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View from the Top Chuck and Jo Ellen McDowell have climbed the ladder of success and are helping others reach new heights


ENTERPRISE 2021 / Vol. 5, No. 1 Dean, Jones College David Urban • Strategic Communications Specialist, Jones College Darby Campbell-Firkus • Senior Editor Drew Ruble • Senior Director, Creative Marketing Solutions Kara Hooper • Designer Brittany Blair Stokes • Associate Editor Carol Stuart • Contributing Writer Patsy B. Weiler • Contributing Editor Nancy Broden • University Photographers Cat Curtis Murphy, Andy Heidt, J. Intintoli, James Cessna • University President Sidney A. McPhee • University Provost Mark Byrnes • Vice President for Marketing and Communications Andrew Oppmann Address changes: Advancement Services, MTSU Box 109, Murfreesboro, TN 37132, Other correspondence: Jones College, 1301 E. Main St., MTSU Box 101, Murfreesboro, TN 37132. 3,300 copies printed at Pollock Printing, Nashville, Tennessee. 0920-9226 / Middle Tennessee State University does not discriminate against students, employees, or applicants for admission or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, age, status as a protected veteran, genetic information, or any other legally protected class with respect to all employment, programs, and activities sponsored by MTSU. The Assistant to the President for Institutional Equity and Compliance has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies and can be reached at Cope Administration Building 116, 1301 East Main Street, Murfreesboro, TN 37132;; or 615-898-2185. The MTSU policy on non-discrimination can be found at



4 Letter from the Dean Jones College continues on upward trajectory

6 Greener Pastures Small-town Economics major takes the lead on Business and Economic Research Center grant serving distressed rural areas

16 View from the Top Chuck and Jo Ellen McDowell have climbed the ladder of success and are helping others reach new heights

22 Common Cents A prestigious new affiliation propels the Tennessee Council on Economic and Free Enterprise Education toward fulfilling Jennings A. Jones’ dream

28 Tom and Martha Collins Alumni and supporters of the Political Economy Research Institute on why they give back

32 Jones College All★Stars All of our faculty, staff, and students contribute to our college’ success, and here we highlight a few exceptional individuals

43 Change Makers Jones College faculty and staff thought leadership in partnership with the Nashville Business Journal

45 Business Matters Your guide to what’s happening at Jones College

Nicole V. Salazar Tique (’20) celebrates earning her Finance degree with a Real Estate concentration. Photo by J. Intintoli

Cover photo by Darby Campbell-Firkus

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The Jones College of Business is still moving forward briskly—its engine is firing on all cylinders, propelling the college to greater national prominence and regional dominance. The news and features in this issue include successes in attracting external support for our programs, a continued emphasis on preparing business-ready leaders for the real world, and meaningful outreach to the professional community. In early 2021, AACSB International conducted a rigorous review of every aspect of Jones College’s engagement, innovation, and impact over the last five years. I am pleased to report that the board of directors of AACSB International voted to extend the Jones College accreditations in business and accounting for another five years as a result of that review. AACSB International is the premier accrediting body in business education worldwide. Less than 5% of the thousands of collegiate business schools in the world have AACSB business accreditation. Jones College is one of only 189 collegiate business schools to have accreditation in both business and accounting. We estimate that this distinction puts Jones College in the top 1.4% of collegiate business schools worldwide. Most gratifying was the following statement in the report of the AACSB reviewers: “The college and MTSU have made excellent progress since the last review (2016), and that upward trajectory is noticeable and commendable.” Also, regarding accreditation, Jones College is very close to having its undergraduate degree program in Information Systems receive initial accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). At the same time that we prepared for the AACSB five-year review, we also underwent scrutiny from ABET for 4 | ENTERPRISE

our Information Systems undergraduate program. The last few months have been busy, but the external validation for the quality of our programs is extremely rewarding. Jones College programs continue to draw national attention. Of the 14 national rankings in the top 50 (or better) that our programs have received since 2016, eight have come in just the last two years. Now that we are bringing our students back to campus in greater numbers due to the positive impact that vaccinations have had on controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, the students can take advantage of recent improvements to the Business and Aerospace Building, Jones College’s primary home. These include enhanced capabilities for video recording and streaming in our classrooms, as well as the John A. “Jack” Spann III Risk Management Lab and the I’m In! Accounting Success Lab. We are very excited about the Tennessee Center for Economic and Free Enterprise Education (TCEFEE) and our new B.B.A. degree in Supply Chain Management. The new name of the TCEFEE, formerly the Center for Economic Education, emphasizes its unique position within our state in promoting pre-college economic and financial literacy. Our Supply Chain program started in fall 2019 as a concentration in the B.B.A. in Management. Its rapid growth in response to market demand in the Greater Nashville region helped us fast-track the concentration to a standalone degree. We are examining the feasibility of doing the same thing with our Supply Chain concentration in the M.S. in Management— spinning it off into a separate M.S. in Supply Chain Management. There’s much more to read about in the rest of this issue. As I complete my eighth year as Jones College dean, the future couldn’t be brighter!

David Urban Dean, Jones College of Business

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Patricia Hummel, Economics major and BERC project student technical assistant Photo by J. Intintoli


he first person Economics major Patricia Hummel wanted to tell about her hiring as part of an exciting new endeavor between MTSU’s Business and Economic Research Center and the U.S. Department of Agriculture was her mom, Michelle Hummel. Energetic and confident, the younger Hummel was eager for the chance to be involved in the center’s $127,500 USDA grant announced in fall 2020. A part of MTSU’s Jones College of Business, BERC will work with 16 impoverished communities across 11 counties identified in east Tennessee’s Knoxville and Greeneville USDA service regions.

‘Guess what I get to do? I am going to be involved with helping rural communities,’ ” said Hummel, 20, a junior who also is pursuing three minors—Risk Management and Insurance, Philosophy, and University Honors.


Growing up in Lafayette, a hamlet northeast of Murfreesboro with a population that barely squeaks past 5,000, Hummel has firsthand knowledge of living in a small town with limited resources. The youngest of five children raised by a single parent, she is an MTSU Presidential Scholarship recipient, Honors student, and vice president of finance for Gamma Iota Sigma, a risk management, insurance, and actuarial science professional fraternity.

The grant is designed to serve distressed areas with populations of fewer than 10,000 and incomes that are less than 75% of the state’s nonmetro median household income. However, all areas in the region meeting the population and financial criteria will be eligible to utilize the services offered.

“I was so excited to be involved with research that was relevant to my childhood experience that I called my mom and said,

Recent U.S. Census data shows that in each of the 16 identified places, there is an average of slightly more than 3,100 residents


living on an average of $28,660 annually—about 65% of the state’s nonmetro household income. Though they live in some of the most beautiful sections of the state, residents are faced daily with the harsh reality that their communities often lack financial means for rural infrastructure development.

latest BERC partnership gives Jones College an excellent opportunity to implement vital business solutions by utilizing the knowledge of our scholars and professionals who are experts in business research, finance, and technology. We are all about economic development.”

Hummel had expressed an interest to Keith Gamble, then-chair of the Department of Economics and Finance, in becoming more involved with the University and a research project. He directed her to BERC Director Murat Arik, who selected Hummel from a strong pool of applicants in November 2020 as the new USDA project student technical assistant in the center’s Business and Aerospace Building office.

Since its founding in 1970, “BERC has helped communities across Tennessee overcome business challenges through research and information for half a century,” said Arik, an assistant professor n the Department of Management. He has been associated with BERC for 18 years since arriving at MTSU.

“We hired Patricia because she had all the required qualities for the job: academic experience, GPA, and communication skills, as well as passion for the project,” Arik said. “She will work as a liaison between the USDA, the BERC staff, and the identified rural areas.” Arik was quick to add that the most important product to come out of BERC is the talented, work-ready students. “The center’s main focus is to foster student success and produce graduates who are ready for the professional workforce,” Arik said. “Students are at the heart of what we do. At any given semester we have about seven students working here. We help prepare them for a promising future by teaching a variety of skill sets from survey creation and teamwork to learning programming languages and project management.”

POCKETS OF POVERTY The three-year joint venture will focus on building a bridge of information, education, and encouragement designed to eliminate barriers associated with accessing available federal funds in order to help longtime pockets of poverty progress toward rural prosperity. “Some applicants may lack the expertise or resources necessary to complete funding requests for infrastructure projects such as a children’s playground, senior citizens center, health facility, or library—there are different possibilities,” Arik said. “Hence, the need for the outside assistance the BERC will provide.” By providing technical and application aid to make rural infrastructure development attainable, the partnership with MTSU and BERC “will create access to capital in some of east Tennessee’s most vulnerable communities,” said former state Sen. Jim Tracy, the USDA Rural Development’s previous state director. Jones College Dean David Urban echoes the excitement about the center’s expanded role in helping Tennessee residents. “The Jones College of Business prides itself on impactful engagement with the broader community,” Urban said. “This

The research center is well respected for its interaction with a variety of professional entities to collect and disseminate data about the regional economy. BERC produces a monthly report on economic indicators for the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, a quarterly housing report in partnership with the Tennessee Housing Development Agency, and a quarterly analysis of international trade data about global commerce in the state. The center’s consulting work also is an important tool for increasing awareness of MTSU and Jones College in the public arena.

THE PERFECT PAIRING One of MTSU’s strongest selling points is that undergraduates get opportunities to collaborate on real-world research in a way only graduate students do at other institutions. Participating in undergrad research opportunities leads to life success downstream. It’s the equivalent of job experience. In essence, a degree from MTSU is not just a degree—it is a résumé. Hummel, an avid reader whose favorite authors are Mary Higgins Clark and Jane Austen, also was recently awarded an Undergraduate Research Experience and Creative Activity (URECA) grant to assist with research for writing her Honors College thesis. She’s tackling a timely topic with her project titled “Analyzing College Students’ Finances and How They Were Impacted By COVID-19.” With her newfound role with BERC, Hummel is rounding out her skills in a robust manner. Additionally, Hummel was recently awarded an undergraduate reserch fellowship through PERI. “The USDA project is very important for me,” Hummel said. “I’m lacking in technical skills, but this allows me to have the opportunity to gain them and [will] be something I can use in the future as I plan to enter MTSU’s Ph.D. program in Economics.” During the initial year of the program, the BERC team has been tenaciously reviewing and entering large amounts of USDA data to build a comprehensive database of grant offerings that is accurate plus easy to understand and navigate, she said.

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“First, we have to develop a solid game plan on how we are going to weave all the components together,” Hummel explained. “There are many details to consider.” For example, one possibility under discussion is providing an online library or storage site where basic information can be kept and easily retrieved for future use after the initial application. This option would make completing additional grant forms much easier. Once the well-vetted information is put in place, grant descriptions and requirements can be viewed by logging on to a specific portal, which most likely will be a web page but is still being developed. “If the decision is made to apply, then the applicant will go through a preapplication process,” Hummel said. “One of the many things we plan to prepare is a checkoff list to make the experience easier, make sure the criteria are met, and help prevent errors that could result in the grant request being denied.” When the preliminary groundwork is finished, the actual application can be completed and submitted through the portal to be reviewed by the USDA. Additionally, BERC will develop and implement other supportive tools that could include a webinar, instruction materials, handouts, and— once pandemic conditions allow—an in-person workshop in east Tennessee. “We are looking forward to eventually being able to go into the region and meet with the people there personally,” Arik said. “It is a little too early to know specifically what the communities will need the most. It could be assistance with preparing the application, help in how to find financial sources needed to meet grant criteria, or other hurdles they may encounter. We will determine those needs as we move forward.” At the end of the 36-month effort, the center will prepare a report evaluating the success of the services it provided. For now, the dynamic BERC team is already on the job, reviewing plans, and ready to build the tools needed to remove the obstacles rural areas face when accessing USDA grants—which, in turn, can be blueprints of future hope and prosperity.


Leadership team for MTSU’s rural development partnership (l–r): David Urban, dean of Jones College; Jim Tracy, former state director of USDA Rural Development; and Murat Arik, director of the Business and Economic Research Center

JOHN A. “JACK” SPANN III RISK MANAGEMENT LAB Affectionately known as “Jack’s Place,” the John A. “Jack” Spann III Risk Management Lab is now open for business. Named for Nashville native Jack Spann, the new Risk Management Lab includes computers, a printer, tables for study groups or student organization meetings, smart boards, and teleconferencing technology. Spann was an exemplary public servant and consummate insurance professional who worked diligently to improve the quality of life for his fellow Tennesseans. After his death, his wife, Louise Spann, and family decided the best way to honor his legacy of community outreach and commitment to education was to support future insurance professionals. Their gift transformed the space adjoined to the Martin Chair of Insurance office into a study space for Risk Management and Insurance students.


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Dave Wood, Martin Chair of Insurance holder, and Sarah Glass, executive aide

The Spann family, including Louise Spann, son John A. Spann IV, and his wife, Kristy, visit the new space in September 2020. Welcoming them are Dean David Urban; Dave Wood, Martin Chair of Insurance holder; Carolyn Tumbleson, development director; and Sarah Glass, executive aide.

Student worker Gracie Ray, a Risk Management and Insurance major and scholarship recipient

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hen former MTSU business student Chuck McDowell founded Wesley Financial Group LLC in 2011, he thoughtfully considered what name would best exemplify his mission. He chose to use the name of John Wesley, founder of the 18th century Methodist movement, as a constant reminder of a simple guiding principle behind his business: helping people. Wesley Financial Group specializes in complete timeshare termination and timeshare debt elimination for individuals and families that have experienced fraud, misrepresentation, or lies during timeshare sales presentations. His company is now branching out into the mortgage and insurance industries. As founder and CEO of Wesley Financial Group, Chuck has made a career of his passion for helping people, including supporting nonprofits through his company. His support of the Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship program at MTSU has been valuable beyond measure. Jo Ellen McDowell graduated from MTSU in 1987 as she started her career at Opryland Hotel, which turned out to be a perfect training ground for the significant business endeavors that were to come. She then became vice president of the Tennessee Malt Beverage Association and eventually vice president of event management for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. After moving to Franklin, Jo Ellen realized she was at the point in her life where she wanted to spend more time serving on nonprofit boards, volunteering, and helping people in general. Jo Ellen’s commitment to the betterment of middle Tennessee is evident through her extensive service and the couple’s financial support of nonprofits in the area, including the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, Friends of Franklin Parks, Williamson County Animal Center, GraceWorks, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and the African American Heritage Society of Williamson County. Chuck and Jo Ellen, who initially met when they were in school at MTSU in the 1980s, reconnected at an MTSU fraternity event in 2011 and were married in 2012. True Blue is a family affair, with a third member of the family, Cameron McDowell, to soon join the ranks of Jones College alumni! The McDowells have three children between them: Charles, Cameron, and Ferrell. They split their time between Franklin and Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, along with their dogs, Bud and Ollie, and their cat, Bises. Chuck and Jo Ellen are exceptional philanthropists who have been generous with their time, insight, influence, and resources. Not only has Chuck generously supported the Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship program financially, but he also has offered his time, expertise, and mentorship to Jones College of Business students through his involvement in the Business Plan Competition. The market demand for entrepreneurship courses has skyrocketed in recent years. The number of on-campus entrepreneurship programs has increased more than tenfold in the past three decades. The Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship major pulls from course offerings across the Jones College of Business to provide a truly interdisciplinary education. Students build a solid business education foundation with marketing, management, and accounting coursework. Learning entrepreneurship skills encourages analytical, organizational and interpersonal skills, and develops leadership and networking abilities. This real-world focus prepares graduates to seize opportunities, assume risks, innovate, and prosper. Jones College is an engine of economic development in middle Tennessee. Through the support of friends, partners, and alumni, MTSU’s business college can provide students scholarships and opportunities to compete, make connections in the business

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community, and find mentors. With Chuck’s support, the entrepreneurship program continues to grow and thrive, hoping to expand into a school of entrepreneurship in the future. Enterprise sat down with the McDowells to learn more about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, their passion for helping people, and why they’ve chosen to give so generously to the Jones College of Business. What does it take to be an entrepreneur? Chuck McDowell: I think a lot of people think they want to be an entrepreneur. It sounds great because you get to work for yourself and work your own hours. But if you’re the person who can leave the office at five and not think about your job until the next day, you shouldn’t be an entrepreneur. To be an entrepreneur, you have to be prepared for a 24/7 grind. Maybe some people can leave work when they leave the office, but it isn’t my experience with entrepreneurs. I knew at about age 18 or 19 that this is what I wanted to do. You also have to be a little bit crazy to be an entrepreneur. And to be willing to take on enormous risk when you’re starting out. Unless you’re ready to put $10,000 on the only credit card you have and max it out completely just to go into business— entrepreneurship is not for you. Entrepreneurs learn to accept loss and failure, but they do this with resiliency. Everybody wants to own their own business— until they do and they go bankrupt, have their credit plummet, and have to start all over again. You have to be willing to put everything on the line—you might lose your house, car, and business—but to succeed, you have to be able to dust yourself off and try again even when your friends tell you that you’ve lost your mind. After I married Jo Ellen, who is very organized and budgetminded, I reined in the significant risks. Our different life approaches balance things out. Before that, I always used to say, “Ready, fire, aim!”

I HIRE THE BEST PEOPLE I CAN AND LET THEM DO THEIR JOBS. . . . I HIRE THE RIGHT PEOPLE, AND I PAY THEM ABOVE AVERAGE, BUT I EXPECT THEM TO ALWAYS TOUCH THE LINE. Jo Ellen McDowell: I have always been extremely independent, so it has taken an adjustment to trust someone else willing to take those risks. In many ways, I am much more conservative than Chuck. However, I want him to fulfill his dreams and goals in life. I feel like it is part of my job as his partner to support


that. Chuck also realizes that we are different in that way and that it has taken a lot of trust to be there with “turning over the reins.” His risks are now very calculated so as to be respectful of my trust and our security. He is very conscientious in that regard and much less of a “gunslinger” than he used to be—both for me and for himself. Our brains work very differently. Our diverse work experiences and professional careers have made for some interesting conversations on business! What is your guiding principle? Chuck McDowell: The quote by John Wesley about doing all the good you can is my guiding principle. I consider it to be the touchline in my company. Back when we were in P.E. class, we had to “run suicides,” where you have to run back and forth across the gym, touching each line as you go. Sometimes it might look like you’re moving slower than the other guy, but he isn’t making sure to touch each mark and comes up short. Going that little extra bit to touch the line matters. It is also what I expect of my employees. Everybody touches the line all day, every day. Wesley Financial Group was named in Business Intelligence Group’s 2020 Best Places to Work award program, which identifies organizations doing all they can to improve performance by challenging their employees in fun and engaging work environments. What about your company culture makes your employees so happy? Chuck McDowell: I hire the best people I can and let them do their jobs. I don’t believe in micromanaging. As long as you get the job done, I don’t care what time you came in. If you have a child that is sick, stay home. Family comes first. The bottom line is that I hire the right people, and I pay them above average, but I expect them to always touch the line. That’s why we won the Business Intelligence Group’s award, were listed as a Fortune Best Workplaces for Women for 2020, and were ranked No. 1 in the large business category of the Nashville Business Journal’s 2020 Best Places to Work. By treating our employees well, our company succeeds. I attribute our debut at No. 203 in the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies last year to having happy employees who want our company to do well. Jo Ellen McDowell: Chuck has created an environment that feels like a family. When I visit his office or if I go to a party where I’m around everybody, you can tell there’s a very familial feeling amongst the employees and the way they interact with him. I think that there’s something to that, that if people can be themselves and feel like they’re part of a unit that creates something bigger than themselves. They’ve created an environment where people are happy and genuinely feel cared about.

What led you to choose to give back as a mentor and financially support the Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship program at MTSU? Chuck McDowell: I feel really blessed to be in the situation I’m in and to have built what I built. I enjoy giving back. When I was getting started, I didn’t have that many entrepreneurs to help guide me. When I was at Cutco knives, Jim White taught me how to sell and taught me how to ask questions. Most importantly, he taught me how to shut up after the question. I also remember watching my grandfather and learning from him. I recognized that most young people don’t have that opportunity. When I met Joshua Aaron through the Business Plan Competition, I really liked what he’s doing with

the Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship program, and I wanted to contribute. Jo Ellen McDowell: Chuck and I met at MTSU. MTSU is our alma mater. It was a place that I learned a lot both in class and outside of class. I grew up a lot there and have some great memories from my time there. I was afforded opportunities that gave me a wonderful career that is very meaningful to me. I had experiences there that shaped my life. We both love the idea of helping young people with direction, guidance, and support. Thank you for your time and all you do to support Jones College and entrepreneurship at MTSU! 2021 | 21



chance sighting of a Sunday newspaper advertisement about The Stock Market Game more than 40 years ago made Jennings A. Jones (pictured left) wonder how he could help take the program to Tennessee classrooms.

The Murfreesboro businessman and namesake of the MTSU Jones College of Business soon approached the Economics Department’s nascent Center for Economic Education in 1977 as the place to invest his idea. His passion and vision of economic education for Tennessee students helped launch the growth of the center, and today, The Stock Market Game is one of the main elements among its many successful components. Comprehensive, challenging, and fun, the game is a real-world program that helps participants of all ages understand financial and investment concepts as teams manage their own portfolios. Since its beginning, the center’s mission has been to equip Pre-K–12 schools with the tools and knowledge of economics and personal finance to learn how to make better decisions and choices for themselves, their families, and communities. From the start, Jennings A. and Rebecca Jones “took a strong interest in the center as a whole, and the Jones Foundation has continued to be a regular supporter—both financially and as a cheerleading team—of the work done at the center,” said Maria Edlin King, the center’s new director.

A YEAR OF CHANGE 2020 became a key year as the center pivoted to a new name, the Tennessee Council on Economic and Free Enterprise Education at MTSU, allowing for expansion; got a new director in King; and received the 2019–20 Albert Beekhuis Award. Named after a lifelong proponent of economic literacy, the national award included a $1,000 honorarium from the New York-based Council for Economic Education (CEE). King, an Economics faculty member who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at MTSU, had worked for 19 years as assistant director of the center. Within six months of becoming director, she was ready to deposit her own ideas. King applied for and received the state council designation from the CEE national governance organization. “The move to being the state council affords us the opportunity to sponsor and implement two additional competitions—the National Personal Finance Challenge and National Economics Challenge,” King said. “It expands our role as an advisory ‘council’ on standards, classroom implementation, and more— and, quite frankly, it makes our Tennessee Council more visible


to potential funding opportunities that ultimately will lead to more and better branding.” Shining as bright as a new coin on the funding radar is important because the Tennessee Council works with many Title I schools that serve the needs of low-income students. Determined to bring the offerings of the local council to all children, King continually seeks grants to cover the costs of materials, programming, and computer access for an often-underserved population.

TEACHING THE TEACHERS All 95 Tennessee counties “are in our scope with our transition to the state council,” King said. From July 2019 to June 2020, which included three-plus months when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down many MTSU on-campus operations, the center conducted 20 professional development programs, reaching 812 teachers.

SINCE ITS BEGINNING, THE CENTER’S MISSION HAS BEEN TO EQUIP PRE-K–12 SCHOOLS WITH THE TOOLS AND KNOWLEDGE OF ECONOMICS AND PERSONAL FINANCE. Partners included the Nashville branch of the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank, the Foundation for Economic Education, the Foundation for Teaching Economics, the American Institute for Economic Research, and the Tennessee Jump$tart Coalition. King, who also teaches macroeconomics classes at MTSU, knows the topic of economics can be intimidating. She uses familiar things such as Cinderella, coffee beans, chocolate candy, fake pearls, Halloween pet costumes, and Dollar Store merchandise to bring familiarity, interest, and understanding to the lessons she presents. “The beauty of teaching a teacher is that they go back to their classroom and engage with 200 to 300 students every year. It’s the gift that keeps on giving,” King said. “I provide individualized assistance with lessons for teachers, approaching economic and personal finance concepts that might not be something with which they are familiar. There is a big difference between ‘knowing something’ and ‘teaching something.’ I try to help bridge that gap.”

AFFILIATION AFFIRMATION Given annually, the prestigious Beekhuis Award is presented to an affiliated Center for Economic Education for outstanding performance in working with teachers and exhibiting excellence in delivery of high-quality programs and outreach to its community.

Maria Edlin King, new director of MTSU’s renamed Tennessee Council on Economic and Free Enterprise Education

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“Maria, through the center, diligently maintained operations with an eye toward the future, and she has since established the Tennessee Council,” said Kevin Gotchet, director of programs at the national CEE. “In recognition of her committed efforts to provide professional development for K–12 teachers, advocate for education standards, and forge partnerships, the council was pleased to present the Tennessee Council on Economic and Free Enterprise Education at MTSU with the 2020 award.” There was no directive on how to utilize the award, but King said the honorarium “is being used to establish an award recognizing excellence in economic or personal finance education for K–12 teachers. One of the great privileges I’ve had in my time at the Tennessee Council on Economic and Free Enterprise Education has been to work with teachers who are fully engaged in their students’ education and actively invested in their own ongoing professional development.”


Dean David Urban calls the award “a tremendous honor for MTSU, Jones College, and the Tennessee Council on Economic and Free Enterprise Education at MTSU. “This recognition by the Council for Economic Education in New York City is a tremendous boost to our efforts in helping economic educators across Tennessee,” Urban added. “It validates the importance of our work, which ultimately expands economic literacy among thousands of students every year. Economic literacy is a key element of our Jones College emphasis on having a positive impact—not just on business, but on society.” When COVID-19 arrived, King had to withdraw from her usual approach to reaching educators. Hardly a person who is short of ideas, she relied on a diversified approach using technology. “We utilized several formats of communication— primarily Zoom, but also WebEx, Microsoft Teams, and GoToMeeting,” King said. “We will definitely continue to use them. They provided flexibility for teachers who are far away and have other responsibilities that could prohibit them from attending face to face.” 26 | ENTERPRISE

PRESENT AND FUTURE SUCCESS The new director has many long-term goals accruing in her mind. “I want to grow the size of the academic competitions. One of my dreams is hosting an economics fair—much like a Google Science Fair, but focusing on young people’s ideas for helping their communities grow,” King said. “These innovations could help end local pockets of poverty in Tennessee and address global economic issues such as free trade, poverty, and more.” Beyond the numbers and programs, King emphasized that putting a human face on how the center serves the community is paramount. She still smiles about the recent VOTE curriculum the center helped develop with Michele Slusher, a kindergarten teacher at Mitchell-Neilson Primary School in Murfreesboro. The young students voted for their favorite cookies—Oreos, Chips Ahoy, or Animal Crackers—with the perennial favorite black-and-white sandwich cookie coming out a clear winner. “It was so much fun!” King said. “By utilizing cookies, these young minds were introduced to the concept that we pick the people that make fiscal policy in our country when we vote, without the project becoming political. The students made ballot boxes, created a stump speech, and learned to write a persuasive sentence on why others should vote for their cookie.”

Another success story comes from Cynthia Neal, a teacher of talented and gifted students in Chattanooga, about a young man she was teaching at Chattanooga Preparatory School, an all-boys public charter school, who was not attending virtual classes. The Stock Market Game changed that. “My formerly disengaged young man has shown up for every class! Previously, I had to send him a ton of messages and reminders, and he still didn’t attend,” Neal said. “Because we were in a virtual setting, there was nothing I could really do to make him come. Now, he logs in every time without me having to hunt him down. In addition, he has downloaded an app on his phone and has purchased a small amount of his own stock. He shares his progress with us in class.” Her other students enjoyed the stock market simulation as well. “I enjoy listening in on their small breakout room sessions as they hammer out what they should do,” Neal wrote to King. “It makes me smile. Thank you again for walking me through this curriculum. I was a bit afraid of the program at first because I thought it would be too much to manage, but communicating with you helped change my mind. Now I am so glad that we did it!” More than four decades later, there is little doubt Jones would be pleased as his interest in economic education has compounded nicely, returning tremendous dividends in the lives of Tennessee students.

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Tom & Martha


MTSU alumnus Tom Collins (’64) has accomplished a lot more than most people. He’s succeeded as a certified public accountant, a business executive, a pioneer entrepreneur in the information technology industry, and now a writer of mystery novels—despite realizing later in life that he had undiagnosed dyslexia. The first in his extended family to earn a degree, Collins was introduced to then-named Middle Tennessee State College when he won a state high school speech and drama competition on campus with a dramatic reading from Macbeth. The Memphis native started out majoring in Political Science; met and married his wife, Martha; changed over to General Business; and found accounting through Elwin W. “Wink” Midgett, MTSU’s first business department head.

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MTSU “certainly became the basis for everything that I did,” Collins said. “Mr. Midgett was extremely important to me in my career. I think that I probably would not have even gone into the accounting arena if it had not been for him.”

YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO AWAY TO GET A REALLY TOP-NOTCH EDUCATION. Now the Collinses, who live in Franklin, give back to the University as generous supporters of MTSU’s Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), housed jointly in the Jones College of Business and the Honors College. Founded in 2016, PERI engages students with faculty in research that will further the understanding of free market business and economic principles, as well as their impact on regional, national, and international financial conditions and the well-being of society. “We certainly feel like that really there’s a lack of understanding of the free market system, and so we felt like anything that we could do to promote that would be doing our part,” Tom Collins said. Added Martha Reed Collins (’63): “We wanted to support anything the University or PERI could do to broaden the understanding of capitalism and conservative thinking.” The couple previously donated to a scholarship fund in Midgett’s name, and Tom Collins has served as an MTSU Foundation trustee. He also recently mentored Jones College of Business graduate students. “I was pretty impressed with the programs they had, particularly the ones where they actually went on site with businesses and worked up analyses to what they thought the business could do to improve its operations and so forth,” he said. “I think the real value is bringing that to the region and the area. . . . You don’t have to go away to get a really top-notch education.”


MAKING A GOOD TEAM In his day, however, MTSU didn’t yet boast its acclaimed Master of Accountancy program, which now is separately accredited by AACSB. With little accounting under his belt, he and Martha moved on to the University of Alabama, where Midgett got him into the accounting master’s program. Collins tutored athletes during the Crimson Tide’s championship reign but didn’t attend a single football game during his year in Tuscaloosa. Martha, who majored in English at MTSU, has been a godsend, helping edit all his work for both his business and writing careers. In addition to taking care of their two children and now grandchildren and “granddogs,” she once co-managed the Cheekwood Botanical Garden gift shop and is looking for her latest remodeling project—probably a vacation home in Florida. “If I hadn’t had Martha to get all the letters in the right order for me, I’m not sure I would have made it through the next phase when we went on to Alabama,” said Tom, who just thought he couldn’t spell until later learning dyslexia runs in his family. “We made a good team in that respect. “As Martha could tell you, sometimes I just read things by the first letter—which can lead to some very comical [text].” Since his retirement, Collins has written seven books in the Mark Rollins series of mystery adventures that feature an extechnology entrepreneur turned amateur sleuth. (“You write what you know,” he says.) Middle Tennessee and Nashville are often the setting, and the main character in his newest book (Beyond Visual Range, 2020) received flight training in MTSU’s Aerospace program. “I jokingly say that after I retired, Martha started saying, ‘Don’t you have something to do?’ ” he said. “But I guess I have always written in spite of a handicap that I do have when it comes to spelling. And I’ve done an awful lot of traveling on an airplane, and the routine was to get to the airport, pick up a paperback book, get on the airplane, and read it while traveling. I read enough of them that I thought I could do it.”


“People always ask which of your books are your favorite. The answer is either the last one or the next one,” Collins said.

After a stint with national CPA firm Price Waterhouse, Collins became part of a group that started one of the first service bureaus using large IBM 360/65 computers after a Department of Justice consent decree with IBM in the late 1960s.

“From a professional standpoint, in a certain sense, Juris was the last one. But by that time, I felt like I had learned all of the wrong things to do, so I didn’t make the same mistakes again.”

“For the first time, computers could be purchased, and they could be used to provide services to the people,” he said. “It was an absolute new opportunity—one that did not exist, an industry that didn’t exist.” When an insurance holding company bought that firm, Collins served as executive vice president and chief financial officer of subsidiary NLT Computer Services Corp., which became one of the top 50 information technology companies in the nation. He and four associates then purchased and took the company public as Endata. Named one of the top 100 Global Technology Leaders by London-based CityTech and given the Lifetime Achievement Award by Law Technology News, Collins is most proud of his last big venture in the business world, Juris Inc.

As desktop computers entered the market, he purchased the division from Endata in 1986 and transformed it from a turnkey computer vendor to the leading U.S. provider of financial and business information systems for multipartner law firms. In 2007, Collins sold Juris to information tech giant LexisNexis. Following the advice he gives to mentees—build the next generation of your business as the previous one begins to decline—Collins had kept his company on the curve as technology changed rapidly, while Juris competitors failed to make the transition. “You have to understand that business that’s succeeding long term requires constant innovation,” Collins tells students. And he’s already thinking about the next chapter and the next novel.

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When Allyson Baugh meets with prospective graduate students in person, there seems to be a moment where it clicks that they can get their M.B.A. degrees while working full time or by staying a few more semesters, and they “light up.” A graduate academic advisor for MTSU’s Jones College of Business, Baugh has played a crucial role in almost 300% enrollment growth in the Flex M.B.A. program last year. A former elementary school teacher, she still enjoys helping and seeing students succeed. “I definitely love working with students,” Baugh said. “I work with a range of ages, from students right out of undergrad to those who are midcareer.

I AM STILL ABLE TO WORK IN EDUCATION AND WITH STUDENTS . . . BUT IT’S IN A DIFFERENT CAPACITY THAN I INITIALLY IMAGINED. I even have some who are utilizing their 65-andover waiver. “And with that, there’s a range of different life experiences those students are going through, from becoming parents or getting married, to starting their careers or earning promotions, to having children going to college while they’re going to college.” While the pandemic made many reflect on life goals and/or provided extra time they previously spent commuting, the M.B.A. program further benefited from Jones College’s new partnership with an external marketing firm and a promotional campaign by the College of Graduate Studies. Baugh noted. Along with affordability and flexibility, the M.B.A. also is accessible to students with nonbusiness degrees. MTSU’s double AACSB international accreditation for both the College of Business and in Accounting is another significant factor. One graduate student chose MTSU over Vanderbilt, whose accounting program isn’t accredited additionally by AACSB. 32 | ENTERPRISE

“Students can take classes online; they can take classes on campus; and they can switch back and forth between the two from course to course and by each term,” Baugh said. “Also, we don’t require them to take a certain number of classes each semester.” Associate Dean Kim Sokoya, the M.B.A. program director, calls Baugh a “tremendous asset.” Graduates of the program always mention her in exit surveys as a part of their positive experiences. “The truth be known, she has been the ‘heavy lifter’ in the background as we experience the increase in enrollment for our M.B.A. program,” Sokoya said. “She is always willing to step up for additional duties to make sure that our students have a good experience from the application process through graduation.” Baugh, who also took some business courses in college, earned a Sociology degree and a master’s in Teacher Education before leaving teaching for a better work-life balance. She joined MTSU in 2015 and previously assisted with the master’s in Management, the IGNITE professional development program for students, and the annual BEST Career Fair. In her current position since 2017, she helps plan events including mixers where online students can meet in person. Baugh was the 2019 E.W. “Wink” Midgett Outstanding Staff Member award recipient and completed the 2018 Dale Carnegie Immersion course. “I am still able to work in education and with students and help them,” she said. “But it’s in a different capacity than I initially imagined.” But now she has more time for life outside work, which includes her cat, an interest in cooking, and visiting national parks with her husband, Frank Baugh (’06). “So far Glacier National Park has been our favorite. I wanted to go to Yosemite out in California last summer—maybe this summer.”

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SHAMSUDDEEN ATTAHIRU NASSARAWA (’19) ECONOMICS PH.D. CANDIDATE, PERI RESEARCH FELLOW Shamsuddeen Attahiru Nassarawa serves as an external funds manager in the Reserve Management Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria. The bank chose to invest in Nassarawa and granted him a leave to earn an M.S. in Finance at MTSU. After graduating in 2019, he took the next step and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Economics and serving as a research fellow with MTSU’s Political Economy Research Institute (PERI).

In this capacity, he renders research assistance to faculty members and writes publishable academic journal articles.

Nassarawa has over 14 years of working experience in the Nigerian financial services industry as an operator and a regulator. Professionally, he is a chartered financial analyst and an associate chartered accountant.

Nassarawa’s role as a graduate assistant also includes teaching assistance and tutoring. His professional experience has given him an edge over students who haven’t yet been in the job market. This is shown in the high number of students who attend his tutoring sessions where he teaches from real-life experience. Suddenly, complex concepts that were previously abstract are transformed into practical applications.

COMING TO MTSU FOR MY M.S. IN FINANCE AND PH.D. IS ONE OF THE BEST DECISIONS I HAVE EVER MADE. “It takes courage to take a career break and come back to school. Though I studied for some professional programs, I had been in a steady career since my bachelor’s in 2005,” he said. The bank granted the leave with the expectation that Nassarawa will return upon graduation and use the acquired knowledge and skills to further Nigeria’s economic development. “Coming to MTSU for my M.S. in Finance and Ph.D. is one of the best decisions I have ever made,” Nassarawa said. “It started with a recommendation from an MTSU alumnus. I researched programs and found out that the Jennings A. Jones College of Business would offer me the hands-on knowledge I needed to be a better central banker. “For example, the Financial Analysis Center in the BAS prepares students for a real-world career, ranging from Bloomberg terminals, financial markets ticker display, online real-life trading, and investment simulation to econometric and statistical packages. MTSU has created an environment where professors offer supports to students beyond classrooms.” Nassarawa is a recipient of the PERI Ph.D. Summer Fellowship award as well as the full Ph.D. Fellowship.

“I am currently working on a paper on the pension reforms in Nigeria,” Nassarawa said. “I am also providing research support to Dr. Daniel Smith on three papers he’s writing on pensions.”

Nassarawa’s wife and three children had remained in Nigeria due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. However, he has stayed hopeful they would soon be able to join him in Murfreesboro for the duration of his doctoral program. After completing his doctorate, Nassarawa says, he will return to Nigeria to continue his career with the Central Bank of Nigeria. “I believe that if I combine my experience with my academic and professional knowledge of economics, accounting, finance, and investment, I will conduct research that would help find policy solutions to some of the problems in the Nigerian pension and financial services industries,” he said. “I want to empirically investigate the roles pension assets play in increasing the Nigerian financial markets’ efficiency and robustness. I am interested in finding out how growth in the derivatives market can promote the development of Nigeria’s financial institutions.” With a Ph.D. in economics, he will move to the economic policy directorate of the bank, “where I would contribute toward formulating policies for a better Nigeria,” Nassarawa added. “I also look forward to playing a vital role in the Nigerian pension industry and probably will pursue a career in politics some years later.”

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As an alumna of Jones College, Carolyn Tumbleson knows the value of an MTSU business education. She earned an M.S. in Management from Jones College, a program recently ranked nationally as the 21st-best Management master’s degree. She is well equipped to be one of the most passionate advocates for the MTSU College of Business. Without her fundraising efforts, many of the programs, scholarships, and events offered to students wouldn’t be possible. In addition to serving as development director for the Jones College of Business, Tumbleson teaches the Dale Carnegie Course at MTSU for business students. “I know how hard our students work,” she said. “Seeing our students break through barriers with confidence as they enter the workforce is thrilling to me.” Tumbleson works to build relationships with individuals who love Jones College as much as she does and who are interested in creating life-changing opportunities for students. “Most of our alumni worked while in college, or maybe they were the first in their families to attend college, so they know the challenges students continue to face. Donors to scholarships and emergency funds provide resources that help students complete their degrees on time,” she said. “Learning labs, collaborative study spaces, additional faculty positions, and student events could not enhance learning without private donations that give us the competitive edge necessary to maintain a commitment to academic quality.” Prior to her time at MTSU, Tumbleson worked in professional sales. Those skills often translate to connecting with people who have a passion for solving a problem. It takes curiosity, flexibility, and the ability to distill information to identify a donor’s passions and interests, she says. And, together, she and donors work to think strategically about what it would take to solve a given problem. When most people think of development officers, they only consider the fundraising aspect. Still, Tumbleson equally sees her role as curating opportunities for students, whether that is by supporting events or connecting students with alumni who wish to give back through mentorship and job opportunities.


“Our alumni are caring people who lead interesting lives. It means a great deal to our students, today and later in their lives, to hear from experienced professionals who have successfully traveled the path students are on today,” she said. “I’m passionate about removing barriers to a worldclass business education at Jones College,” she added. “I want our students and faculty to have every resource to build programs that transform lives. Our students develop outstanding technical skills from our double-accredited college. They also attain human relation skills through programs such as the Dale Carnegie Course, Tom and Martha Boyd Ethical Leadership Week, study abroad, and the IGNITE professional development program. I see our students’ work ethics, and I know companies want to hire from Jones College.” She is excited about what is yet to come for the college. “I believe in Jones College’s leadership. Dean David Urban has brought Jones College to the verge of greatness, and I am proud to work to provide resources that fuel Jones College’s vision.”

I WANT OUR STUDENTS AND FACULTY TO HAVE EVERY RESOURCE TO BUILD PROGRAMS THAT TRANSFORM LIVES. Urban had equally glowing remarks about the immense value Tumbleson brings to the Jones College team. “Carolyn has been one of my best hires during the time I have been Jones College dean,” he said. “Her energy, engaging personality, professionalism, and indefatigable enthusiasm make her an ideal ambassador for Jones College and MTSU.” If Tumbleson could tell every graduate, friend of the college, and faculty or staff member one thing, she says it would be: “Because of you, Jones College of Business is creating life-changing experiences for our students that can transform them into excellent graduates who enhance the workforce and the communities in which they live. Thank you.”

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BUSINESS LAW PROFESSOR, DEPARTMENT OF ACCOUNTING It’s an unexpected name: I’m In! Accounting Success Lab. For students, it’s a place for mastering a challenging subject. For Sandra Benson, a business law professor whose donation in memory of her husband helped fund the lab, it’s a reminder that an enthusiastic spirit is important in overcoming life’s challenges.

GRATITUDE HELPS ME BE AWARE OF MY BLESSINGS AND FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE. While she isn’t an alumna, Benson grew up with MTSU as a significant part of her life. Her aunt, Judy Smith, served as the dean of women and advisor to the Panhellenic Council and MTSU cheerleaders. Growing up, Benson often saw students at her aunt’s home seeking guidance long after graduation. When Benson’s husband had a professional opportunity in the region, Smith encouraged her to apply to MTSU. True Blue runs even more deeply in the family. Benson’s older daughter, Kate Hayes, completed her M.A. in Clinical Psychology at MTSU, and husband James Hayes is an alum. Younger daughter Kelley Boland and husband Kevin Boland met as business students at MTSU, where they both earned undergraduate and M.B.A. degrees. Benson, who also is president of the Beta Gamma Sigma chapter at Jones College of Business, has a passion for living a positive life with a dedication to helping others: “My approach to life is to be resilient and grateful. Life throws us curveballs. Flexibility helps me adapt to ever-changing circumstances. Gratitude helps me be aware of my blessings and focus on the positive.” Her attitude of gratitude is reflected in her enthusiasm for teaching. Her philosophy as an educator includes setting high standards, expecting success, understanding diverse learning styles, inspiring students to become

lifelong learners, encouraging connection, and helping students recognize and overcome obstacles to success. Benson had just completed the first year of her tenure track work when her husband, James Michael Benson, died at age 51. “The phrase ‘I’m in!’ describes the enthusiasm that Jim portrayed throughout his life,” Benson said. “Jim was an includer, connector, and achiever. He would be the first to say, ‘I’m in,’ when asked to solve a problem at work, join a group of friends for golf or tennis, or help a family member. “He made all feel welcome with his smile and encouragement. He inspired others to achieve their potential. As an IT director for a large health care system, he was known as a master problemsolver and insightful leader who could bring people together across the many divisions to find creative solutions.” When Benson noticed that many spaces in the Business and Aerospace Building were being updated, she reached out to Jeannie Harrington, Department of Accounting chair, and Carolyn Tumbleson, Jones College development director, to see how she might honor her husband. Her contribution closed the gap to finish and furnish the accounting lab. The tutoring space has been christened the I’m In! Accounting Success Lab. By using this name, Benson hopes to encourage all Jones College students with the same spirit. “Every time I walk by, I love seeing students gathering together, connecting with each other, working on homework, tutoring Principles of Accounting students, or just hanging out,” she said. “I would have loved to have a space like this as an undergraduate. With new technology in the space, students can easily collaborate to work in teams to practice presentations. I wanted the lab to be updated and welcoming. “Accounting is a challenging subject for many students. I wanted students to feel, ‘I’m in! I can do this.’”

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PROFESSOR OF PRACTICE, DIRECTOR OF IGA PROFESSIONAL SALES PROGRAM “Shhh,” Thom Coats says, please don’t tell anyone that he now gets paid to coach future sales professionals at MTSU after nearly 25 years of working in new business development.

“The fact that we have a sales lab puts us head and shoulders above everybody else,” Coats said. “There’s no comparison to what we’re able to do here that no other university in the state of Tennessee can do.”

First invited to speak during Ethical Leadership Week several years ago, Coats not only continued participating in other University events but also earned his M.B.A. in order to teach at the college level. He now imparts wisdom from his career experiences as a new professor of practice and director of the Insurance Group of America (IGA) Professional Sales Program at MTSU.

In addition to MTSU’s proximity to the international commerce center of Nashville, the program gives students hands-on experiences by teaching a basic sales process through role-playing and implementing customer relationship management software.

“This is the greatest thing for a storyteller in the world,” Coats said. “I get to tell the same stories to new victims every semester.” A jocular, bow-tie guy who will dress up as Santa Claus for the four young grandchildren he’ll have this Christmas, Coats is a third-generation entrepreneur who brings a world of contacts to the program.

WHEN YOU ACTUALLY CAN RELAY THE STORY INTO A REAL-LIFE SCENARIO, THE STUDENTS WILL LEAN INTO IT. “The advantage I have is that I have lived it,” he said. “You could talk about things from a textbook all day long, but when you actually can relay the story into a real-life scenario, the students will lean into it.” For instance, he passes along advice from former Century II CEO Tena Mayberry, a previous boss, who told him that a true business professional: 1) works to be or is the best in their industry; 2) is involved in an organization that promotes or shapes their industry; and 3) participates in a community nonprofit. When a student needed a pen for an exercise in Coats’ first Professional Selling class last fall, Coats noted that a sales professional without a pen would see their family go hungry. That student showed up at the door of the Advanced Selling class in spring, showing off his pen and “says he’s never been without a pen since.” Each student watches “game film” with Coats to review sales practice events recorded in the IGA Professional Sales lab, which simulates a client’s office. 40 | ENTERPRISE

For the Professional Selling class, different partners rotate in a progressive scenario of selling Enterprise fleet management services to the University. Top students ultimately compete for a prize with a pitch to an Enterprise representative. In the advanced course, Coats had students pitching Lee Co. and other firms to their own company representatives. Coats has co-written an Amazon bestseller with a group he convened to hold Unstuck, a TEDxstyle business conference, at Bridgestone Arena. He has worked in sales leadership with technology and human resource compliance law for such corporations as Paychex and the National Federation of Independent Business. His wide network of contacts in middle Tennessee not only connects MTSU to some companies perhaps previously unattainable, but he also has linked students with leaders in their chosen industries. One who wanted to move to New York City and work with music publications chatted with Peter Cronin, former Billboard editor who relocated to Nashville from the Big Apple. An inspiring clothier was introduced to Dean Wegner, founder and CEO of the Authentically American national brand, and now has a summer job. Coats believes MTSU’s having many first-generation college students makes the sales program a game changer. “You should make a higher-than-average income just because you have the discipline that you need to earn your degree,” Coats said. “But if I could teach these students the process of working a sale, then I could take that earning potential and possibly double or triple it and change family trees.”

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We hope you enjoy this edition of Enterprise and are excited as we are about the many accomplishments of our students, staff, faculty, and alumni. You can support our mission of excellence by contributing to scholarships, centers, programs, the student emergency fund, faculty initiatives, or making a provision in your will. Your gifts enable Jones College to: • Provide students in financial need with micro-grants and scholarships • Enhance learning environments through continuous improvements • Offer additional funding for student research and competitions

When you make a leadership gift of $1,000 or more, you automatically join the Dean’s Leadership Society ranks. Members enjoy the privileges of being recognized as a member of the University’s Walnut Grove Society, along with an invitation to exclusive events hosted by the dean. Learn more at supportjonescollege.

• Support student organizations and professional development opportunities • Sponsor study abroad initiatives SCAN ME Visit to contribute to any of the programs you’ve read about in this issue. Jones College of Business Dean’s Scholarship Fund Jones College Student Emergency Fund Dean’s Strategic Vision Fund (pages 4–5) BERC Booster Fund (pages 6–11) Chair of Insurance Discretionary Fund (pages 12–15) Entrepreneurship Enrichment Fund (pages 16–21) TN Council of Economic and Free Enterprise Education Fund (pages 22–27) Political Economy Enrichment Fund (pages 28–31) Accounting Development Fund (pages 38–39)

Whether you are looking to give back or pay it forward, we invite you to reach out to discuss your legacy at Jones College! Carolyn Tumbleson, Development Director Jones College of Business Middle Tennessee State University MTSU Box 101 Murfreesboro, TN 37132 615-585-6632 Business and Aerospace N221c

Sales Program Enrichment Fund (pages 40–41) ISA General Funds (page 46)


CHANGE MAKERS Did you know that Jones College faculty and staff regularly publish thought leadership pieces in partnership with the Nashville Business Journal? You can find them at

3 WAYS TO CURATE LOYALTY AMONG MILLENNIAL EMPLOYEES Dan Morrell and Kristie Abston, Professors of Management Millennials more readily change jobs and are generally less committed to their organizations, with an estimated 66% planning to leave their current companies within five years. 2020/04/17/3-ways-to-curateloyalty-among-millennial.html

David Urban, Dean of the Jones College of Business Approaching our challenges with a pleasant demeanor may not guarantee a resolution, but it will at least make it possible to explore potential results. 2020/11/23/5-dale-carnegieprinciples-for-a-more-civil.html



Darby Campbell-Firkus, Strategic Communications Specialist

Daniel J. Smith, Director of the Political Economy Research Institute

One of the best things you can do for the success of your business is to examine your workplace diversity and inclusion—along with your own biases.

Those of us outside the business world often fail to appreciate the struggle and risk behind entrepreneurial success. 2021/01/08/what-do-dress-codesin-the-workplace-signal-about.html

5 DALE CARNEGIE PRINCIPLES FOR A MORE CIVIL SOCIETY 2021/01/08/make-way-for-theinnovators-their-risk-is-our-re.html


WHAT IS THE ACTUAL RATE OF RETURN ON YOUR INVESTMENT? Frank Michello, Professor of Finance Often, the arithmetic mean is used to report the rate of return. Unfortunately, this number tends to give investors a false impression of what their true return is. 2020/04/17/what-is-the-actual-rateof-return-on-your.html

RESEARCH REVEALS WHAT EMPLOYEES WANT FROM THEIR EMPLOYER’S HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN Nour Kattih, Economics Lecturer For an average employee, larger deductibles and premiums decrease satisfaction from a health insurance plan, while the availability of a taxsheltered account increases satisfaction from a health insurance plan. 2021/03/09/research-reveals-whatemployees-want-from-their-em.html 2021 | 43

MASTER OF ACCOUNTANCY Named among the Best Value Programs in Accounting in the U.S. (2020) • AACSB additional accreditation for accounting • Flexible program to prepare for certifications • Designed around relevant real-world solutions



Jones College continues to rack up national rankings! Just in the last year, the college and several individual programs were recognized among the best in the U.S., including a No.1 ranking for the Risk Management and Insurance program. MTSU’s insurance degree was ranked best in the nation among industry professionals, according to a survey by the global ratings agency A.M. Best. An article in Best’s Review outlined how the program transitioned from a concentration to a full major four years ago when MTSU Professor Dave Wood came to the University as the new Martin Chair of Insurance.


#4 #9








#25 Best Online Master’s in FINANCE Program (2020)

#42 Best Value Program in ACCOUNTING (2020)

SMALL BUSINESS HELP In response to the economic impact of the coronavirus, professional counselors from Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC) offices throughout the state helped small business owners access programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program. MTSU partners with the TSBDC main office, located in Murfreesboro. The TSBDC network also assisted businesses in attaining economic injury loans and Small Business Administration loan relief implemented as part of the federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. “Those are the people who are profoundly impacted,” said Patrick Geho, TSBDC state executive director and a Management professor in MTSU’s Jones College of Business.

BEST IN BUSINESS MTSU alumni were honored at the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce’s Business at its Best ceremony in 2020. Lee Moss of Franklin Synergy Bank, a longtime Jones College supporter, was named Business Legend of the Year. Deb Thompson of State Farm, a member of the Jones College Dean’s Advisory Council, was selected as Business Person of the Year. State Sen. Shane Reeves, another MTSU alumnus, was given the Leadership Rutherford Pinnacle Award.

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RETURN ON INVESTMENT An MTSU team of business majors proved that the students’ market analysis skills are comparable to those of Wall Street veterans with stellar results in the most recently completed TVA Investment Challenge. After starting last year with a half-million-dollar stock portfolio to manage, MTSU’s student team in Jones College finished with “a stunning 24.6% return, bringing the balance of the portfolio to more than $623,000,” said Kevin Zhao, associate professor of Finance who has mentored the University’s student teams since 2005.

MTSU student teams have participated in the challenge since 2001, with this past year’s team managing a portfolio of 49 stocks. Composed of students enrolled in the upper-level FIN 4900/5900 Tennessee Investment Challenge course, the team earned a “performance award” of $7,731—a quarter of the excess return beyond the S&P 500 total return. The funds will go back into the department reserves that support research and enrichment activities.

A FOOT IN THE DOOR TECH TITANS Charlie Apigian, professor of Information Systems and Analytics (ISA) and co-director of MTSU’s Data Science Institute, won the Nashville Technology Council’s award for Data Scientist in 2020. Luis Lange (l), who was then an ISA graduate student, was chosen as Student of the Year. Lange now has joined the ISA faculty. Amy Harris, associate professor, received the Diversity and Inclusion Advocate of the Year Award in 2021. 46 | ENTERPRISE

Honors student Nicholas E. Lynn (second from left), who earned his B.B.A. in Marketing, placed first in the Lee Co. solution sales competition and second in the Novatech Inc. solution sales competition in Thom Coats’ Advanced Selling course. Lynn has accepted a position with Novatech in Nashville. He also interned with iServe Residential Lending LLC, Strategic Financial Partners, and Stones Rivers Country Club. He will be working in B2B business technologies sales.

MEETING CHALLENGES Kim Sokoya, a professor of Management, received a 2021 Unsung Heroes Award in recognition of Outstanding Contribution in Education to the middle Tennessee community. Sokoya was honored at MTSU’s Unity Celebration, held virtually in February as a part of annual Black History Month activities.

DEAN’S ADVISORS The Jones College of Business has welcomed four new members to the Dean’s Advisory Council (clockwise): Elveta Cooper, district human resources operations manager, UPS Mid South; Jason Schmitt, chief executive officer and member of the board of directors, Old Time Pottery; Brandon Henthorn, lease accounting manager, Bridgestone Americas Inc.; and Jackie Morgan, senior economic and financial education specialist, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta– Nashville Branch.

State Rep. Mike Sparks (l–r), Dean David Urban, state Sen. Shane Reeves, and state Rep. Charlie Baum, who is also an Economics professor

HIGH RANK The Tennessee House Republican Caucus presented the Tennessee Colonel Aide de Camp award in 2020 to MTSU’s David Urban, dean of the Jones College of Business. It is given by the governor to individuals who have served the state in an exemplary manner. Colonel Aide de Camp is awarded for outstanding achievement at the request of a member of the Tennessee General Assembly. State Rep. Mike Sparks nominated Urban.

FED CHALLENGE For the first time, MTSU fielded a team in the National College Fed Challenge, an undergraduate team competition sponsored by the Federal Reserve. The event requires teams to analyze economic and financial conditions and formulate a monetary policy recommendation. Stuart Fowler, (r), an Economics professor, joined forces with fellow professor Anne Anderson, (l), Weatherford Chair of Finance, to put together a team and co-teach a Finance Competition and Challenge class last fall to shepherd students through the process.

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Adam Smith

Jeff Stark

Wisarut Suwanprasert

Melinda Korzaan

Sean Salter

Greg Nagel

Millicent Nelson

Nita Brooks

Allyson Baugh

Carolos Coronel

ANNUAL AWARDS Ten annual faculty and staff awards for the Jones College of Business were presented via a virtual ceremony in 2020 because of the pandemic.

E.W. “Wink” Midgett Awards

State Farm Outstanding Professor Award: Adam Smith, assistant professor, Management

Distinguished Research: Jeff Stark, assistant professor, Economics and Finance

Bridgestone Americas Distinguished Lecturer Award: Wisarut Suwanprasert, assistant professor, Economics and Finance

Distinguished Service: Millicent Nelson, associate professor, Management

Bill and Kathy Jones Outstanding Professor Award: Melinda Korzaan, professor, Information Systems and Analytics Outstanding Dale Carnegie Trainer Award: Sean Salter, assistant dean

Distinguished Teaching: Greg Nagel, associate professor, Economics and Finance

Award of Excellence: Nita Brooks, professor, Information Systems and Analytics, and interim vice provost for academic programs Outstanding Staff Member: Allyson Baugh, graduate business advisor Dean’s Special Award of Merit: Carlos Coronel, director of Jones College IT Resources

TRUE GIVING For the eighth straight year, Provost Mark Byrnes presented the Provost Cup to the Jennings A. Jones College of Business in recognition as the academic unit with the highest percentage of employee participation during the Employee Charitable Giving Campaign. The pledge total of the University community support reached an all-time high of $136,558.81. “We want to share it with all of our colleagues at Jones College who have stepped up to the plate once again and donated . . . to help other people who are less fortunate,” Dean David Urban said. He noted that the growth experienced in the middle Tennessee area over the years brings with it increasing needs for assistance to community members who face a variety of economic and social challenges. 48 | ENTERPRISE

Brittney Alford

Nawara Tasnim Ahmed

William White

Kaushai Patel

Preston Heard

Hedra Hana

A SELECT FEW HONORING GRADUATES Everything was a bit different in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including May and August Commencement ceremonies that were held virtually for MTSU graduates. The Jones College of Business went above and beyond and made college-level Commencement recordings. The college additionally ran the names of last year’s graduates on the stock ticker in the lobby of the Business and Aerospace Building. May and August graduates also were invited to participate in November outdoor Commencement exercises at Floyd Stadium and in smaller, socially distanced ceremonies that took place in May 2021 in Murphy Center.

An MTSU team of six students won Selective Insurance’s College Competition in 2021. The group’s members were all juniors and seniors in Risk Management and Insurance, Actuarial Science, and other business-related areas primarily within Jones College. The annual national contest allows future generations of insurance professionals to run virtual insurance agencies and experience many associated responsibilities and considerations. MTSU’s team had the highest performing agency among the eight college teams competing in the monthlong competition, making complex business decisions while overcoming sales hurdles and managing their financial solvency.


EXPERT ADVICE Jones College hosted a dynamic week of activities in April 2021 as the college combined its observance of financial literacy and ethical leadership weeks. As part of the state of Tennessee’s observance of Financial Literacy Week, MTSU hosted Atlanta Falcons linebacker and financial literacy advocate Brandon Copeland as keynote speaker for his presentation “How to Catch Your Dream! and Make Smart Financial Decisions.” The Tom and Martha Boyd Ethical Leadership Week keynote speaker was Mila Grigg, founder and CEO of Moda Image and Brand Consulting, with her presentation “Building and Sharing the Authentic You.”

The Political Economy Research Institute at MTSU held several Zoom webinars in place of in-person events during the pandemic. Lectures included “Uncle Sam Can’t Count,” by Burt Folsom, Kennesaw State University visiting professor of economic history. Radley Balko (pictured), a columnist with the Washington Post, presented “Reforming Policing in Tennessee,” sponsored as an M. Thomas and Martha R. Collins Lecture in Free Enterprise. Balko also is the author of Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces and co-author of The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: A True Story of Injustice in the American South. Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs shared his insights into government service during the pandemic during his lecture, “Being Mayor During COVID-19.” 2021 | 49

HELPING HANDS Money is often tight for college students, but the COVID-19 pandemic created an emergent financial crisis for many Tennessee students. Delta Dental of Tennessee responded with generosity. Chief Financial Officer Jeff Ballard, (r), reached out to Tennessee colleges to help support students in need, including a $15,000 gift to MTSU’s student emergency funds. This donation and others like it helped hundreds of students over the past year.

MURFREESBORO MATTERS Locally Owned Murfreesboro is an organization of independent local business owners dedicated to promoting the benefits of shopping locally to the community and building a stronger local economy by joining together in marketing, government advocacy, networking, and supporting new businesses. Not only do its members support the small business community and entrepreneurship in Murfreesboro, but Locally Owned Murfreesboro also has been raising money for Jones College of Business student scholarships since 2018.

Clockwise from top right: Christy and Shawn Hackinson of The Alley on Main; Downtown on the Farm events; Laura Gossett from Tasty Table Event Catering; Chantell and Matthew Joseph of Simply Pure Sweets; Mitchell Murphree of Five Senses Restaurant and Steakhouse Five; Hiren Champaneria, Mary Beth Hagan, and Joshua Jenkins of Hagan Jenkins Law Group; and Jason Matheson of Primrose Table.

“It has given me peace of mind knowing that I don’t have to worry about just a portion of my tuition and just knowing that there are people within the community who are supporting me and who want to see me succeed,” said senior Whitley Allen, one of the recipients of the Locally Owned Murfreesboro Scholarship. The faculty selection committee favors applicants with a history of charitable service and extracurricular involvement in their community, along with good GPAs and merit awards. Sometimes the committee chooses an applicant who has overcome a hardship, is struggling with a hardship, or is working multiple jobs to pay for college.


MASTER’S IN FINANCE Top 25 Best Online Master’s in Finance in the Nation (2020) • Designed for working professionals—including online offerings • 12-month accelerated program • Open doors to lucrative careers in finance

1120-9337 / Middle Tennessee State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or disability. See our full policy at

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Permit 893 Nashville,TN

1301 E. Main St., MTSU Box 101 Murfreesboro, TN 37132

B.B.A. IN SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT Gain technical skills and real-world experience for high-wage, high-demand field • Fast-growing industry accounts for 37% of all jobs in the region • $66,000 average annual starting salary • Internships, career fairs, and job placement assistance

Tim Fallon (’11) Vice President of Manufacturing Nissan Motor Corp.

Profile for Jones College of Business at MTSU

Enterprise Magazine 2021 - Jones College of Business  


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