had his sales and marketing students conduct interviews and write reports about existing and former Bluffton businesses, in preparation for a one-time, science fair-like Bluffton Industrial Exhibit in Founders Hall.
Raid also created the Boom or Bust Investment Club, which originated in 1956 with 43 peopleprimarily studentseach buying $5 worth of stock in companies including General Motors and Ford.
The value of the portfolio grew to nearly $5,000 by the end of 1971 and, with the help of a particularly good decade in the 1990s, the value has now reached roughly $170,000, Lehman said. The fund is treated like an endowment, he pointed out, noting that about $99,000 has been distributed to help fund student trips to conferences and other projects.
The enduring lesson from the investment club is that "even relatively small acts can have major impacts over time," he added. And it goes along with a larger point that Lehman, a Bluffton graduate and a faculty member since 1994, said he took from his research of Raid and the history of business at Bluffton.
"Educating students about the world of business should continue to be the core contribution we make to the business community," he said.
Bluffton public relations, 12/3/12