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ADDING A “GLO” TO THE OSCARS


college of business welcome

As 2017 comes to an end, we again look back on the many achievements of the College of

Business at Mississippi State University. Early in the spring semester, we had a reaccreditation visit from AACSB International and received full five-year accreditation for both the College of Business and the Richard C. Adkerson School of Accountancy. The College of Business was rated among the nation’s Best Undergraduate Business Schools by U.S. News & World Report, and our Distance programs were recognized in several categories. Our Distance MBA program came in at No. 18, and our Distance Master of Science in Information Systems (non-MBA) program was ranked No. 43, up 11 spots from 2016. The Distance MBA program has now been in the top 25 of the U.S. News online rankings for three consecutive years and is the highest-ranked program in Mississippi. To top it off, U.S. News listed the Distance MBA program at No. 10 for Best Online MBA Programs for Veterans. The 36th annual CCH Public Accounting Report once again ranked the Adkerson School of

Accountancy in the top 25 for undergraduate and graduate accounting programs for schools with fewer than 17 full-time faculty. The School’s undergraduate and graduate programs were also ranked in the top 25 by region regardless of size. Our work in the focus areas of entrepreneurship and family business continues to receive international attention. The Journal of Small Business Management recently ranked MSU as one of the Top 10 Most Influential Schools for Entrepreneurship Research – No. 6, to be exact! Dr. James Chrisman, Head of MSU’s Department of Management and Information Systems, was recognized as the No. 6 leading individual contributor to entrepreneurship research. Additionally, the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach succeeded in securing more than $4 million in external funding this past year. Through one grant in particular – from the National Science Foundation (NSF) – the Center is helping the University broaden the economic reach of its research and innovation. As an NSF I-Corps site, the Center’s personnel are providing infrastructure, advice, resources, networking opportunities, training and modest funding to enable MSU researchers to transition their innovations into viable businesses. Last year I mentioned that phase two of the Entrepreneurship program would be the establishment of a Market Innovation Lab and Observatory (MILO). In addition to providing space for students and faculty to conduct applied research, the lab will allow for intensive market testing and branding of products and ideas coming out of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach. I am happy to say we are one step closer to this dream! Due to a very generous donor, we were able to secure the funding to purchase one full set of equipment and begin the architectural renderings. We believe MILO will be a game changer for our students seeking employment, as well as those developing innovative products. The student DECA program at MSU-Meridian continues along the path of an award-winning chapter under the leadership of Dr. Natasha Randle. You will have the opportunity to read more about that in this edition of Dividends. And once again, the COB experienced record enrollments this fall. There is a great deal of momentum in the College. We would love to see you if you are in town, and by all means, let us hear about your achievements. Thank you for your continued support of the College of Business, and Hail State!

Sharon L. Oswald, Dean


Executive Advisory Board David P. Abney

contents Dividends is a publication of the College of Business at Mississippi State University | 2017

Boyce Adams, Sr.

2 A Bright Idea

Richard C. Adkerson

A class project becomes a glowing business success.

Drew Allen Marsha Blackburn Mary Childs William Anthony Clark James A. Coggin Cynthia Cooper Alan Crockett Thomas F. Darnell Larry Favreau Haley R. Fisackerly Linda M. Garrett

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Jan L. Gwin John M. Hairston Joe Iupe, Jr. Paul J. Karre Lewis F. Mallory, Jr. Don Mason Frank H. McWhorter, Jr. Lee Miller

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6 Hard Work: A Lesson Learned and Taught Financial planner and faculty member Jerry Toney lives what he teaches. 10 The Right Place to Start An internship lands student Maggie Wheeler in her dream location. 14 Understanding Consumer Behavior A new lab will put the COB at the forefront of biometric research. 18 Nurturing Business Creators Business leaders mentor students in getting their start-ups off the ground. 22 A Plan for Reclamation MBA and architecture students outline a plan for a former brownfield site. 26 Crossing Cultures Exploring the world offers students education and experience. 28 Mama Vergie Advisor Vergie Bash offers compassion and a no-nonsense approach. 32 Improving Family Firm Productivity Attracting high-quality nonfamily employees can enhance family firms. 36 The Way Things Are Supposed to Be Business and Bulldogs are strong traditions with the Puckett family. 40 An Asset to the Team New lead fundraiser Zack Harrington engages alumni in the life of MSU.

Mickey Milligan C.R. Montgomery

42 All in the Family Two generations of the Baker family have made a strong impact on MSU.

Roderick A. Moore Debrah Oberkirch

46 Winning Ways MSU-Meridian students excel in the international DECA society.

Shirley Olson Gee Gee Patridge

50 The Spirit of 76 The Department of Marketing, Quantitative Analysis and Business Law

Richard Puckett, Sr.

celebrates 76 years.

R.L. Qualls

52 Never Give Up Alumnus Bobby Kocol inspires with his business and baseball experience.

Joe G. Rice, Jr. Ken B. Robinson

56 A Glimpse of Gotham Students get a close-up view of finance and retail in a world business capital.

James Rouse Robert A. Sheely

58 Football and Finance Business student and quarterback Nick Fitzgerald talks to Dividends.

William A. Taylor, III

Cyndi A. Tucker

62 Small Loans Are Big Business MSU hosts national experts at a consumer credit symposium.

Jimmy L. Walden Loretta Walker

64 From Boots to Business-Ready A new program aids veterans in developing business plans and models.

Loyd “Aldie” Warnock M. L. Waters

66 “Rising Up” to the Occasion An Atlanta Falcons internship opened doors for student Hannah Jordan.

70 An Ace in the Hole The MSU Golf Course stands as a first rate educational facility.

72 Field of Vision Expands with Distance MBA MSU TV Center Director David Garraway advances with Distance MBA.

Dividends is published by Tellōs, LLC. www.telloscreative.com

COVER: MSU start-up makes Oscar appearance. Article, p.2

74 Where Are They Now? Dividends follows up on individuals featured in past issues.

76 News Briefs


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A Bright Idea By Kelsey Waters

ALBERT EINSTEIN

The cornerstone on which Vibe was founded is not made of stone at all. In fact, the building block for founders Hagan Walker and Kaylie Mitchell is a tiny, plastic, reusable cube. One of many student enterprises nurtured in the MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach, Vibe’s roots grew from a class assignment. Mitchell, a graphic design major, was challenged to encourage people to drink more tea as part of a branding project. Her artistic mind thought that adding color to tea would be enticing, and she imagined a teabag that would radiate colors when steeped in hot water. To promote her imagined drink company, she tapped the technical mind of Hagan Walker to design a device that could make beverages glow for product photos. Walker, an electrical engineering student, put his skills to work. With Mitchell’s concept in mind, he sought out different conduits for the lights. While he started with a teabag, Walker soon realized other options would be needed. In a moment of curiosity and creativity, he stuffed a light into a travel toothbrush cap, waterproofed it with hot glue and dunked it into a glass of water. As the twinkling light began to show through, the seed for Glo® was planted. “Kaylie had this graphic design project where she wanted tea to light up,” recalls Walker. “We sat on the floor at my house for hours the night before it was due while I tried to figure out how to make the light liquid activated. When the first prototype was completed, it was nothing more than a small circuit encased in hot glue. It’s pretty funny to look back on that now.” They proceeded with the project, and the idea to turn their conceptual company into a real one took hold. The duo’s first exposure to the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach came in 2015, when an introductory meeting with Director Eric Hill led them to participate in the annual “E-Week” event that offers a number of competitions for start-ups. With only four days’ notice, they entered with their 117th revision of Glo and emerged victorious, taking the top overall award. Along with bragging rights and recognition, their wins in several categories meant $15,000 in start-up funds. The imaginative, brightly colored Glo units catapulted Walker and Mitchell into a whirlwind future. “Winning E-Week enabled us to take an idea and actually start a company,” Walker says. “Not only did the money provide us with a foundation on which to start, the affirmation that others also saw our long-term vision was a wonderful motivator.”

Photos courtesy of Vibe, LLC

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ississippi State University is home to brilliant minds, passionate artists and entrepreneurial thinking, all merging with some fascinating results. When considering some of the most recent successes, one cannot help but take a closer look at Vibe, LLC.

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“After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity and form. The greatest scientists are artists as well.”

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4 Kaylie Mitchell and Hagan Walker

Investors saw the potential, and more than $100,000 in seed money enabled the pair to develop, test and begin producing a marketable product. Along the way, Walker and Mitchell became versed in every aspect of establishing a business – insurance, patents, FDA approvals, taxes, prototypes, product safety and manufacturing contracts, to name a few.

Glo cubes are liquid activated, lighted drink enhancers. When dropped into a beverage, they cycle through a range of colors, illuminating it. The light comes from an electrical circuit that is completed when a cube is submerged. Once a drink is empty, the circuit is disconnected, extinguishing the light. The device has been a hit with Starkville bartenders and waiters – one of the first test markets – because they can easily see when a refill is needed. Since the electric start of their Glo project in 2015, Walker and Mitchell have pushed forward quickly. First noticed by the Tipsy Bartender, a popular YouTube host, their creativity was thrust into the limelight. In 2016, the Vibe founders were invited to participate in the 88th Annual Academy Awards! At first, Mitchell was sure she was being spammed but eventually realized the invitation to showcase Glo in an Academy Awards VIP tent was sincere. However, a trip to the Oscars was not in the newly founded company’s budget, so the entrepreneurs opted to set up a GoFundMe account. Supporters quickly provided enough funding to get them there. As a result, in February 2016, Mitchell, Walker and newly named Director of Business Development Anna Barker – a recent COB graduate – set off for a once-in-a-lifetime Hollywood adventure. In the VIP tent prior to the awards show, Glo cubes were found in every drink served. They created a lot of buzz among invited guests – actors, singers, models, other celebrities and entertainment executives. Actors such as Adrienne Moore, from the Netflix Original hit Orange Is the New Black, and Lonnie Chavis, from the popular

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NBC show This is Us, were able to meet the Vibe team and learn about the product, taking home as many Glo units as they could hold in their arms. “Seeing celebrities and people from the entertainment industry get enthused about our product was incredibly encouraging and exciting,” comments Walker. “We had a wonderful time, and it was a really great experience.” The Vibe team works hard to avoid the distractions of burgeoning renown and focuses on customers instead. They impart a favorite story of a young boy named Bishop.

“Our partnership with Musee has allowed us to enter a whole new market, and we are gearing up to expand into the children’s market next year,” Barker says. “I think the future is wide open, and I am excited to be a part of it.” Mitchell graduated last December and Walker in 2015. Barker completed her degrees in international business-marketing and Spanish in May 2017. Now the three – along with a cadre of interns – are at work in their downtown Starkville office, developing business, overseeing production and brainstorming new directions. Vibe, LLC, which two years ago was an imagined company conceived for a class assignment, is now valued at $2.4 million. Through the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach, students like Mitchell and Walker have been able to bring their ideas to fruition through creativity, innovation and passion. As products like Glo continue to find their beginnings in the entrepreneurship center, Mississippi State will continue to be a beacon for future invention and discovery.

(From top) Walker, Barker and Mitchell; Walker with Lonnie Chavis of This Is Us; Mitchell with Logan Shroyer of This Is Us.

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Besides the bath balms, Vibe has developed specialized versions of the Glo cubes for occasions like birthdays and bachelorette parties. All of their products can be purchased online at www.getglo.com. Glo was also recently released on the online product launch platform The Grommet.

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Learning of Jesse’s discovery with Bishop sparked a new idea that has led the Vibe team into a popular and profitable market – bath products. Working with Musee Bath of Madison, MS, Vibe provides Glo units for hand-pressed bath balms, which Musee makes with essential oils and other natural ingredients. The lighted version, which encapsulates Glo cubes in blue and gold swirls of cedarwood and olive oil, is appropriately named “This Little Light of Mine.”

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Bishop is an energetic five-year-old boy with autism. His mother, Jesse, shares that among his struggles, one of the hardest parts of their daily routine was bath time. In an effort to make it a little easier for her son, Jesse dropped Glo units in his bath. As the cubes sent sparkling rays of colored light into the bathwater, the young child became more focused on the curious light than on the stress of bath time. Suddenly, a young mother’s tough moment had become full of her child’s laughter instead of fear and frustration. Glo would change the daily life of this family…and in turn, this family’s success with Glo would help shape the future of the company.

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Hard Work: A Lesson Learned and Taught By Carolanne Roberts

uring his MSU years, as Jerry Toney looked forward at life’s possibilities, he knew a couple of things: he wouldn’t wear a tie or work at a bank. Now, he does both – most successfully – as Senior Wealth Advisor for Cadence Investment Services, Mississippi President of Cadence Bank and Program Manager for Investment/Financial Planning for Cadence’s five-state footprint. “I was the typical student who didn’t know what I wanted to do,” says the Grenada, MS, native who majored in real estate, finance and economics. “And I probably wasn’t the best student, but I say this all the time: I’d rather be a C student who works hard than an A student who feels entitled.”

Then, as the first stop out of college, he joined Cadence Bank’s trust division. After two and a half years came the opportunity to start the bank’s first financial planning division, and the stage was set. This is the moment where Toney’s voice slightly changes, taking on layers of excitement and pride. The new Cadence division quickly clicked into place.

“I am excited,” he says. “The financial planning program is unique. First, it’s relationship oriented, creating long-term relationships with our clients, which adds value at every step. We’ve done a phenomenal job of understanding our clients at a very deep level, helping them get where they’re wanting to go.”

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“I approached them and said, ‘Tell me what to do, and I’ll do it,’” he recalls.

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Toney, the first in his family to attend college, was hardly entitled, and he definitely worked hard, both in classes and in outside jobs needed to pay tuition. As a senior, Toney volunteered to intern without salary at a local bank to explore that world.

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7 He continues, “Most of us plan everything in our lives – vacations, careers, children, education – but people don’t sit down and make financial plans. As we say, the best time to plant a tree was 50 years ago; the second-best time is today. It’s never too early or too late. We excel because we help our clients look at the whole picture – the tax analysis, the estate analysis, health and disability insurance and basically a comprehensive view of everything.” With 20 distinguished years at Cadence behind him, Toney has got plenty to share. And though he sits on 14 boards and committees – “good for community involvement,” he says – he finds time each fall to teach a financial planning class in the College of Business. “I think the value I bring is real world experience,” says the Adjunct Lecturer, who began teaching in the fall of 2013. “I put a favorite quote from Derek Jeter on my syllabus: ‘There may be people who have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.’” In addition to adding practice to theory, Toney hones in on the hard-work ethic. And he expects performance.

Photo by Russ Houston


“It’s my job to deliver the material and their job to receive it,” he states. “In the real world that’s what will be expected. Your boss will give you a project, then get out of your way to see how you handle it.” He understands expectation first-hand. “My parents were determined that I would go to college,” Toney says. “Once when I expressed doubts, my father got me a job climbing up telephone poles to install cable, and I quickly decided college was a good idea. I had determination and drive, and I believed that if you worked hard enough you could do anything.” As a lecturer, he can assess today’s students in that same light. “The students are responsible, they want to learn and they ask a lot of questions,” he says of the upper level course. “It’s more engaging than I thought it would be, more a conversation than a lecture. Sometimes at the end of a semester I’ll get an email saying now they know what they’re going to do career-wise. Some stay in contact.” The students understand that they are learning from the best, from an MSU graduate who cares about his customers, about the Golden Triangle community and its economic development and about their own futures. Most notable are Toney’s recognitions by Bank Investment Consultant, a leading financial services industry magazine. In 2015 it ranked the senior wealth advisor No. 28 of the top 50 bank advisors in the country, and in 2016, he was No. 31 among the top 100 bank advisors.

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“They used my name and photo, but it’s the group behind me at the bank that deserves credit as well,” he says. “I would not have been there without them.”

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Likewise, he credits his four years at State for grounding him for success.

Photo by Russ Houston

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“Mississippi State made me. I shudder to think where I would be if it weren’t for the opportunities the College of Business offered me. Not only did I receive a solid understanding of business, but as a first generation college student I also got to see a lot of things I’d never seen before.” Today Toney lives in Starkville with wife Christan, a speech-language pathologist at Mississippi State’s T.K. Martin Center for Technology and Disability. They are parents of daughter Leala and son Parker. Toney, who has served as the University’s Alumni Association President, also sits on a number of community and campus boards and committees, including the Department of Finance & Economics Advisory Board and as an adjunct member of the Executive Advisory Board for the College of Business. He returns to thoughts of those days when the world and the future were spread out before him, like a mystery waiting to be solved. “I knew at the time that I was in college for more than a degree. I realized it would take me forward,” Toney says. “I had no idea exactly what I wanted to do, but I also knew, whatever it turned out to be, that I wanted to be the best I could possibly be at it. The hard work could get me almost anywhere as long as I put in the hours to do it.”

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Photo by Beth Wynn

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The Right Place to Start By Jessi Cole

nternships are advantageous for students of any field, but for accounting students in particular, the connections and the real world experience that internships provide can have very direct impacts on the start of their careers.

Photo courtesy of Maggie Wheeler

The College of Business’ Richard C. Adkerson School of Accountancy has a curriculum designed to permit students to complete internships, typically during the spring semester of their senior years, without getting behind in coursework. Internships are 40-hour-perweek paid positions that also earn students six credit hours. Most take place from January through March, and undergraduates can then take two concentrated three-hour courses upon their return to campus. Taking advantage of this program, Wheeler was able to complete her KPMG internship and her bachelor’s degree in the same semester. Wheeler’s time in “the city that never sleeps” enabled her to become accustomed to living in a new place and develop a level of comfort in the New York environment. “I had three roommates who were also accounting interns in the city,” she recalls. “We shared a three bedroom apartment that was below street level. We lived on West 47th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues in Hell’s Kitchen. It was about a twenty minute walk to the office.”

Asked about the biggest difference between life in Mississippi and New York City, Wheeler replies, “The fast pace. The attitude of people. I liked being in a ‘get up, get going’ kind of lifestyle. I like to always be moving. I enjoyed that there was always something going on.”

Photo by Megan Bean

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Wheeler (3rd from right) with fellow KPMG interns

Adkerson School of Accountancy graduate student Maggie Wheeler had the invaluable opportunity to intern at KPMG in New York, NY, as a senior this past spring. Wheeler knew she wanted to live in New York after college, so the internship seemed an ideal fit for her career plans.

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Moreover, obtaining an internship in a desired location is vital, as often an accounting student who proves to be knowledgeable and hard working is offered a position by the employer at the end of his or her term.

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Wheeler (at right) and friends enjoy a day off in Central Park. Photo courtesy of Maggie Wheeler

During her free time, she and her fellow KPMG interns took advantage of being in the city, visiting comedy clubs, hanging out in Central Park and exploring the city’s restaurant scene. Living in her chosen city, Wheeler propelled her professional prospects forward. She established a number of contacts in accounting spheres there. Most importantly, she gained first-hand experience in tax accounting, her area of focus. As one of the Big Four accounting firms, KPMG employs more than 3,500 people in its New York City office alone. The company has a reputation for premier service and quality work, and its internship program is widely known as one of the best in the country. Interns work on client projects, develop technical skills and experience the culture of a large accounting firm. Client projects can span many sectors and industries, giving interns insight into new worlds. A balance of on-the-job training, mentoring, classroom training and professional networking opportunities is provided, so the internship experience is one of meaning and relevance. Wheeler’s path to this coveted program began in January 2016, when she flew to New York to attend the firm’s “Why Tax” Conference. There, she networked with KPMG professionals and interviewed for the firm’s summer student leadership program, Discover KPMG. After interviewing for an internship at Discover KPMG, she was offered a slot with the New York office’s asset management tax group. Before her work began, Wheeler was flown to Orlando, FL, where she took part in a weeklong training program with the company’s other interns from across the country. Once settled in New York, she and 11

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peers were assigned to assist several senior associates. With her training from Mississippi State University and from the company itself, Wheeler was able to work successfully with some 20 to 30 clients during the course of the internship.

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When asked about working with the KPMG associates, Wheeler says, “They would give me assignments and talk them over with me until I felt comfortable. Then they reviewed my work. It was a great learning experience, and I always felt like the professionals were happy to help me.”

The Adkerson School of Accountancy (ASAC) boasts a near 100 percent job placement rate for its graduate level students. Both the undergraduate and master’s programs are listed among the top 25 in the country for schools with fewer than 17 full-time faculty by the Commerce Clearing House (CCH) Public Accounting Report. CCH also ranks both programs among the top 25 in the region regardless of size.

“The Adkerson School of Accountancy has continually encouraged and fostered my interest in accounting,” she remarks. “My academic training prepared me to effectively compete with peers from much larger and more well-known accounting programs during my internship. I am confident that my education in this program has prepared me to be decidedly successful in my career.” The time and work Wheeler put into her education and her internship have rewarded her with success. Upon leaving the program, she was offered a full-time position with KPMG in New York, which she was happy to accept. Currently, Wheeler is working on her Master’s in Taxation degree at Mississippi State, and she plans to graduate this May. She can rest assured that the job she has long looked toward in New York City awaits. She will begin her career with KPMG in October 2018. “I am really looking forward to taking the next big step in my future,” states Wheeler. “Thanks to the Adkerson School of Accountancy, my dreams of moving to New York City are becoming a reality!”

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There is a reason for this, Wheeler says.

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Fortune 500 companies such as FedEx and International Paper repeatedly return to MSU to recruit its accounting students. At the Big Four accounting firms of Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, and KPMG – which have been reported to serve 99 percent of the companies in the Financial Stock Exchange 100 Index – ASAC interns and graduates are in demand as well.

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The practical application of what she had learned at Mississippi State was, she says, “incredible, because I had the opportunity to perform real work that mattered. I was able to take things that I had learned in my undergraduate career and apply them to real life.”

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consumer

Understanding Consumer Behavior By Kirsten Shaw

hen watching an NFL game on TV, how much attention do you pay to the ad that appears on one half of the screen during a break in the action?

Motivating consumers is a challenge that has always been at the heart of marketing. In today’s environment, the ability to understand what awakens a potential customer’s interest is more essential than ever. Never have there been more platforms to reach customers, but while this brings opportunity, it also means increased competition to capture attention. In response, new research methods have emerged to help businesses better test market their products and campaigns. Companies are turning to biological data to learn more about what grabs audiences’ interest and how they respond to that interest.

MILO will enable researchers to delve into physical and emotional responses to produce comprehensive views into consumer motivation. The results will be more objective than what can be gleaned through interviews and surveys. “People try to answer honestly, but they don’t always know why they think the things they think or how to articulate what they’re feeling,” observes Farmer, MILO Co-director and Assistant Professor of Marketing. “And sometimes they manage their impressions subconsciously, to what they think they should be.” MILO will be equipped with stations that incorporate several types of technology, produced by Bostonbased iMotions. Eye tracking and facial expression recognition software will identify where on a computer screen a person is looking, and for how long. GSR – galvanic skin response – will read subtle changes in perspiration that can indicate a change in interest or excitement level. EEG equipment will show what areas of the brain “light up” in reaction to a focused-on item or message. Special goggles will allow the eye tracking research to extend into the field by showing what products or displays are observed by a wearer in a store.

Each technology adds a layer of understanding. The eye tracking shows what is being viewed. Facial expression indicates the emotional response to it, and GSR can show the intensity of that emotion. EEG reveals what cognitive processes are going on and in which area of the brain they are occurring – virtually, what someone is thinking.

Specialized goggles enable eye tracking research beyond the lab. Photo by Megan Bean

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“It will be the world’s largest biometric research facility,” states Breazeale, Assistant Professor of Marketing and Co-director of the lab.

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Focusing on these procedures, two members of the College of Business marketing faculty have planted seeds for a research lab that will put Mississippi State at the forefront of behavioral research. Both Dr. Mike Breazeale and Dr. Adam Farmer had previously been involved in establishing neuromarketing labs at other institutions – the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the University of Kentucky, respectively. When they became colleagues on the MSU marketing faculty, their shared interest in the incipient field of biometrics led to MILO – the MSU Market Innovation Lab and Observatory.

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It is easy to see how insights provided by this kind of data would be invaluable to manufacturers, and major corporations are indeed making use of it. The NFL, for instance, has employed biometrics to gauge the attention paid to the ads that run in split screen alongside game broadcasts. The research has improved the organization’s understanding about viewer multitasking and how effective it is. “We’re thrilled to see the rapid adoption of biometric research being done by a wide range of commercial clients around the world, from Expedia conducting advanced UX [user experience] research to BMW using biometrics to measure driving comfort and performance,” comments Peter Hartzbech, CEO and founder of iMotions. “This adoption would not be doable without university labs paving the way and equipping students with the correct framework and tools such as biometrics to investigate human behavior through sensors and technologies that complement each other to get the fuller picture.”

Equipping MSU business students for the marketplace is a primary goal of MILO. Breazeale and Farmer are both certified to teach the use of the equipment and interpretation of results. Once the lab is fitted out, they plan to offer a concentration in marketing research. Long term, they hope to add a master’s degree. Farmer notes that he has already begun incorporating MILO into his Marketing Research course, providing examples of biometric research data, what the results can look like and how they can be interpreted. “Even in its infancy, MILO is already adding value for our students,” he says. The aim is to open the lab in 2018, with 24 research stations and several sets of goggles. The first station has been acquired to demonstrate the equipment not only to students but also to faculty and potential donors.

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He continues, “For the students themselves, having vast biometric research experience while studying represents an opportunity to create a unique profile when transitioning into the commercial sphere.”

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Another asset already in place is a large subject pool, with students being encouraged to participate. Funding is currently being sought for the $2.5 million lab. It will be an investment that benefits the entire University.

The technology will provide Breazeale new ways to expand his research on how terrorist organizations successfully use branding strategies to promote their causes – and on how the impact of those strategies might be reduced. Farmer looks forward to pursuing his interest in political ideology – learning how liberals and conservatives differ in their decision-making processes, not in the voting booth but in everyday choices like buying a car.

“In recent years, the E-Center has made adjustments to our program to push students to talk to potential customers and to firmly understand their market before blindly jumping into business,” says Eric Hill, Director of the MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach. “MILO will be a fantastic tool where our students can collect hard data and insights into their consumers’ behaviors to better answer the question, ‘Do you think, or do you know?’” Once these entrepreneurs have the reinforcement of knowing for themselves that there is a market for their businesses, they will also be able to demonstrate this convincingly to potential investors by providing objective data gathered at the lab. MILO can help them in specific areas as well, such as gauging response to product packaging. MILO’s potential reaches beyond campus. Breazeale and Farmer foresee demand from outside companies. While the priority will be MSU students and researchers, the sizeable lab will also have enough capacity to conduct paid research for local, regional and national clients. Proceeds from corporate research would help fund the ongoing operation of the lab. “The interaction with outside companies will also expose our students who are working there to potential employers,” notes Breazeale. It could mean economic benefits to the state, too. Mississippi companies can become more informed and efficient by using the lab, and MILO can raise the state’s profile among outside corporations. Biometric consumer research is a fast emerging field. Corporate demand for this research and for employees qualified to do it is on the rise, and universities are responding. By establishing a lab of this size and quality – and doing it now – MSU will command a powerful reputation nationwide. “MILO will catapult our world class College of Business and highly coveted Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach into a new sphere of excellence,” states Dr. Melissa Moore, Chair of the Department of Marketing, Quantitative Analysis and Business Law. “This superlative facility places the COB on a trajectory to reshape the experience of undergraduate and graduate students across all departments in the College and all across campus, building a reputation of distinction in practical business analytics and research.” For more information about MILO contact Dr. Mike Breazeale at mbreazeale@business.msstate.edu or Dr. Adam Farmer at afarmer@business.msstate.edu.

Marketing student Jasmine Daniels tries out eye tracking, facial recognition and GSR technology for Adam Farmer (left) and Mike Breazeale (right). Photo by Megan Bean

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Another group sure to benefit is student entrepreneurs.

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“We’ll be able to collaborate across departments, too,” he notes.

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“Any discipline on campus that requires behavioral research could use it,” says Breazeale. “We met with the entire College of Business faculty to talk to them about MILO’s capabilities, and several researchers from various departments already have projects that can be started with this first station.”

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magine, as a college student, owning a start-up business and being able to get advice from some of the leading executives in the country. Mississippi State offers just such an opportunity. The Mentorship Program, housed in the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach, pairs entrepreneurial students with business leaders who have a wealth of experience to share.

“At the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach, I had the opportunity to meet with some of Mississippi’s best and brightest,” shares McCullough. “These young entrepreneurs’ energy and enthusiasm for their future career paths is inspiring. I encouraged them to have a precise business plan with metrics in place, establish a business model, determine supply chain, who is going to manufacture their products, determine their access to markets, etc. I am hopeful I was able to share some experience they can carry with them as they work.” The Mentorship Program has two tiers – Advisors and Coaches. Advisors are those who help a start-up company in its early stages. They commit to one or two office hours on campus each month for at least a semester. During that time, they may counsel two to three start-ups. Coaches are paired with young companies who are at the next level of development. They help with tasks such as finding investors or taking products to market. Coaches are committed to five to eight hours per month with their mentees, for eight to 10 month spans.

“What sets mentorship apart from consulting is that mentors guide their mentees in how to make strong decisions, not tell them what to do,” says Eric Hill, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach. “Their role is to provide feedback, perspective, new ideas and judgment. It’s about sharing their experience, wisdom and political savvy.” At present the Center has a portfolio of 100 student enterprises that it assists. The students represent 39 majors across campus.

Wade Patterson (right) strategizes with Ryan Gilbrech on bringing the student’s video game to market. Photo by Emily Daniels

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The Mentorship Program kicked off in the fall of 2016 with a visit from Glenn McCullough, Executive Director of the Mississippi Development Authority.

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“This idea began when George Bryan [retired Vice President of Sara Lee Corporation] was on campus to speak with students,” says Jeffrey Rupp, Director of Outreach for the College of Business. “As he was visiting with several students who owned start-up businesses he began to take notes with a mindset of doing what he could to help them out. That sparked our idea to have successful business leaders mentor the students who are involved in our entrepreneurship program.”

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“We’ve gotten excellent feedback from the administration, students and alumni about the Mentoring Program,” states Hill. “It is open to the entire student body. Students are able to get practical, hands-on experience based on their own ideas, so their classroom knowledge becomes even bigger. Alumni love working with the students. They see themselves in them.” One recent graduate who has taken advantage of the program is Ryan Gilbrech, whose company, Meta Games, has developed a video game for personal computers. It is unique in that this particular game genre is currently only available on gaming systems. He will be the first to bring it to the PC platform. “I had friends who were involved in launching a business through the Center,” shares Gilbrech, who has a biomedical engineering undergraduate degree and an MBA, both from MSU. “I was really impressed with what was going on. In fact, it was one of the biggest reasons I decided to get my MBA at Mississippi State instead of another university.”

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Gilbrech has been mentored by MSU alumnus Wade Patterson, a 1983 electrical engineering graduate who has been extremely involved in the Center’s development. Patterson launched his career with Synapse Wireless Corporation and, after 12 years of working his way up in the company, was put in charge of the computer division of the business – a sector that had more than $1 billion in gross revenues. In 2000, he left Synapse to focus on the first of four companies he started. Since then, he has grown each of those companies and either sold them or licensed the technology. Now, his energies are focused on the young entrepreneurs at his alma mater.

“I get excited seeing students get excited,” says Patterson. “There is nothing like watching them see the possibilities. The Internet now enables you to have a business anywhere. You don’t have to be tied to a location. It’s time to unleash that capability at Mississippi State.” Patterson exemplifies the type mentor that is making the program grow. Rupp says that good mentors have the “hearts of teachers.” They understand that mentoring is like parenting, in that you can’t pour all of your knowledge and expertise into a young person at one time. It must be measured out in increments that can be internalized and applied. An understanding of where students are in life is also essential. They are balancing school and other activities in addition to running their businesses. Being able to put students at ease with a relaxed demeanor and sense of humor is key to building mentoring relationships. “Part of it is teaching, but they also need to be encouraged,” Patterson says about the mentees. “They need to feel that you have confidence in them.” In fact, it was Patterson who reached out to Gilbrech after hearing him make a presentation about his game. “I still can’t get my head wrapped around the fact that someone of Wade’s caliber is investing his time in me,” shares Gilbrech. “I can’t thank him enough. The amount of experience, talent and ingenuity he has offered me is incredible. We’ve spent weeks working on cash flow projections and a strategy to bring my game to market.” Through Patterson’s work with Gilbrech and young entrepreneurs like him, he has seen the need to “take it all the way.” So he has been busy this year developing the Bulldog Angel Network to help these start-ups with funding to scale their businesses. In fact, Gilbrech was the first to make a presentation to the Network, requesting funds to cover the first year salaries of the 3D artists and animators his business will require. In mid-August, he laid out his business plan via teleconference to 13 potential investors. Within one week he was fully funded for the $150,000 he was seeking. In the second week, he received offers of an

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additional $50,000, which he felt it prudent to decline in favor of maintaining greater ownership of his company. He will now be able to leverage his investment two to one through a program offered by Innovate Mississippi to further increase his capital. “The overall entrepreneurship program has been so successful that multiple universities have come to visit us in an effort to model their programs after what we’ve done,” shares Rupp. “The follow through from the executives toward our students has been gratifying. Without exception, every executive that has participated has asked when he or she can come back. They love spending time with the students.” He continues, “I can’t say enough about the support we’ve gotten from the administration. President Keenum and Dean Oswald have encouraged us to dream big and given us the freedom to go out and make those dreams real.” As the state’s chief economic developer, McCullough is excited about the program. “The potential is unlimited,” he says. “The students will one day be the CEOs of their own businesses, hopefully headquartered in Mississippi. They will provide career opportunities and build the tax base, in turn building stronger, more vibrant communities across our state.” His vision is echoed by Patterson, “I want to help create businesses that can generate billions in revenues. I want to see Starkville become an employment center with a thriving community of people in their 20s and 30s doing similar things, so they have a culture to plug into.” The future course of the University, as well as the state, is being set by alumni like Patterson who have a desire to give back to those who helped mold them. “There’s no way we could hire talent equal to that of our alumni body,” sums up Hill. “Tapping into their wisdom is the best way for us to enhance our program and assist students in becoming successful entrepreneurs. We’re very grateful for their leadership.”

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The mentorship program was kicked off by Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Glenn McCullough, shown here with Dean Sharon Oswald.

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munity park Perspective View 20


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By Jeffrey Rupp

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olumbus sits on the banks of the Tombigbee River just 25 minutes east of Mississippi State University. The city has long been known for its hospitality and grand antebellum mansions. It is home to Columbus Air Force Base and the Mississippi University for Women, and it is the birthplace of playwright Tennessee Williams.

J5 founder and CEO Jabari Edwards reached out to the Outreach office of MSU’s College of Business for assistance.

“The College of Business has a reputation for working with communities around the state, and the Multistate Trust believed they would be a valuable partner,” says Edwards. As a land-grant institution, Mississippi State seeks ways to give back to the citizens who support it, and it was readily apparent that this was an opportunity for the University to serve the people of Mississippi in a meaningful way. Under the guidance of Professor of Management Dr. Barbara Spencer, a team of MBA students started looking at the funding piece of the puzzle. It began with community meetings to give a voice to those living in and around the affected area. What types of businesses and services did they want to see in a redevelopment plan? The MBA teams then set about the task of researching finance and funding options to realize these dreams. It soon became apparent that, while the business students could do the research and crunch the numbers, there was another partner on campus that could really bring the ideas to life. The COB Outreach office contacted Michael Seymour from the Department of Landscape Architecture, and a partnership was born.

At bottom left, one perspective on what the future site could become; other images show the current site and its environs. Images from “Reclamation” site assessment and design recommendation document

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The Multistate Environmental Response Trust, established with funds from legal settlements, oversees a number of “brownfield” sites around the country. The Trust focuses on not only the remediation of a property, but also on ensuring the local community is served by whatever reuse plan is developed. J5, a local project management firm, was brought in to make sure any redevelopment plan for the Columbus site had input from the surrounding – mostly poor – neighborhoods.

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Like many cities, it relied heavily on manufacturing and industry to fuel its economic growth in the 20th century. Along with the economic benefits came an environmental cost. For 75 years, a chemical company operated a wood treatment plant in Columbus. During that time, creosote and other hazardous materials leached into the soil and groundwater, contaminating the area and parts of the surrounding neighborhoods. The plant closed, and in 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared the area a Superfund site.

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A Plan for Reclamation

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The MBA-Architecture team Site design image from “Reclamation” document; photo courtesy of Jeffrey Rupp

“This is the type of work that our students need to be involved in, and it’s the type of project that, as a society, I think we should dedicate more resources to,” says Seymour. “This project was an opportunity to contribute to a better future for that site and its neighbors.”

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ary ent

Once the alliance was struck, the two teams of students got to work. It began with a series of meetings with residents living near the contaminated site. Attendees were asked how they would like the site redeveloped. Ideas included a library, a job training facility, greenspace, a community garden, a small grocery store and a health clinic. While funds are set aside for remediation of the property, they are restricted from being used to support private enterprise. The MBA students began researching how to finance the residents’ ideas using grants, community loan funds and more traditional financial tools. The landscape architecture students started sketching out how all those ideas might look and work together. Periodically, the residents were shown the renderings. Suggestions were made, and items were added or taken out. It was a very fluid, collaborative process designed to be as inclusive as possible.

“I really hope the students remember the feeling of helping an underserved community, and hopefully that’s something they’ll take with them,” says Seymour. “This also is the kind of site that students are likely to be working with in the future, where there are many layers that have to be peeled back to start to gain an understanding of the complicated economic, environmental and social issues that created it.”

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For the MBA students, there were also many real world challenges. They learned that in the business world there are no magic answers to solving difficult community issues with financial considerations. Managing expectations while doing the best possible work for the client is a valuable lesson – one that can sometimes only be learned outside the classroom. What were the results? “The students from both the College of Business and the Department of Landscape Architecture became fully engaged throughout this entire process,” states Edwards. “They listened to the community and allowed the information that they gathered to drive the results. The MBA team provided a detailed market study that can be used as a significant resource for any developer trying to redevelop the site; while the landscape architecture students literally painted a picture of hope for the future for the community.”

Jeffrey Rupp is Director of Outreach for the College of Business and the former Mayor of Columbus.

Making a site visit Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Rupp; site design and perspective images from “Reclamation” document

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Conceptual Site Plan

While it can’t be said for certain what will happen with the property in the immediate future, there is now a blueprint, which shows a way forward.

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The EPA’s Charles King remarks, “This is a very comprehensive redevelopment document. In my 29 years as a Project Manager, I do not recall reviewing, or even hearing about, a redevelopment document with this much detail.”

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In the end, each student group presented a final report to the community, J5, the EPA and the Multistate Trust.

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Site plan enlargement on Page 84


cultures

Crossing Cultures

COB students, along with marketing professors Dr. Mike Breazeale and Dr. Kevin Shanahan, got the chance to explore several caves outside Havana while on their study abroad trip.

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here are more opportunities today than ever before for students to merge their career goals with their passions to explore. The International Business program and Study Abroad opportunities at Mississippi State give them the opportunity to gain new perspectives on the world while diving into exciting new cultures. Students are able to develop communication and problem-solving skills that reinforce independence and confidence. Learning to live in different countries strengthens their abilities to overcome challenges encountered in new cultures. With assistance from their advisors and MSU’s Office of Study Abroad, many students are able to develop their own international experiences. Check out a few of the many exciting and educational trips they have taken this past year!

Students Jonathan Williams (left) and Sam Fields stop for a photo while visiting Repulse Bay, Hong Kong.

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Madison MacLaughlin and Tori Lightner visit the Tian Tan Buddha, also known as “Big Buddha,” located at Ngong Ping, Lantau Island in Hong Kong. The large bronze statue symbolizes the harmonious relationship between man and nature.

COB students traveled to Hong Kong to study advertising, tourism and branding in China. The group included (rear, from left) Russ Dykes, Jonathan Williams, Caleb Vrzak, Sam Fields, Sammie Coleman, Tori Lightner, Madison MacLaughlin, Kendravis Alexander and (front) Bryce Porter.

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COB students (from left) Kate Hamlin, Beth Easterling, Justin Breland, Cristina Rojas, Ben Prijatel, Madison Hudnall and Lanier Dasher pose in front of the Mural of Prehistory in Viñales, Cuba. The 393’ high mural was painted in 1959 by Leovigildo González Morillo, depicting the biological evolution of the Sierra de los Órganos mountain range.

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COB student Madison MacLaughlin poses in front of some of the colorful mosaic statues at one end of the Kwun Yam Shrine’s Longevity Bridge in Hong Kong. Located at the southeastern end of Repulse Bay, the bright red bridge is said to add three days of life to anyone who crosses it.

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Students (from left) Chris Evans, Ben Prijatel and Justin Breland enjoy a classic car tour of Havana, Cuba.

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Emily Green (left) and Erin Groth strike a pose in front of The Louvre, the world’s largest art museum and an historic monument.

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Students Emily Green (left) and Erin Groth make a wish at the Fontana di Trevi – the Trevi Fountain – in Rome. The legend holds that a person who throws a coin into the fountain will one day return to Rome. It is also said one should throw in a second coin if seeking love or a third for wedding bells.


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et’s do the math.

If Vergie Bash, senior academic advisor, has served in her role at the College of Business for 10 years, advising some 300 students per semester, then she’s probably been the go-to, the course scheduler and the voice of experience for about 6,000 students. That is an astounding number, but Bash hasn’t done that math herself. For this compassionate helper of students, it’s not about a lump sum. She invests in her work person by person, need by need.

“I’ll tell them, ‘I don’t know the easiest teacher, but if you go to class and do what you need to do, then you will learn,’” she says. When she gets rolling, Bash will also advise, “Get to know your professors. If you’re having problems early on, don’t wait until the end of the semester to tell your professor you need a C. That’s what I really try to tell my advisees.” If it sounds a little like their parents, Bash admits that she cares that much. “Sometimes it seems I baby my advisees, maybe too much,” she says. “But I feel that it’s my job to help them as much as I can.”

Reflecting on the idea of helping, she adds, “I ran into one of my advisees in the grocery store last week, and he introduced me to his friend as his ‘second mom,’ which made me feel good.” Then there is her latest advisee, who can hardly call her Mom. “He’s 64 years old and has decided to come back to school,” she says of her oldest advisee. “Of course, I’m used to younger ‘kids.’ He doesn’t know how to use the new technology yet, so I’ll take more time with him and make him feel that he can do this.” Everyone has needed a Vergie Bash along the way – that person willing to take the extra time to help. She cannot count the number of times she has asked a student, “What do you really want to do?” before helping to find a path. “I advise the Business Administration students who basically want to go on to law school, grad school or start their own businesses. We narrow their vision and go from there,” she notes.

Photos by Russ Houston

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Still others ask Bash, “Who’s the easiest teacher?” That is when she swings into “Mama Mode.”

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“No two are alike, so the approach I may use for one won’t be the same that I use for another,” she explains. “For instance, some come in, especially freshmen, and have no idea what they want to do. You have to be able to steer those in the right direction. Others come to me and have their four years all mapped out.”

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But it is not just the students who depend on her wisdom. “Vergie has always been a lifesaver for me,” recalls College of Business Dean Sharon Oswald. “I remember early in my tenure at MSU, I filled in for Associate Dean Kevin Rogers at a couple of orientation sessions. My one stipulation was I had to have Vergie at my side! I think the parents in the room quickly realized that Vergie had all the answers.” The students in the College of Business have always known that Bash would be in their corners when they needed her, complete with her trademark smile and confidence-building way. But last year brought an unexpected interruption. After a cancer diagnosis, chemotherapy and radiation, Bash had to take a leave of absence to regain her strength. “I work with a great group of people,” she says. “Dr. Rogers and Dean Oswald were always asking me not to overdo things. I really appreciate them looking after me. I did try to keep up with my e-mails and respond as quickly as I could while I was out though.”

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During this time Bash enjoyed the spotlight as Mississippi State baseball’s honorary coach at one game, posing for photos with then Head Coach John Cohen and taking home a ball signed by the whole team. Everyone, it seems, has been cheering for Team Vergie – and there’s good news. Tests reveal that her treatment has succeeded. “It was by the grace of God,” she says. “I try to always have a positive attitude. I believe in God and in His Word. He has helped others, and I prayed He would do it for me too. Praise God!” Bash returned last April to ready herself for the summer waves of incoming freshman needing her guidance. As she works with the new students, the skilled advisor recalls her own academic story. Bash began college at Jackson State University, then moved to Mississippi University for Women and on to Mississippi State, where she earned her two degrees: an undergraduate degree in Office System Technology from the College of Education in the fall of 1997; and a master’s degree in Instructional Technology in the fall of 2001. The advanced degree qualifies Bash to teach classes such as web design at the middle and high school levels. “But I did not teach,” she says. “I already had a job I loved – advising the students.” The mother of a grown son and daughter does have one new role in life. “Oh yes, my grandson,” she says with joy. “Shumarcus is the joy of our lives. He lives about two streets over from us. He just turned two years old!” Visitors to Bash’s office will see a photo blanket of her “grand’s” images prominently displayed. It is almost as if he is there with her as she works. When Bash is not busy working, she is an active member of Austin Church of Christ Holiness Church USA, where she is known for bringing her special pistachio pudding-based dessert to all functions. Her Facebook page is filled with recipes, each more enticing than the next. One of her specialties is her own homemade banana pudding. It is her son’s favorite from his mama’s arsenal. The Starkville native and graduate of F.O. Alexander High School is married to husband Gene. These days her only real problem, if you can even call it that, is teaching people to pronounce her name – which, for the record, is Ver-GEE, after her grandmother. And the last name is Bash, not Bush, thank you. But if that is her biggest problem, life is good – especially at Mississippi State. “It’s been awesome to me,” she says. “State is beautiful, and the people are beautiful inside and out. This has been my home for the past 30 years. “I’m a true Bulldog.”

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31 “Vergie has always been a lifesaver for me. I remember early in my tenure at MSU, I filled in for Associate Dean Kevin Rogers at a couple of orientation sessions. My one stipulation was I had to have Vergie at my side! I think the parents in the room quickly realized that Vergie had all the answers.” SHARON OSWALD


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Family Firm Productivity And How To Improve It A

The mission of MSU’s Center of Family Enterprise Research is to conduct and promote original research on family business; to provide educational and research opportunities for graduate students, primarily at the doctoral level, and to disseminate the results of research to family businesses in Mississippi in order to improve their management and performance. Mississippi State University is ranked among the top universities in the world in family business research and has one of the strongest doctoral programs in this field. Over the course of its existence, the Center’s faculty members have noticed that family firms face a number of unique paradoxes owing to the involvement of family members in the firm’s ownership and management. For example, these companies appear to benefit from a desire to keep ownership and management control in the hands of family members, potentially across generations, but are reluctant to plan for succession. Another paradox is that while the involvement of family members can generate competitive advantages in terms of their skills and commitment to the firm, it also makes it more difficult to expand the company’s skill base through the employment of individuals from outside the family. In a recent study, we investigated this issue.1 Broadly speaking, we researched the relative labor productivity of family and nonfamily firms. In addition, we studied how and if family firms could improve their productivity relative to that of nonfamily firms.2 To answer these questions, we based the study on three key ideas. First is that when the interests of owners and employees are aligned, both are more likely to achieve their objectives because they will be more inclined to cooperate.

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Recognizing the relevance and impact of family firms, the management faculty at Mississippi State University created the Center of Family Enterprise Research in 2006. It is the only research center in the College of Business approved by the Board of Trustees of Mississippi State Institutions of Higher Learning.

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family firm is defined by a family’s involvement in the ownership and management of it and a vision of how the firm will benefit the family, potentially across generations. Although they have not always received the attention they are due, family firms are among the most important and interesting organizational forms in the world. The vast majority of companies in the United States are family owned, and in Mississippi, they account for as many as 98 percent of business organizations. Furthermore, a substantial proportion of businesses listed on the S&P 500 and S&P 1500 can be considered family firms. In other Western countries, the representation of family businesses among both small and large entities is even higher than in the United States. In the rest of the world, they are the dominant organizational form, period.

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By James J. Chrisman

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34 The second idea is that the productivity of the labor force is dependent upon the ability of the individuals in the labor force, as well as their effort. Higher-ability workers will tend to be more productive than lowerability workers, if they put out the same level of effort. This is generally known, but what is not as well recognized is that higher-ability workers will usually put out more effort than lower-ability workers. The reason is that the pay-offs from greater effort are larger for the former versus the latter. If their remuneration or other benefits are tied to their productivity, they will profit more from their effort as well. Third, firms that are able to provide inducements that are particularly attractive to individuals with higher ability will benefit more than firms that provide inducements that are equally attractive to higher- and lowerability workers because they will end up with more higher-ability employees. In this study, we proposed that firms that offer incentive compensation will usually experience higher labor productivity than firms that do not. This relationship is well-established and understood. We also proposed that owing to their unique goals and attributes, family firms will generally have lower productivity than nonfamily firms. Family owners, wanting to keep ownership and management control in the family, often deny opportunities to buy into the firm and/or achieve positions of leadership to nonfamily employees. Furthermore, family firms usually pay less than nonfamily firms. It is the individuals with higher ability who are most concerned with those issues because they are more likely to believe such opportunities are within their reach. On the other hand, family firms are known to offer greater security and a paternalistic atmosphere to their employees. Such inducements are attractive but will not help in putting together a high quality organization because they do not induce higher-ability individuals to seek employment in family firms. In fact, the combination of lower opportunities and secure work environment virtually assures that on average, the employees, particularly those at the managerial level, will be of inferior quality to those found in nonfamily firms. Finally, we proposed that gains in labor productivity for family firms that provide incentive compensation (compared to those that do not) will be greater than the gains for non-family firms that provide incentive compensation. We argue that this is because incentive compensation not only rewards higher productivity but also signals to potential recruits that productivity will be rewarded. The upshot is that the firm will attract, hire and retain more higher-ability employees. Because family firms tend to favor family employees, this signal

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is more important for them than it is for non-family firms that do not have a similar bias toward a particular type of employee.

Interestingly, we found that providing higher pay and/or benefits that serve as pay-equivalents (retirement programs, health insurance and paid holidays) also had positive effects on the relative productivity gains of family firms. The reason is that individuals usually associate higher paying jobs with greater demands for ability and effort, thus discouraging to some extent workers who are less competent and/or industrious. However, the effects were not as strong as they were for incentive compensation, which fits with our contention that the more discriminating the inducements are – i.e., more accessible to higher-ability workers and less accessible to lower-ability workers – the greater their value to firms, and family firms in particular.

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We used a sample of approximately 108,000 small and medium size family firms and 108,000 matched non-family firms drawn from the U.S. Census Survey of Small Business Owners. We found that the productivity of the companies that used incentive compensation was 9.3 percent higher than that of companies that did not. Among family firms the difference was 11.3 percent. We also found that the productivity of firms without incentive compensation plans was 4.2 percent for non-family entities than for family firms. However, among companies that used incentive compensation, the productivity gap between non-family and family firms was only 0.5 percent. Furthermore, we found that labor productivity was significantly and positively related to the use of incentive compensation by family firms.

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See Chrisman, J.J., Devaraj, S. and Patel, P.C. (2017). The impact of incentive compensation on labor productivity in family and

non-family firms. Family Business Review, 30, 119-136. 2

We focus on labor productivity (sales per employee) rather than profits or cash flow because it is less subject to manipulation

or expropriation by owners and managers of a firm, family or otherwise.

JAMES J. CHRISMAN Dr. James J. Chrisman is a Professor of Management and the Director of the Center of Family Enterprise Research in Mississippi State’s College of Business. He serves as Chairperson of the Department of Management and Information Systems and holds the Julia Bennett Rouse Endowed Professorship in Management. He also holds a joint appointment as a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Alberta’s Centre of Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise and is a Fellow of the U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship. He received his PhD in strategic management from the University of Georgia, an MBA from Bradley University and a BBA in finance from Western Illinois University. Photo by Russ Houston

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For family business owners and managers, the implication is that the more powerful the signal that ability and effort will be commensurately rewarded, the more attractive a company will be to quality candidates. This will lead to higher labor productivity, which should translate to higher profits for the family and higher compensation for the employees – a win-win situation. To get the kinds of employees desired, it is important to signal what the culture and values of the organization are, what is expected of potential employees and what is in it for them. Family owners and managers need to follow through on their explicit and implicit promises as well as monitor the behavior of employees to ensure that they follow through on theirs. Interestingly, the presence of an equitable and efficient system of monitoring and rewarding employee behavior may be another potentially effective signaling device to attract high-ability workers. But that is another story.

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his is a story of generations and success – one with a bit of drama outweighed by lots of joy.

Richard Puckett and his family – owners of Jackson-based Puckett Machinery – are as Mississippi State as maroon, cowbells and Bulldogs. To hear Richard, the current Chairman and CEO, tell it, there’s no end in sight for the winning team of MSU and the Puckett family business. The story begins with Ben Puckett, a young man from Mobile who happened upon Mississippi State through a friend who was a student there. Ben’s father agreed to pay for one semester; Ben did the rest.

It all appears so seamless, yet the story is more complex than that. When Richard graduated from high school early at age 17, he headed to junior college and a Puckett Machinery job in Gulfport. He enjoyed the company work far more than the coursework. “All I wanted to do was sell tractors,” he recalls. “When I was a child sweeping the warehouse on Saturday mornings, I wanted to work for the company. I still love the company today right up there with family. But I did go to school. I finished the two junior college years and went on to State.” The self-professed non-student found himself doing well enough in his business classes when disaster struck. “Our corporate airplane crashed, and six of the nine people on board died,” he says. “My daddy survived, but our sales manager did not.” The senior Puckett was hospitalized for three months, so Richard departed Mississippi State and all things collegiate. “I left to work and to be a stabilizing family member to the company,” he remarks. “I knew the staff and had always been engaged in the business. I went straight into the sales department and worked there for about a year and a half.” Staying put at Puckett Machinery seemed the responsible thing to do, even when his father returned. College, he felt, seemed over. “Daddy encouraged me to go back,” says the son. “In fact, he told me I could never own the company if I didn’t have my college degree. That was incentive!” A funny thing happened on the way to that degree. Classes took on meaning; there was sense in those textbook pages.

Rob, Hastings and Richard Puckett Photo by Tate Nations, courtesy of Maris, West & Baker Advertising

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What also set the tone was Ben’s first job in 1953 as a staff accountant for a Caterpillar tractor dealership in Jackson. The young man rose steadily through the ranks, buying into the business increasingly along the way. In 1982, the company formally became Puckett Machinery, with Caterpillar making up 99 percent of its business. In 1987, Richard took over as President and General Manager after finishing his business degree at State.

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“Daddy got on the train to Starkville only to find that his friend had left [the University],” recounts Richard, going on to boast of his father’s accomplishments over the next years. “He was in all the honor societies and president of Kappa Sigma fraternity. He always credited Mississippi State with his success. That set the tone for us all.”

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“All of a sudden I realized the validity of what I was learning and how it could be used,” Richard says. “I looked at it quite differently. I’d sit there and try to apply what I’d been doing to what I was hearing from professors.” Later in Jackson, Ben Puckett welcomed the new graduate into the fold and enthusiastically embraced Richard’s contributions from the College of Business curriculum.

Richard and Mary Puckett with MSU President Dr. Mark Keenum when Richard was named 2009 COB Alumnus of the Year Photo by Russ Houston

“He was so open to the ideas,” says Richard. “Daddy was a sales-minded person. Systems, processes and procedures of the office were foreign to him – and I liked that aspect. That’s what made us so good together. He respected what I knew and what I could do inside the company while he worked in sales on the outside. We were good.”

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So good, in fact, that the father of Puckett Machinery was able to sell out to Richard and his younger brothers in 1994. “He wanted the next generations to come along,” says Richard. “He was ready, and it was time.” Ben, who passed away in 2013, had delighted in seeing yet another generation take the reins: Grandson Hastings Puckett stepped up in 2000, armed with his own degree in finance from MSU’s College of Business. It was a day Richard had anticipated since Hastings’ birth. “He had a choice,” says the proud father. “He completed an internship with our due diligence team during his senior year at State as we were acquiring an equipment rental company. I offered him six months off after graduation, but he came to me after two saying he wanted to work for the rental company.” The rental company is now in the hands of Hastings’ younger brother Rob, 10 years his junior. “Both my boys graduated from the College of Business in finance and were really, really good students. Hastings made only one B during his time there, and Rob made all As.”

Richard, who was ready for the changing of the guard, told his elder son, “I know you can run the company. I want a seat on the bus, sort of up near the front, but I don’t need to drive it anymore.” Hastings took the helm in 2011. As Chairman and CEO, Richard confers with Hastings but leaves dayto-day matters to the Puckett in charge. “He’s put together an unbelievable management team,” Richard states. A charter member of the College of Business Executive Advisory Board, Richard also serves on the Mississippi State University Foundation Board and its fundraising committee. He attends athletic events and contributes to the teams’ support, yet he and wife Mary largely devote their time and funding to education philanthropy. “Students who receive our scholarships write us letters each year, and 30 to 40 percent of them tell us they’re the first family members to have the opportunity to attend college,” he observes. “We feel we’re going where the needs are.” With three generations of Mississippi State business graduates involved with Puckett Machinery, eyes are turning these days to the oldest of Richard’s five grandsons.

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Photo by Tate Nations, courtesy of Maris, West & Baker Advertising

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“They’re all Bulldog fans except for the one in South Carolina, and we’re working on him,” he says with a smile. “Ten years from now the 12-year-old will be graduating from Mississippi State and coming in. And in 12 years, the 10-year-old will come in too, so we’re set for now.” To Richard’s mind, the future is filled with likely heirs. “They’ll have their options,” he says with confidence. “But once it gets in the blood, it doesn’t get out. We feel it’s a privilege to be in the family business.” With the youngest in line a mere nine months old, there is a lot of potential ahead, for Puckett Machinery and Mississippi State alike.

“Each generation has improved the business,” says Richard. “They’ve taken it forward. And that’s the way things are supposed to be.”

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his fall, Mississippi State University named Zack Harrington the new lead fundraiser for the College of Business. Harrington is no stranger to the College; he has served as its Assistant Director of Development since July 2014, working to secure major gifts for the College of Business and the Richard C. Adkerson School of Accountancy.

The campaign revolves around five central focus areas – teaching and learning for success; service and outreach for engagement; research and creativity for discovery; tradition and culture for experience and diversity and advancement for globalization.

“Each day I am encouraged by the generosity of our alumni and friends,” says Harrington. “It is a tremendous honor to help them invest in something I am equally passionate about, and I am excited to continue growing relationships with our alumni, engaging them in the life of the College of Business and Mississippi State.” As one of MSU’s largest academic units, our College of Business fundraising is pivotal to the success of the campaign, and there are numerous ways for you to join us as supporters. Outright gifts; annuities; personal properties or real estate; bequests or gifts of stocks, bonds or other securities help support quality education here at Mississippi State. They also provide funding for scholarships, innovative programs and building enhancements, as well as for attracting and retaining prestigious faculty. Any contribution to MSU through 2018, regardless of the designation, will count toward our campaign goal. “As a native of Mississippi and an MSU graduate, I believe that the College of Business at Mississippi State University is rapidly positioning itself as a premier educational institution on a national and global scale,” comments Harrington. “Our people are our strongest asset, and together we can continue to make an infinite impact throughout the state of Mississippi and beyond.”

Photo by Beth Wynn

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Mississippi State is currently in its fifth year of Infinite Impact, the University’s capital campaign, which has now surpassed $760 million, toward an established $1 billion goal.

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Born and raised in Hattiesburg, MS, Harrington earned both his undergraduate and master’s degrees from MSU – a bachelor’s in business administration with an emphasis in real estate mortgage finance in 2009 and a master’s in sport administration in 2010. As an undergraduate, he was a quarterback for the Bulldogs during the 2006 and 2007 football seasons. He met his wife while attending MSU. Hunter Harrington (née Boerner) of Tupelo, MS, was a cheerleader during her time at State. She now serves as Director of Membership Development for the Greater Starkville Development Partnership. They live in Starkville with their daughter and future Bulldog, Grace.

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n appreciation of Mississippi State University and what it has enabled the Baker family of Slidell, LA, to accomplish has manifested itself in gifts from them that support the university experience.

After graduation, Bill began his career with Shell Oil Company as an analyst, first working in Atlanta, then Houston, and later in a technical sales position in Phoenix. From there, Bill joined his father, Willis Baker, at Slidell Oil Company. For Bill, entering the family business would initiate several decades of progressive roles. Bill also found success in his personal life. He and Susan met on a blind date and married in 1969. Native Texan Susan earned a bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish with a minor in math from the University of Texas. Following graduation, she worked in Houston for an oil company. After marrying Bill, Susan taught for several years in high schools and proudly joined Slidell Oil Company by the time their sons were in grade school. The Bakers take pride in their business and the progress it has made over time. Although Bill stepped down as President in 2005, he remains involved with the company. At the helm of day-to-day operations, Brian and Keith now share the reins as Managing Partners. While Brian focuses on the financial and legal aspects of the business, Keith guides the operations and construction side. The brothers divested their commercial business in 2016 and presently strive for growth and quality service throughout the Southeast as the company works with businesses in the retail sector. Slidell Oil Company has now expanded from Louisiana into Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi, marketing Chevron, Liberty, Shell, Texaco and Valero brands in retail units. The company also operates multiple convenience stores throughout these areas. For Brian and Keith, their Mississippi State education is paying dividends. Although they considered other schools for their undergraduate education, ultimately it was the reputation and quality of the education offered by MSU that led them to enroll. Brian received a bachelor’s in accountancy degree from MSU in 1996, while younger brother Keith earned his accountancy degree in 1998. The respect Bill and Susan Baker have for Mississippi State has been passed down to their sons. Just as their parents do, Brian and Keith have fond memories of their involvement with Mississippi State.

Susan and Bill Baker have supported the University in numerous ways, including an endowed scholarship for accounting majors. Photo by Beth Wynn

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Louisiana native Bill Baker was born in New Orleans and grew up in Slidell, eventually making his way to Mississippi State. He became the first Bulldog graduate in his family by earning a marketing degree in 1968.

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Bill and Susan Baker gratefully acknowledge the excellent education Bill received from Mississippi State through the College of Business, and the accounting degrees their sons, Brian and Keith, earned from the College’s Richard C. Adkerson School of Accountancy. These well-earned academic degrees are proven assets in helping them lead their family business, Slidell Oil Company.

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All in the Family: Bakers Strengthen Impact at MSU

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While attending MSU, Brian and Keith were members of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, and they maintain connections with their Pike fraternity brothers. Spending time with extended family also was a great pastime for them. They often visited the home of the late B.S. Hood, their grandfather’s cousin. Chief Hood had been the MSU security leader from 1960 to 1977, and a campus street honors his service. The brothers recall the Hood family’s hospitality of wonderful meals and great stories. On the academic side, Brian and Keith spent many hours attending accounting classes and studying in McCool Hall. In particular, some of their inspiring teachers included Dr. Edd Milam and Dr. Clyde Herring, who both provided great instruction. “We appreciate our education and recall the great times we had while attending MSU together,” says Brian, who lives in Slidell. “It was wonderful to get to know our Starkville family and enjoy meals with them since we were several hours away from home.” Keith, who lives in Abita Springs, LA, echoes the sentiment. “It is great to keep that Bulldog tradition going in our family, and I always enjoy returning to MSU,” he comments. In recent years, with the business being prudently guided by their sons, Bill and Susan have been getting reacquainted with Mississippi State. They initially began their support of MSU with the Department of Athletics, gifting primarily for baseball and football. They have a great appreciation of university sports and the student-athletes who compete on behalf of MSU. Of late, the Bakers’ generous support extends to academics, with an MSU scholarship named in their honor. The Bill and Susan Baker Endowed Scholarship assists accounting majors with preference given to juniors and seniors who demonstrate strong academic potential toward an accounting career. The Adkerson School is among the top 25 undergraduate and graduate accounting programs in the nation with fewer than 17 full-time faculty, and gifts from alumni and friends like the Bakers are strengthening its mission.

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The resounding reason the Bakers chose to support MSU with a scholarship endowment in accounting is simple – the excellent education provided for two generations of their family made a positive difference in their lives. “We were interested in helping students who were diligently working toward their accounting degrees, and we look forward to getting to know future recipients of our scholarship,” remarks Bill. “It was actually Susan who expressed a strong desire to support academics, and we are proud to put our stamp on the University in this manner.” Susan explains her reason behind the scholarship, saying, “The MSU education earned by Bill and my sons has impressed me tremendously, and I feel it helped them refine their talents. The MSU administration makes helping students plan for life beyond graduation a priority, and that’s important.” Susan shares Bill’s enthusiasm for the University and the community, and she feels spending more time in the area suits them. “Starkville is a well-kept secret, and we love being a part of the community,” she states. “It’s great to tap into the excitement of the University again at this point in our lives.”

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For Bill and Susan, time spent with their family is also precious. They are devoted grandparents to four grandchildren, MaryBeth and Thomas by Brian and wife Cassie, an LSU graduate, and Ella and Amelia by Keith and wife Tuesday, an MSU graduate. “We hope the next generation of Bakers keeps the business going strong and also keeps our family ties firmly rooted in Bulldog country,” says Bill.

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The Baker family’s giving makes possible a perpetual connection between them and Mississippi State. In particular, future recipients of the Bill and Susan Baker Endowed Scholarship will come to appreciate their benefactors, and in turn, the Bakers will be represented by talented scholars who can impact the world as Bulldog graduates.

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Two generations have established a strong Bulldog tradition in the Baker family, (from left) Keith, Bill, Susan and Brian. Photo courtesy of Baker family


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ometimes you can win them all.

Seeking to hone their skills by using their studies in an applied context, six MSU-Meridian business students entered statewide DECA competitions in late 2016 and early 2017. They represented Mississippi State in events that included marketing management, team business ethics, retail management, human resources and business research. All six claimed first place in their events. Their successes won them the opportunity to compete at the international level, where one went on to place in the top 10.

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DECA is a good fit for MSU-Meridian, where the University’s chapter was established in 2015. “DECA is a total package,” remarks Dr. Natasha Randle, Associate Professor of Management at MSUMeridian and DECA chapter advisor. “MSU-Meridian is a small campus. We chose DECA because we thought it was a strong, comprehensive organization that could cover the majors we offer here.” It is an active chapter, for its members recognize the value of the leadership and educational opportunities offered. Steven Miller, currently a senior in business administration and marketing, took part in the DECA statewide retail management competition in November 2016. Participants were presented a case and called on to incorporate the “SoLoMo” platforms, integrating social, location-based and mobile marketing tools to acquire new customers. “We were given a case study, playing the role of a marketing or operations director in charge of incorporating a beauty and cosmetics line into a college bookstore,” he recounts. “We presented ways to display the products and promote them through social media, and we projected sales growth.” Miller, who also works as an Operations Assistant at First State Bank in Waynesboro, MS, was President of the DECA chapter at the time and presently serves as Secretary. He serves in the state’s DECA leadership as well, as Collegiate DECA First Vice President. Miller’s win qualified him to compete at DECA’s 2017 International Career Development Conference (ICDC), along with his five MSU peers who captured state titles in their respective categories: Lynette Cockrell and Michael Costa, team business ethics; Melissa Hamilton, marketing management; Casey May, business research and Anthony McOlgan, human resource management.

From left: Michael Costa, Lynette Cockrell, Anthony McOlgan, Melissa Hamilton, Steven Miller Photo by Russ Houston

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The Distributive Education Clubs of America, now known simply as DECA, began in 1946 as a high school organization and grew to include college chapters. The international society’s aim is to prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.

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About 1,500 students and advisors traveled to Anaheim, CA, last April, where they not only competed but also took part in ICDC’s educational sessions. The conference offered professional development workshops on topics such as networking, leadership, job seeking and postgraduate education. Students also had opportunities to interact with members of the DECA National Advisory Board, which includes executives from Marriott, Men’s Wearhouse and other major corporations. Casey May, now a graduate of the healthcare services program, placed in the top ten at ICDC with her prepared presentation for the business research competition. May, who has worked for years at Anderson Regional Health System in Meridian, proposed an app to help potential and current employees.

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“I decided to base my research on something I see every day at work,” says the Benefits Analyst Manager. “There’s a nursing shortage [in the health care industry], and I wanted to focus on recruiting and retention of nurses at our hospital.” Casey May

Her proposed app would enable potential employees to apply for positions and to receive alerts for openings that fit their particular qualifications. Current employees would be able to schedule shifts, look at calendars and learn of hospital events such as open enrollment periods for benefits. New staff could access a checklist and map to assist in proceeding through all the steps required to begin work – like obtaining IDs in the security office, filling out paperwork in human resources and visiting the employee health department for physicals and the lab for drug testing. Photo by Natasha Randle

“With this generation, everybody wants information instantly,” observes May, who has created a framework but not yet produced the app. “This app could improve satisfaction with working here, and hopefully that could help attract and keep nurses.” As for the conference itself, she continues, “It was the chance of a lifetime to be able to go to ICDC, and I was proud to represent Mississippi State. Competing helped me gain professional experience and raise my self-confidence. I was able to network with other students and company representatives. It was a great experience all around.” Miller agrees, “It gives you insight into how you’ll use your knowledge in your career, and it helps identify your goals and what you need to do to get there.” DECA offers many ways for its members to put their education to work and develop their base of skills and experience. As a state-level officer, Miller helped organize all of Mississippi’s ICDC delegates and educate them on how to get the most out of the conference through networking and participation. He also served at ICDC as a voting delegate for the national officers, which included caucusing with each candidate. Throughout the year, he works with Mississippi’s high schools and colleges to increase DECA membership, and he helps plan and manage state conferences.

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Miller has also attended Engage, DECA’s annual leadership academy in New York, along with others from MSU-Meridian. Activities are geared to offer insight into industry trends and personal development toward a career. Participants select an industry track, and they are able to converse with executives in their chosen fields and take behind the scenes tours of sites ranging from Madison Square Garden to the Men’s Wearhouse Madison Avenue store. Each track also includes a case study competition culminating with presentations to DECA National Advisory Board members.

Says Randle, “I tell our chapter they need to do three things: professional development, service and industrial site visits.” DECA members have toured sites such as U.S. Blades in Meridian, MS, which manufactures industrial saw blades, and a coal and energy plant in Kemper County.

“DECA prepares students for their careers. It provides practical leadership experience,” comments Randle. “They have to apply critical thinking skills. They learn to run an organization. They have opportunities to network, and they get to travel.” Many MSU-Meridian students are nontraditional, often having full-time jobs and attending classes in the evenings. They live at home and may have families. With so much on their plates, it may be hard to imagine adding “extras” like organizations and competitions, but DECA members agree the experience is enriching. “I have unbelievable friendships from being in that chapter,” says May. “It’s not only fun, but it teaches you to look beyond your own needs and focus on others. At the same time, you’re networking and building skills for your future career. I would encourage anybody starting in school to get into an organization like DECA and compete.” Claiming first place in any competition can be a reward in itself, but for MSU-Meridian’s DECA members, it’s clear that their experiences are the real prize. Dr. Natasha Randle and Chapter President Anthony McOlgan discuss DECA’s “Engage” leadership academy. Photo by Russ Houston

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Community service has found DECA members collecting canned goods to feed the homeless at LOVE’s Kitchen in Meridian, raising funds for tornado relief at William Carey University, gathering old newspapers for the local animal shelter and filling shoeboxes with toys and necessities for needy children through Operation Christmas Child. They have also participated in campus activities like Welcome Back Week events and tailgates.

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The chapter has assisted with Career Chats on the Meridian campus, in which alumni and others serve as classroom speakers offering advice and perspective to students as they plan for the future. It has also presented a “Women in Leadership” panel discussion in which local businesswomen shared their journeys and talked about their careers.

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Preparing students for successful careers is the reason DECA exists, and nowhere is this truer than at the chapter level.

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The Spirit of 76 By Kirsten Shaw

t was a pivotal year in U.S. history – 1941. The nation was finally emerging from the Great Depression and watching a war overseas. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, being sworn in in January for a third term, proposed “Four Freedoms” for people worldwide: freedom of speech and worship and freedom from want and fear. By year’s end, the United States would enter World War II in response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. At what was then Mississippi State College, daily activity in many ways went on as normal, with classes and socials and even the SEC football championship title. Yet the world environment brought a seriousness of purpose that pervaded campus life. Administrators and faculty, looking to the future, were singularly intent on ensuring that the youths in their charge were prepared to inherit the country. This was the environment in which marketing education took root at Mississippi State. It was 1941 when marketing first appeared as a major in the course catalog.

Some new building blocks – literal and figurative – were conceived to move MQABL forward. The first edition of its newsletter MarketMix was published (msumarketmix.com). Plans were drawn up to renovate the office suite, which will feature a wall in the reception area on which people or entities connected with the Department may be recognized.

“We’re going to construct a wall honoring those who have helped build the Department over the years,” says Department Head Dr. Melissa Moore. “Contributors can purchase granite pavers and have them customized to pay tribute to loved ones, favorite professors or companies, or add their own names. The proceeds will shape the future of the Department as the past is honored!” Among the first to take part were the Marketing Advisory Board members, who are placing the names of MQABL’s former department heads – Dr. Henry Nash, Dr. Ronald Taylor, Dr. Brian Engelland and Dr. Jason Lueg – on the wall. Pavers can be ordered at alumni.msstate.edu/MQABLpavers. Since 1941, every person involved with the Department – student, faculty member, staff member and supporter – has become a part of its history and a contributor to its success. With such an enduring foundation, MQABL’s future is indeed full of promise. A 76th anniversary cowbell was made by Boston Bell Co. (www.bostonbellco.com), founded by MSU marketing student Jonathan Williams and mechanical engineering student Matt Waddle. The company offers customizable cowbells made from premium materials. Only 200 of their signature product, The Statesman, are being made – fittingly, MQABL’s was the 76th. Photo by Russ Houston

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Past, present and future were celebrated this year with the Department’s 76th anniversary. Events ranged from a gala at Starkville’s Hotel Chester to an ice cream social in the McCool Atrium. An anniversary logo was applied to custom Christmas ornaments, t-shirts and one very special cowbell.

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The foresight of those early educators proved correct. Today, the Department of Marketing, Quantitative Analysis and Business Law (MQABL) is a premier academic unit. With 24 faculty and staff members, it offers a marketing major, minor and PhD; a supply chain management concentration and the PGA Professional Golf Management Program. Through courses in law, marketing and quantitative analysis, it reaches every single MSU business student.

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ajor league baseball or a career in business?

Back in the days of college and all-things-possible, Bobby Kocol weighed those viable options. As a high school standout, he had been heavily recruited by many colleges. “It came down to the University of Florida or Mississippi State,” he explains. “I chose State mainly because of Coach Ron Polk [the acclaimed former head coach] and, quite honestly, because I liked the student to teacher ratio. At Florida it was two or three times higher.”

“I didn’t think I was ready,” Kocol says. “Even though it sometimes felt like I was majoring in baseball, I was torn between playing [professionally] or going to school. The third time, I told myself I’d finish school. I figured I’d get drafted again, so no big deal.” The fourth call never came. Not even after Kocol, an Academic All-American, MVP and team captain, led Mississippi State to the 1979 College World Series.

“We were one of the top five teams in the country, and I was getting calls from people wanting to be my agent,” he remembers. “The baseball draft’s going on, and I’m sitting back wondering which team’s going to call me up – and the phone isn’t ringing. My first thought after my disappointment was, ‘Thank goodness I have my education.’” Any conversation with Bobby Kocol is laced with affirming life lessons like that one. He could write a motivational bestseller, and indeed his book Epic Impacts remains a project for the future. For now, he uses his stories and sayings in speeches around the country, to audiences that include Wall Street institutions, Fortune 500 companies and professional organizations. The 1979 alumnus spoke on campus at the spring induction ceremony for academic business honor society Beta Gamma Sigma, focusing on his journey as well as the students’ journeys to come. Don’t give up is one message Kocol hammers home by talking about his CPA exam. “Exams,” actually, because there were three attempts before making the grade.

Photo courtesy of Innovative Switchgear, Inc.

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Kocol arrived in Starkville as an accomplished outfielder who had never lived away from his Cocoa Beach, FL, home. His lack of confidence, he admits now, kept getting in the way of accepting not just one, not two, but three draft bids from the Chicago White Sox during his school career.

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He continues, “There’s no question that Mississippi State and the College of Business were the pieces of the puzzle that helped me succeed in life. If I’d gone to a different university that was more hectic, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.”

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“Another thing I tell students is that pain is temporary, but quitting is permanent.” BOBBY KOCOL

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“‘We hereby notify you that you have failed,’” says Kocol, quoting the first results letter. “I’d driven from Florida’s east coast to its west for 26 straight weeks for 10-hour review classes. After failing the first round, I did it all again – and failed again. By the third time, when I passed it, my interests had changed, but I couldn’t accept failure. I wasn’t going to give up.” Which brings him to another message – you can’t work around issues; you have to work through them. This and another of his mantras – never say no again – were put into practice when the businessman took the CFO position at StorageTek, a $2 billion public company, only to face a nightmarish start. “We had product delays, $75 million or so in losses and stock plummeting from $40 to $8, and we lost a patent infringement case, all in that first year,” says Kocol, admitting that he considered resigning. “But I realized you must experience adversity in order to achieve something. It took six years, but we turned things around.” He adds, “Another thing I tell students is that pain is temporary, but quitting is permanent.” Under Kocol’s watch and with his involvement, StorageTek was eventually acquired by Sun Microsystems in a $4.1 billion transaction, at which point he found himself retired at the age of 48. That lasted long enough to squeeze in travel with wife Lindy and enough golf to feel proficient. But more work was to follow. He began consulting with, and soon became CEO of, new venture Innovative Switchgear Solutions, Inc., in his adopted state of Colorado. Says Kocol, “Their engineer developed a product that makes traditional high voltage electrical switchgear a more green technology. I’m now involved in a business that is growing exponentially, tripling revenues after just four years.” He remarks, “It’s been fun for me to start with a clean sheet of paper and develop the process and discipline. We’ve worked as a group to establish the company.” Compared to the CFO days, today’s pace allows him to enjoy his first granddaughter. The Kocols make frequent hops to Tucson, AZ, where the smitten granddad answers to “Poppy.” A daughter who lives in Colorado has opened a yoga and fitness business that has attracted her father to the discipline. He is also a walker, praising and cursing a Fitbit®, received as a gift, that drives him to a daily step count. Kocol does church work as well and occasionally even preaches. He returns to Mississippi State often. “Starkville and its people are unbelievable,” he reflects. “They were willing to help me out in any way possible when I arrived as a student. State was the right choice for me, too. What I walked away with are not only the things you learn in sports but also an education, and it’s the combination of the two that has helped me through my career.” The man who has lived life on the diamond and in the boardroom wants to help State’s student athletes prepare for their post-sports futures. “As an athlete you’re treated well and are in the spotlight, and all of a sudden it all goes away,” he says. “I was there, so I know. I get it.”

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Giving is another of Kocol’s long-held missions. “I like to inspire people and get them fired up,” he says, citing a back-burner program to coach business people to recognize the impact they can make on the lives of others. “I’m a firm believer in the old phrase ‘you learn, you earn, you return,’ and I’m in that last phase where it’s time for me to return with my time and the lessons of my career.” That’s why Bobby Kocol has said to Mississippi State University, simply, “Use me however you want. Tell me when, and I’ll show up.”

“We now have the SEC Network in Colorado, so I get to show the people out here what real football is all about,” he says with pride. When he comes back, Kocol, never at a loss for a good phrase, will pack along messages like, nobody can take away what you stand for and hope is not a plan, but a plan can give you hope. But mostly he will focus on the memories that shaped his success. “So I didn’t go on to play professional baseball,” Kocol reflects. “There are more ‘big leagues’ than just baseball. If you can make an impact in your business and earn respect for what you do, those are the biggest leagues.”

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“I plan to use life up all the way,” he states, with a conviction worthy of the guy who has said again and again, “never give up.”

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You will be hearing from Bobby Kocol again – we all will. With energy and dreams fueled by Mississippi State, he vows to stay an achiever for the long haul.

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Whether it’s a Career Chat – a College of Business classroom dialogue with students – or a keynote address to Beta Gamma Sigma, he will be back, timing the visit with a game weekend whenever possible.

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Kocol inspired business students last spring as keynote speaker for the Beta Gamma Sigma induction ceremony. Photos by Emily Daniels


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A Glimpse of Gotham By Kirsten Shaw

ew York, NY, is a world capital of finance and retail, and experiencing the city is an education in itself. This year, two groups of MSU business students got a close-up view of business in the Big Apple.

In March, eight senior finance majors attended the Finance Leaders’ Conference in Manhattan, organized by the Financial Management Association (FMA). The conference offered advice on career paths and goals from industry professionals; a headhunter’s insights on interview skills and employers’ priorities; sessions on topics like teamwork and leadership and opportunities to make connections with peers. The group enriched their experience with tours of the New York Stock Exchange, the Federal Reserve Bank and the Museum of Finance. “New York City is an eye opening experience,” remarks Instructor of Finance and FMA advisor Dr. Helena He, who accompanied the group. “Our students were able to see how the markets and financial system work. They received advice from leaders in one of the world’s financial capitals.”

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“I could not thank Mississippi State and the COB enough for affording our chapter such a great opportunity,” states Devin Hamilton, MSU FMA President. “The conference was a great experience for me – particularly the sports finance section – and being able to bond outside a classroom helped form friendships that will last for years.” The second student group attended the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2017 Big Show. Mississippi State marketing students and fashion design and merchandising (FDM) students made up 31 of the 34,500 in attendance. FDM students have attended before, but this marked the first cross-college trip that included marketing majors. Joining the students were marketing faculty Dr. Melissa Moore and Dr. Robert Moore; FDM faculty Dr. Charles Freeman, Dr. Catherine Black and Caroline Kobia and MSU entrepreneurship director Eric Hill. Most costs were covered by the NRF’s Foundation and Student Association as well as MSU’s College of Business; Department of Marketing, Quantitative Analysis and Business Law; School of Human Sciences and Center for Retail and Cotton Product Development. The Big Show attracts heavy hitting keynote speakers such as former U.S. Presidents, Cabinet members and CEOs like this year’s Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group. The expo featured 500-plus retailers in all areas – from technology to fashion to engineering. The student program drew about 400 for sessions on skill development and résumé building and for speakers ranging from recent graduates to CEOs of major corporations, like designer Rebecca Minkoff. Afterward, at a career fair, some 40 employers invited limited numbers of students for interviews the next day. “Our students stood out – 75 to 80 percent got at least one interview,” notes Freeman. “That speaks strongly to the quality of our students. Recruiters later told us MSU students were professional, polite, well dressed and had awesome looking résumés.” Students came away with a whole-picture sense of the collaboration needed in retail – that what is done in marketing, design, technology, production or sales affects all other areas. They saw that in business, success comes when all work together. Top photo: The Finance Leaders’ Conference was hosted at Baruch College. Representing MSU were (front) Sanessa Greenlee, Dr. Helena He, Soyeon Jung, (middle) Dylan Meza, Jordan Tetrev, Alexis Thibodeaux, (back) Sheldon Brewer, Jason Cox and Devin Hamilton. Bottom photo: Kohl’s sponsored an event at Rockefeller Center for students attending the NRF Big Show, including Tyler Ash, Meghan Muirhead, Allie Seale and Sadie Lee Pierce. Photos courtesy of Helena He and Tyler Ash

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The MSU chapter of FMA minimized costs with fall fundraisers like doughnut and pizza gift card sales. With added support from the Dean’s Office and the Department of Finance and Economics, the only major out-ofpocket cost for attendees was the conference registration fee. The FMA chapter is now working toward the 2018 conference, in another financial center: Chicago.

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Football and Finance: A Talk with Nick Fitzgerald By Alexandra Brasher

et’s all take a second to admit it: It took us until around midway through Nick Fitzgerald’s remarkable 2016 sophomore season to stop missing Dak Prescott. Let’s also admit that this had nothing to do with underperformance by the 6’5”, 230-pound quarterback from Richmond Hill, GA. Fitzgerald started in all 13 games, broke nine school records – four single-season and five single-game – and set SEC records for both 100-yard rushing games by a quarterback (8) and average yards per rush (7.1). Fitzgerald responded to replacing one of the most beloved quarterbacks in MSU history by blazing an historic trail of his own.

n Your redshirt freshman season at Mississippi State was arguably the most exciting football season the University has ever seen. Were you expecting that success when you first committed? I’ve been around sports my whole life, and I’ve been on some really good teams and some really bad teams. I remember when I first came to watch practice. I looked at the players who were coming back [to play the next season], and then I saw the success Dak [Prescott] was already having – so I was definitely not blown away by the fact that we were doing so well. n When you committed to Mississippi State, were you already intent on pursuing a business degree? I was. I knew that I wanted a business degree, and I knew finance was probably what I was leaning toward the most. My uncle does business in Atlanta, and I was able to meet a lot of people he knows and to tour big banks and talk to people who were doing financial advising. It kind of clicked for me that this would be something I would want to do. n What is it that you love most about finance? Well, I love being around money [laughing] and managing my own money! I think being able to manage money for other people so that they can become more successful would be pretty cool. n You knew you would have big shoes to fill last fall on the football field. How did you feel heading into that while also pursuing a finance degree? Football-wise, I had to come in and replace the most beloved player in Mississippi State football history. Those were huge shoes to fill – a lot of pressure. On top of that, I was going into my upper-level classes for my finance degree, and I knew it was going to take a lot of time to study football and then to stop and study for class. It was tough, but I made it through!

Photo by Megan Bean

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Fitzgerald sat down with Dividends early this fall to discuss his background in finance and in football and how he continually strives for success both on and off the field.

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Proof of Fitzgerald’s tenacity has not only been demonstrated on the football field. The finance major made both the 2015 and 2016 SEC Fall Academic Honor Rolls, and he seems to enjoy discussing finance as much as he does football. While Fitzgerald agrees his degree of choice is not easy to balance with being a student-athlete, he makes it increasingly clear that the staffs of both MSU Athletics and the College of Business support his putting academics first. He is awarded no special treatment in the classroom – even during Egg Bowl week.

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n When you are really in crunch time during the season, how does that work with classes and football?

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During the season, we have meetings with the coaches in the mornings around 7 a.m., and then afterward people go to class. For me, I only had one or two classes a day, so I’d meet with my coaches at 7, leave at 10 a.m. to go to classes and come back around 1:30. Then, I wouldn’t leave the football facilities most nights until 9 or 10 p.m. By the time I got home, I would be dead tired. On top of that, I might have to study for a Statistics II test, so it was hard. n So you are able to continue to take your tests and do other classwork along with everyone else? There is definitely no special treatment…. We are supposed to be students first and athletes second. n What has been your greatest achievement within the College of Business? Having finally made it through all the accounting classes required by my finance major! Finishing with all those classes was a tough journey. The thought of looking at a company’s incomes and inventories does not appeal to me at all. I would like to handle individual clients and their assets and invest their money for them. That is what I enjoy doing. n What has been your greatest achievement on the football field? My biggest achievement has been to finally fulfill a dream I have had since I was six years old – to be an SEC quarterback. That is what I’ve always dreamt of… just being able to start was a huge achievement itself. And our team beating both Texas A&M and Ole Miss last season was a huge achievement as well!

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Photo by Beth Wynn, inset photo by Megan Bean

n You responded to the pressure that you had coming in after Dak Prescott with a monumental season of your own. You broke nine school records and led the SEC in total offensive yards. How did you handle all the newfound recognition that comes along with that kind of success as an SEC quarterback?

n Who is your role model? Well from a sports-related aspect, I really looked up to a football player by the name of David Green – a quarterback at the University of Georgia. He was always someone I wanted to be, because when I was little, that’s where I wanted to go play. He was a really successful quarterback, a good guy and a leader.

n What is your favorite spot in Starkville? I really enjoy going to hang out in Left Field Lounge at Dudy Noble Field. I love baseball and watching our team play, and Dudy Noble is just the greatest college baseball stadium ever. n Is there a certain bond all student-athletes share when they get onto campus? I think so. We all play sports. We all go through the grind of being in college, taking classes and trying to be athletes at the same time – which is like a full-time job. So we definitely all have a mutual respect for each other. When you’re around fellow athletes, you’re really more comfortable than anything, so yeah, there’s kind of that bond. n What are your goals for the future after graduation? If I am fortunate enough to go to the [National Football] League, to make money from a game that I’ve been playing since I was six, that would be fantastic! I’d love every minute of it, and I would give it my all. If I don’t get that chance though, I’d love to move to a bigger city like Atlanta or somewhere in Texas and be a financial advisor for individual clients. n What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you? Your past does not have to affect your future. You really can do anything you set your mind to do.

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I seriously want to meet Tom Brady. I really want to sit down and talk with him and see what kind of a person he is and how he acts when he is away from the cameras.

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n If you could meet one person, real or imaginary, living or deceased, who would it be and why?

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You know, in a way, I have been a lot more reclusive since this season started, in that I don’t just go and hang out a ton anymore. When I do go out, people will sometimes yell my name and want to take some pictures. It’s really cool but also really humbling. It’s a crazy change coming from South Georgia and having no one know your name, to having people want to come up and take pictures with you and get your autograph. I try not to let it go to my head though.

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Small Loans Are Big Business “I

believe this group of experts was as good as any ever assembled at Mississippi State for a topic of state, regional and national interest.”

“Approximately $900 million in small loans are made annually to 485,000 Mississippi residents,” shares Miller. “Most lenders are genuinely interested in helping the people they serve, often counseling them on matters of financial literacy and basic budgeting.” The Uniform Small Loan Law, passed in 1916 to protect consumers from illegal lenders, has stood the test of time. This centennial milestone seemed the perfect occasion to highlight the industry and bring leading financial minds to Mississippi, where the law has had such a positive impact. Audience members included industry lenders, academics, regulators, state legislators, students and trade association representatives. Andrew Morrison, Executive Vice President for Brundage Management in San Antonio, TX, comments, “The symposium was useful and illuminating. I was drawn to it to hear and meet some of the panelists.” He goes on to note that there was lively debate among the panelists about how much government intervention is proper, but that he was afforded an excellent opportunity to visit with the speakers about the balance needed in the day to day practice of lending. The speakers enjoyed their time at MSU as well. “I have been impressed on my visits with the attractiveness of the campus and…the friendliness of the people,” states Durkin. “Both groups [researchers and practitioners] enjoyed hearing from each other and realizing how their interests fit with those of the other group.” Miller was so pleased with the outcome of the event that he intends for the Finance & Economics Department to host another such gathering in 2019. Judging from the success of the first, it looks like he might need to book twice as much conference space next time!

The 2016 symposium was made possible by the MSU Department of Finance & Economics, the Jack R. Lee Chair, the Institute for Market Studies at MSU and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves spoke at the Consumer Credit Symposium, along with federal officials and leading academics. Photo by Beth Wynn

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Small loans are those generally ranging from $800 to $3,000, made by entities such as pawn shops, vehicle title lenders, pay day lenders and finance companies. These transactions are highly important to a rural state’s economy.

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To say Tom Miller exudes enthusiasm about the symposium he and other leaders hosted is an understatement. Miller, the Jack R. Lee Chair in Financial Institutions and Consumer Finance, has a right to be proud. In December 2016, notables – such as Mark Calabria, Chief Economist for Vice President Mike Pence; Todd Zywicki, Director of the George Mason University Law and Economics Center and Professor at the Antonin Scalia School of Law, and Thomas Durkin, former Senior Economist of the Federal Reserve Board – led a stellar panel of speakers at the “Consumer Credit Symposium: A Century of Experience with the Uniform Small Loan Law” in Starkville.

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By Kathy Kenne

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From Boots to Business-Ready E

ach year, more than 200,000 service members and their spouses transition from the military back into civilian life. Most seek employment with established businesses, but some of these veterans aspire to explore the challenge of becoming small business owners. An obstacle they often face is that, while their ideas may have outstanding potential, their busy military careers have left little time to learn the many facets of starting and sustaining a business. To provide interested veterans a basic overview of business ownership, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) launched its Boots to Business program in 2013.

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By Sharon Oswald and Mark Scott

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The MSU College of Business is offering that next step with its Boots to Business Revenue Readiness program (B2B RR). Made possible by an $824,100 annual SBA grant, B2B RR is a six-week interactive virtual classroom course that adds the “meat on the bones” to the B2B overview course. B2B RR assists veterans and/or their spouses in taking an idea from concept to operational business plan in a relatively short time, focusing on practical application of business concepts. By pushing them toward tangible results and instilling a sense of self-motivated urgency, it helps them achieve full operation as efficiently as possible. The program was developed by Eric Hill, MSU Director of Entrepreneurship, and Mike Pornovets, Counselor at the MSU Veterans Business Outreach Center. They based the curriculum on the prospectus for their 2016 SBA award in the “Lean for Main Street Challenge” that focused on business revitalization in Columbia, MS. Upon completion of B2B RR, participants have developed a clear vision of their individual business models as well as multi-faceted business plans. SBA resource partners then step in for followup and, hopefully, the opening of viable businesses. Small businesses are the cornerstone of the U.S. economy, and the ultimate goal of B2B RR is not only empowerment of veterans but also job creation and capital improvement. Debbie Scott, former Director of the MSU Small Business Development Center (SBDC), is the Program Director. “We have assembled a team of experienced entrepreneurs as instructors for the Boots to Business Revenue Readiness program,” says Scott. “Most of our team members are veterans themselves and have been through the transition from military to civilian small business life. Our team has ‘been there, done that’ in many cases, and throughout the course share their real-life experiences in practical terms to illustrate the concepts.” Combined with the efforts of the MSU Veterans Business Outreach Center, Mississippi State and the College of Business are making a difference in the lives of our veterans. For more information about B2B RR, visit www.bootstobusiness.msstate.edu.

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But what happens to that ambitious entrepreneur who requires a deeper understanding in order to make business ownership a career?

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“Rising Up” to the Occasion F

or as long as she could remember, Hannah Jordan knew that she had a knack for event planning. As a College of Business Ambassador and an active member of Phi Mu sorority, Jordan learned all the ins and outs of planning a really great event. She even had the opportunity to sharpen those skills while she was a student worker in the Dean’s Office, assisting with the execution of events for the College of Business’ Centennial Celebration in 2015. But she never thought that only one year later, her passion for planning events would take her all the way to America’s biggest stage – Super Bowl LI.

“I reached out to everyone I knew there and said, ‘Hey, I am applying for this position. Here’s my resume if you want to take a look at it – let me know if you have any questions,’” says Jordan. “Hundreds of people apply for this internship each year, and it is very competitive. Reaching out to anyone you know and networking is very, very important.” It was not long before Jordan received word that she was one of a handful of young professionals selected to serve as interns for the Atlanta Falcons’ 2016-17 football season. She was ecstatic and eager to get started.

With the official title of Corporate Partnership Seasonal Assistant, Jordan worked under the Corporate Partnerships Department, dealing with the companies that sponsor the Falcons – everything from league sponsors like Gatorade and Microsoft to local sponsors like Atlanta’s Northside Hospital. “There are two divisions under corporate partnership: the sales team and the service team, which I worked on,” she explains. “The service team makes sure that everything in the contract is being fulfilled exactly how the company wants it and how the Falcons want to do it, so we are the day-to-day contact. If there is an issue with something in the contract, then we go back to the sales team. Some of the interns work directly with full-time employees on sponsor accounts, and I was the intern for McDonald’s, Papa John’s and Northside Hospital.”

Photo by Anna Barker

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Jordan was already a Falcons fan, having grown up in Dacula, GA, a city less than an hour from the Atlanta metropolitan area. The team’s “Rise Up!” slogan was in her blood. It seemed as if she were fated to find that job opportunity. She even knew several people who worked for the Falcons organization and decided to put the networking skills she had learned in college to work.

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During the spring semester of her senior year, Jordan, a double major in management and marketing, was searching for jobs involving planning events. The world was her oyster. Knowing that she could be working in a new job and a new city in the near future was exciting! During her search, she found a website called TeamworkOnline.com and ran across an internship position with the Atlanta Falcons that seemed too good to pass up.

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Of the accounts for which she was responsible, Jordan says that working with Northside Hospital was one of the most rewarding experiences. “Our official hospital sponsor, Northside, sponsors Breast Cancer Awareness Week each year. The Falcons are currently the only team in the NFL who put on a week-long Breast Cancer Awareness event,” she states. For Breast Cancer Awareness Week, Jordan worked in concert with the hospital, informing breast cancer survivors about the event, setting up a hospitality section and coordinating a parade before the game that Sunday. On Sunday, all the Falcons players wore pink, and former players escorted cancer survivors onto the field to share their stories before the game. “It was just so cool because you looked up and saw 60,000 people cheering on these women who went through so much and came out on top,” recalls Jordan. “It was really emotional because everyone knows at least one person affected by breast cancer.”

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On a typical game day, interns arrive at the stadium around five hours before kickoff, which comes really early for those 11 a.m. games. They get straight to work, making sure that the needs are met for every sponsor before and during the game. Jordan says they usually finish up with everything around halftime, and then many times they get to watch the rest of the game out on the field or from one of company suites. Talk about an employee perk!

“The really cool thing is that you get to meet these people who are high up at big companies, like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. Networking was something that I learned here at Mississippi State, with Career Chats and the Mocktails event,” she says. “I was able to use that skill during my internship. I was only supposed to have six months in the internship, so I was trying to make the most of every minute I was there.” The interns were only supposed to work six months, until the last home game, but that was before the Falcons made the playoffs. The team clinched the title for their division and advanced to claim the NFC Championship title. The Falcons were going to the Super Bowl! Jordan had already begun looking for other sports teams for whom to work, since she enjoyed her time as an intern so much. She could envision herself working in sports marketing and events long-term. Much to her surprise, her supervisors called her in to let her know they had decided to extend her internship! Only this time, she wouldn’t be working with corporate sponsorships – she would actually have a seat on the Super Bowl Planning Committee. The week of the NFC championship and the AFC championship, executives of the four NFL teams involved flew to Houston to go over the schedule of events, should their teams advance to the Super Bowl. Jordan says that each team received a binder chock full of information, from travel and lodging all the way down to uniform color selections. The National Football League made sure to include any and all details for every scenario, but it was up to each team to organize everything. “It’s crazy how much work goes into sending a team to the Super Bowl, especially one like the Falcons,” she says. “There were only a handful of people still working with the Falcons since the last time we went to the Super Bowl, so it was new to everyone. I read an article recently that said we were the most complex organization that’s

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ever gone to the Super Bowl. Usually teams will take a few hundred people with them, and we took close to 2,000!”

Jordan celebrates the Falcons’ NFC title. Photo courtesy of Hannah Jordan

“We had a few people perform, and since they’re from Atlanta they were excited about the game and got everyone else pumped up. Whether you’re a fan of rap or not, it was really cool because it was just a fun private party before the game. Then we had something kind of similar after the game, which we had planned regardless of whether we had won or lost. It was a lot of work just to plan all the parties, but it was rewarding to see it all come together.” So what’s next?

The future looks bright for Jordan, who still works for the Falcons, but now in a different role – Business Operations Coordinator. In this position, she helps provide support to their logistics and finance departments. “I never would have thought in a million years that I’d be working with a professional sports team,” she adds. “But it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made so far, besides choosing MSU, of course!”

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There were several other events they had to organize during that weekend. Some were for just the players, and others were for players’ and coaches’ families. “Golden tickets” to attend VIP events were given out to players, families and celebrities such as native Atlanta rappers 2 Chainz, T.I. and Ludacris.

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It was not just fun and games; there was a lot of work involved. Between the welcome party, pregame party and postgame party, every last detail had to be perfect. Money was no object for the biggest celebration of the year – it was an event planner’s dream.

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Because she was on the Falcons’ Super Bowl Planning Committee, Jordan received a ticket to the game, a flight and a hotel room on Friday before the Super Bowl until the Monday following. She also had the option to purchase another seat on the flight, so she brought her sister.

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An Ace in the Hole By Kirsten Shaw

educational facility.

“The course serves as a living laboratory for two academic programs on campus – the PGA Golf Management Program in the College of Business and the Golf and Sports Turf Management Program in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences,” states Jeff Adkerson, PGA Master Professional and Director, PGA Golf Management and Golf Operations. “Additionally, we’ve worked to integrate the University Golf Course into other disciplines on campus to provide students with supplemental learning opportunities. The Landscape Architecture and Forestry departments, for example, have utilized the facility for study beyond the classroom as well.” The PGA Golf Management Program prepares students for jobs in the professional golf industry. The MSU Golf

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s a university course, the MSU Golf Course is not only an exceptional place to play, it also stands as a first rate

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and faculty from the Golf and Sports Turf Management program perform research here on grasses and other turf, while also contributing to the course’s maintenance. In 2012 and 2013, some 10,000 trees were planted throughout the course in conjunction with the College of Forest Resources, improving its beauty and playability. The course is also woven into the campus fabric as a second home for the men’s and women’s intercollegiate golf teams, as well as a recreational outlet for students, faculty and staff. “The MSU Golf Course is an asset to both Mississippi State University and the local community,” says President Mark E. Keenum, who has been known to take in a round or two at the course. “It’s an outstanding educational resource for our students, especially those in the PGA Golf Management program and in Golf and Sports Turf Management. The course also offers all of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors who play it a fun, challenging and memorable experience.” Designed by Brian Ault, the facility is a 6,604-yard, par 71 championship course where many alumni and

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Course gives them a place to develop their playing and teaching skills and to host and organize tournaments. Students

community members enjoy playing. “It’s challenging but fair,” comments Mike Hammond, PGA Head Golf Professional. “There’s something for all skill levels – some flat holes, some with changes of elevation. It’s really scenic, with all the trees and water features, and it’s one of the better conditioned courses in our area.” A quality course is always a work in progress. Recently, a fleet of 45 technology-forward golf cars arrived, furnished with GPS to assist players with yardages. This past year, a strategic plan for ground maintenance was initiated, and within a month of the first new equipment acquisition, positive effects were seen in the course’s conditioning. An ongoing capital improvement plan outlines future goals like a new pavilion and scoring center. The MSU facility is a dynamic golf center, offering junior camps, adult and senior clinics, lessons, family golf days and tournaments, as well as “growth of the game” activities for the community. The MSU Golf Course is a place for all, whether a beginning player, retired alumnus or young adult preparing for a career in the sport. It is a place to play, to learn, to teach, to compete, to connect – a place that does Mississippi State proud. The MSU golf course serves as a living lab for the PGA Professional Golf Management and Golf and Sports Turf Management programs, as well as Landscape Architecture and Forestry. Photo by Russ Houston

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Field of Vision Expands with Distance MBA By Karen Crow

Garraway had years of television experience and two liberal arts degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi but lacked the business skills needed for his new role. With the MSU Distance MBA, he found the respected, formal online curriculum he sought. “The Distance MBA provided the educational knowledge I sought with the rigor I needed,” he says. No two days at the University Television Center look the same.

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arning a Master of Business Administration degree in 2015 has helped David Garraway meet the challenge of his new position as Director of Mississippi State University’s Television Center. Garraway had quickly climbed the ladder of success after he started his career at MSU in 2010 as a senior video producer.

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The Distance MBA gave Garraway more confidence in his decisions at work. By combining his critical and technical expertise with financial and business knowledge, he built a solid foundation for making decisions to benefit the Center and Mississippi State as a whole. “It can be very difficult when taking on a new role at work, adding to your family and taking classes,” comments Garraway, whose Distance MBA journey began in 2013. “Whether it’s 2 o’clock in the afternoon or 2 o’clock in the morning, you can find time to work on your studies because the program is so flexible.” Garraway is quick to point out the value of a Mississippi State MBA. “I had partners in Japan, California and Germany on a group assignment. That’s practical, real-world experience in today’s global economy,” he says. “That’s one way education is mirroring and adapting to today’s workforce.” In 2017, Distance MBA students represented 36 states and three countries. The greatest numbers came from Mississippi, Texas and Alabama, respectively. “The Distance MBA takes discipline and time management as well as the ability to work independently and with teams,” says Cindy Smith, Director of Distance Learning. “We emphasize teamwork and the development of team skills, so one of the biggest challenges for working professionals can be coordinating projects with members on the other side of the world.” Ranked No. 18 this year by U.S. News & World Report, the 30-credit-hour program has been completely online since 2004. Many students are working professionals who complete the program from all around the world because in-state tuition extends to distance students. The program is typically completed in two years. In addition to the Distance MBA, the College of Business also offers the Master of Science in Information Systems and MBA Project Management degrees via distance. Garraway stresses that the Distance MBA program is not easy but worth the effort. “The hardest decision is convincing yourself it’s time to start,” he says. “Once you do, you’ll find MSU and its people are welcoming. The program will challenge you. It will make you better in business. But it is designed to respect your time and gives you flexibility.”

For more information, visit www.distance.msstate.edu/mba.

Photo by Beth Wynn

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“There’s creative problem-solving and work on and off campus to produce short and long pieces,” he shares.

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By Emily Daniels

College of Business

where are they now?

Each year, Dividends magazine features some of the many College of Business students, faculty and alumni that are doing fascinating things. But do you ever wonder what any of them are up to now? We caught up with two of our recent graduates to see what they’ve been doing since we first reported on them.

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Anna Barker

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ou may recall a story from 2016’s Dividends about thensenior Anna Barker. After stumbling upon MSU’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach in 2015, Barker founded her own startup company that focused on minimizing the risk of fire-related disasters by using comprehensive fire detection and analysis technology. Fast forward to the spring of 2017. Anna teamed up with fellow COB students Allen Coe and Hassan Tariq to compete with students from 34 universities across the United States and Canada in the AIG University Innovation Challenge. They were selected as one of the four finalist teams to pitch their most creative concepts and business models to reduce business risk and improve operations using technology to a panel of AIG Insurance executives in Houston. The team won first place after pitching their fire-prevention business plan. “AIG has the potential to leverage data and analytics-based information from existing resources that can be integrated with this technology to help make smarter decisions and reduce losses,” says Barker. “It was so encouraging that they were able to see that potential as well.” After the competition, AIG offered Barker a position as a technology analyst at its office in Charlotte. After much careful consideration, Barker turned down the offer in order to work with fellow MSU entrepreneurs at Vibe, LLC, as the Director of Business Development, which would allow her to pursue her own venture.

“I think that staying in a startup setting really fosters an entrepreneurial mindset,” states Barker. “I have the opportunity to experience situations and gain skills that will be so valuable for my future with a company that is on a tremendous growth trajectory.” Photo by Russ Houston

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Chinwe Okorie

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Okorie graduated in May and decided to further her education at MSU, pursuing a master’s degree in French. “I want to eventually work in a global company, or even just in a large business firm,” she says, adding, “One of the things I really want to do is start my shoe company – because at six foot five inches, I wear a size 15 in shoes, and it’s really difficult to find pretty shoes that are classy in large enough sizes for bigger women.”

Photo by Beth Wynn

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“It was really exciting because even before we got there as a team we had exceeded our goals, so it just was amazing to get the opportunity to compete for the title!” exclaims Okorie.

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Chinwe Okorie quickly became an all-star on the court, in the classroom and in the community. She was nominated for the 2016 Allstate Good Works Team for her active involvement in programs such as the Mississippi Area 6 Special Olympics, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Bully’s Book Blitz, which teaches local children about the importance of reading. In addition to volunteering and practicing basketball each day, Okorie made sure she had time to hit the books, making the SEC Academic Honor Roll for three years straight. And in April of this year, she and her fellow Lady Bulldogs made it all the way to the 2017 NCAA Women’s National Championship Game!

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lso featured in last year’s Dividends was Chinwe Okorie, MSU Women’s basketball center. Okorie was a business administration and marketing double major with minors in French and Business Information Systems. Okorie shared the story of her amazing journey from her hometown of Lagos, Nigeria, to the United States to play college basketball. This life-changing decision stemmed from continual encouragement from twin sister Chinedu and their late father Dr. Ephraim Okorie.

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News briefs Alumnus of the Year Toxey D. Haas, III was named the 2017 Alumnus of the Year for the College of Business. Haas graduated with a degree in Business Management from MSU in 1982. He is the founder and CEO of Haas Outdoors, Inc. In 1986, he invented the Mossy Oak® Brand Camouflage. Haas Outdoors, Inc., is the parent company of Mossy Oak Properties, Nativ Nurseries and BioLogic. Haas was also instrumental in the development of Mossy Oak Golf Club in West Point, MS. He was recognized at the Alumni Association Awards Banquet on Friday, February 3, 2017.

Dean Sharon Oswald with Toxey Haas

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Alumni Fellow

Mike McIlwain and Adkerson School of Accountancy Director Shawn Mauldin

Joseph Michael “Mike” McIlwain was selected as the 2017 Alumni Fellow for the College of Business. McIlwain, a 1987 accounting graduate, serves as President and CEO of PSAV. PSAV is a leading provider of event technology services within the hotel, resort and conference center industry, offering expertise for everything from intimate gatherings to large conventions. McIlwain was nominated as one of the Top 100 Alumni during the College of Business’ Centennial Celebration in 2015, and he addressed College of Business students as part of the College’s Leo W. Seal, Jr. Distinguished Speaker Series in 2016. Originally from Pahokee, FL, he resides in Chicago, IL.

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New Faculty and Staff Welcome 2017 new College of Business faculty and staff!

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D. Brian Blank, PhD

Wanda Cronin

Krystle Dixon

Daniel “Dan” Ingham

Assistant Professor, Finance & Economics

Program Coordinator, B2B Revenue Readiness Program

Academic Coordinator, Adkerson School of Accountancy

Instructor & Counselor, B2B Revenue Readiness Program

Santana Jefferson

Lauren Milbach

Michael “Mike” Pornovets

Deborah “Debbie” Scott

Mark Scott

Academic Records Assistant

Instructor, Adkerson School of Accountancy

Instructor & Counselor, B2B Revenue Readiness Program and Veterans Business Outreach Center

Director, B2B Revenue Readiness Program

Instructor & Counselor, B2B Revenue Readiness Program

Ronald “Ron” Smith

Zach Tate

Brooke Underwood

Kelly Walker, JD, LLM, CPA

Kelsey Waters

Instructor & Counselor, B2B Revenue Readiness Program

Assistant Director, PGA Golf Management Program

Office Associate, Center for Entrepreneurship & Outreach

Assistant Clinical Professor, Adkerson School of Accountancy

Assistant Director, Recruiting & Events

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Schanna Beckham Contract & Grant Specialist

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News briefs

Adkerson Earns National PGA Award

Jeff Adkerson, Director of Mississippi State’s PGA Golf Management Program, is the 2017 recipient of the PGA of America’s national Horton Smith Award. The honor recognizes a PGA member for outstanding and continuing contributions to the education of PGA professionals. Adkerson has received this honor four times.

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Jeff Adkerson (left) and PGA President Paul Levy

Earlier this year, Adkerson became one of approximately 350 people since 1969 to earn the PGA’s Master Professional in Golf Operations distinction, given to PGA professionals who demonstrate the highest degree of excellence. He currently serves as President of the Gulf States PGA and was named Mississippi Golf Professional of the Year in 2009 and 2011.

Pannell Chairs State Accounting Board Angela Pannell, Instructor of Accountancy, is Chair of the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy, the agency that has oversight and regulation of the state’s Certified Public Accountants and CPA firms. She was also reappointed to the board for a third five-year term. Additionally, Pannell was awarded a fourth consecutive one-year term on the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy’s Education Committee this year.

NSF Grant to Benefit Tech Start-ups The number of startup businesses formed around technology developed within Mississippi State University is set to increase, thanks to a $495,300 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. The grant will launch a new I-CorpsTM Site at MSU, helping the University broaden the economic reach of its research and innovation. The Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach will lead the I-Corps Site, providing infrastructure, advice, resources, networking opportunities, training and modest funding to enable groups to transition their work into the marketplace or into becoming I-Corps Team applications. The I-Corps Site will strengthen innovation locally and regionally by combining the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach’s well-established entrepreneurship program with its strong external relationships and by providing a targeted training program. The Site will form 30 teams annually composed of MSU faculty, students and outside mentors. It also will work with the University’s Office of Technology Management to identify strong potential new technologies.

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Spurred by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, Mississippi State University’s Office of Outreach and Corporate Engagement will continue to promote innovation and use its resources to strengthen the regional economy. MSU was one of 22 colleges and universities to receive a grant under the 2017 University Center Economic Development Program Competition, and the University will receive nearly $600,000 over five years as part of the program. MSU has received continuous grant funding from this economic development program for almost 20 years.

AIG Challenge Winners COB students Allen Coe, Hassan Tariq and Anna Barker won the AIG Insurance University Innovation Challenge in Houston, TX, April 21. During the competition, teams presented to AIG judges their most creative concepts and business models to reduce business risk and improve operations using technology. The Mississippi State University team’s idea will use technology to help reduce the risk of fire-related disasters by leveraging data.

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A recent article in the Journal of Small Business Management ranks MSU No. 6 in the world for the impact of its entrepreneurship research. The same study ranked Dr. James J. Chrisman, Head of MSU’s Department of Management and Information Systems, as the No. 6 leading individual contributor to entrepreneurship research. The rankings are based on a study that examined more than 2,100 entrepreneurship articles published in leading journals from 2002 through 2013, measuring citations per article and other citation analyses.

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Economic Development Grant

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Top Ten in Entrepreneurial Research

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News briefs

Two of our College of Business faculty members retired this year. The College of Business extends a heartfelt “thank you” for the positive impact they have made on students and colleagues alike during their years of service.

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MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY

Retirements

Best wishes for a long and happy retirement! Frances E. McNair, PhD Professor of Accountancy

Steve Sanders Instructor of Accountancy

Holliman Receives Honorary Doctorate W.G. “Mickey” Holliman, Jr. of Tupelo was awarded an honorary doctorate of science during the 2017 commencement ceremony on May 6. The 1960 industrial management graduate co-founded Action Industries, now known as Lane Furniture Industries, with Alvin E. Bland. Holliman served as President and CEO until 1996, when he was elected to similar positions at Furniture Brands International, parent company of Broyhill, Thomasville and Lane. Also named a director, he later became the company’s board Chairman and led the acquisitions of Henredon, Drexel Heritage and Maitland-Smith. He retired in 2008. In 1998, Holliman was selected as both the MSU Alumni Association’s National Alumnus of the Year and the College of Business’ Alumnus of the Year. A longtime supporter of both academics and athletics, his corporate partnerships and personal contributions made possible the campus fitness and training center for student-athletes that was named in his honor. He is a member of the MSU Foundation and President of the Bulldog Club.

Baby Bulldog The year started right, with an addition to the COB family. Scarlett Jocelyn Farmer, daughter of Assistant Professor of Marketing Dr. Adam Farmer and his wife Danielle, was the first baby delivered in 2017 at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle in Columbus. The baby Bulldog is the Farmers’ first child.

Danielle, Adam and Scarlett Jocelyn Farmer

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n Dr. Daryl Burckel, accounting alumnus, was named President of McNeese State University. Additionally, Dr. Mitchell Adrian, who earned his doctorate in management at MSU, was appointed interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

n Dr. Mike Highfield, Professor of Finance and Department Head of Finance & Economics, was granted the Certified Treasury Professional® (CTP) designation by the Association for Financial Professionals®. The CTP designation serves as a benchmark of competency in the finance profession and is recognized as the leading credential in corporate treasury worldwide. n Eric Hill, Director of MSU’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach, was recognized by the Mississippi Business Journal on its 2017 “Top in Tech” list for his work with SportSnax, a company he co-founded and debuted in 2013. SportSnax enables fans to order concessions from their phone and have them delivered directly to their seats. n Alumnus Russell Huntley was promoted to Market President for Citizens National Bank in Philadelphia, MS.

n COB student Brent Rooker was named National Player of the Year, SEC Player of the Year, First Team All-American and USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Semifinalist. He was picked by the Minnesota Twins in the first round of the MLB draft. n John Scott, Adkerson School of Accountancy graduate, was recently elected to serve on the Board of Directors for HORNE, LLP, where he is a partner. n The MSU Graduate Student Association awarded marketing doctoral student Jennifer Stevens with the university-wide Donald Zacharias Graduate Teaching Assistant of the Year Award. n Chip Templeton, Jr., Director of the Small Business Development Center at Mississippi State, was appointed by the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence (TNCPE) to its 2017 Board of Examiners. In this role, Templeton is responsible for reviewing and evaluating organizations that apply to the TNCPE Award Program, which recognizes excellence in business operations among local, regional and statewide organizations. n Jerry Toney – Adjunct Lecturer for the Department of Finance & Economics, Senior Wealth Advisor for Cadence Investment Services and Mississippi President for Cadence Bank – was recognized as one of the nation’s “Top 100 Bank Advisors” by Bank Investment Consultant, a financial services industry magazine. Toney ranked 31st on the annual list, placing among the top 50 for the second consecutive year.

n MSU-Meridian Division of Business student Daniel Johnson placed first in the Role Play Challenge at the 2017 Mississippi Collegiate DECA Fall Leadership Conference in October. DECA is a student organization preparing future business leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.

n Dr. Brad Trinkle, Associate Professor of Accountancy, recently became one of four contributors receiving the first Best Paper Award of the Journal of Information Systems, the academic publication of the Accounting Information Systems section of the American Accounting Association.

n Dr. Shawn Mauldin, Director of the Richard C. Adkerson School of Accountancy, was appointed to serve on the MSCPA Board of Governors for the 2017-18 year.

n Dr. Merrill Warkentin, Professor of Information Systems, was one of five scholars worldwide to be awarded the Outstanding Service Award by the General Assembly of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP). IFIP represents information technology societies from 56 countries or regions and has a membership of over half a million.

n Accounting alumna Megan McKinnie, CPA, was promoted to Senior Manager at BKD, LLC in Jackson. She is a member of BKD National Financial Services Group and focuses on providing taxation services to financial institutions and bank holding companies. n Nail McKinney Professional Association promoted Matthew W. Oaks, CPA, to Manager of the Tupelo office. Oaks holds Bachelor of Accountancy and Master of Taxation degrees from MSU.

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n Dr. Clyde Herring, Associate Clinical Professor of Accountancy, was appointed to serve as President of the Mississippi Society of Certified Public Accountants’ (MSCPA) North Central Chapter.

n Marketing alumnus Dr. Jeffrey Risher, Assistant Professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at Southeastern Louisiana University, was recognized by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals for his research on firms reintroducing domestic manufacturing in the United States.

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n COB student and Bulldog shortstop Ryan Gridley was drafted by the Oakland A’s in the 11th round of the MLB draft.

n Gee Gee Patridge was elected to a three-year term on the Mississippi Bankers Association Board of Directors. The alumna and COB Executive Advisory Board member is Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer for BankPlus.

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n Dudley M. Barnes, CFP, of Clarksdale was included again on Barron’s list of “Top 1,200 Advisors” in the United States. The 1970 COB graduate is a member of Barnes-Pettey Financial Advisors, LLC, and has been on the list every year since 2011.

Assets

n COB students Sam Andrews, Alex Maxwell, Mukhunth Raghavan, and Feifei Zeng were selected as 2017 Spirit of State Award winners by Mississippi State. The Spirit of State Awards program, organized by the Division of Student Affairs, honors those who have made a positive impact on peers and the broader campus community through organizational involvement, service to the institution and personal actions promoting school spirit and tradition.

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Mississippi State University College of Business P.O. Box 5288, Mississippi State, MS 39762

Discrimination based upon race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or veteran’s status is a violation of federal and state law and MSU policy and will not be tolerated. Discrimination based upon sexual orientation or group affiliation is a violation of MSU policy and will not be tolerated.

MQABL TRIBUTE WALL

Example

MAKE YOUR MARK Purchase a paver on the Tribute Wall in the soon-to-be-remodeled Department of Marketing, Quantitative Analysis and Business Law.

alumni.msstate.edu/MQABLpavers

Dr. Ronald Taylor

Dividends Magazine, 2017 Edition  
Dividends Magazine, 2017 Edition  

Dividends Magazine is the annual publication for the Mississippi State University College of Business.

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