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Taking Flight – April 2020

Message from the Dean

One thing I’ve done in this season of working virtually is go back and reread some “classic” pieces from the scholarly literature. It’s a fact of academic life that, over time, our focus narrows as our specialization grows. As a result, we devote less time to some of the older works that truly fascinated us early in our careers. An example of this is a piece published in the American Economic Review in 1966. Written by Harvey Leibenstein, the article was titled, “Allocative Efficiency vs. X-Efficiency,” and set off a firestorm of criticism and argument. It also sparked some innovative thinking, however, with implications for us today.

To explain, let me start with this: “x-efficiency” is the gap between ideal and actual allocative efficiency. Think of it in terms of your time during a typical day. If everything goes perfectly and according to plan with no interruptions, no mistakes and no surprises, then you might have an “ideal” day in terms of your schedule. In reality, though, days rarely unfold that way. Instead, most days we encounter things we didn’t expect. We make some mistakes that have to be corrected; we deal with issues that weren’t anticipated; and we’re occasionally surprised at things and, so, have to adapt our plans accordingly. Given all of that, our “actual” efficiency is frequently quite different from the “ideal.” The question, though, is, which of the two is truly better? Presumably, the ideal is better because it provides greater productivity and greater “allocative efficiency.” But, it was this presumption that Leibenstein challenged, and it was this challenge that sparked such controversy. How could the less productive alternative actually be better?

Well, think for a moment about our world today. Globally interconnected supply chains have been disrupted by the shock of the pandemic. Had those supply chains been a little less efficient in the ideal sense, might the system have had enough slack to absorb a shock like this? How about the efficiency of our educational model with large numbers of students packed into classrooms, dormitories and dining halls; we were certainly efficient at processing students. But, did that efficiency create prime conditions for the spread of a virus? Once again, had we been somewhat less efficient, might we have been somewhat better off overall? Or, return to the example of time. Faculty and staff are used to working full days productively, focused on teaching, researching, advising, consulting, etc. That efficient and productive system provided little spare time to create new platforms or to imagine new ways of delivering content and professional development. But, we never noticed until we were surprised by this random event. None of this is to be critical of ideal efficiency but rather to suggest that shocks like this can be useful in jogging creativity and sparking innovation in our thinking and practice.

So, if rereading Leibenstein has reminded me of anything, it is that serendipity has real value. We are occasionally offered the opportunity to be productively surprised. The problem is that we are often running so fast and working so hard that we barely notice. So, while we struggle through this pandemic together, I encourage everyone to think less about how quickly we can return to productivity and efficiency and to think more about how we can use this moment to stimulate innovation on how to build better systems and provide better value.

Alumni Spotlight – Hunter Lyle

Hunter Lyle (FINC, ’14) is a senior corporate portfolio analyst at Cat Financial, Caterpillar Inc.’s finance subsidiary. He works for the Risk Department and on SEC and exposure reporting. Hunter especially likes working with the firm’s global offices and really enjoys forming relationships all over the world. In addition, Hunter serves as a medic in the Tennessee National Guard, which he joined after graduating from Georgia Southern. He has found serving in the Guard to be a great experience. Currently, as part of his Guard duties, Hunter is helping with the fight against COVID-19. 

Hunter credits the wealth of knowledge in many different areas that allowed him to “pick his [professors’] brains” and focus on his favorite parts of finance that his Parker College professors provided as having a big impact on preparing him for his career. Along with a good group of peers and Axel Grossmann, Ph.D., professor of finance, Hunter is proud to have helped create the Georgia Southern Finance Association in his senior year at Georgia Southern. He also fondly remembers attending Eagles football games as a student.

In the future, Hunter wishes to continue moving up in both his civilian and military careers. He also hopes to retire before 50 and travel. In the meantime, Hunter spends most of his spare time working on his master’s degree but, time permitting, enjoys going to the dog park, re-watching “The Office” and traveling.

Eagle Executive Spring 2020 issue available in Digital Commons

The spring issue of the Eagle Executive magazine is now available in Digital Commons for download.

Visit to read it now.

Rebecca Hooper

No Paulson? No Problem! Says Georgia Southern Senior

from the University Newsroom

When Rebecca Hooper, a senior marketing major at Georgia Southern University, heard there would be no graduation ceremony at Paulson Stadium this year, she decided to build her own.

In Minecraft, that is.

On Tuesday, March 17, during spring break, Georgia Southern announced the cancellation of its in-person Spring 2020 Commencement ceremonies for Statesboro and Savannah. Since that time, the University has announced an online ceremony for graduates on May 8 and 9 and hopes to be able to hold a rescheduled in-person ceremony on or before commencement in December.

As the news broke, Hooper and her friend were playing Minecraft, a “sandbox” video game which allows users to create digital worlds where they can build as many landscapes and structures as they like. As they played the game and chatted online, Hooper had what seemed like a crazy idea.

“I was like, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we built the stadium?’ I just said it as a joke at first, but then the next day rolled around and I started on it. And then it kept on going and going and I couldn’t stop,” she said.

Two days later (and more than eight hours of digital construction), Hooper had created Glenn Bryant Field and the home side of the stadium. She also built a commencement stage complete with a jumbotron that said, “Hail Southern! One More Time!” Knowing that no ceremony would be complete without Freedom’s Flight, Hooper added “Freedom” on the stage. However, the closest thing she could find to the University’s bald eagle mascot was a green parrot, who let out a little squawk and bobbed up and down.

Hooper posted a flythrough of the stadium on Twitter, with a comment that said, “Georgia Southern said no graduation in Paulson. I said Minecraft graduation in Paulson #HailSouthern.” The response was immediate and overwhelming.

“We don’t deserve heroes like you,” said one student. “This is amazing! Hail Southern!” said another. WTOC TV responded, too, asking Hooper if they could share her work with their viewers.

“I posted on Twitter and Facebook and both of them blew up,” said Hooper. “On Twitter it has 1,395 likes and 22,000 views. I was not expecting that on my tiny little account.”

Hooper has big plans for her virtual stadium. She’s planning on doing some online tours through Twitch, a video game playthrough app. She’s also invited her friends to help her finish building the stadium, complete with Bishop Fieldhouse, press boxes, sky boxes, and the large parking lot where she hopes to invite people to build their own virtual tailgating structures.

“A tailgate graduation sounds awesome,” she said.

All told, Hooper has put more than 20 hours into the project so far, and plans to keep working on it, inviting people to help or visit, and hosting tours for her fellow graduates. Some of her friends tell her she’s crazy to spend all this time on a pet project, but she says she doesn’t see it that way anymore.

“Yeah, this is what I’m born to do in life,” she said, laughing. “I had a lot of fun doing it. It didn’t seem like a lot of work to me. It was just me completing a service for my fellow seniors.”

Another story about Becca Hooper can be found at

Gabrielle Beasley

Parker College of Business Students Receive $15K in Scholarships

Two accounting students in the Parker College of Business at Georgia Southern University received individual scholarships totaling $15,000 to help with their academic careers.

Gabrielle Beasley, a junior accounting student from Powder Springs, was awarded a $10,000 scholarship from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), and Roy Willamson, an accounting major from Statesboro, received $5,000 from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) Foundation.

“Being the recipient of the PCAOB Scholarship has given me a true sense of accomplishment,” Beasley said. “To know that my hard work and dedication have garnered me such an honor is breathtaking.”

Beasley was nominated by her professors for the PCAOB scholarship, which is awarded to a student with an overall GPA of 3.3 or higher or place in the top third of their overall class. The PCAOB encourages educational institutions to give special consideration to students from historically underrepresented populations in the accounting profession.

“Gabbie has an outstanding GPA, she’s a top student and has an impressive résumé,” said Assistant Professor Andrea M. Scheetz, Ph.D., who nominated Beasley. “She works parttime as a leasing agent at a local apartment complex, will intern with Ernst & Young this summer and participate in Aprio’s Summer Leadership Program. She’s a wonderful student.” 

Beasley is also a member of the University Honors Program, the National Association of Black Accountants and the Minority Advisement Program. 

Roy Williamson

Williamson received the ACFE Foundation Scholarship through the Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship. Students who receive this scholarship have displayed academic achievement in accounting, finance, business administration or criminal justice and have a desire to pursue a career in fraud examination or similar anti-fraud profession. Additionally, the scholarship recipients receive a one-year ACFE Student Membership.

“It is a great honor to receive this scholarship,” said Williamson. “The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners is comprised of those on the front lines fighting against fraud, and, as reflected in the naming of the Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship, those who have given everything in the fight. 

“It is a sobering thought, but one that pays respect to Tracy Ritchie and Larry Jennings, who, in 1997, lost their lives while working in Pakistan as a result of a terrorist attack,” he continued. “The Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship represents the next generation of fraud examiners, a generation that I am proud to be a part of through my studies and career. I could not have gotten this far without the support of my family, friends, coworkers and professors.”

Men’s Tennis Honors Three Business Seniors


The Georgia Southern men’s tennis team recognized three seniors Saturday virtually through social media platforms.

Diego Finkelstein put his mark in the Georgia Southern record book on Feb. 14 at Stetson. A win over the Hatters’ Linus Bergevi during the 2020 season gave the Sao Paulo, Brazil, native his 73rd overall singles win to tie Eddie Landin for second in all-time wins in school history. He also holds a career doubles record of 66-53, putting him in a tie for third in all-time doubles wins. The senior won the Georgia Southern University Athletic GPA Award in 2019, was named to the 2018-19 Sun Belt Conference Academic Honor Roll and was named All-Sun Belt Conference for Doubles in 2018.

Murphy McCullough amassed 58 singles win in his Eagle career, good for 10th all-time in GS history. The team’s lone Georgia native was named Sun Belt Player of the Week in 2020 on Feb 12, achieved a 2020 season high ITA doubles ranking of #47 with partner Santiago Suarez , won the Georgia Southern University Athletic GPA Award in 2019 and was named to the 2018-19 Sun Belt Conference Academic Honor Roll.

Santiago Suarez finishes with 47 career singles wins as an Eagle. The Puebla, Mexico, native also achieved a 2020 season high ITA doubles ranking of #47 with McCullough, won the Georgia Southern University Athletic GPA Award in 2019 and was named to the 2018-19 Sun Belt Conference Academic Honor Roll.

All three athletes helped guide the Eagles to an undefeated 12-0 record at home in 2017. The team finished 19-12 that season and made it to the second round of the Sun Belt Championship Tournament.

Seniors from the men’s tennis team are weighing their options and are taking time to decide if they will return for the 2021 season.

Parker College of Business Has Experts in Business and Logistics

The coronavirus COVID-19 situation is certainly new to all of us. As guidance from the CDC has changed and instructional methods transition, experts in the Parker College of Business can help to answer questions such as

  • How should we best address this pandemic as a nation from a business standpoint?
  • How should we best address this pandemic individually when it comes to personal finances?
  • What is the economic impact of the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)?
  • How do you best manage employees virtually?
  • Why are grocery stores having trouble keeping inventory on their shelves? Should we prepare for a lapse in groceries and goods? 
  • What contributes to the fear and panic in disasters and pandemics?

Available Experts

Panic and Panic-Buying, and the Public
Lindsay Levine, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor, Department of Marketing
  • As a social psychologist, Levine’s research interests are focused on the nonconscious, automatic processes that act upon consumer emotion, judgment, and decision-making. This interest has led to research projects on consumer mood states, design fluency, and the influence of activated mindsets, among other topics. Her work has been published in a variety of academic journals, and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal.
    Fear During Natural Disaster: Its Impact on Perceptions of Shopping Convenience and Shopping Behavior

COVID-19 and Logistics, the Economy and the Workforce
Alan Mackelprang, Ph.D.

  • Professor, Department of Logistics & Supply Chain Management
  • Availability: pending
  • Current director of the Ph.D. in Logistics and Supply Chain Management program, his research interests include examining interdependencies among supply chain partners, JIT/lean production, manufacturing flexibility as well as supply chain integration.

Scott Ellis, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor, Department of Logistics & Supply Chain Management
  • Scott Ellis’s research interests center on the study of purchasing and supply management processes and functions. He has published in the Journal of Operations Management and Journal of Supply Chain Management, among others.

Richard McGrath, Ph.D.

  • Professor of Economics, Parker College of Business
  • Professor McGrath researches immigration, consumer survey methodology, and applied microeconomics. He is a longtime expert on the economy in Savannah and the Coastal Empire.

Michael Toma, Ph.D.

  • Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Economics
  • Toma is responsible for the quarterly “Coastal Empire Economic Monitor,” a closely-watched economic report. Toma’s community ties are also strong in the area. He serves on the board of directors of United Way of the Coastal Empire and on the organization’s Executive Committee as chair of the Community Investments Committee.

Axel Grossmann, Ph.D.

  • Professor, Department of Finance
  • Axel Grossmann, professor of finance, completed his Ph.D. in finance at the University of Texas Pan-American and holds an MBA from the University of Texas Pan-American and a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Applied Sciences, Giessen-Friedberg, Germany. He joined Georgia Southern University in 2013 after holding positions at Radford University and at the University of Texas Pan-American and researches international and corporate finance.

David Sikora, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Management
  • Availability: virtual and phone interviews
  • David Sikora’s research interests include strategic human resource management and the business impact of employee management practices. He has published his research in such journals as the Journal of Applied PsychologyLeadership QuarterlyHuman Resources Management ReviewInternational Journal of Selection and Assessment, and International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management. Prior to his academic career, Sikora had extensive corporate experience in human resources and marketing including serving as human resources vice president at Cigna Corporation and director of human resources product management at Gevity HR, Incorporated.

Steven Charlier, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor and Department Chair, Department of Management
  • Availability: phone and virtual interviews
  • Charlier’s research interests are focused on the modern work environment and include virtual teams, e-learning, leadership in a virtual world, and management education. His work has been published in several leading international academic journals, including The Leadership Quarterly, Human Resource Management, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Academy of Management Learning & Education, and Human Resource Management Review.

Steve Lopez, right, winner of the Parker Regional Sales Competition, stands with the other top competitors, Joe Armenta, center, from Georgia Southern and Luke Eyrich from Augusta University.

Parker College of Business Students Gain Real-World Experience Through Networking Events

Georgia Southern University senior marketing major Steve Lopez was able to see his skills gained in the classroom come full circle when he placed first in the second annual Parker Regional Sales Competition (PRSC). 

“This competition gave me so many new opportunities and skills that I don’t think I could have gained any other way,” Lopez said. “From learning how to prepare for these kinds of events with my team to executing them to the best of my ability, I got a chance to apply the sales strategies I learned in both of my sales classes, which I think is very important to do if you want to actually master these skills.” 

The competition, hosted by the Parker College of Business’s Center for Sales Excellence, is a developmental event, providing sales students with the opportunity to demonstrate their selling skills through simulated sales role-play. It also gives students the chance to hone their skills prior to national competitions. The event drew sales teams from around the region including Augusta University, Georgia College and State University, Georgia Gwinnett College and University of South Carolina Beaufort.

“The skills I gained from competing made me realize the importance of everything our professors teach us,” Lopez said. “I benefited by getting some real practice and seeing what things I do great but also what things I need to work on. It also gave me a platform where I could show what kind of salesperson I am capable of being for all of the companies that attended.”

In addition to Lopez, Georgia Southern student Joe Armenta placed second, while Luke Eyrich from Augusta University placed third. As the top three finishers in the competition, they won prize money and clothing from custom suit company Tom James.

The Center for Sales Excellence also hosted its Eagle Sales Showcase Boot Camp (ESSBC) at which employers and sales students participated in a speed networking event that allows students to hone their interviewing skills.

The PRSC and ESSBC also provide an opportunity for students to gain individual feedback from industry experts and network with sponsoring companies. The companies in attendance were able to observe students engaging in real-life, role-play scenarios and recruit them for current or future sales openings or internships. Both events were held in conjunction with the University’s Eagle Expo Career Fair.

Georgia Southern’s Business Students Suit up for Competition!


by: Patty Turner

SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV) – When you hear “pitch competition,” what do you think of? Probably, a bunch of choral groups singing their hearts out, thanks to those popular Pitch Perfect movies. But, at Georgia Southern University, there’s a whole different meaning to that. It’s a competition that really makes their Parker College of Business, one of the best in the country.

Check out what our Bridge cameras were able to capture on a recent visit to the Statesboro Campus.

SIA Hosts Virtual Stock Pitch

From Axel Grossmann, Ph.D., professor of finance

The members of Southern Investment Association (SIA) held a virtual Stock Pitch, Saturday, April 18, demonstrating that these unprecedented times cannot halt their dedication toward learning outside the classroom. After almost seven hours of virtual fun, 11 presentations and a lot of discussions, the student organization rebalanced its portfolio and included 11 new stocks into the portfolio. John Hatem, Ph.D., professor of finance, and I could not be more proud of the group. Special thanks to the alumni, Emil Laursen, William VanSant and Samuel Russell, who joined us.

Finally, Tyler Collins received this semester’s Nathan Ashcroft Scholarship. Congratulations and thanks for all you do for the SIA! Well deserved! Thank you, Nathan Ashcroft, CPA, for your continued support of the group. 

Georgia Southern Alumni Encourage Community, Adapt Small Business in Trying Times

from the University Newsroom

For many small businesses, closing storefronts due to the Coronavirus pandemic has meant losing revenue and contact with customers. Focused on using art to boost the spirits of those in their Sandy Springs community, art studio owners and college roommates Sandra Lewis (MKTG, ’92) and Kris Bleiler (ACCT, ’91) are using the current crisis as an opportunity to offer new ways for their business to inspire and connect.

Lewis and Bleiler franchised a Sips n Strokes art studio in 2011. They have recently had to temporarily close their three art studios due to the current crisis. After losing their revenue source, they decided to use their business to reach those sheltering in care facilities without contact with family and friends. “We saw news stories about nursing homes and how they were quarantining, not letting in any volunteers or family,” said Lewis. “I thought how lonely must [the residents]… feel, and, so, we started Color for a Cause to offer free downloadable coloring sheets.”

“This is something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and we thought, here’s our chance,” said Lewis. “We switched our focus to take-home kits, and, in the first week, we sold a couple hundred. By the second week, we [had] sold 600.”

They are grateful for their core customer base which includes other Georgia Southern alumni.

“The connections we’ve made through the Georgia Southern Alumni Association Atlanta Network have been invaluable to us,” said Lewis. “When you meet other alumni, you want to help them how ever you can. And we have met people through the alumni association who will be lifelong friends.”

Through philanthropy, strong customer connections and a willingness to adapt, Lewis and Bleiler have found the formula to press forward with their small business and encourage others to do the same. “Allow yourself a little time to grieve what you’ve lost in this trying situation, which is what we did,” said Lewis. “And then dig deep to find a way to make it work. Think outside the box, and, even if you’re not able to be open right now, find ways to keep your business name out there.”

Logistics Company Engages with Students in Product-Driven Supply Chain Workshop

In February, Arrive Logistics led a workshop, presenting information on the freight industry to students in the supply chain management program. The workshop was hosted by the Georgia Southern Logistics Association and the Southern Center for Logistics and Intermodal Transportation. 

One of the activities conducted involved Arrive leading students in a discussion on the differences in logistics and supply chain processes. As a result, differences in product types were examined, highlighting differences between the candy, condiments, nuts and beverage/food categories. Further, Arrive’s managers led students through a supply chain activity focused on the logistics dynamics involved in the flow of ingredients that are combined to produce sub sandwiches—given Arrive provides supply chain services to various suppliers from whom restaurant and grocery chains source ingredients. Arrive also provided sub sandwich meals for the students in order to facilitate an illustrative experience, allowing students to identify the different components of the sandwich and engage in the exercise with an understanding of the variety of item types involved in that product’s supply chain (e.g., flour, meat, plastic wrap and constituent chemicals). During the activity, the students were able to use a device of their choice to conduct research on how each ingredient in the sandwich was made, along with the types of equipment and processes needed to produce each item. Finally, the students discussed each of the supply chain processes used in producing a sub sandwich, why the individual item was produced in that manner, and provided recommendations on the most appropriate mode of transportation for each particular ingredient, along with an explanation.

Following the illustrative exercise, Arrive Logistics presented career opportunities at the company to the students, giving them “A Day in the Life” scenarios for various roles within the company and identifying additional roles Georgia Southern students could fill in the company, like carrier sales, logistics support, IT and fresh produce sourcing.

Throughout the workshop, students were able to see principles learned in the classroom put to work in real-world scenarios and were required to engage problem solving and critical thinking skills.

“This kind of workshop is a win-win for all involved. The students get to work and think through supply chain issues that allow our industry partners, in this case Arrive Logistics, to engage with our students, thereby identifying talent,” stated Marc Scott, Ph.D., assistant professor of logistics and supply chain management. “Further, the Logistics and Supply Chain Department better gain[ed] further insights into what industry firms are looking for in students, while also identifying scenarios and business cases that can be leveraged to facilitate applied learning in the classroom.”

Arrive Logistics, based in Austin, TX, operates a logistics company that offers GPS tracking, online tracking and carrier monitoring and supply chain services to a variety of customers.

Parker Business Alumni and Faculty Host Lunch & Learn

On Tuesday, April 21, Bari Bridges (MBA, ’12) of Wells Fargo and Ben Dukes (FINC, ’08) of UBS, along with Bill Wells, Ph.D., associate professor of finance, hosted a Lunch & Learn through Georgia Southern University’s Alumni Office on “Managing Your Financial Health.” The event, hosted on Zoom, started at noon and lasted about an hour. During this time, attendees asked questions about getting started with investing, qualifications and skills to look for in a financial planner and received tips from the Certified Financial Planners on things to consider and other things to avoid when investing.

For future events like this, follow the Parker College of Business on Facebook

Parker College of Business Announces Winners of Faculty and Staff Awards

Following a virtual faculty and staff meeting on Friday, April 24, Dean Amason announced the winners of the Parker College’s annual awards. Recipients of the awards were nominated by their peers within the college and will receive a monetary award. In all, about $43,000 was awarded to enhance the outputs of the college and recognize the best of the best. Below are the 2020 award winners.

Nancey Price, Business Innovation Group Entrepreneurial Outreach Award
Amie Ellis, Ron and Barbara Shiffler Instructor Award
Michael Cuellar, Ph.D., Jean C. and David G. Spoolstra Faculty Award       
Lindsay Larson, Ph.D., Jane White Marketing Scholar Award
Marc Scott, Ph.D., Parker College of Business Faculty Enrichment Award
Bob Hoell, Ph.D., Bank of America Faculty Development Endowment Award
Axel Grossmann, Ph.D., J. Daniel Speight, Jr. Banking Excellence Award
Allissa Lee, Ph.D., M. Albert Burke Banking Endowment Award
Jeff Schiman, Ph.D., Donald D. Howard Excellence in Business Award
Maliece Whatley, Michael W. Skinner School of Accountancy Excellence Award
Brit McKay, Ph.D., Dabbs, Hickman, Hill and Cannon Scholar Award
Stephanie Sipe, J.D., Dabbs, Hickman, Hill and Cannon Scholar Award
Lainie Harris, J.D., Olivia Suggs Flanagan Faculty Fellowship Award
Gloria Stuart, Olivia Suggs Flanagan Faculty Fellowship Award
Charles Harter, Ph.D., Porter Keadle Moore, LLP Faculty Fellowship Award
Dwight Sneathen, Ph.D., Porter Keadle Moore, LLP Faculty Fellowship Award
Karen Wells, The Tomlinson and Bond Families Award of Excellence
Jackie Eastman, Ph.D., Gary M. Davis Excellence in Business for Excellence in Research Award
Linda Mullen, Ph.D., Martin NeSmith Faculty Award for Excellence in Service
Christian Rossetti, Ph.D., W. A. and Emma Lou Crider Award for Excellence in Teaching
Christopher Brunt, Ph.D., William A. Freeman Professor of the Year Award

LaShai Campbell
(MBA, ’16; MAcc, ’15;
ACCT, ’12)

Alumna Receives University Staff Award

The University’s Awards of Excellence for Faculty and Staff are aligned with the University’s Strategic Pillars and Values and designed to identify and celebrate individuals that make outstanding contributions to the success of Georgia Southern University. A total of 25 awards are available annually, and this year, the review committee awarded 18 recipients. Of those 18 recipients, LaShai Campbell (MBA, ’16; MAcc, ’15; ACCT, ’12) received the Community Engagement Award. The Community Engagement award was designed to give recognition to those who display outstanding community engagement in support of the University. Each recipient of a University Award of Excellence will receive a University Medallion and $1,000 to be used for professional development. Congratulations, LaShai!

LaShai Campbell
Community Engagement Award

Budget Analyst I, Russell Union

LaShai Campbell, a budget analyst in the Russell Union Facilities and Event Services office, cares for a lot more than numbers. In 2017, she co-founded the nonprofit organization Restoring the Breach, Inc. with her husband to bridge gaps in the community between youth, residents and college students. Their organization provides several programs to benefit the community such as literacy programs, financial counseling, baby showers and school supply drives, and assists at the local soup kitchen and health fairs. 

Not only does Mrs. Campbell actively collaborate with community and student leaders, she serves on the front lines. She diligently leaves work every Tuesday and Thursday to tutor K-12 students at the local library. Additionally, she serves on the board of the Bulloch County Commission on Human Services, and works with the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health to provide quality wellness programs to the community. 

Perhaps most importantly, Mrs. Campbell motivates and mentors Georgia Southern students to become involved in the community as well, either by advising the Restoring the Breach student organization or connecting them with other outreach opportunities. One student remarked, “She has pushed and motivated me to be a leader and example at Georgia Southern. Because of LaShai, I have developed professional experience and personal growth in my community.” 

Another student wrote, “I’ve watched myself grow in terms of the care I now exhibit for others and the lengths I see myself willing to go to simply make someone’s day…The heart she has and the care she exhibits for others is not only astonishing to watch, but something that (we) should work towards implementing in our day-to-day lives…I feel at home for the first time since being at Georgia Southern.” 

Mrs. Campbell continues to make an impact on students at Georgia Southern and in Statesboro. Another of her students put it best: “LaShai taught me that there is no limit to the good that empathy and hard work can do for a community.”

BIG Offers Businesses Resources During Uncertain Economic Times

The Business Innovation Group (BIG), a center of the Parker College of Business, houses the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Georgia Southern University, the Center for Business Analytics and Economic Research (CBAER), the FabLab and the Innovation Incubator. BIG’s focus is to provide students and the community with the skills, training and resources needed to successfully launch and maintain sound business practices.

During these uncertain times and in an effort to help area business owners and community leaders, BIG has compiled a list of resources regarding the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Stimulus (CARES) Act, along with other helpful tips.

A few key takeaways of the CARES Act are

  • The Small Business Administration made $349 billion available in loan guarantees to eligible small businesses with a maximum loan amount of $10 million over 10 years.
  • The Payroll Protection Program offered a 2.5 time monthly average deferral
  • A provision in the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) calls for a $10,000 advance grant for eligible small businesses.
  • EIDL loans are over 30 years at a 3.75 percent interest rate
  • Eligibility for these programs has been extended to include sole proprietors, independent contractors and nonprofit organizations.
  • The Economic Development Administration has made available $1.5 billion through its Economic Adjustment Assistance program for eligible communities faced with an economic decline resulting from COVID-19.
  • The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development program has made $20.5 million in loans available and $25 million for telemedicine and distance learning services.

Additional business resources can be found on Senator David Perdue’s webpage, the U.S. Small Business Administration resource page, the Georgia Small Business Development Center, and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

To view all of the resources compiled by BIG, visit

A Local Economy in Serious Flux

from Connect Savannah

Georgia Southern’s Economic Monitor examines Savannah metro outlook

By Rachael Flora

The Economic Monitor can be found at

There’s a lot of buzz about the economy right now, and rightfully so.

In the past two weeks, millions of Americans have filed for unemployment. Savannah hotels, usually filled to the brim this time of year, are at about 6% capacity.

On top of that, the Georgia Southern Economic Monitor’s fourth quarter report was released last week, reporting a strong finish to 2019 but predicting a big slowdown in the first half of 2020.

What does it all mean? Should you be worried? What next steps should you personally take?

Michael Toma, Ph.D., is here to help.

Toma, the Fuller E. Callaway professor of economics at Georgia Southern, is behind the economic monitor, which analyzes data and identifies trends that affect our Savannah metro economy. He released the Q4 report last week.

He says the three main economic indicators leading the surge in the last quarter of 2019 were port activity, electricity sales, and tourism. The report predicts a modest slowdown in growth for the first quarter of 2020.

Because the report is of the final fiscal quarter of 2019, this slowdown was predicted before any of the effects of COVID-19 were beginning to take place.

“The slowdown does not mean go into a recession,” explains Toma. “Slowdown means deceleration, so the rate of growth was going to slow a little bit. That was the projection prior to all of our lives getting turned on our heads by this virus that’s going around.”

The economic monitor uses seasonally adjusted data, which means that fluctuations we see in our own local economy, like a slow tourist season in the winter, is factored out. The projected slowdown was based on other factors.

“Labor market indicators and housing market indicators were a little softer in Q4, and I think consumer confidence started to wane a little bit,” says Toma, “so just enough to turn things flat, but not related to the normal seasonal cycle we see every day with our eyes. Statistically, that data [are]… removed.”

So, when we will begin to see the effects of COVID-19 on these economic reports?

“I’m anticipating that at least through the end of April and probably halfway into May, we’re going to see significant shutdowns in the economy,” predicts Toma. “We do have a few indicators we can look at, and the rest is basically back-of-the-envelope type calculations.”

One factor Toma points to is the hotel occupancy rates in Savannah, which have suffered a reduction of over 90%. That decline likely mirrors the tourism industry here, which is a major driving force of our economy.

In turn, because tourists aren’t eating at our restaurants or buying gifts at our retail stores, those industries will slow down as well. Toma estimates that retail sales will likely decline by 30 to 40 percent, but that’s’ a rough estimate that will most likely be refined when the April data comes in.

Another factor is the unemployment rate, which nationally hit 6.6 million last week.

“At the national level, that’s up by a factor of about 25,” says Toma. “We went from about 270,000 weekly claims to 6.6 million. At the state level in Georgia, that factor is about 20—we went from about 6,700 to about 132,000. That’s a factor of 20 in two weeks.”

Based on that math, if the factor of 20 holds, Savannah will go from 500 monthly unemployment claims to 10,000 claims.

“If 10,000 people end up on the unemployment rolls, that’s going to push our unemployment levels at least to the 8-10% range, up from about 2.6%,” says Toma.

How can we get out of this certain economic crisis? The most important thing right now, Toma says, is filing for unemployment insurance benefits and making use of other fiscal policy programs available to you.

The fiscal stimulus package recently passed by the government includes $500 billion that’s available as direct payment to individuals, and $200 to $250 billion in unemployment insurance benefits.

Toma emphasizes that many of the requirements to file for unemployment have been waived, such as the work search requirement, and that individuals should check the Georgia Department of Labor’s website to find out what else they may qualify for.

Additionally, $350 billion in lending facilities and lending credit has been made available to small businesses. Eligible businesses can apply for and be approved for a loan in the same day, and the loans are forgivable if they are used primarily to pay wages.

“There’s an enormous amount of money being made available to small businesses, which is where a lot of us end up working,” says Toma. “Those small businesses really ought to be focusing on, how can I get the credit I need to get over this?”

That’s why the stimulus package is so important: it helps us get through this.

“Right now, we’re in a very uncertain economic time, and the idea is to create a bridge from where we were before this happened back to where we were when it started,” says Toma.

“It’s meant to get us past this point in time, which is unprecedented. We’ve never seen the economy shut down so fast ever, period. So, what we don’t know is how long this is going to last.”

We can gather some clues from the Chinese economy, which is beginning to start back up again, and our country’s history of pandemics over the past century, which follow the pattern of a V-shaped recovery: a sharp decline and a relatively sharp recovery.

“The story I’m telling about a sharp decline in Q2, partial starting recovery in Q3, and more substantial recovery in Q4, that’s fairly consistent across most economic forecasts,” says Toma.

“Of course, just because that’s what everybody is saying doesn’t make it right, but I think conceptually it makes a lot of sense.”

Class Notes

Dustin Ford (FINC, ’08), Springfield, joined Queensborough National Bank & Trust as assistant vice president and the branch manager in Rincon. He has more than 10 years of banking experience and is a licensed professional in the investment and insurance industry with seven years of experience. Dustin is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys spending time with his wife and two children.

Kate Gary (LOGT, ’01), Augusta, has joined Alison South as account director, where she will manage the account team and lead marketing action plan strategies and build client relationships.

Rodney Lawton (IS, ’05), Valdosta, has joined Copeland, Haugabrook and Walker law firms as an associate attorney. His research interests include property law, criminal law and tort law.

Daad Rizk (MBA, ’97), University Park, PA, is director of the Sokolov-Miller Family Financial and Life Skills Center at Penn State. To read more about Rizk, visit

Parker Webb (FINC, ’07), Charleston, SC, has joined CresCom Bank as a mortgage loan originator. He has 15 years of financial industry experience. Previously, he was a private mortgage banker with Wells Fargo & Co.

In Memoriam

Dale Moldenhauer (IS, ’84), Deland, FL.  

Faculty/Staff News

Dominique Halaby, DPA, was quoted in WalletHub’s piece about the easiest credit cards to get approved for. To view the article, visit

Jason Beck, Ph.D., associate professor of economics, was featured in WalletHub’s article about states with the highest unemployment due to Coronavirus. To read the article in its entirety, visit He also was featured in an article about the best credit cards that can be found at

Jie McCardle, Ph.D., assistant professor of management, recently had her paper, “Cognitive Foundation of Diversity Management: Bridging the Gap Between Aspiration and Reality,” published in the American Journal of Management, volume 20, issue 1, 2020. Congratulations, Jie!

Duong “Katie” Pham, Ph.D., assistant professor of finance, was featured in WalletHub‘s piece about credit cards for students with bad credit. To view the article, visit

Last updated: 1/17/2023