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Taking Flight – April 2021

Message from the Dean

“In the race for excellence, there is no finish line.”  I saw this quote on a statue during a recent visit to Dubai. I believe I mentioned that visit in a previous newsletter but, at the time, had not yet seen this statue or read this quote. Nevertheless, it struck a chord with me because it captured so much of my philosophy about the Parker College, about the teaching and research we do here, and about the business of higher education, that I wanted to talk for a moment about it.

Many of you will remember that the Parker College of today was once just the College of Business. Before that, back in the days when I was a student here, it was the School of Business, and, before even that, it was the Division of Business. We’re bigger than we used to be with more accomplishments, stronger students, and better facilities. But it’s important to remember that our name and status are merely snapshots of where we are today. The larger story is the arc of evolution and growth that brought us to this moment in time. We are not the culmination of history; we are merely passing through history. The same is true of our teaching and scholarship. Our tools, methods, and practices are more sophisticated than ever, and our expectations and outcomes are stronger than ever before as well. Here, again, though, we were blessed from the start, given a strong foundation from which to work, and endowed with all the knowledge and insight of those who came before. The same is true of business education and the business of business education. We attract great students and faculty, produce great human and intellectual capital, and drive great value in our region and in the marketplace at large. But, years from now, the things that we are accomplishing today will be eclipsed. Others will come behind us and improve on the work we have done. They’ll look back on us with quaint appreciation but also with the knowledge that they have taken what we left them and made it better in much the same way that we have built on the foundation that was left to us. That’s not to take away from our predecessors; quite the contrary, it is to honor them.

I suppose the point of all this is to remember, as I said earlier, that we, as individuals, are merely passing through history. We are not its culmination. Georgia Southern and the Parker College will outlive us all, and we hope that, over the long arc of its history, this institution will continue to evolve, improve, change, adapt, and grow, as necessary to provide increasing value to the people and businesses of this state, region, and country. And, all the while, just as the quote suggests, the institution and the people in it should be guided and motivated by the principle of continuous, ongoing, and adaptive improvement. We pursue excellence every day, in every moment and in every action. But we never fully achieve it because we know that tomorrow, someone a little smarter and a little faster, using better tools and enabled by better technology, will pass us by. That shouldn’t discourage us; instead, it should encourage us. We are playing a part in the arc of history. We have the opportunity to pursue excellence and, in our season, to move the ball just a little further down the field. Whether we are faculty, student, staff, or alumni, we have the opportunity to take what we have been given, improve upon it as best we are able, and then hand it off, stronger and better, to the next generation. That’s our philosophy and that is why we work, every day, to make the Parker College the best it can be.

Alumni Spotlight – John Shuman

by Amy Sowder, The Packer

John Shuman, president and CEO of Shuman Farms, Cobbtown, Ga., has been named the 2020 Grower of the Year by the Vidalia Onion Committee.

Shuman has contributed to the industry for more than 25 years, according to a news release.

His father, Buck Shuman, began growing Vidalia onions in the 1980s, and John Shuman took over in the early 1990s, rebuilding it from the ground up after the national farm crisis of the previous decade.

Today, Shuman Farms is one of the largest growers of Vidalia onions in North America, according to the release.

“In the last quarter century, John has played a leading role in building the Vidalia onion brand to become the country’s most iconic vegetable,” committee chairman Aries Haygood said in the release. “But even more importantly, John and his family have devoted considerable time and energy giving back to the community.”

Shuman earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Georgia Southern University, is a former chairman of the Vidalia Onion Committee, former chairman of the board of the Southeast Produce Council and a former member of the Georgia Ports Authority Board of Directors.

In 2002, Shuman founded Produce for Kids, now called Healthy Family Project, which has raised more than $7 million to benefit children and families, according to the news release.

Shuman Farms also donates annually to Feeding America and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Shuman thanked his wife, Lana, for her support, and other Vidalia onion growers for their advice along the way.

“As you know, it takes a village to do what we do, so this award goes to everyone at Shuman Farms. I want to especially thank my brother Mark for his dedication and leadership,” Shuman said in the release.

Vidalia onions have grown in popularity since their discovery in the 1930s. Federal regulations and state laws allow the name “Vidalia” to be placed on only sweet onions grown in 20 counties of southern Georgia from a distinctive Granex seed and packed and sold on, or after, the official pack date each year.

This variety has a sweet, mild flavor and is hand-cultivated by 60 registered growers, according to the release.

Vidalia onions represent about 40% of the sweet onion market and are sold nationwide.

Yuminami to Play and Coach for Pro Team in Japan

from Statesboro Herald

Georgia Southern men’s basketball guard Eito Yuminami has agreed to a contract to play and coach for Nagasaki Velca in Japan.

Yuminami will graduate from Georgia Southern with a degree in business management this summer and start his pro career in July. Nagasaki Velca is a new team that will compete in the B League, the only league in Japan, and is set to open a new arena in 2024. In addition to playing for the pro team, Yuminami will be a youth team coach for the organization.

“I am very fortunate to say that I get to begin my pro career with Nagasaki Velca from the start,” said Yuminami. “Without the help from my family, coaches, teachers and friends, I would not be where I am today. At the end, they all taught me one thing – ‘Never Give Up’ mentality. I hope I get to share the mentality with as many people as possible both on and off the court. I cannot wait to start this journey with Velca!”

A three-year letterwinner for the Eagles, Yuminami played in 22 career contests and shot 56 percent from the field, 60 percent from 3-point range and 87 percent from the free-throw line. He was a two-time selection to the Sun Belt Commissioner’s List.

“The words cannot express how thankful I am for this university,” said Yuminami. “Born in Japan, raised in North Carolina, a complete stranger to Georgia Southern, but you guys welcomed me with a warm heart. Thank you guys for an unforgettable three seasons. #GATA #HailSouthern”

Pi Sigma Epsilon Virtual National Convention

From March 31–April 11, students from Parker College’s Gamma Lambda chapter of Pi Sigma Epsilon (PSE), the national’s only professional fraternity for men and women in sales, marketing, and management, competed in the fraternity’s Virtual National Convention. Originally scheduled to be held in St. Louis, MO, the on-site national convention was redesigned to conduct all competitions virtually.

PSE Members participated in several competitions at the Convention, including the fraternity’s signature competition—the Pro-Am Sell-a-Thon®, PSE’s National Speakers, and two brand new competitions: the Mutual of Omaha Interview Competition and the New York Mets/Milwaukee Bucks Professional Sports Selling Competition. For the first time in the fraternity’s 69-year history, alumni were invited to compete in these virtual competitions. Finalists for the National Awards Program and for the National Education Foundation Scholarship Program competed on site as well. PSE announced winners of 19 different categories in the National Awards Program and awarded more than $35,000 in scholarships.

Parker College students Jasmine Guerra and Emily Dixon competed in the inaugural Mutual of Omaha Interview Competition, a mock-interview-based contest. In addition, Jasmine competed in the National Speaker’s Competition, which allowed her an opportunity to practice her public speaking skills, and the Pro-Am Sell-a-Thon® National Convention Competition making her the first Parker student to ever compete in three different PSE competitions at the same event. Also competing in the Sell-a-Thon, a role-play event, were Emily Dixon and Giovanni Garcon.

PSE extends its deepest gratitude to its corporate partners, volunteers, and students for making the Virtual Convention possible. With chapters on 170 campuses throughout the U.S., PSE has enriched the lives of more than 50,000 people since its inception in 1952. For more information on Pi Sigma Epsilon, go to

Finance Association Hosts Guest Speakers from Bloomberg and CAT Financial

The Finance Association (FA) started its Spring 2021 Guest Speaker Series off with an outstanding virtual visit from Bloomberg LP Currency and Economics Market Specialist Stephen Jonathan on Wed., Feb. 17, 2021. Prior to joining Bloomberg in 2009, Mr. Jonathan spent many years at Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase, and Citi (formerly Citibank). Jonathan has spent the majority of his career in the emerging markets, currencies, foreign exchange, and global markets areas. He earned his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and has taught at Seton Hall University as an adjunct instructor.

Given the recent administrative change, Jonathan spoke specifically about how such a transition can impact different sectors or industries depending upon the amount of “headwind” or “tailwind” a particular administration can create given specific initiatives. He also discussed ESG investing and how Bloomberg can help investors identify suppliers and customers for specific firms. In addition, Mr. Jonathan talked to the students about the potential future relevance of Cryptocurrency as an alternative investment. Further, he introduced several different tools and resources within the Bloomberg system that can help with analysis. For example, he discussed the new high frequency data sets available on Bloomberg (e.g., restaurant table reservations). These datasets allow for real-time assessment of macroeconomic conditions in contrast to existing data, which have a significant time lag. Jonathan also answered a variety of student questions to wrap up the session.

On March 31, former Finance Association member Hunter Lyle (FIN, 2014), senior corporate portfolio analyst with CAT Financial, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Caterpillar, Inc. spoke to the FA. Hunter, who is in the process of earning a graduate degree from Auburn University, worked at Truxton Financial before joining CAT Financial. He is also a sergeant in the Tennessee Army National Guard, serving as a medic, and a new father.

During his presentation, Hunter discussed how CAT Financial fits within the larger Caterpillar, Inc. organizational structure and the role CAT Financial fills in the marketplace. He discussed his job requirements, which include risk management, corporate reporting, and portfolio portals, and specifically advised students to increase their technology skills while stressing the importance of a graduate degree. Hunter further emphasized the importance of being proficient in data analytics and how helpful those applications are in his day-to-day business. In addition, he discussed pros and cons associated with working in larger firms as compared to smaller firms. Having only been in industry for about seven years, Hunter shared details regarding his experience in transitioning from college to professional work as well as balancing his military requirements. He admitted from a student question that he wished he had been more serious about college sooner and that students should constantly work on building their résumés, networks, and connections. Hunter confided that he has begun investing in real estate and has several rentals in the Nashville area and answered some questions about how he was able to start that enterprise in conjunction with everything else in which he is involved. Finally, Hunter discussed several internship programs and job opportunities with CAT Financial such as the Finance Foundation Program.

For more information about the Finance Association and its guest speaker program, contact Axel Grossmann, Ph.D., Freeman Chair of Free Enterprise and professor of finance, at

SEF Top Sales Award

The SEF Annual Magazine’s 15th anniversary edition has named the Georgia Southern University one of the “Top Universities for Professional Sales Education.” Citing the Parker College Center for Sales Excellence and its concentration in sales and sales management, the magazine noted that Georgia Southern is the only university that awards Huthwaite’s Academic SPIN Selling Certification. SEF Magazine also stated that our sales and sales management concentration “reflects the … [Georgia Southern] culture of engagement that bridges theory with practice, extends the learning environment beyond the classroom, and promotes student growth and life success.” 

Said Sally Stevens, executive director, SEF Annual Magazine, “We can also celebrate the courageous efforts of these sales programs as they have charted new territory to ensure that students are well-served in spite of the pandemic. We hope that the 2022 Annual [magazine] will be celebrating ‘a new normal.’”

For more information about the Parker College Center for Sales Excellence, the sales and sales management concentration, or Huthwaite’s Academic SPIN Selling Certification, contact Linda G. Mullen, Ph.D., or Lindsay Levine, Ph.D., co-executive directors, Center for Sales Excellence, at or

Fidelity Investments VP Is Guest Speaker for Classes

On April 1, Ms. Stephanie Eikenberry, VP, CFP, branch leader at Fidelity Investments (Hilton/Charleston) spoke to students in Rongrong Zhang’s, Ph.D., professor of finance, financial institutions and markets class.

She returned on April 13 to speak to Zhang’s principles of corporate finance class. At both events, Ms. Eikenberry shared insights about working on the retail side of financial services industries, interview processes for entry-level positions at Fidelity Investments, and how the firm helps clients construct portfolios in an uncertain environment. She then responded to students’ questions about job interviews and specific skills required in financial services industries.

Faculty/Staff News

Katie Pham, Ph.D., assistant professor of finance, was interviewed by WTOC about setting up a budget. You can view the video here:

Chris Brunt, Ph.D., associate professor of economics, was appointed as the Solomons Chair of Economics. The Solomons Chair was established by the family of Shirley and Philip Solomons to assist in attracting and retaining outstanding and impactful scholars in the field of economics. Congratulations, Chris!

Jacqueline Eastman, Ph.D., professor of marketing, Yuan Li, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing, and Hyunju Shin, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing, had their manuscript, “Is It Love or Just Like? Generation Z’s Brand Relationship with Luxury,” accepted for publication in the Journal of Product and Brand Management. Great work, all!

Last updated: 1/17/2023