Business Student Leads 2019 Winter Carnival Planning

Exterior of the Administrative Offices Building in winter.
Exterior of the Administrative Offices Building in winter.
Business student Dan Schudlich is this year's Blue Key president.

Meet this year’s Blue Key President, Dan Schudlich.

Winter Carnival is an institution at Michigan Technological University, dating back to its humble start as a one-day “Ice Carnival” in 1922. In 1934, Blue Key National Honor Society assumed operations of the midwinter frozen festival. Today, the Blue Key chapter at Michigan Tech produces one of the largest events of any of the more than 50 Blue Key chapters in the nation.

The honor society chapter recognizes Huskies with all-around excellence in scholarship, leadership and service. Students with over a 3.0 GPA can apply for membership into Blue Key.

A fourth-year management information systems (MIS) and accounting dual major, Dan Schudlich of Saint Clair, Michigan, is this year’s Blue Key executive board president. He leads a team of 50 students to orchestrate the four-day-long Winter Carnival.

Dan’s been involved in the organization since his first year on campus and has had a role in nearly every aspect of Winter Carnival planning. “I did the Pictoral my first year. Last year I was on the special events committee and was in charge of the beards competition and downhill skiing,” he said.

Blue Key President Dan Schudlich
 Blue Key President Dan Schudlich

With an operating budget of more than $60,000, comprised largely of donations and allocations from the Michigan Tech Undergraduate Student Government, the role of treasurer would be a natural fit for the soon-to-be masters-level accounting student, but Dan passed. After some thought and conversations with his parents, he wanted the challenge of running the whole event.

His approach? One bite at a time. “I welcomed the opportunity to challenge myself and tackle one of Michigan Tech's largest traditions."

Being Blue Key president involves a lot of communication. “We work across all departments and all student organizations across campus. Being able to read situations, respond to situations, sometimes working with people who are upset. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is when to respond to something immediately and when to take some time to breathe or reflect,” Dan said. 

He credits Blue Key advisor, Laura Bulleit, associate dean of students, with mentoring the group not only for a successful event but for personal and career growth. “She always makes sure we’re moving forward in a positive trajectory.”

The management classes within his accounting and MIS majors have developed Dan’s leadership style, “MIS is notorious for its group projects,” he said. Asked if he’s at all anxious about the challenge of balancing three capstone courses with the demands of the Blue Key presidency, Dan said, “I have talked a lot about Blue Key with my professors. I like to get their opinions on things. They are always around to talk to and have interesting perspectives. They understand.”

Dan’s leadership hasn’t changed Winter Carnival mainstays, but he said revelers near and far can look forward to a few new elements for the 2019 #mtuwc, including a renewed emphasis on student involvement with student tracking and more live coverage via Michigan Tech’s social channels. He said that there is a community bonfire in the works downtown, too. “We have a great theme this year. It’s broad enough where we should see some really creative, very Tech statues.”

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.