Lehman bankruptcy hits GW org

As the troubles of Wall Street continue to grow, its effects have reached at least one group of students in the School of Business.

GW Women in Business has received funding from Lehman Brothers since the student organization was founded in 2006. Lehman Brothers, however, declared bankruptcy in September and GWWIB leaders are unsure if they will get the $10,000 the investment bank committed to this past spring.

“The information changes every single time,” said junior Tricia Reville, a co-chair of GWWIB. “I can’t even keep straight anymore who’s going to get what and if the checks are even going to clear.”

Students in the business school formed GWWIB after they interned at various investment banks and discovered how significant a student business organization can be, especially for women looking to enter the business world.

“Two students interned at Lehman Brothers and heard a lot of other graduate women talking about these organizations they’d been in that were geared towards women interested in business,” Reville said. “And they realized we really need to have something like this at GW.”

GWWIB turned to GW alumnus Scott Brennan who worked at Lehman Brothers when they started. He served as a point of contact for the organization for the past three years.

“Without Scott and Lehman’s sponsorship our first year, GWWIB would never have been possible,” said senior Alli Mulhearn, a GWWIB co-chair. “Scott really spearheaded the entire initiative both financially and with contacts.”

For GWWIB’s inaugural year, Lehman Brothers sponsored about $4,000, and the following year gave around $7,000, Reville said.

The amount from Lehman Brothers was supposed to increase again this year to $10,000 said GWWIB leaders, but following Lehman’s declaration of bankruptcy, that figure dropped to $5,000, they said.

After declaring bankruptcy, Lehman Brothers began to liquidate their assets and sell off what they could. As Lehman tries to pay their debts back, it is uncertain where their sponsorships will fall.

GWWIB had planned a budget based on the amount Lehman quoted in the spring, but plans for expanding the organization have now turned to prioritizing their expenses, Reville said.

“We take a trip to New York to meet with companies and it definitely has an impact on members who often receive internships or job offers, and we also wanted to host a conference in the spring that would bring in a lot of speakers,” Reville said. “But those will be a bigger expenses.”

GWWIB is now leaning more heavily on its other corporate sponsors, Canadian investment bank TD Securities and Deloitte, an accounting firm, both of which remained relatively unharmed by market woes. Both companies sponsored GWWIB last year.

GWWIB also receives funds from the Student Association finance committee. Student Association Sen. Bryce Holman (SoB-U), who sits on the SA finance committee, said that this is the only case they have heard of in which an organization is losing funding from major corporations suffering from the economic crisis.

Mulhearn and Reville said they hope to know in about two weeks whether funding will officially come through from Lehman Brothers, but they hold no contempt for the company that helped launch their presence on campus.

“They believed in us from the beginning,” Mulhearn said. “And even in this current crisis are still giving us financial support in some amount.”

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