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Enterprise Jennings A. Jones College of Business

Prosperity Project

Political Economy Research Institute

Jones AllHStars Highlights of Exceptional Performance

BERC Director Murat Arik



Looking Backward . . . while Looking Ahead 4

18 Ready, Set . . . IGNITE!

I am bullish on Jones College’s future and dedicated to leading the charge to even greater heights

IGNITE, Jones College’s professional development program, gives students confidence to compete for jobs in their fields

6 The Catalyst Many development projects got the green light due to research recommendations from Murat Arik and the Business and Economic Research Center

10 PERI Prosperity Project

20 Jones College All H Stars All of our faculty, staff, and friends contribute to our students’ success, and here we highlight a few exceptional stories

An interview with Political Economy Research Institute Director Dan Smith

42 Supply Chain Management

14 Soft Landings

44 Professional Selling

A professionalism initiative paves the road to success for students and supplies companies with the workers they need

Jones College responds to community sales needs

Concentration prepares in-demand workforce

mtsu.edu/business Cover photo by J. Intintoli Address changes: Advancement Services, MTSU Box 109, Murfreesboro, TN 37132, alumni@mtsu.edu. Other correspondence: Jones College, 1301 E. Main St., MTSU Box 101, Murfreesboro, TN 37132. 1,500 copies printed at Falcon Press, Nashville, Tennessee.

Visiting lecturer Shinya Fujino​speaks to Economics students about Japanese corporate ethics. 0619-7738 / Middle Tennessee State University does not discriminate against students, employees, or applicants for admission or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, age, status as a protected veteran, genetic information, or any other legally protected class with respect to all employment, programs, and activities sponsored by MTSU. The Assistant to the President for Institutional Equity and Compliance has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies and can be reached at Cope Administration Building 116, 1301 East Main Street, Murfreesboro, TN 37132; Marian.Wilson@mtsu.edu; or 615-898-2185. The MTSU policy on non-discrimination can be found at mtsu.edu/iec.


Enterprise 2019 / Vol. 4, No. 1 Dean, Jones College David Urban Senior Editor/Designer, Jones College Sally Ham Govan University Editor Drew Ruble Creative Marketing Solutions Kara Hooper Contributing Editors Darby Campbell, Carol Stuart Contributing Writers Allison Gorman, Jimmy Hart, Patsy Weiler, Katie Porterfield, Cliff Welborn University Photographers Kimi Conro, Andy Heidt, J. Intintoli University President Sidney A. McPhee University Provost Mark Byrnes Vice President for Marketing and Communications Andrew Oppmann

Looking backward . . by Dean David Urban

I am bullish on Jones College’s future and dedicated to leading the charge to even greater heights


n June 30, I completed six years as dean—the average length of service for deans at AACSB International–accredited business schools. Though my term length is average, our accomplishments are not. I interact with deans across the country and served as a faculty member or administrator at two previous universities. I believe the Jones College record compares very favorably to other collegiate business schools. Anyone looking at our record objectively would conclude Jones College is a much better business college than it was six years ago. Here are a few highlights: Academics. We David reviewed and improved Urban our offerings, such as the undergraduate business core curriculum. We re-engineered our M.B.A. to create the Flex M.B.A., with accelerated and onlineonly options. We added market-driven programs such as our nationally ranked M.S. in Management and M.S. in Finance. In Fall 2018, we converted our Insurance concentration in the Finance B.B.A. program to a stand-alone Risk Management and Insurance major. We resurrected the Real Estate concentration and in Fall 2018 created new B.B.A. program concentrations in Supply Chain Management and Professional Selling. Our undergraduate business majors are required to take the Dale Carnegie Course® in Human Relations and Communication, differentiating us from any other collegiate business program. Over 3,000 students have completed the course. The B.S. in Commerce, aimed at adult learners and veterans, launched in Fall 2018 and has over 50


students enrolled. We have a heightened awareness of our Assurance of Learning program, which demonstrates the positive impact of our teaching. Our professionalism initiative, prompted by the needs of the business community, and IGNITE professional development program give our students skills that complement what they learn in class. Student Success. AACSB International has lauded our Advising Center as a source of best practices. Our advisor-to-student ratio is better than the national benchmark. Our advisors set the standard at MTSU and develop innovative ways to engage students. Our student success profile, in terms of retention rates, has improved dramatically since 2013. Faculty/Staff. Our faculty and staff are even more highly skilled. Faculty members hired since 2013 have raised the college’s research productivity in both quantity and quality of publications. Our specialized centers such as the Business and Economic Research Center and Tennessee Small Business Development Center have a significant impact on economic

development in middle Tennessee and beyond. Technology. Part of our faculty and staff success is directly linked to the leadership provided by Jones College staff in technological application. Our technology experts are proactive in helping us keep pace with new advances. We have been pioneers at MTSU in adopting sophisticated software, such as TopHat, Panopto, and Qualtrics, as well as databases, such as WRDS, Bloomberg, and Capital IQ, to improve teaching and research. Among our major building renovations are the main computer lab, smaller Economics and Information Systems computer labs, a video studio, a new Financial Analysis Center, and several new or vastly improved technology classrooms. Support. Our external financial support is stronger than ever and getting stronger. Jones College has received five private gifts of $1 million or more since

. while looking ahead July 2013, including the $3.5 million gift to establish the Political Economy Research Institute as a joint venture with University Honors College. We have generated funding to name the Mel Adams State Farm Agent Sales Lab and started several new scholarship endowments. We have secured ongoing external funding for our community awards program, annual leadership conference, events to encourage studentadvisor interaction, faculty/staff awards program, undergraduate program in professional selling, Tom and Martha Boyd Ethical Leadership Week, Professionalism Week, Global Entrepreneurship Week, and the E. W. “Wink” Midgett digital recognition wall honoring faculty, students, and donors. Participation continues to grow in our Jones College faculty/staff giving campaign. One area of emphasis is raising money for Jones College’s micro-grant fund, MTSU’s largest and best-funded program of its kind, providing students with immediateneed grants that make the difference between continuing their studies and quitting. National Rankings Top 11 Master’s in Business Intelligence Program ’19 20th Affordable Master’s in Supply Chain and Logistics ’19 ■■ 34th Online Master’s in Finance Program ’18 ■■ 45th Best Value Accounting Program ’18 ■■ 39th Master’s in Accounting Program ’17 ■■ 21st Master’s in Management Program ’17 ■■ 39th Best for Vets Business School ’16 ■■ 17th Best Universities for Aspiring Entrepreneurs ’16 ■■ ■■

Branding. With a mantra of “national prominence and regional dominance,” we forged a new brand identity. Enterprise MT magazine and a redesigned annual report are major components. The website is more functional and attractive. Social media campaigns for graduate programs have launched on Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Print and broadcast advertising extends throughout Tennessee and in neighboring states. Billboard advertising has appeared throughout Greater Nashville and at Nashville International Airport. A point of pride was receiving the Dale Carnegie® Global Leadership Award in 2017 for our commitment to the principles of personal and professional

development. The list of corporate recipients of this award reads like a Who’s Who of stellar organizations including Apple, Intel, and Toyota. The college and university recipients are relatively few, placing Jones College in a category with such outstanding schools as Harvard and the London Business School. Efforts to boost graduate enrollment yielded increases in the past year: Flex M.B.A., 11%; M.S. in Management, 31%; M.S. in Finance, 13%; and M.A./ Ph.D. in Economics, 4%. In April, we launched a social media campaign with marketing firm All Campus to increase enrollment in the online-only Flex M.B.A. We also will continue to offer in-person classes on campus. We have established community events, including an annual leadership conference featuring nationally renowned speakers with over 400 attendees. Faculty and staff are engaged with the Rutherford County and Nashville Area chambers of commerce, United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties, Rutherford County Business Education Partnership, Nashville Technology Council, Rutherford Cable, community service organizations, and professional organizations specific to academic disciplines. Every year since 2013, Jones College has captured MTSU’s Provost’s Cup for the highest faculty and staff participation in the Employee Giving Campaign benefiting charitable organizations. 2020 and Beyond. As an AACSB-accredited business college, Jones College aims for continuous quality improvement. Our advancements are the result of team effort. I am grateful for the commitment to quality, service, and excellence shown by faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends. n

Upcoming Goals ■■

■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■

More processes identified as best practices in our 5-year AACSB Continuous Improvement Review Assertive marketing of selected programs Increasing retention and graduation rates Additional national distinctions Helping students obtain professional certifications More executive education non-degree offerings Enhanced customer experience Greater impact on public policy

2019 | 5

MANY DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS GOT THE GREEN LIGHT WITH RECOMMENDATIONS FROM MURAT ARIK AND THE BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC RESEARCH CENTER AT MTSU Director Murat Arik mentors student researchers. From left are Rachel Vincent, Allison Logan, Taylor Adams, Arik, Iman Janahmadi, Estrella Ndrianasy, and Nathanael Asrat.

by Allison Gorman



ake County in northwest Tennessee had 125,000 acres of land (about a third wetlands), a 15,000-acre lake, 28 miles of riverfront, 8,100 people, and no industrial jobs. “It’s the 12th poorest county in the nation—including Indian reservations,” said regional port authority chair Jimmy Williamson. That’s a bleak statement from one of the county’s most tireless advocates. However, Williamson is pretty encouraged these days, because there are several projects in the pipeline for port customers planning to bring new jobs.

About 200 miles to the east, Wilson County Mayor they set their sights on Cates Landing in Tiptonville at Randall Hutto is watching a political gamble pay off. Mississippi River Mile 900. In 2001 the counties formed In politics, everybody wants low taxes, and it’s left the Northwest Tennessee Regional Port Authority with his county chronically scrambling to fund its schools. Williamson as chair, but the port wasn’t built until 2013. After decades of hand-wringing on all sides, the It wouldn’t have been built at all without BERC and county commission finally agreed to build an expo Arik, Williamson said. center to raise funds without raising taxes. The new To get a critical $20 million in federal grant and Wilson County Expo Center in Lebanon stayed solvent contingent state funds, the port authority had to through a slow cold-weather start its first year, show the U.S. government a positive return. then geared up for a busy spring and Williamson turned to Arik, who “went summer. “After it was built, we had above and beyond to help.” Arik eight months of expenditures and assessed modes of transportation only five months of revenue and Global Commerce: used to move freight in the area were already in the black,” Tennessee in the and calculated the potential Hutto said. International Economy savings from taking trucks off Meanwhile, Nashville has long the road and putting freight is the only public enjoyed a strong revenue on the water: about $3.50 source of information stream thanks to the music per dollar of investment. “We on state trade, foreign industry, but for years a more had to compete nationwide for investment, and lucrative industry was hiding in the grant,” Williamson said. “It immigration. plain sight. Ten years ago, Music was a miracle we got it, since the City also began marketing itself as population of all three counties is only the nation’s health care capital. Since about 100,000.” then, the health care industry’s economic The funding Arik helped secure paid for everything impact on Nashville has grown from $18.3 billion to visible in a drone shot of the Port of Cates Landing—a $38.8 billion. (Who says a city can’t have two brands?) dock, 37,500-square-foot warehouse, 20-acre laydown These success stories have at least one thing in area, scales, radiation detector, and office building. common: MTSU’s Business and Economic Research While building that $55 million complex was a 14-year Center (BERC). Civic and government agencies across undertaking, building its customer base is proceeding Tennessee turn to BERC to unearth the kind of hard more quickly. “We’ve got a lot of things lined up,” he data that can help them attract investment and make said. “We’re pretty excited.” financially sound decisions. Most universities provide The Center of It All economic research, but BERC’s projects aren’t funded by government grants, said center director Murat Arik. When Hutto became mayor of Wilson County in 2010, “We deal with communities and businesses. Our work he inherited a paper trail from the county’s long efforts is contract work,” he said. to raise sales tax revenues but not the sales tax. “I It’s also steady work. BERC typically has four projects at once, each lasting several months, and often defers requests to avoid overbooking. Clients are generally willing to wait, according to Arik. They know if their plan or project has merit, BERC can help get it off the ground. While BERC’s job is to analyze, not advocate, its reports can fuel a successful marketing campaign or explain why “if you build it, they will come.”

Safe Landings Since 1999, Lake, Dyer, and Obion counties had been trying to build a port, hoping to attract jobs. Deciding to lure industry with their one abundant resource,


have plans and studies done 25 years ago, wanting a large event center,” he said. “They were never passed in the legislative part of the county government.” If the Wilson County Commission was going to spend money for an event center, it needed evidence the risk would pay off. Cue Arik. Some BERC projects are straightforward: collect data, crunch numbers, issue a report. Arik said feasibility studies are more organic, requiring continuous conversation about how to move forward based on data. In this case, the first step involved measuring regional demand for an expo center: studying hotel-motel occupancy rates, tracking area events, surveying local businesses. Arik asked

officials: How will you charge customers? Will you charge for county-funded events? Will you outsource operations? Will you need a higher headcount? Based on the answers and best practices from other counties, Arik drew up several scenarios for how the county might build and operate an event center, with both high- and low-cost options and break-even points. “It takes a lot of consultation and time—six or seven months,” Arik said. “At the end you have a roadmap showing whether or not to pursue the project.” The report provided a foundation to build on, attracting a $100,000 buy-in from the city of Lebanon and offering peace of mind for the commission, Hutto said. “We took nuts and bolts from it and put into place a solid system the commissioners believed in. Now many of the things Dr. Arik projected are still holding true.”

Regional and Global Reach Preparing workers for high-paying science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs at the pace demanded by Tennessee’s brisk economy is a recurring topic: BERC, with MTSU’s Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC), has produced two reports on the status of the state’s STEM workforce. BERC plans a pilot implementation project to act on the findings.

A BERC study found MTSU alumni and their employees generated business revenue of over $9 billion in Tennessee and $2.3 billion in Rutherford County in 2017.

Hidden in Plain Sight The Nashville Health Care Council (NHCC) celebrated its 10th anniversary by asking BERC to prove its industry keeps Music City humming. “We can say we’re the U.S. health care industry capital, but without numbers to back that up, people are just going to write it off,” explained Katie Schlacter, NHCC senior director of communications and content strategy. BERC produced economic impact reports for NHCC in 2006, 2010, and 2015. Together they demonstrate health care’s fast and steady growth in Nashville, even throughout the Great Recession, and show music isn’t the only way Nashville is making itself heard. Schlacter noted Nashville is home to 18 publicly traded health care companies, more than any other city its size, representing over 400,000 employees across the country. In Nashville, health care has nearly four times the economic impact of the music industry. These numbers have a chicken-and-egg effect: The chamber of commerce uses them to recruit more businesses, and NHCC uses them to recruit more members. Now 20% of its membership is from outside Nashville, Schlacter said. Between the numbers BERC generates and the media buzz it creates, the message is clear. “If you’re doing business in health care, this is the place to be,” Schlacter said.

Web publication Global Commerce: Tennessee in the International Economy, edited by BERC Associate Director Steven Livingston, is the only public source of information on state trade, foreign investment, and immigration.

Ripple Effect

Perhaps the one set of numbers BERC hasn’t crunched is its own economic impact on Tennessee. A dollar value would be hard to calculate, even for Arik, but given BERC’s 40-year history, we’re betting it’s big. n

Recent BERC Studies ■■










Impact of Federally Funded University R&D on Economic Growth. MTSU. From Farmers to Consumers. Analyzing the Market Dynamics for American Ginseng. MTSU. Wage and Benefit Survey. Middle Tennessee and Upper Cumberland Regions. Middle Tennessee Industrial Development Association and U.S. Department of Agriculture. City of Florence School System. An Economic and Fiscal Impact Assessment. Cumberland University in Wilson County. An Economic and Fiscal Impact Assessment. Population Growth and Economic Dynamics. A Case Study. Williamson County. Tennessee Housing Market. Tennessee Housing Development Agency. Port of Cates Landing Rail Project. A CostBenefit Analysis. Forcum Lannom Contractors. State of STEM Workforce Dynamics across Tennessee Valley Corridor. TSBDC and MTSU. Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee. An Economic Impact Assessment.

2019 | 9


ECONOMY PERI launched in 2018 under Director Dan Smith’s guidance.

An interview with Political Economy Research Institute Director Dan Smith

MTSU’s Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) is a joint venture between Jones College of Business and the University Honors College.



INSTITUTE A $3.5 million, fouryear Charles Koch Foundation startup grant funded PERI.

PERI allows students to follow in the academic footsteps of the late MTSU alumnus and Nobel laureate James Buchanan by exploring public policy’s impact on the economy.

PROJECT 2019 | 11

What is PERI’s mission?


he mission of MTSU’s Political Economy Research Center is to engage students with faculty in research to further our understanding of business and economic principles as well as their impact on regional, national, and international public policy issues and the well-being of society. The institute, housed jointly in Jones College of Business and the University Honors College, is a resource for students, faculty, and the broader community interested in exploring the ideas and institutions that promote human well-being and economic prosperity. My primary goal is to start conversations through student programming, academic research, and policy work. It is important to create a vibrant, diverse, intellectual atmosphere conducive to productive dialogue, critical thinking, and learning. Students should read and seriously engage the works of scholars Karl Marx, John Rawls, and G.A. Cohen but also Adam Smith, F.A. Hayek, and Robert Nozick. PERI will help build this environment through scholarships, guest speakers, and reading groups while contributing to local, state, national, and international debates through policy research. Two Tennessee public policy areas of interest are occupational licensing and economic incentive programs. Previously, I’ve found occupational licensing is often used to unfairly restrict competition, reducing economic mobility for workers and driving up prices. Similarly, by directing subsidies, tax breaks, and other favors to individual businesses through the political process, economic Dan Smith incentive programs create an unfair playing field that often hampers economic growth.

Is PERI cross-disciplinary?


he potential to hire faculty outside of economics and finance is one of PERI’s most exciting and unique features. Longstanding questions in political economy such as what institutions promote human flourishing are complex and multidimensional. PERI will provide an environment in which scholars and students from a wide range of disciplines, such as law, philosophy, and political science, can work together to advance discourse and learning in political economy. Scholars in a multidisciplinary environment will ultimately be more engaging and well-rounded classroom professors.


How does PERI fit Jones College’s mission of responding to the community?


reating the opportunity for students to interact with the community is an essential part of a business education. It fosters connections with community leaders, development of the soft skills businesses seek, and transmission of business knowledge that is difficult to convey in the classroom. PERI will facilitate policy forums, community-student interactions with speakers, and other events.

How did your background lead you to MTSU?


hat ultimately led me to this position, and being an economist more generally, actually predates my graduate training and professional experience. I grew up in extreme poverty by U.S. standards on a small Michigan farm. The fact that my family struggled to make ends meet while others seemed to have so much sparked an intellectual curiosity in economics and public policy in me from an early age. I wanted to understand the underlying causes of poverty and the factors that enabled prosperity and economic mobility. This drove me to study and engage a wide spectrum of views, from Karl Marx to Adam Smith. I undertook graduate training at George Mason University (GMU) because its economics program provided a politics, philosophy, and economics curriculum that enabled students to explore the enduring problems of political economy from a multidisciplinary perspective.

At GMU, I met and interacted with an economist with a similar life experience and worldview, Nobel laureate and MTSU alumnus James Buchanan. I wrote my dissertation under a committee of his former students and co-authors, all well known in their own right for their research in political economy. My subsequent experience helping build the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University made me realize how important quality student programming and broader community engagement are to fostering vibrant intellectual discussion on the fundamental causes of human well-being. I’m excited to bring my training and experience to MTSU, with its historical connection to Buchanan.

How autonomous is the Institute?


tartup funding for PERI came from a $3.5 million Charles Koch Foundation (CKF) grant. CKF has provided support to hundreds of colleges and universities, including Harvard, Yale, MIT, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Georgia Tech, UCLA, Stanford, Michigan, North Carolina, Louisville, Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Georgia State, and Florida State. Local critics have expressed concerns regarding CKF’s potential influence on the institute’s decisions regarding programming, research, personnel, and operation. CKF provided initial seed money to help establish PERI as a student-centered resource. PERI will contribute to the free exchange of ideas across campus by providing rigorous educational and research opportunities for students and scholars interested in furthering our understanding of business and economic principles. I’m excited to be in an intellectual environment in which scholars and students with a diverse range of perspectives can discuss the important questions in political economy. A fundamental part of my teaching philosophy is encouraging students to actively explore alternative methodologies across the curriculum. Wrestling with competing viewpoints is a vital part of any educational process. I seek opportunities to host debates and reading groups and co-teach with faculty holding diverse worldviews. PERI is interested in partnering with a broad range of donors to support faculty-driven initiatives. MTSU and PERI do not do directed research or teaching and will not work with a donor or foundation that expects it. PERI faculty will go through MTSU’s standard hiring process and be required to meet the rigorous academic and professional standards of MTSU and their fields. Faculty will be given complete academic freedom to pursue cutting-edge research and policy work that furthers our understanding of business and economic principles as well as their impact on regional, national, and international financial conditions and the well-being of society.

MTSU’s fundraising will ultimately fund PERI. Why might someone consider contributing?


xposure to a wide range of views is vital for the development of critical thinking skills. There is legitimate concern both inside and outside the academy regarding the lack of viewpoint diversity among university faculty and donors. In particular, free market business and economic principles are often underrepresented on campuses. PERI will enable students of all viewpoints to engage in conversations that will strengthen their critical thinking and help them reach their own informed worldviews. This will enhance the value MTSU graduates bring to communities, businesses, and organizations. I believe individual, foundation, and business donors will recognize the value of PERI’s work as a resource for students and the broader community. With the growing concern surrounding higher education funding, it is imperative that faculty cultivate support for quality research and teaching initiatives. It is my job to use CKF’s initial seed money to create recognized excellence and demonstrated success in student programming, cutting-edge research, and influential policy work that will attract additional, ongoing support from a diverse range of donors. I hope alumni will support PERI’s student-centered mission.

How would PERI help a student like James Buchanan fulfill his/her promise today?


ny student passionate about political economy with a willingness to work hard and adopt the humility required of a scholar has the potential to follow in Buchanan’s footsteps. I look forward to mentoring and coauthoring academic research with undergraduate students to help them earn graduate school placements. In addition to faculty mentorship, PERI will provide resources and educational opportunities such as scholarships and conference travel support to students interested in studying and advancing the frontiers of political economy. n For information about PERI, attending its events, or supporting its initiatives, contact PERI@mtsu.edu or visit www.mtsu.edu/peri/.

2019 | 13

A professionalism initiative paves the road to success for students and supplies companies with the workers they need


LANDINGS by Patsy B. Weiler

“ Jones College not only trains business professionals but molds future business leaders. Through its professionalism initiative, students gain the hard and soft skills needed to be competitive in the workforce. Relationship and communication skills are practiced and enhanced in Jones College’s Dale Carnegie Course to transform students into human relations heroes and true professionals. The college’s networking events, leadership seminars, and engaging programs motivate students to lead by combining business knowledge and soft skills. I am now a confident business professional, excited to enter the workforce with the reputable backing of Jones College.” ®

—Autumn Johnson (at left) Graduate Assistant, Marketing B.B.A., ’18; M.B.A., ’20



oday’s college graduates hoping to land their first big job should be prepared with two kinds of solid GPAs, a grade point average and great professional abilities.

Why two? Because in the business world, the first is a hard skill, and the second is a set of soft skills. Hard skills are tangible such as a diploma or technical savvy, and problem-solving and time management are examples of soft skills. The first is important and a “golden ticket” to snagging job interviews, but possessing the other can make the crucial difference that leads to an employment offer. A 2016 Fortune article asked hundreds of hiring managers what skills they were having trouble finding in job candidates. A full 80% said they couldn’t find enough potential hires with strong soft skills. Such findings have rightfully set off alarm bells in higher education, and teaching the necessary soft skills to meet management expectations is a widespread challenge being tackled by college campuses nationwide. “ This is a systemic issue at all colleges and universities. The initiative helps our graduates better prepare and distinguish themselves as they seek employment or start a business.” —Accounting Professor Lara Daniel, former Jones College assistant dean for assessment and assurance of learning

Jones College is meeting the issue directly with its innovative, culture-changing professionalism initiative, added to the curriculum in 2018 to provide students with a broad range of knowledge and skills related to being a successful professional. The initiative complements the University’s MT Engage program, focused on improving students’ learning experiences. In 2017, a group of faculty and external advisers, including alumni and employers, gathered to identify areas needing improvement. What surfaced was an awareness that students’

2019 | 15

academic knowledge was solid but they needed assistance in presenting themselves as professionals with quality soft skills: ability to interact with others productively, how to “read a room,” communication skills (listening, written, and oral), and social and emotional intelligence. The Professionalism Faculty Work Group—Tim Graeff, Marketing professor and Office of Consumer Research director; Tim Greer, chair, Information Systems and Analytics; Sean Salter, Finance associate professor and certified Dale Carnegie trainer; and Jackie Gilbert, Management professor—developed a plan of success. Salter, now assistant dean for assessment and assurance of learning, said a broad range of professional topics have been introduced into the business curriculum: work ethic, punctuality, preparedness, participation, and respectful and courteous interactions. Undergraduate class discussions on ethical decision-making, professional dress, and diction and demeanor will pay future dividends for students. “These expectations are in course syllabi, so students’ choices regarding these professionalism factors affect their performance,” Salter said. Having witnessed how soft skills put MTSU graduates a step ahead of those from other universities, he noted that over 3,000 students have completed the Dale Carnegie Communications and Human Relations Seminar since it was introduced in 2015 with “extremely favorable” feedback. Business Administration senior Bronson Bowe from Las Vegas views the Dale Carnegie Course as a solid tool that helped his communication skills. “In email or in person, I felt much more confident and comfortable when communicating with my teachers, no matter what the topic,” Bowe said. “The principles I learned


truly helped me convey my message in a mature and professional way.” Future seniors will be even more prepared. A key component of the initiative is its incorporation throughout the core Bachelor of Business Administration curriculum. Students will continually encounter the initiative’s principles, so that mastery of the skills is second nature by graduation. “We are not simply introducing one course or activity,” Graeff said. “Rather, we seek to change the culture so faculty and students see the importance of professionalism and refining soft skills.” Actions such as attending class and being punctual will be emphasized, just as employees are expected to show up for their jobs on time. “Some professors will define professionalism slightly differently—for example, whether they allow students to wear hats in class,” Graeff said. Learning how to follow varying faculty directives will teach students how to adapt to expectations of workplace supervisors. The college has forged a relationship with the Murfreesboro Young Professionals, who serve as speakers during the annual Professionalism Week, sharing their stories of struggles and success. Gilbert hopes students will realize the importance of using emotional intelligence as professionals “to understand others’ perspectives, to respond instead of react.” Another goal, Daniel says, is that students will use their professionalism abilities in leadership roles on campus, honing their skills before graduation. The professionalism initiative will ensure students will earn a diploma tied with valuable skills as they cross their threshold to the future. n


e seek to

change the

culture so faculty and students see the importance of professionalism and refining soft skills.” IGA intern Charles Myers (B.B.A., ’18) speaks in a classroom about the corporate insurance industry and the value of internships.

Ready, Set . . . by Katie Porterfield


hen professors in the Management and Marketing programs began receiving feedback from employers that students needed to improve certain career preparation skills, they knew they needed to take action. “Whether they were discussing higher-quality resumes, stronger interviewing skills, or more confidence in networking situations, employers believed many of our students could be more prepared for some of the tasks students engage in when transitioning from college to career,” said Don Roy, professor of Marketing. “We knew we had some work to do to strengthen our students in those areas.” After all, employers aren’t the only ones expecting the Jones College of Business to graduate strong workforce candidates. Parents and students invest a lot of time and money in a college education, believing it will yield not just a degree (and the knowledge that comes with it) but also employment. Roy and others formed a committee to find a solution, and the result was a professional development program known as IGNITE. The program is now part of Jones College’s broader professionalism initiative. IGNITE’s goal is to help students develop knowledge and skills to navigate the process of landing a professional, entry-level job and to instill confidence in them to compete for jobs in their chosen field. Though the committee initially launched the program in 2014 in the formerly combined Marketing and Management Department (which



holding positions in student organizations around campus (typically worth 20 points for the year).

“The IGNITE committee wanted to provide career readiness opportunities to all Jones College students,” said Jill Austin, chair of the Department of Management, which has taken a leadership role in coordinating the program.

“Chances are students are going to be doing some of these things anyway over the course of their academic career in different courses they take,” Roy said. “But the IGNITE program pulls together all of these different activities in the name of preparing the student to begin his or her professional career.”

As a result, any business major can participate in the 18 to 25 IGNITE events held each semester. (Though many events require reservations, they are free to students.) For example, recent IGNITE schedules advertised workshops such as “How to Work a Career Fair,” “Top 10 Interviewing Questions,” “Finding the Perfect Internship,” “Constructing a Personal Mission Statement,” and “Workplace Etiquette and Protocol.” Other popular and beneficial IGNITE events each year include the college-wide career fair known as BEST (Business Exchange for Student Talent) and the Dining Etiquette for Professionals dinner, featuring tips on navigating meals in professional settings. “Decisions regarding workshop topics or what type of speakers and events we have are influenced heavily by what employers tell us they would like to see in our graduates,” Roy said. Students receive points for attending various workshops (typically worth 10 or 15 points) or for participating in business engagement or leadership activities, such as job shadowing, internships, or

Students who earn 100 points over multiple semesters and write a reflective essay about their IGNITE experience receive certificates. Recent graduate Julian Wilcher (B.B.A., ’17) said the program gave him more professional and personal confidence. Wilcher is one of 52 participants who have received IGNITE certificates since the program’s inception. Over the past three academic years, students have filled 5,065 IGNITE session seats. “The workshops were very useful because they helped me understand what I was looking for in a job and what companies are looking for in people,” Wilcher said. Austin and Roy expect IGNITE participation numbers to continue to climb, not only because the program is now available to a broader audience but also because IGNITE gets stronger each year. It’s a strategy that ensures greater success for students but also one that will continue to support the broader business community and its professional workforce. n

2019 | 19

Jones College


All of our faculty, staff, and friends contribute to our students’ success, and here we highlight a few exceptional stories



isa Bowen joined Jones College in January 2019. Previously she was an administrative services secretary at State Farm for 24 years. She is an Army veteran, serving six years in the Tennessee Army National Guard as a personnel actions specialist stationed in Smyrna and in Fort Knox, Kentucky, during Operation Desert Storm. At left, Kisa Bowen welcomes visitors.


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nne Anderson joined Jones College as Weatherford Chair of Finance in 2018. Previously she held the Joseph R. Perella and Amy M. Perella Chair in Finance at Lehigh University and served as director of the Financial Services Laboratory, working with Thomson One and CQG to develop student certification programs. Anderson’s research interests include markets and institutions, corporate governance, corporate restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, regulation, and valuation. She has published numerous scholarly articles and was the Eastern Finance Association’s 2018–19 president. In addition to earning a Ph.D. in Finance from the University of Arizona, an M.B.A. from the University of Tulsa, and a B.S. from the United States Military Academy, Anderson served as an officer in the Army Corps of Engineers.


nne will be a wonderful liaison between the University and the banking industry. She can assist students in job placement and bring in banking executives to share their experiences with finance classes.”

—Franklin Synergy Bank President Lee Moss

As chairholder, Anderson’s priority has been to re-establish relationships with alumni and financial services industry leaders. She has researched curriculum needs, how best to prepare students for finance careers, and opportunities for internships and external education such as the Community Banking Challenge and TBA Credit Conference. At left, chairholder Anne Anderson meets benefactor Jack Weatherford.


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ssociate Professor Joshua Aaron was named to the Pam Wright Chair of Entrepreneurship in 2018. Before joining the Management faculty in 2014, he taught at Georgia State and East Carolina universities and was an auditor at Ernst and Young in Birmingham, Alabama. He also serves on the boards of the Small Business Institute and Tennessee Small Business Development Center. Aaron’s research focuses on executive compensation for large and small firms, leadership, strategic issues facing small and medium enterprises, and corporate reputation. He teaches Strategic Management at the undergraduate and graduate levels and has published 24 peer-reviewed articles.


lans include more cross-campus collaboration, becoming a focal point for entrepreneurial research, growing the chair’s visibility through networking and publicity, and establishing meaningful relationships with business partners.” —Chairholder Joshua Aaron

Annually the chair hosts Global Entrepreneurship Week events and a business plan competition. Students and alumni present business plans and confer with experienced evaluators in a trade show; final presentations are judged by a panel of entrepreneurs and business leaders. There is an entrepreneurship fair for community college and high school students. At right, benefactor Pam Wright meets chairholder Joshua Aaron.





conomics and Finance Chair Keith Gamble partnered with MTSU’s Learning, Teaching, and Innovative Technologies Center for hundreds of hours to create an online course on personal finance. The course consists of seven units, each featuring an expert in a different field of finance who is interviewed for dozens of video segments. Experts include Lee Moss, president of Franklin Synergy Bank, speaking about credit and debt, and Jackie Morgan, senior economic and financial education specialist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta– Nashville branch, discussing budgeting.


ur students need to learn how to make smart financial decisions when they graduate.” —Keith Gamble

Students learn to create budgets using current and projected income based on their career path. The course features a free open-source textbook and real-life personal finance scenarios in storytelling form. The immediate impact was an enrollment jump to 70 students, up from 20 when it was a hybrid on-campus/ online course. Many students were unable to attend traditional courses due to work or child care. “Students’ comments were ‘I love that everything we’re learning I can use in my life. I see how this relates to me and how it can help me,’” Gamble said. “It is a template for building a personal financial plan.” He plans to expand course access to the general student population. At right, Keith Gamble produces an online course in personal finance.



Retta Gardner




ssociate Professor Amy Harris was named the Greater Nashville Technology Council (NTC) Champion of the Year. In 2018, she spearheaded a partnership between MTSU’s Department of Information Systems and Analytics and the NTC to establish the Middle Tennessee Tech research program to provide industry, government, and academic audiences data on the local technology workforce. The 2018 State of Middle Tennessee Tech report highlights tremendous past and projected growth in regional tech jobs and details data on 26 occupations. Publications in 2019 will include four white papers on tech sub-specialties of the greatest local interest (analytics, health care IT, information security, software development).


he report is used by economic development organizations and businesses to recruit and plan and by academic institutions to assess degree programs and curriculum.” —Amy Harris

Harris serves on the board of Women in Technology Tennessee (WiTT). Since she joined the organization in 2016, WiTT has awarded almost $80,000 to women pursuing technology careers in middle Tennessee. In her role on the steering committee for the Nashville Analytics Summit, Harris coordinates MTSU student volunteers to staff the conference, giving them an opportunity to network and learn from industry leaders.

Tim Downey

At left, Amy Harris studies the middle Tennessee IT workforce. Jessica Turner


2017 | 312019 | 29



rank Michello, director of the M.S. in Finance program, was honored with the 2019 John Pleas Faculty Award for demonstrated excellence in teaching, research, and service. He boasts more than 30 years of experience teaching mathematics and finance, and he founded and developed the M.S. in Finance program. Michello also was recognized as an unsung community hero at the 2019 Unity Luncheon for his contributions to education. Former master’s student Kyle Motley said he considers Michello a friend who stands out because of “his caring nature for his students.”


TSU has provided me the means and the opportunity to develop my academic and professional career and to be the best that I can be. I am blessed to be able to do the job that I love and to love the job that I do.” —Frank Michello

Michello’s research interests include emerging markets, financial accounting, market microstructure, working capital management, portfolio performance evaluation, and risk management. His previous awards include the 2018 MTSU True Blue Citation of Distinction for Achievement in Education; Outstanding Faculty Member in the Economics and Finance Department, 2002–03; Distinguished Assistant Professor, 2002–03; and Superior Faculty Advisor for 2006–07 from the Financial Management Association.

At right, Frank Michello accepts the John Pleas Faculty Recognition Award.





embership in Beta Gamma Sigma is the highest honor a business student can receive at an AACSB-accredited school. MTSU’s Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS) chapter received 2018 High Honors distinction. Honors student Matthew Cureton (Management B.B.A., ’19) was awarded a scholarship to attend the 2018 BGS Global Leadership Summit in Chicago, where speakers covered a range of topics including entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership, and professional business tips.


ur team had to create a solution for a six-county area where multiple hospitals were going to be closed down. Our winning solution was to have one major hospital between two of the major cities (to benefit from economies of scale) and a smaller emergency clinic in the middle of the rural counties.” —Matthew Cureton

Cureton’s team placed first among 40 teams in conference case competition. His major contribution to the team’s winning recommendation was data analysis. Judges included the CEO of Beta Gamma Sigma and the president and CEO of AACSB International. Jones College of Business holds dual AACSB business and accounting accreditation, placing it among the top 1.5% of business colleges worldwide.

At left, Matthew Cureton’s team won the case competition at the Beta Gamma Sigma Global Leadership Summit.


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Charles Apigian DATA S C I E N C E I N S T I T U T E


rofessor Charles Apigian, who has served on the Information Systems and Analytics faculty since 2002 and as department chair 2013–17, is interim director of MTSU’s Data Science Institute. The new institute places MTSU at the forefront of data science regionally and nationally in education and research in four strategic areas: ■■


Interdisciplinary collaboration. Big data research. Current projects include iPassenger research concerning perceptions of self-driving vehicles and a big data initiative with Nielsen marketing. Real-world projects provide students hands-on experience working with faculty to hone skills.


ompany reps say ‘I have all this data, but I have no idea what it’s telling me.’ So we’re going to visualize and explore the data and then make models and predictions.” —Charles Apigian ■■


Industry and government partnerships. The institute examines data to add business value that may not be immediately apparent. The institute analyzed Hytch data to help the company make better strategic decisions during its startup. Community outreach. The institute analyzed Second Harvest data to improve the nonprofit’s warehouse efficiencies and partnered with the Murfreesboro Police Department to help predict burglaries.

At right, Katrin Ghobrial and Reuben Krukrubo work with Charles Apigian (r).




Charles Baum S TAT E R E P R E S E N TAT I V E


n January, Economics Professor Charles Baum was sworn in as Republican state representative for Murfreesboro’s 37th District in the state House of Representatives. The district covers parts of north central Rutherford County, stretching from Murfreesboro north to the county line. Baum previously served from 2010 to 2018 on the Rutherford County Commission, where he chaired the Audit Committee and served on the Budget, Finance, and Investment Committee.


am honored to have been elected to represent District 37 in the Tennessee State House. I am excited to serve, as we work to find innovative ways to provide education and improve health care while budgeting responsibly.” —Charles Baum

A member of the Jones College faculty since 1999, Baum served as chair of Economics and Finance from 2008 to 2014. In the field of labor economics, he studies employment trends, earnings and wages, labor force participation rates, retirement decisions, worklife expectancies, and employment benefits. Baum’s research has been cited by Bloomberg Businessweek, U.S. News & World Report, and the New York Times. The U.S. Department of Labor used results from his research on state legislation providing paid parental leave at the 2015 White House Summit on Working Families. At left, Charles Baum serves Murfreesboro’s 37th District.


2017 | 372019 | 37



s the Jones College nominee, Yolanda Greene received Rutherford Cable’s 2018 ATHENA Young Professional Award. Serving in Rutherford County, she is First Tennessee’s youngest and first African American female community bank president. Greene represents First Tennessee in partnerships with Jones College and is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council. First Tennessee contributes annual financial support for the college’s scholarships, Dean’s Summer Social, Back to Business Courtyard Bash, and pre-conference reception and business awards ceremony. The bank also provides nonfinancial support by offering financial literacy courses for students through the IGNITE professional development program.


ones College of Business instills and encourages a work ethic that will not only teach students skills and the ability to learn but also confidence allowing them to reach their goals.” —Yolanda Greene

A Leadership Rutherford graduate and Young Leaders Council member, Greene serves on the boards of the Rutherford County United Way Young Leaders Society, Murfreesboro Breakfast Rotary Club, Rutherford County Boys and Girls Club, and Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce. Appointed by former Gov. Bill Haslam to the Tennessee Board of Regents, she was recognized in Nashville Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 and Murfreesboro Magazine’s Women in Business. At left, Yolanda Greene shows support for Jones College.


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n MTSU’s recognition of 2018–19 outstanding alumni, the True Blue Citation of Distinction for Service to the University went to Tom and Martha Boyd, who established the Tom and Martha Boyd Endowed Lecture in Ethical Leadership in Jones College in 2011. The Boyds’ vision was realized in 2016 with a weeklong inaugural event involving faculty, students, alumni, and business leaders. Tom and Martha Boyd Ethical Leadership Week has grown to engage more than 30 community leaders and hundreds of students speaking candidly about ethics challenges in business. From this vision, a student ethics organization also has been formed.


om and Martha Boyd Ethical Leadership Week is seen as a key initiative that helps Jones College of Business prepare students not just with technical knowledge but also with integrity and real-world skills.” —Jones College Dean David Urban

Tom Boyd, a member of the Jones College Dean’s Advisory Council, helped the assistant dean for assessment and assurance of learning to convene a panel of alumni to evaluate the B.B.A. and M.B.A. programs. In 2011, Tom received the Jones College Exemplar Award, which is presented to a Jones College alumnus whose personal and professional accomplishments demonstrate that future MTSU graduates can also achieve at a high level. n At right, Tom (’72) and Martha (’72 and ’73) Boyd accept the True Blue Citation of Distinction for Service to the University.



“ Before enrolling at MTSU, I had little knowledge of supply chain management as a profession. Thanks to the knowledgeable, dedicated faculty, I quickly gained interest in this dynamic field. The emphasis each professor placed on real-world application and job readiness is what most prepared me for excellence in my current role. I’m thankful for this program.” —Austin Janke Management B.B.A., ’17 Purchasing Analyst Nissan North America

Concentration prepares in-demand workforce

by Cliff Welborn


ones College of Business now offers an undergraduate concentration in Supply Chain Management as part of the Management major, providing students a better opportunity to compete for the numerous supply chain jobs in middle Tennessee. Local industry representatives recommended the formal concentration and helped to develop courses for it. Supply chain management was identified by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce as one of five industries that drive the middle Tennessee economy and by the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce as one of the county’s five high-wage, high-demand career choices. Tennessee’s central location in the eastern United States makes it attractive to firms specializing in supply chain and distribution services. Twenty-four states and 50% of the U.S. population lie within 650 miles of Nashville. These location advantages translate to one- and two-day truck delivery times to more than 75% of all U.S. markets. The demand for supply chain professionals in middle Tennessee is greater than the supply of college graduates who are trained in the field. Career options include supply Chris Zilly chain analyst, buyer, planner, inventory control specialist, logistics specialist, and capacity analyst. The program includes courses in supply chain, distribution, sourcing, project management, and continuous improvement. For students and professionals interested in continuing their supply chain management education, MTSU also offers an M.S. in Management with a Supply Chain Management Concentration. For more information about the concentration, contact Cliff Welborn at cliff.welborn@mtsu.edu.


“ MTSU’s supply chain program is full of relevant real-world examples that can be used immediately in the workforce. Classes such as Lean Project Management, Distribution Center Management, and Strategic Decision Making furthered my supply chain knowledge and gave me the tools needed to work with our internal and external stakeholders to solve many of the challenges facing our operations at the Nissan plant in Smyrna.” —Chris Zilly Management B.B.A., ’17 Supply Chain Manager Nissan North America 2019 | 43

“ I truly enjoyed my time at MTSU. The mentorship I received from the Jones College of Business teaching staff was more than I could have hoped for. They definitely exceeded my expectations, and I felt 100% equipped to step out into the real world. I would highly recommend MTSU and Jones College.” —Theresa Huntley Marketing B.B.A., ’16 Realtor Crye-Leike


Jones College responds to community sales needs by Jimmy Hart


aunched in fall 2018, the Professional Selling Concentration in the Department of Marketing has already experienced a lot of growth, said Marketing Instructor Laura Buckner. Through her work as coordinator of the internship program, Buckner said she speaks with numerous companies “and what I hear time and time again is, ‘We need students who can go out and be the face of our brand and build these relationships.’”

acquisition and retention. The past three years, MTSU has participated in the State Farm Invitational Competition at the University of Central Missouri.

Buckner cited a report from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission indicating “thousands” of entry-level sales positions will open up in Tennessee over the next few years.

Students can take four courses in the concentration: entrylevel Professional Selling, followed by Advanced Selling, Sales Management, Laura Buckner and Business to Business Marketing courses. The courses are MT Engage and Experiential Learning courses in which students develop skill sets “they’ll use everywhere they go,” for job interviews or for management and leadership positions they obtain, Buckner added.

The IGA Office of Professional Sales in Jones College will benefit from a yearly $20,000 commitment for five years from Jamie Noe, founder and owner of Nashvillebased IGA. Noe hopes the office’s enhanced student outreach efforts will attract top scholars, build the sales concentration “into a nationally recognized program, and because of the program’s quality, help more students get high-caliber sales jobs across the country.” About half of Noe’s 20 employees are MTSU alumni. Four MTSU students work in his paid internship program. Junior and senior students selected for internships receive hands-on training in IGA’s insurance sales and customer service and may serve as a talent pipeline for the company, which serves clients across the nation. The IGA funds also support an MTSU student-led competitive sales team that allows students to travel to other universities for competitions. Students in the Advanced Selling class taught by Professor Lucy Matthews participate on the team, going through mock scenarios and case studies that also include marketing strategies and other aspects of customer


“Students get feedback from professionals and coaching from our business partners. It’s a real confidence booster and a great networking opportunity,” Buckner said of the contests. “They can connect with businesses that are looking to hire people who can generate revenue.”

For more information on the concentration, visit mtsu.edu/programs/marketing, or contact Laura Buckner at Laura.Buckner@mtsu.edu.

Mel Adams State Farm Agent Sales Lab The Mel Adams State Farm Agent Sales Lab is named in honor of the alumnus (’61) and retired longtime State Farm agent who supports the University and its new Professional Selling concentration. The tworoom space is equipped with high-definition cameras, computers, software, and workplace furnishings similar to a professional office setting. Students and faculty record mock interviews and sales calls and analyze their performance to improve skills. Adams and other State Farm agents funded a $50,000 endowment to support the lab. A majority of those agents are MTSU alumni, and some will serve as mentors to Jones College students.

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Jones College Advising Staff



From left, Paula Calahan, Danielle Swartz-Koufman, advising manager Gretchen Leming, Lyle Morris, secretary Kirstie Boyd, Kayli Jacobs, Joshua Sampson, Amie Donahue, graduation analyst Melissa Hawkins, Emily Yttri, Abby Davis, Jackie Walker, and Amber Bollinger


Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage


Permit 893 Nashville,TN

1301 E. Main Street, Box 101 Murfreesboro, TN 37132

“Jones College put me on a path to success.” “ MTSU gave me the resources, knowledge, and support to transition from my job as a sales representative of 11 years into a career as an executive sales specialist for the largest generic drug manufacturer in the world. Choosing to obtain my M.B.A. from MTSU has already provided a substantial return on my investment.” —Dwayne Williams II, M.B.A., ’18 Executive Sales Specialist, Teva Pharmaceuticals

Profile for MTSU Business and Economic Research Center

Enterprise MT 2019  

The magazine of Jones College of Business, Middle Tennessee State University

Enterprise MT 2019  

The magazine of Jones College of Business, Middle Tennessee State University

Profile for mtsuberc

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