Bill Whitney, left, vice president of the Northern California Mechanical Contractors Association, presents a check to Emir Macari, Sacramento State's dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
When Sacramento State’s Construction Management program needed an idea for a fundraiser last year, Bill Whitney had a quick answer: golf.
The idea to hold a fundraising tournament actually had come to Whitney, vice president of the Northern California Mechanical Contractors Association, a few years ago while he was talking with Sacramento State professor Mikael Anderson. “Contractors love to play,” Anderson says.
But the wheels weren’t set in motion until last July, when student Steve Farshchi took the lead on making it happen. The payoff of their collaboration came on a sun-splashed early afternoon in mid-April at Sacramento State. That day, Whitney, who calls himself an advocate for mechanical contracting and who sees in Sac State students the future of a work force that will change radically as baby boomers retire, handed Anderson a check for almost $22,000.
The money generated by the tournament, held in October at Boundary Oak Golf Course in Walnut Creek, was split equally among the Construction Management programs of tournament participants Sacramento State, Chico State and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and far exceeded organizers’ expectations.
“It was a great collaboration,” Anderson says.
And one without precedent. Anderson says the program had not worked before on that level with other schools. Such an undertaking presented a unique set of challenges, and Farshchi, a junior Construction Management major, embraced it and excelled despite a daunting timeline. Farshchi and other collaborators had just three months to pull off an event the likes of which usually take at least twice that long to turn.
It helped that the man who dreamed up the idea was so determined to see it happen immediately. When a faculty advisor at one of the other schools told Whitney three months was not enough time to pull together the tournament, Farshchi says, “Bill kind of looked right at him and said, ‘This is going to happen. And it’s going to work.’”
It certainly did, making a profit of more than three times what the organizers would have considered a success. Farshchi says in fact they would have been happy were the event only marginally profitable and the organizers able to learn valuable lessons for future tournaments.
“For students to get together and make a model and execute it, and make profit, it’s pretty cool,” Farshchi says. “For this to happen, it was a big surprise.”
At the tournament itself, students functioned as liaisons for industry members who played. A few students played under industry sponsorship, Farshchi said, but most sat back and enjoyed the time. Farshchi, for his part, watched with an eye for improving the tournament in subsequent years. Ideally, he said, organizational responsibility will rotate among the three schools. As for fundraising prowess, things can only improve.
“The reality is, we’ll do better this year,” Anderson says.