SUNY Geneseo Wins FDIC’s Inaugural Academic Challenge

FDIC 2020-2021 Academic Challenge

A four-member team of students from SUNY Geneseo’s School of Business won the inaugural Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation FDIC Academic Challenge, a national competition among university and college students concerning the U.S. banking sector.

Geneseo’s team consisted of Kiersten Colvin ’21 (economics with a finance minor) from Rockville Center, NY; Tyee MacDonnell-Miller ’22 (economics with finance and business studies minors) from Ronkonkoma, NY; Ian Merrihew ’22 (philosophy with an economics minor) from Averill Park, NY; and Oliver Stordahl ’22 (economics with a data analytics minor) from Montclair, NJ.

The team presented a thoughtful examination of the “relationship banking” services community banks offer to individuals, small businesses, and farmers, particularly in rural, low-income, and minority communities.

“The students did an exceptional job preparing for the challenge, competing with top economics schools,” says faculty advisor Léonie Stone, assistant professor of economics. “Academic competitions of this type give students the opportunity to apply classroom study to real-world problems, learning to combine theory and practice and honing critical thinking skills.  It was a pleasure to work with this team of committed students, and we were very impressed with the way in which the FDIC organized this competition.”

In addressing the student teams, FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams said, “I was really excited to see what ideas you could bring to us and what we could learn from you. Your accomplishments are especially noteworthy in light of the ongoing public health challenges that have pushed many colleges and universities to move instruction online.”

The competition’s other finalists hailed from California State University, Fullerton; the University of Chicago; the University of Delaware; and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The FDIC’s Center for Financial Research hosted the 2020–21 Academic Challenge, which consisted of two rounds. In the first round of the competition, teams of undergraduate students used multiple public data sources to prepare a written submission that examined the effects of community banks on local economic development. In the second round, finalist teams were invited to present their findings and answer questions from a panel of judges who work in the areas of banking and bank supervision.


Robyn Rime
Senior Writer & Editor
(585) 245-5529