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Taking Flight – February 2020

Message from the Dean

The business world is an exciting place. I suppose that’s one of the reasons the Parker College is full of students. Most grow up watching family, friends or others working somewhere in the world of business. They see opportunities to earn a good living, to develop professionally and to grow in experience and influence. They likely see opportunities to make a difference, to create new products or services, and to lead in a positive and powerful way. So, when it comes time to go to college or choose a major, something that is business related seems natural. 

But, as I sit this morning and think about the business world, I’m taking a more abstract and macro view. The excitement I see, from that figurative perch, is really the accumulated effect of all those individuals, doing what they do, each using their own individual skills and talents and working on their own individual jobs and projects. One of those accumulated effects is the remarkable abilities provided by our technologies. People today have more information at their fingertips than ever before. It’s staggering to think that virtually any question can be answered or any product can be bought, with just a few swipes and taps. Speaking of which, I’m stunned that most any product we buy, from most anywhere in the world, can be delivered to us in just a matter of days or, in some cases, hours. I’m amazed that the world, as big as it is, is now so accessible to so many. As I think about it, I have close friends and contacts on five of the world’s continents. These are people I could call or visit, at most any time. Never in history has so much of the world been so accessible to so many people. 

Finally, I’m amazed by the lives so many of us are now living. We, and by we, I mean hundreds of millions of people around the world, are enjoying things that our ancestors could not have imagined, much less attained. What I’m thinking about here are things like running water, central heat and air conditioning, and the ability to forecast and prepare for the weather. While we still have a long way to go, more people around the world are enjoying more of these comforts than ever before. And, so, as I sit this morning and think about all of this, I’m both thankful and keenly aware that we, in the business world, are playing a role and making a positive difference.  

How are we doing that? Well, by doing our parts well and to the best of our abilities. We’re doing our jobs, applying our skillsets to provide good value, treating our customers well and trying to anticipate their needs. We’re leaning into problems, not accepting the status quo but looking steadily for opportunities to improve. And, we’re pushing to do all of that cheaper, faster and better than we did the day before. All those things together, practiced by millions and millions of individuals, working independently, but together, in the world of business, have made the world a better place. I, for one, find that exciting. And, I am ever so appreciative that I, working together with everyone in the Parker College of Business, can contribute to it.   

Alumni Spotlight – Brit Lanier

Briton Lanier (MAcc, 2012; ACCT, 2011) began his career in the audit practice at EY in Houston, Texas. After a few years, he pursued an opportunity with a boutique equity research firm focused on the upstream oil & gas sector. Once he decided it was time to return to the Atlanta area, Brit rejoined EY as a member of the Transaction Advisory Group before moving to Alvarez & Marsal as part of the Energy & Infrastructure team. Currently, his role involves assisting private equity and strategic clients with their merger and acquisition activities. Brit’s responsibilities are always changing depending on the deal he is working on, which keeps work fun and interesting. Most of the time, he focuses on analyzing financial information for prospective acquisition targets and assisting clients with building out financial models and purchase agreements. Even though it is always a big challenge to adapt to the different environments—both in the office and in new cities—throughout his career, Brit has greatly enjoyed developing new skills and meeting new people. Meeting with the management team of an acquisition target, especially when the founder still maintains a large presence, is the best part of his job since it is always fascinating to hear, firsthand, about the idea that led to the creation of a business. Brit is truly proud of the choices he has made in his career that have allowed him to have new experiences. It may have been challenging to move to new and unfamiliar cities and companies, but, each time, he was able to develop new relationships even in unfamiliar environments.

According to Brit, Georgia Southern has had a large impact on both his professional and personal growth. While in college, he was able to connect with people from all over the world, learning both from the professors and other students’ experiences. His professors encouraged him to think through the logic behind academic concepts, which prepared him well for the challenges he has faced throughout his career. Brit’s favorite classes always involved a great deal of discussion and real-world examples of the material. In his undergraduate studies, his most memorable class was international accounting with Britton McKay, Ph.D., professor of accounting, while Stephanie Sipe’s, JD, professor of legal studies, business law class in graduate school was definitely a favorite. Both of these classes primarily involved reading through materials and defending his view point during class. Overall, Brit does not believe he would be where he is now without the skills he developed while in the Parker College of Business.

Recently, Brit has begun to focus on renewable energy investments. In the future, he hopes to build on the knowledge he has gained with the goal of becoming a true expert in this area. In his spare time, Brit enjoys watching Eagles football, spending time with family and friends, and traveling to new places.

Front Row Seat to History: Georgia Southern Liberty Campus Student Attends 2020 State of the Union

from the University Newsroom

While the world watched the 2020 State of the Union address by President Donald Trump from their living rooms, Georgia Southern first-year student Jaiden E. Thompson witnessed the historic event from a balcony seat at the United States Capitol with U.S. Representatives, Senators and Supreme Court Justices on the floor level below her.

“The event was surreal,” said Thompson. “I remember watching past State of the Union addresses on the television with my grandfather, so seeing them in person was mind-blowing.”

U.S. Representative Buddy Carter, who serves Georgia’s first district, invited Thompson, a management major on the Liberty Campus, and her mother to attend the State of the Union address as his guests. “It was amazing,” she said. “I had so much fun with Buddy Carter. He introduced me to many other Representatives and members of Congress. I also got to attend two receptions with him and my mother in a beautiful room on Capitol Hill filled with other Representatives and their guests.”

Thompson caught Carter’s attention as a recipient of the prestigious Gold Award Girl Scout in 2019. A Girl Scout in Hinesville, Georgia, for 13 years, Thompson was honored for her outreach work, including a project, Community of Care, which offers a personal hygiene closet, a clothing closet and a school supplies closet to a local school with low-income students with behavioral or emotional disorders. There is also a prize room full of candy, snacks, stickers, book bags and toys, where students, ages 5 to 21, can earn items for good behavior.

“My project was geared toward helping those who were in need of personal hygiene items and school supplies and blossomed into the school uniforms closet and a prize room,” said Thompson. “I selected my project after I became aware of some of the challenges families experience through the school’s social worker, who reached out to my Girl Scout leader. When the opportunity was presented to me I knew I could make a beneficial change for others. It has been my honor to bring my community together to give.” With the help of local businesses, Thompson designed flyers and organized drives to encourage donations, which poured in from area churches, small businesses, teachers and even her classmates. 

“The children at the school greatly appreciated me putting together these closets,” she said. “Their favorite is the prize room but the most appreciated one is the personal hygiene closet. Seeing the children at the school love the closet so much filled me with happiness and joy to see that I am capable of changing lives.”

Thompson, who chose to attend Georgia Southern based on its flexible schedules, proximity to her home and a recommendation from her alumnus father, hopes to continue making a positive impact on her college community as a member of the Black Heritage Month committee and aspiring peer leader.

Her goal is to continue to learn, grow and support others throughout her educational journey.

“I believe Georgia Southern will help prepare me for my career by continually educating me and exposing me to new experiences,” said Thompson. “I love learning and taking what I’ve learned and passing the knowledge on to others. I always want to be a positive and influential role model.” 

Logistics Students Compete at Regional ASCM Case Competition

During the weekend of February 15, David Vaughn, Ava Dove and Santiago Suarez traveled to Atlanta to compete in the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM) regional competition, hosted by Deloitte Consulting LLP. The competition provides student teams with an opportunity to enhance and test their supply chain knowledge by working on end-to-end supply chain challenges drawn from company experiences.

The team qualified for the regional competition by being in the top eight of the first round. In this regional round, the students received the case, which involved analyzing processes in an automotive supply chain to improve production lead-times and demand sensing, in the morning. They had six hours to pull their solution together and were then given six minutes to present with two minutes for questions.

As the only undergraduate team at regionals, David Vaughn said, “It was a fantastic experience, unlike any of the other case competitions I have competed in before. It was a great chance to test our mettle against actual professionals in the field and show that Georgia Southern is ready to compete on a higher level.”

U.S. News & World Report Recognizes Georgia Southern Business Programs

Georgia Southern University’s online programs in the Parker College of Business were recognized among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, a recognized leader in college and graduate school rankings. 

The Parker College of Business’s online MBA tied for the 59th spot on the Best Online MBA Programs list and also tied for the 37th spot on the Best Online MBA Programs for Veterans list. 

U.S. News also ranked the College’s online non-MBA business programs — Master of Accounting (MAcc) and Master of Science in Applied Economics (MSAE) — No. 50 in the nation. 

The publication ranked more than 1,200 online programs evaluating only regionally accredited institutions offering mostly or entirely online programs. The ranking used five categories: engagement, expert opinion, faculty credentials and training, student excellence and student services, and technologies. All programs within the Parker College of Business are accredited by the AACSB International, the gold standard of business school accreditation.

To learn more about the graduate business programs at the Parker College of Business, visit

Parker College of Business Recognized for Top Degree Programs in the U.S.

Georgia Southern University has been awarded top-ranking status for multiple degree programs by, while the Parker College of Business has been recognized for four of its programs. Georgia Southern was listed among hundreds of other competing institutions across the nation. The student-focused comprehensive research guide is based on an assessment of 1,604 accredited colleges and universities. Each program is evaluated based on curriculum quality, graduation rate, reputation and post-graduate employment. 

The 2020 rankings are calculated through a unique scoring system that includes student engagement, potential return on investment and leading third-party evaluations. analyzed hundreds of schools with comparable programs on a scale of 0 to 100, with Georgia Southern making it onto the final list for 15 degree programs. The methodology uses an algorithm that collects and analyzes multiple rankings into one score to easily compare each university’s degree program. Please visit the listed sources below to access each program’s complete ranking.

The Parker College of Business at Georgia Southern University has been recognized for the following degree programs:

MBA Degree Programs | Ranked No. 1

Master’s in Economics Degree Programs | Ranked No. 1

Master’s in Accounting Degree Programs | Ranked No. 9

Accounting Degree Programs | Ranked No. 10

The Parker College of Business is AACSB accredited, offering graduate and undergraduate degree programs in various business disciplines to include accounting, economics, enterprise systems and analytics, finance, logistics and supply chain management, management and marketing. The School of Accountancy is separately accredited by AACSB. To learn more about the Parker College of Business and its program offerings, visit

Alumna Presents TEDx Talk

Kelley Gonnella Chester, DrPH, (FINC, ’93), and Triple Eagle, recently presented a TEDx Talk as part of TEDxCentennialParkWomen on “Why Is Life Expectancy Declining for Women?”

In her TEDx Talk, Kelley shares her research and explains the factors behind the decline and gives strategies for women to reclaim their health and prevent this troubling trend.

“It was such an honor and a goal I was happy to check off the list,” Kelley said about her opportunity to present a TEDx Talk.

To watch, visit

Jason B. Ford Named to the Ranking of 2020 Best-In-State Wealth Advisors By Forbes

From Savannah CEO

Jason B. Ford, managing director–investments of Wells Fargo Advisors in Savannah, has been recognized as a 2020 Best-In-State Wealth Advisor by Forbes.

This accolade represents a list of professionals that come to work with one goal on their mind—helping their clients succeed.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by Forbes as one of the 2020 Best-In-State Wealth Advisors,” said Ford. “As investment planning has become more complex, my top priority is to work with my clients to develop strategies to help give them confidence around all facets of their financial lives and achieve their short- and long-term investment goals.”
Jason has more than 19 years of experience in the financial services industry. He holds a BBA in finance from Georgia Southern University.
The Forbes Best-In-State Wealth Advisor ranking algorithm is based on industry experience, interviews, compliance records, assets under management, revenue and other criteria by SHOOK Research, LLC, which does not receive compensation from the advisors or their firms in exchange for placement on a ranking. Investment performance is not a criterion.

Mike Toma Presents at 2020 Economic Outlook Luncheon

On January 17, Mike Toma, Ph.D., professor of economics, presented the Savannah-area forecast, while highlighting the role of Georgia Southern during the 2020 Economic Outlook Luncheon hosted by the Savannah Chamber of Commerce.

During his report, Toma said Savannah’s tourism and work at the Georgia Ports makes it a prime destination for business and growth. Business in Savannah looks good for 2020; however, the growth of the area is slowing. “Our Savannah market is the hottest market in the country for logistics and distribution development. There is no particular reason to think that it’s going to abate in the near future,” Toma said.

Helping with Your Taxes

from Statesboro Herald

Free income tax preparation and e–file is now available for taxpayers with a household income of $60,000 or less through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA).

The School of Accountancy at Georgia Southern University’s Parker College of Business and the IRS have partnered to bring the assistance program to Bulloch County. All tax returns are prepared and reviewed by accounting students and faculty who are IRS certified. 

IRS certified volunteers will prepare Federal and Georgia Income Tax returns during established sessions and the service is offered on a first come, first served basis. 

Dates of the sessions are available now through April 6 on these days: Mondays: 1–4 p.m. and Wednesdays 3–6 p.m. Saturday sessions are also available from 10 a.m.–1 p.m. on Feb. 22, March 7 and 28 and April 4. 

This is the first time this experiential learning class has been offered at Georgia Southern for course credit. Officials see the program as beneficial for both students and tax payers.

“Students are able to get real-world, tax preparation experience and learn to use tax preparation software,” said Gloria Stuart, lecturer in the School of Accountancy and a certified public accountant. They’re also able to develop their soft skills and learn to work in a team setting. All of these skills will benefit them as they enter the workforce.”

Chris Fly, a Georgia Southern graduate student from Duluth, said he believes the program is a huge benefit to students. Fly, who had just assisted Georgia Southern student Gregory Espy, a junior from Suwanee, said, “Interacting with real people as opposed to reading in a textbook is completely different.” 

Espy, one of many Georgia Southern students who have already taken advantage of the opportunity, said, “It’s a free, accessible resource that’s made available to help the community. It’s good for first-time tax filers and people who don’t know that much about filing. It was a great experience.” 

Most of the students serving as volunteers plan to pursue a career in tax accounting. Katherine Wagner, Marietta, and Glenn Carlson, Richmond Hill, manned the table to check in potential clients and both plan to pursue the tax field. 

“It’s great to get some practice and give back to the community at the same time,” said Wagner. “Doing tax preparation, growing into reviewing skills –it’s a great opportunity.”

Carlson added, “School teaches you a foundation, but it’s more abstract until you can actually do it. I’m big into volunteering. I like the feeling of helping people, so it’s been a fulfilling experience.” 

No sessions will be offered during Georgia Southern University’s spring break, March 16–20. 

All sessions are held at the City Center in downtown Statesboro, located at 58 East Main Street, Suite D. Volunteer assistance program signage will be visible to help participants locate the correct room.  A photo ID and Social Security card are required and a list of additional documents and paperwork needed are listed on the website

Georgia Southern Expanding Business Innovation Group in Downtown Statesboro

from WTOC by Dal Canady

The Georgia Southern University footprint in downtown Statesboro could soon get even larger.

A building that housed an antique store for decades could hold part of Statesboro’s future.

Dominique Halaby, from the University’s Business Innovation Group (BIG), says they’re hopeful a federal grant will help them turn the space into a place for fledgling businesses to grow.

“Not only does it breathe new life into an old building, it creates atmosphere that supports entrepreneurial growth in downtown Statesboro,” Halaby said.

The BIG already partners with the city’s downtown authority to offer a place for people to start a business. And it offers them help from University faculty and staff to grow enough to branch out on their own.

Halaby says the new building would [not only] offer more incubator room but also larger conference areas for the tenants and downtown community.

“It gives us new space, a place where local residents, local businesses are able to gather in downtown,” Halaby said.

The two million dollar grant would cover 80 percent of the cost. Halaby says it’s an investment that grows new businesses, jobs, and revenue for Statesboro.

Progress Continues on Business Incubator

from WTOC

An older building in Metter will have a new role in helping farm-related businesses get off the ground.

The old public works building in Metter remains a work in progress. Soon it will serve as an incubator, not for chickens and eggs, but for new businesses looking to grow.

The outside looks closer and closer to the design Georgia Southern University and the City of Metter have outlined. Inside, they’re dividing the old shop into individual offices for startup owners to rent. This incubator will mainly focus on agri-business, with a connection to the state department of Agriculture’s Georgia Grown program. The director says they’ll be able to offer resources and more to help businesses grow.

“Ag uses so many types of businesses, from accounting to graphics to so much more, marketing, so we can help them by focusing on that here,” said Economic Development Director Heidi Jeffers.

The first tenant, Better Fresh Farms, continues to grow hydroponic lettuce and other produce inside the climate control containers. They’re already planning to jump from four to 10 to handle the demand and help the incubator get bigger and bigger before it even opens.

They hope to have the offices and the rest of the building finished by summer.

Georgia Southern Staff Member Finds Passion in Collage Art, Hosts First Gallery Show

from the University Newsroom

Collage art is something that Georgia Southern staff member Nancey Price uses as a creative outlet to clear her mind from the hustle and bustle at work. She listens to calming music, lights incense and sits on a pillow in her living room while creating a unique piece of art from other materials she finds inspiring. 

“I spend a lot of time in my job being very analytical, working with a lot of people, experiencing a lot of moving pieces and running around,” she said. “But when I’m home with my art, it gives me a chance to focus on just one thing and allows my mind to be at ease and be creative. The meditative part of my collage art has probably been my favorite.”

Price works closely with many entrepreneurs in her role at the Business Innovation Group (BIG) located at City Center – Statesboro. This experience has shed new light on taking her passion for art to the next level. 

“This role has put me in an environment where I’m surrounded by people who want to do things for themselves and people who are entrepreneurial, and that has sort of sparked an entrepreneurial spirit in me as far as expanding my brand, creating a website and hosting art shows,” said Price.

While her art has been featured in publications like O, The Oprah Magazine, most recently, Price held her debut art show at the Rosengart Gallery in downtown Statesboro. She described her show, which ran from October through November, as an homage to her hometown of Girard, Georgia, growing up in the country, and spending time with family members and elders in her community. 

In addition to the inspiration she finds being surrounded by entrepreneurs, she finds support from her colleagues at BIG. BIG hosts a monthly Entrepreneurship Night event for business owners in the community, and in November, Price said the Director of BIG, Dominique Halaby, suggested having the event at Price’s debut art show at the Rosengart.

“My department has been very supportive in my ventures, and that just further strengthens the support that I have here not only as a creative but also as an entrepreneur,” she said.

Class Notes


Joshua “Josh” Fox (2011, MAcc, 2012) (Delta Tau Delta), Los Angeles, CA, is now working as a controller for Cypress Equity Investments, a national real estate developer in LA.

Kim Bernethy Hartsock (2000; MAcc, 2001), Suwanee, was appointed managing partner of the Atlanta office for the regional CPA and Advisory Firm Warren Averett.

Mary Lynn Murray (ACCT, 2018) and Reid Pennington (MGNT, 2016), Statesboro, will wed on Saturday, April 25, 2020.


Margaret Mitchell Costa (1976; MGNT, 1976), Jacksonville, FL, is now retired from Xyngular Sales, where she worked in direct sales.

Matthew “Matt” Steger (2004), Acworth, is the director of projects and IT for Inform Inc.


Dustin Mimbs (2004), Holly Springs, is the carrier strategy manager for Exide Technologies.


Larry H. Beasley (1980), Savannah, is retired from service as quartermaster for the Savannah Fire Department.

Russell Gunby (2016), Franklin, TN, is a service consultant for Darrell Waltrip Buick GMC.

Frank W. McIntosh III (1971), Loris, SC, is now retired.

Joseph “Britt” Britton Richey (2002; MKTG, 2002), Roswell, is a territory manager for Simpson Strong-Tie.

Bryan K. Saxton (2002), Catonsville, MA, is managing member of Saxton Law, LLC.


Jack “Phil” Phillip Aaron III (1990), Sharpsburg, is president and CEO of Phil Aaron State Farm Agency.

Emily Archer (2013), Charlotte, NC, is the national accounts manager at Wastequip LLC for the Toter Retail Division.

Brent Whitley Barbee (1998) (Kappa Alpha Order), Saint Simons Island, is principal and president of Conquer, a national media agency based in Georgia. He is married to Georgia Southern Alumna, Tonya Adamson Barbee, MSW, and has three children: Whitley (17), John William (14), and Sam (12).

Bill Bulloch (1991), LaGrange, has been named the new assistant city manager for the City of LaGrange.

Christopher “Chris” Eble (2005), Marietta, is the vice president of sales at OTR Capital, LLC.

Peter Lawrence Fraley (1995) (Pi Kappa Alpha), Marietta, is a regulatory and compliance manager for WIKA USA.

Corey Grant (2008), High Point, NC, is an operations manager for NAPA Auto Parts.


Walter Hampton Baxter (2009; BBA, 2007) (Kappa Alpha Order), Atlanta, is the strategic sourcing manager for Serta Simmons Bedding.

Aaron Traywick (2016), Atlanta, is a product engineer for Google.

Faculty/Staff News

Alan Mackelprang, Ph.D., professor of logistics and director of the Ph.D. program, along with his co-authors, received the Chan Hahn Best Paper Award in 2019 for their paper, “Effect of Capacity and Flexibility Constraints on Bullwhip Effect in Supply Chains.” Congratulations, Alan!

Jie McCardle, Ph.D., assistant professor of management, had her paper, “A Comparative Study of Social Comparison, Materialism, and Subjective Well-Being in the U.S., China, Croatia, and India,” published in the Journal of Business Diversity, volume 19, issue 5. Congrats, Jie!

In December, the Departments of Management and Marketing hosted Woojung Chang, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing at the University of Seoul. She presented her working paper, “The Effect of National Culture on the Relevance of Relational Benefits: A Meta-analytic Investigation.” Chang’s research interests lie in marketing strategy with an emphasis on customer participation in new product development, innovation and customer relationship management. Her articles have appeared in the Journal of Marketing, Journal of Business Research and Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, among others. She currently serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Global Scholars of Marketing Science.

Jackie Eastman, Ph.D., professor of marketing, along with Matthew Keane (MKTG, ’18), honors student in Fall 2018, and Rajesh Iyer of Bradley University, had their manuscript, “Predicting Adventure Seeking of Young Adults: The Role of Risk, Innovativeness and Status Consumption,” accepted for publication in Sports Management Review. Keane’s honors thesis combined his expertise of extreme sports with Eastman’s background in status consumption. Congrats, Jackie & Matthew!

Rick McGrath, Ph.D., professor of economics, was quoted on’s guide on travel credit cards. An excerpt of McGrath’s quote, “Should I pay off one credit card or reduce the balances on all debt? – Make minimum payments for cards with lower interest rates and pay as much as possible against the card with the highest interest rate until that balance is gone. Then move on to the card with the next highest interest rate. Put new purchases on a card with a zero balance and pay it off every month, or put purchases on the card with the lowest interest rate and pay down high-interest cards faster.”

Jackie Eastman, Ph.D., professor of marketing, has accepted to serve the Journal of Consumer Behaviour as the co-editor in chief. Her term started in January 2020 and will run to January 2022. Congratulations, Jackie!

Thomas Buckhoff, Ph.D., associate professor of accounting, was featured in WalletHub’s article about Chip and PIN credit cards. To view the article, visit

Tim Pearson, Ph.D., professor of accounting and director of the School of Accountancy, was also featured in WalletHub’s article about Chip and Pin credit cards. To view the article, visit

Rongrong Zhang, Ph.D., associate professor of finance, had her article, “Trade Credit, Cash Holdings, and Product Market Competition,” accepted and published in the Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance. She also had her article, “Business Strategy, Stock Price Informativeness, and Analyst Coverage Efficiency,” accepted for publication in Review of Financial Economics. Zhang has also been elected to serve on the Board of Directors of the Eastern Finance Association (EFA) as a director for a three-year term. The EFA is an interdisciplinary group of academicians, practitioners, government specialists and others with an interest in finance. Congrats, Rongrong!

Last updated: 3/12/2022