Ethics case competition challenges students with complex social responsibility issues

Oct 25, 2016

Contact: Erica Heim, 607.255.6574,

Ethics case competition challenges students with complex social responsibility issues

Ithaca, NY, October 25, 2016 - Four student teams have received cash awards totaling $4,000 for their analysis of corporate social responsibility issues in the fourth annual Stephen S.J. Hall Ethics Case Competition, held October 15 at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. The competition presented students with the complex situation of an actual company that had been publicly praised as a leader in addressing labor-rights issues within its supply chain, only to have further violations uncovered, leading to criticism that it was still not doing enough.

First place (and a $2,000 award) went to a team of four sophomores: Arun Yagnamurthy ’19, Madison Austrich ’19, Jason Zhang ’19, and Michael Baldyga ’19; winning second place (worth $1,000) were seniors Gundeep Singh ’17 and Isabella Delgado ’17; in third place ($750) was the team of Carmel Bendit-Shtull ’19 and Caleb Sturman ’19; and the $250 prize for fourth place will be split by Akshay Vijay MMH ’17, Vijesh Patel MMH ’17, and Sambhavi Vempati MMH ’17. All teams were composed only of Cornell students, and each team had at least one member who is a student at the School of Hotel Administration.

In the vein of a leadership crisis challenge, the student teams were provided the case study the morning of the competition and given only four hours to identify the ethical dimensions of the company’s situation (using no outside research) and develop a comprehensive action plan that balanced both social responsibility and corporate financial goals.

Eight judges reviewed the student teams’ presentations. They are:
(1) Stephen S.J. Hall II ’06 – Co-Founder of Tinker Coffee Co. and representative of the Hall Family;
(2) Alyssa Barrerio - Vice President, Wilmington Trust NA;
(3) Si-Yeon Kim – EVP, Chief Compliance and Risk Officer, American Express Global Business Travel;
(4) Risa Mish, JD ’88, Professor of Practice of Management, Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell;
(5) Richard (Dick) Moore (MEng, MBA, BS ’67) – Professor Emeritus, Cornell School of Hotel Administration;
(6) Dana Radcliffe - Day Family Senior Lecturer in Business Ethics, Johnson Graduate School of Management Cornell;
(7) Mark Woodworth SHA ’77 - President, CBRE-PKF; and (8) Victor Vesnaver MPS ’83 – Former SVP, Sales & Marketing, PAR Springer-Miller.

“A major lesson of this competition is that in the real world, there are often no clear-cut answers on how to best balance ethical responsibilities to employees, customers, and other stakeholders with necessary financial and profit goals,” said Senior Lecturer Susan Fleming, who organizes the competition. “In this competition, we hope students will gain experience confronting these difficult questions in a very tangible way so that when they run into them in real life, they will be better prepared to make better decisions, both from an ethical and a business perspective.”

The competition is part of a school-wide ethics initiative launched in 2010, backed by Stephen S.J. Hall '56, Marjorie Hall (HumEc '58), and their son Larry Hall '81. As the family’s representative, Stephen Hall congratulated all the students for participating in the competition and reminded them about the importance of ethics in their lives: “The study of ethics is not just an academic pursuit. It carries on through your leadership throughout your career. Carry it with you, and you will do well.”

About the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University
The School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University is shaping the global knowledge base for hospitality management through leadership in education, research, and industry advancement. Accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the school provides management instruction in the full range of hospitality disciplines, educating the next generation of leaders in the world's largest industry. Founded in 1922 as the nation's first collegiate course of study in hospitality management, the Cornell School of Hotel Administration is recognized as the world leader in its field. For more information, visit