Volume 11 No. 1 SPRING 2010

Campaign Profile: Ernst & Young

Your first weekend in college is important. The Smith School set the tone for the next four years with two days of team-building, top-rate keynote speakers and seminars and real-life ethics training for the 350 freshmen in attendance at the Ernst & Young Freshman Fellows Orientation program. The program was funded with a $250,000 endowment from Ernst & Young, and was one of just five grants awarded in a highly competitive 2009 grant-making cycle.

The endowment is part of a larger program at Ernst & Young, which has a strong corporate focus on philanthropy, particularly in the area of education. The gift was part of its university fund initiative, designed to give Ernst & Young the opportunity to consider larger gifts to academic institutions, especially with schools like Maryland that are considered a recruiting priority.

Ernst & Young employs just under 200 alumni in 25 offices across the region, and several of those alumni were part of the program. From performing in skits to putting on a “Dress for Success” fashion show, Ernst & Young’s Smith alumni created an engaging and enthusiastic learning experience.

While Ernst & Young appreciated the opportunity to interact with students at the beginning of their careers and build brand recognition among possible future recruits, Patricia Cleveland, associate dean of undergraduate programs, appreciated the high-level educational content of the weekend. “Because of this partnership with Ernst & Young we were able to create a rich learning environment while really building community among this large group,” says Cleveland. “The young alumni were such fabulous role models. Undergraduates find it hard to imagine what they’ll actually do in their professions, so it is encouraging for them to see where they might be in four years’ time.”

Cleveland also appreciated the energetic, enthusiastic participation of Ernst & Young staff, particularly Robert Myers, senior manager of the McLean, VA, assurance practice, and Anthony Calderazzi ’92, assurance partner. Both were involved in planning the weekend’s events and bringing in top speakers, such as Jeff Hoops, senior compliance officer, whose powerful and candid discussion of workplace ethics resonated with students long after the event was over.

Calderazzi, who majored in accounting at Smith, was excited about the practical nature of the program. “We brought our resources and talent together to support the school’s goal for orientation—to help students start preparing themselves to be business professionals,” says Calderazzi. “When I was in school no one talked about that till you were ready to go out the door and graduate.”

Myers recruits at Maryland for Ernst & Young. “We had a lot of fun planning this with the school, working with Dean Cleveland and her team and spending time with the students over the course of the weekend,” he says. “The entire program was terrific. It focused on a lot of the things we think students need in order to become successful—in order to become the kind of people Ernst & Young wants to hire in four years.”

Ernst & Young has been a key resource and partner with the Smith School over the course of a 30-year relationship. Their support of the school totals more than $1 million, including construction of an Ernst & Young classroom and the establishment of student scholarships.

The endowment for the Freshman Fellows Orientation program is a gift that will keep on giving many years into the future, creating a great first memory for Smith students and setting them on the road toward collegiate and career success.

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