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photo collage of van den Berg Hall, the clock tower, Dean Hadi Salavitabar, and undergraduate student Jumpei Onozuka

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SUNY New Paltz Business Students Make Impressive Showing at HR Games


SUNY New Paltz Business Students Make Impressive Showing at HR Games Competition By Shaun Hoff

This April, undergraduate students from the School of Business at the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz demonstrated their human resource knowledge against other universities at the annual HR Games competition in Buffalo, New York. The team consisted of three undergraduate student members of the SUNY New Paltz student chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Management Association. After several months of studying, the team made an impressive showing against other highly ranked universities, with SUNY New Paltz earning the third-highest overall point total among the fourteen schools competing.

The HR Games is one-day game show tournament between students of various SHRM chapters throughout the Northeast region. This academic competition tests students by using a Jeopardy style format to answer human resource questions. The questions for matches are complied into categories such as training and development, management practices, selection and recruitment, and employee/labor relations. During each round of play, students from each team select point values and a question category. The question is read twice and students have 15 seconds to answer. Each spring, SHRM holds competitions across four regions with the regional winners advancing to compete against each other at the SHRM Annual Conference.

Kristin Backhaus, Assistant Professor of Management at SUNY New Paltz and Advisor of Management Association, felt students gained several benefits by participating in the HR Games including the opportunity "to learn key HR terms and concepts, become conversant in HR terminology and the opportunity to compete against other skilled teams in a high-pressure setting." In addition, Backhaus felt that by students participating in the HR Games it "shows future employers that they have initiative and that they are knowledgeable in the subject matter areas of HR." The team from SUNY New Paltz, which was sponsored by the Mid-Hudson Human Resource Association (MHHRA), achieved its best performance in its three years competing by accumulating 16,700 points in over five rounds of play. In head-to-head competition, the team defeated highly ranked colleges such as the Northeast regional winner Penn State, as well as the University of Buffalo, Niagara University, and Marist College. Most of all, the SUNY New Paltz teams consisting of John Fragale, Danielle Glendenning and Jeff Katz gained significant knowledge to supplement their classroom learning. "Our team was well prepared and ready for the challenge of the HR Games this year. Their coach, Nicole Giordano, provided comprehensive notes and study guides to help them prepare. The HR Games are fun, exciting and give students the opportunity to compete against a variety of other schools. It is a great experience and well worth the effort," added Backhaus. Nicole Giordano, an MBA student at SUNY New Paltz and past HR Games participant, coached the teams throughout the semester by leading regular practice sessions, distributing study materials, and holding mock competitions. Giordano felt that "the students who participated in the HR Games spent a lot of time preparing and learned a lot about the field of HR. I was really impressed with how much they were able to learn over the time that we prepared."

Student participants enjoyed their experience of representing SUNY New Paltz and demonstrating their knowledge of HR to practitioners and other students. "Competing in the HR Games gave me a chance to see how I compared to other students in some very good schools like Penn State," said Jeff Katz, a first-year HR Games participant. In addition, students felt their hard work will serve as a beneficial experience in their future careers. "Preparing for the games helped me to gain a lot of knowledge about HR and reinforce many things that I had previously learned," added Katz. John Fragale, a senior at SUNY New Paltz, said "by participating in the HR Games, I was able to fine-tune my knowledge of the HR profession, taking it a step further than other students studying HR. My understanding of HR terms and concepts became clearer. Another benefit is being able to meet your opponents from other schools, as well network with the HR professionals that are at the games." Danielle Glendenning also echoed the sentiments of her fellow teammates by saying "taking part in the HR Games was a great experience. Doing this requires you to learn such a large amount of information in a short period of time, but the knowledge gained helps in every class. This knowledge and experience is something I will be able to use in my future career."

Excited about its performance this year, these motivated students are already preparing and recruiting students for next year's competition. "Going to Buffalo, NY to compete against some of the top teams and placing as highly as we did gives you an empowering feeling. It was so much fun, and I can't wait until next year's Games," said Glendenning.

For more information about Management Association, the SUNY New Paltz Superior Merit Award chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), please visit For additional information, about the School of Business at SUNY New Paltz you may also visit