Freezin' for a reason: BUS 209 students take a deep dive for Special Olympics of Indiana

by Susan Sullivan | Dec 20, 2018

Has a new campus tradition been born? Marian University Knights took a frigid “Polar Plunge” to benefit Special Olympics of Indiana on December 7 and, by all accounts, had a great time doing it.

The event was all part of the learning experience for BUS 209: Quantitative Analysis of Business, a semester-long, nine-credit course that’s a key component of the Byrum School of Business undergraduate curriculum.

2019 Polar Plunge | Marian University

Despite cold temperatures, the sun shone for Polar Plunge 2019 at Marian University. The event, managed by BUS 209 students, raised $4,200 to benefit special needs athletes affiliated with Special Olympics of Indiana.

The students spent their semester engaged in marketing, management, and statistical research in order to analyze participation rates in Special Olympics of Indiana (SOIN) fundraising events.

“The course requires students, most of whom are sophomores, to complete background research, interviews, and a quantitative survey in order to solve a business problem for a real client,” explains Assistant Professor of Marketing Joel Hall.

The BUS 209 students investigated three aspects of SOIN fundraising operations:

  1. Best practices in event planning and management, including why some types of events raise more funds than others.
  2. How to improve retention and participation among its annual Polar Plunge participants, including recommendations for growing the current 30 percent retention rate.
  3. Suggestions for promoting SOIN’s founding in 1969 and its upcoming 50th anniversary

They were also tasked with planning and managing a 2019 Polar Plunge at Marian University. The pool was located on the circular drive outside of the Physical Education Center, where participants could register, change into bathing suits, and hang out for an “After Splash Bash.”

“The students had a lot to accomplish in 15 weeks. They split into three teams, each with its own focus, although cross-team collaboration and multitasking was an important learning goal. Early weeks were spent studying and applying a range of research and statistical techniques as well as engaging in client meetings, conducting interviews, and finalizing a survey. After that, they focused on event planning and logistics, securing participant registrations and donations, analyzing survey results, and producing project deliverables including a final report,” Hall says.

To make it convenient for all Marian students to participate, the Polar Plunge took place on Reading Day, a day without classes (and Marian tradition) that’s held the last Friday before final exams. Despite chilly temperatures, it was a successful event, raising more than $4,200 for SOIN.

“Having a fun, interactive event as part of their coursework attracted the students. They got to meet several SOIN athletes who were in attendance and get more insight into what it means to be a person with special needs. But they also learned about how planning and details matter. They had to solve some last-minute issues, which caused them a bit of stress at times. But that’s one of the things we want to help them learn to manage—they are now better prepared to head into the working world where last-minute problems can and do occur,” notes Hall.

Hall says he hopes a Polar Plunge to benefit SOIN will become an annual Marian University tradition that a student club or group will adopt.

For more information about business majors and courses at Marian University, visit

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