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Taking Flight – June 2020

Message from the Dean

We like things like certainty, reliability and consistency in our work and interactions; they are familiar and comfortable. When aggregated over hundreds or thousands of people and interactions, however, they also fuel suffocating inertia. So, what is the solution? How can we balance our desire for certainty and reliability with the need for flexibility and adaptability? How can we create a truly learning organization that can adapt and stay fit to a rapidly evolving market within the boundaries of our large and bureaucratic organizations? As with many things, we must start by looking at ourselves and the way we see and think about our work, our goals and the organizations we create as a result. For example, consider the need for profit. There’s nothing wrong with profit; indeed, without positive cash-flow and profitability, no organization can long survive. Even charities, churches and other non-profits have to pay staff, purchase materials, pay for utilities and rent, etc. But, how we think about profit can help to create a learning organization. Rather than trying to maximize profit or positive cash-flow, why not try to find the minimal amount of profit necessary to sustain the organization? Whatever remains, between the minimum and maximum, could then be reinvested into the relationships with suppliers or customers or put into research to identify new products, processes and opportunities. Think about how we see ourselves and the other members of our team or organization. We like to get along, and, so, we tend to think that consensus is important for a good operation. But is that really true? Granted, we must have some minimal level of consensus, or chaos will result. But, how about consensus on just a few, key values and priorities and then a healthy measure of diversity and disagreement on others? The resulting dissent and the ongoing debates could serve to trigger creativity, to raise awareness and sensitivity, and to prevent the creeping onset of groupthink.

As counterintuitive as it may seem, the real secret to a truly learning, adaptive and self-sustaining organization is learning to minimize the things that we’ve often thought we should maximize, things like affluence, consensus, contentment and consistency. To put this in somewhat less academic jargon, the key to an adaptive, flexible and thriving organization is a culture built on humility, diversity, openness and curiosity. These characteristics are often common in start-ups and new, entrepreneurial organizations that are urgently and immediately connected to the marketplace. But, time, size, success, policy and legacy tend to drive these things out. Our challenge, then, here at the Parker College, and at every organization that aspires to greatness, is to find a way to create and sustain these practices on an ongoing basis, not because they make us comfortable but because they make us better. 

Alumni Spotlight – Amy Jones

Double Eagle Amy Jones (MBA, 2015), who also holds a B.S. in sports management, is a marketing coordinator in the Division of Continuing Education at Georgia Southern. She primarily runs the Division’s social media and conferences. She also builds registration portals to facilitate smooth and easy registration processes that ensure collection of necessary information and allow communication with invitees for the Division’s events. Amy especially enjoys working onsite at the events she promotes. She finds seeing hundreds of happy people as they learn something new at a conference she promoted extremely rewarding.

While an undergraduate, Amy fondly recalls one of Michael McDonald’s, emeritus professor of management, classes. McDonald would frequently bet his students that they could not answer a question. The winner won a Coke or a snack from the vending machine down the hall. That semester had no Honors-level class, and, so, for Amy, this class substituted, which required her to do additional assignments. As part of her extra work, Amy wrote a paper about the business of baseball and what a great manager Bobby Cox, retired Atlanta Braves general manager and Hall of Famer, was. The opportunity to bring something she enjoyed outside of school into the classroom made this class even more enjoyable.

Another Honors project led to Amy’s proudest accomplishment—seeing her work in print! As part of her captstone course, Amy created and implemented a survey that studied the demographics of Georgia Southern’s 2011 football season ticket holders versus those of single-game ticket purchasers. This project was eventually published in Case Studies in Sport Management. (To read the article, go to

In addition, practicing real-life problems in the classroom and interacting with the diverse range of people in the Parker College of Business taught Amy to approach challenges from different angles and perspectives. These experiences have served her well since graduation, allowing her to hone her problem-solving skills. Amy first needed these skills, along with a great deal of perseverance, once she began looking for a job. The economy experienced a downturn just as Amy completed an internship prior to graduation. As one of many graduates just entering the job market, she found it difficult to find employment. Several companies told her she was too educated for the positions available. Amy examined her options and, using hard work and networking, obtained a second internship before finally landing a full-time position at Georgia Southern.

In her spare time, Amy enjoys volunteering with the Savannah Junior League. When she first joined, Amy used the marketing skills she learned while obtaining her MBA to benefit the League’s cookbook committee’s efforts. In fact, 100% of the proceeds from this committee’s sales were put back into the community. When she is not volunteering, Amy enjoys watching Braves baseball and reading. In the future, she hopes to obtain a position that allows her to continuously learn and make a positive impact on her co-workers through running events for good causes such as the Stephen Siller Foundation Tunnel to Tower Run, for which she has volunteered since she was in high school.

Georgia Southern University Raises Money for Students Facing Financial Struggles with the “Ensure Our Eagles Finish Strong” Campaign

Georgia Southern University launched a campaign on Monday, May 18, to raise money for enrolled students who are facing financial struggles during these unprecedented times.

Georgia Southern created the “Ensure Our Eagles Finish Strong” campaign to assist as many students as possible in fulfilling their academic dreams during these difficult times. The goal of the campaign is to have 500 donors participate to raise $250,000 for up to 250 of our students who are in need and seeking to finish their degrees. The campaign also hopes to raise an additional $140,000 for 14 returning spring student-athlete seniors who had their season cut short.

The campaign serves with hopes of keeping traditional students enrolled in our university who might not have a choice but to drop out due to limited funding caused by COVID-19. Student-athletes who are awarded financial help are promised a full athletic season that will allow them to succeed in reaching their athletics goals.

The “Ensure Our Eagles Finish Strong” campaign will run through July 2.

One More Time: Mekhia Freeman

By Mekhia Freeman, Softball Student-Athlete,

Georgia Southern softball senior Mekhia Freeman … [was leading] her team with a .403 batting average … [and] a career-high five home runs when the NCAA and Sun Belt canceled all 2020 spring competition due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. The Newnan, Georgia, native has been a staple in the Eagles’ lineup since coming over to Statesboro in 2016, starting 170 games with a .336 batting average.

Hello, my name is Mekhia Freeman. I am a senior who graduated on May 9 with my bachelor’s degree in finance. I am so blessed with the opportunity to return next year to play softball here at the best University with some of the best teammates. Georgia Southern is my second home.

The resources that … [we] athletes are lucky enough to encounter have made me not only the athlete, but the woman I am today. Being able to receive another year of eligibility means that my dad has a chance to come watch me play again. He has been in and out of the hospital due to a sickness, so he has not seen me play my senior year. It means the world to me that he has another chance.

I am also excited to be able to end the game I love so dearly on my own terms. Thank you so much for helping out the best University in the world. Hail Southern!

Mekhia Freeman #6

12 Questions with Mila Hartig


Time to get to know some Georgia Southern student-athletes a little better with 12 Questions. Next on the docket is Mila Hartig, a rising senior accounting student from South Africa.

1. Which of your teammates always seems to put a smile on your face or make you laugh?

Paula Hijos, she is always smiling and has a very positive attitude. Her nickname could have been “Smilie”. 

2. Who is your greatest inspiration to be the best you can be?

Serena Williams, she is an inspiration on and off court. She is a great athlete and has overcome a lot in her past from serious injuries and media controversies. She has inspired me to become the best version of myself by making sure I grow as an individual each and every day.

3. What is your pre-match ritual, and do you have any superstitions?

My pre – match ritual would be to listen to music and be surrounded by my teammates. I won’t say that I have any superstitions but I can’t play a match without wearing a visor even if we play indoors.

4. What is your definition of a good teammate?

My definition of a good teammate is someone who is positive, full of energy and enthusiasm regardless of the situation and someone who always gives their 100%. A good teammate is someone who is willing to be there for the team through the good and the bad times.  

5. Do you think there’s life on other planets, and if so, do they also play tennis?

Yes, I think there is life on other planets and definitely think they play tennis. I think the tennis scoring would be a bit different on the other planet and hopefully their scoring makes a bit more mathematical sense then here on earth.

6. What has been your favorite show to binge during quarantine?

My favorite show at the moment is Gossip Girl and Peaky Blinders.

7. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I would eat biltong for the rest of my life. It is a South African beef jerky.

8. What makes your team special?

What makes our team special is that I consider them to be more like family. We have the same goals as a team and stick together no matter what. We support each other and strive to be 1% better each day.

9. What three people (past or present, celebrities, historical figures, family, etc) would you like to have dinner with? 

Bill Gates, Rafael Nadal, Zac Efron

10. What is your favorite family holiday tradition?

Our holiday tradition is that we go deep sea fishing and diving in Mosambique.

11. If money was no object, what would you do all day?

I would be spending my day at the beach or on a wildlife farm surrounded by family and friends.

12. What is your favorite place on campus?

My favorite place on campus would definitely be the benches near Lakeside dining area that look out onto the lake.

Online Master of Accounting Program Recognized

Recently, the WebMAcc received several recognitions from various ranking entities. From a best value to the top 40 online master’s in accounting programs, the Georgia Southern University Parker College of Business WebMAcc offers full-time professionals an AACSB-accredited degree program with little disruption to their professional and personal lives.

“Our WebMAcc program allows people to meet their family responsibilities while pursuing the level of graduate education and training needed for them to provide invaluable professional expertise,” stated Tim Pearson, Ph.D., director of the School of Accountancy. “For some students, that might lead to a CPA license; for other others, the master’s degree offers opportunities in various business ventures and enterprises.”

Following are the most recent rankings for the Georgia Southern WebMAcc program:

#12 for Best Online Master’s in Accounting Degrees by

#13 for Top Online Master’s in Accounting Programs by

#15 in the Top 25 Online Master’s in Accounting Programs for 2019 by

#19 for Best Value Online Master’s Programs in Accounting 2020 by

#24 in the Top 40 Online Master’s in Accounting Programs by

#27 for Best Online Master’s in Accounting Degree Programs by

#29 for The Best Online Master’s in Accounting Programs by

According to Accounting Weekly, the accounting profession is one of those careers that thrives during an economic recession. Accountants are likely to experience an increase in business during a recession since people and businesses typically require the help of a professional to ensure they’re making use of all tax benefits available, and they understand their income and expenditures as cash flow tightens. Other business professionals who may see an increase in business during a recession include financial advisors and economists.

The AACSB-accredited WebMAcc program started in 2013 and, geared toward working professionals, offers a 30-semester hour program with 100% of the course work delivered online. With fall and spring semester intakes, the program follows a cohort model using a team-based approach to online learning. By mirroring the on-campus program, the WebMAcc is taught by the same experienced faculty with the same access to campus resources.

“Our program develops WebMAcc graduates who are accounting professionals,” stated Pearson. “They can successfully apply the efficiencies of automation with accounting expertise to solve complex accounting and business problems. They can do this with confidence, imagination and creativity.”

The Georgia Southern University School of Accountancy, housed within the Parker College of Business, is independently accredited by AACSB International. To learn more about Georgia Southern’s Parker College of Business graduate programs, visit

Intern Offers Advice on Completing a Virtual Internship

Five Things You Must Do to Have a Successful Virtual Internship Experience

by Kristen C., PR Intern

In May, I accepted a position as the Public Relations Summer Intern for the Parker College Office of Marketing & Media. Like many, I had intentions of spending my summer interning in Atlanta; however, COVID-19 taught me you must learn to be flexible and adapt easily to unexpected changes. I interviewed for this internship from the desk in my bedroom via Google Hangouts; I work from home; I meet once a week with my supervisor via Google Hangouts to discuss the plans for the week; and I’ve had to self-educate myself on the many software applications we use. Fortunately, I work under someone who makes herself available to me at all times, so she is easy to get a hold of when I have questions. Because my internship is completely virtual, I’ve had to make some minor personal adjustments to ensure I still have an effective internship experience even when we are in the middle of a pandemic. 

Here are five things to help you be successful in your internship … virtual or not … 

1. Be overly organized!

While being organized is great, I’ve had to practice being overly organized. I keep an electronic folder as well as a physical binder of every task I work on, so it is easily accessible for my Monday morning meetings with my supervisor. It will also be beneficial at the end of the semester when I compile all of my projects and assignments into a portfolio. 

2. Communicate effectively!

Communication is always important, but it’s even more important when completing a virtual internship. While this is my first virtual internship, I’m also the first virtual intern for the Office of Marketing & Media. It’s kind of strange to have never met my supervisor face-to-face, but we have managed. We’ve learned how to work together to ensure we understand each other. Effective communication is so important because if we don’t understand each other, then we risk the chance of a task not getting completed or it being completed incorrectly. 

3. Be timely!

Due to not reporting to an office on certain days at certain times, I’ve had to create a schedule with designated times that I should be working in order to keep myself accountable. I’ve learned to always start working on a task early because anything can happen. Working virtually, there are times I have questions, and she may be unavailable at that moment, so I have to wait until she is free to talk; however, I still have my assignment completed and on time because I started early. 

4. Ask questions!

I’ve had to learn that it is okay to ask questions. Again, we are in the middle of a pandemic, so things are weird. This is a first for both me and my supervisor. Things are likely to get misinterpreted at times, so asking questions is the only way to have a clear understanding. Anytime I encounter a problem or have questions, I immediately call or text my supervisor, and she is able to assist with no problem. She always reminds me she is here to help and to teach me. Asking for help is the only way to learn and to ensure that the task is completed correctly.

5. Limit distractions!

Working virtually can be challenging, especially for those who get distracted easily. So, the best thing to do to ensure you complete all work planned for the day is to limit any possible distractions. I make a point to stay off of my phone while working; that way I’m not distracted by my personal life. I also make sure to include my family and close friends on my work schedule, so I’m not being bothered constantly. If you are not distracted, you are more likely to get all of your assignments completed correctly and on time. 

Eagle Accountant, Virtual Career Fair TODAY!

The School of Accountancy put together a yearbook of sorts for its students, alumni and friends of the School. To download the Eagle Accountant, visit

Today, June 24, the School of Accountancy is hosting its first-ever Virtual Career Fair for its accounting students and alumni.

Here are some tips to ensure you have the best virtual career fair experience possible:

#1  To register and attend today, visit

#2  You will receive an email verification containing some tutorials. Check those out and then log into your account.

#3  Complete your profile and upload your current résumé.

#4  Once logged in, identify the firms that interest you, and check when those firms are going to be available.

#5  Be ready to network with the firms that interest you. You will be in a chatroom, and the firms can pull you into a one-on-one video chat. Firms may also contact you after the event.

Georgia Southern’s Q1 2020 Economic Monitor: Pandemic Slams Regional Economy, Outlook Remains Murky

Governmental response to the pandemic shuttered much of the regional economy toward the end of the first quarter of 2020, stated Michael Toma, Ph.D., Fuller E. Callaway professor of economics, in Georgia Southern University’s Q1 2020 “Economic Monitor.” Economic growth ground to a halt as seven of the eight indicators of current economic activity in the region fell. Airplane boardings, hotel sales and port activity recorded significant declines.

The business forecasting index fell sharply in the first quarter, as initial claims for unemployment insurance skyrocketed during the last week of March. All six leading indicators declined, and further signs of economic damage will be forthcoming in second quarter data, noted Toma.

“Looking ahead, the regional economy will experience sharp contraction in the second quarter, likely extending into the third quarter of 2020,” he continued. “The speed of rebound and recovery will be influenced primarily by how people react to governmental easing of restrictions on business activity. More substantial economic recovery will be delayed until such time that business owners, employees and consumers develop a greater level of comfort interacting with each other in the public domain.” 

Regional Expansion Ends

The Savannah metro economy contracted modestly by 0.1% during the quarter. The coincident index of economic activity decreased from 192.7 to 192.5. This overstates the level of economic strength, however, given that economic conditions did not deteriorate more substantially until March so that monthly data from January and February buoyed overall quarterly data. 

Declines in tourism indicators and port activity primarily weighed down the index of current economic activity but electricity sales and retail sales were less influential. Preliminary reports indicate hotel occupancy rates plummeted into the single digits by the end of the quarter, and hotel tax revenue data reeled accordingly. Electricity sales to residential, commercial and industrial users were down in the quarter but remain about 9% above year-ago levels. 

Employment Trends

Reported employment in Savannah’s three-county metro area was 186,300, unchanged from the previous quarter; however, this is likely to be revised downward in the coming months. The payroll employment data are based on a sample of businesses, and the methodology used to extrapolate to all businesses incompletely captures turning points in the data. In other words, explained Toma, the payroll employment data overstate current employment. Jobs in service sectors, particularly leisure and hospitality, retail trade and health care are likely to suffer significant downward revision, as shutdown orders hit these sectors hardest.

In the goods-producing sectors, manufacturing and construction gained 200 workers each. Manufacturing employed 19,500 workers while construction sector employment increased to 8,500. 

Hourly wages in the private sector declined to $22.47. The length of the workweek shortened modestly to 32.9 hours, a 1% decline. The length of the workweek is likely to contract sharply in the second quarter, yet average hourly wages are likely to artificially increase as substantial numbers of lower-wage workers lose their jobs. 


The tourism economy is battered. Employment in the leisure and hospitality sector declined by 400 workers, falling to 27,300 and will further decline. Workers in the tourism sector filed roughly 65% of total regional claims for unemployment insurance in March. Airplane boardings fell 17%, while rental car tax receipts fell 13%. The number of visitors on guided tours in Savannah fell 35%. Because the initial economic effects of the pandemic appeared in March, not throughout the quarter, tourism sector data will continue to deteriorate significantly in the second quarter.

Deterioration Expected in Savannah Region

The Savannah area business forecasting index plunged 2.8% during the first quarter of 2020. All six leading indicators declined, but particular weakness in the labor market weighed most heavily on the index. 

Starting first with the regional housing market, the seasonally adjusted number of single-family homes permitted for construction decreased 12%, falling to 549 units from 625 in the previous quarter. Average valuation per single-family unit decreased 3% to $219,700 from $226,200. This is roughly 3% less than the average during the previous four quarters. 

In the labor market, the average number of monthly initial claims for unemployment insurance (UI) skyrocketed sixfold to 2,942 from 490 in the fourth quarter. In March alone, 7,608 claims were filed. UI claims are running at roughly twice that amount through April. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased eight-tenths of one percentage point to 3.6% for the first quarter. The rate is trending up significantly, as the March unemployment rate was 4.3%. Given the number of UI claims recently filed, expect the regional unemployment rate to increase into the 15% to 20% range during the second quarter. 

The initial UI claims data shed light on which sectors are likely to experience the largest declines in reported employment in the second quarter. Among the largest seven sectors (with more than 14,000 workers), accommodations and food services have the largest number and share of workers filing for UI benefits, roughly 90% of total workers. Retail trade, health care and administrative support each saw about 33% of their workforce file UI claims. For the region as a whole, roughly 35% of the workforce filed for UI benefits through April. Larger sectors with lower-than-average UI filings include manufacturing (13%), logistics (12%) and education (6%). 

While pent-up consumer demand will fuel the beginning of recovery, household saving has increased significantly amid increased economic uncertainty. People-intensive service sector businesses with higher-than-average UI filings, especially those in the leisure and hospitality industry, are expected to recover more slowly as employers, employees and consumers begin to navigate the uncertainty associated with the new normal of the pandemic economy. Consumer spending will drive the rate of recovery that is now more likely to resemble a swoosh than a V-shaped or U-shaped recovery. Economic conditions will begin to improve during the third and fourth quarters, but most robust recovery in consumer-driven sectors will be delayed well into 2021.

Hyeeun Shim provided research assistance. 

A Note from the Analyst

The “Economic Monitor” is available by email and at the Center’s website If you would like to receive the “Monitor” by email, please send a ‘subscribe’ message to 

About the Indicators

The “Economic Monitor” provides a continuously updated quarterly snapshot of the Savannah Metropolitan Statistical Area economy, which includes Bryan, Chatham and Effingham counties in Georgia. The coincident index measures the current economic heartbeat of the region. The leading index is designed to provide a short-term forecast of the region’s economic activity in the upcoming six to nine months. 

Class Notes

Chris Barr (ACCT, ’04), Richmond Hill, is a commercial banker at South State Bank. He is married to Candice Grant-Barr, a Georgia Southern early childhood education alumna.

Jeff Rich (FINC, ’00), Bainbridge, is the new country agent for Rich Insurance Agency, a Country Financial Insurance company. The company is changing hands from his father, Lane Rich, to Jeff. Jeff is married to Nikki and has two children, Logan and Morgan.

In Memoriam

Joe Brannen Sr. (BUS, ’61), Statesboro, passed away on June 2, 2020.

Faculty/Staff News

Allen Amason, Ph.D., dean of the Parker College of Business, will have the second edition of his textbook, Strategic Management: From Theory to Practice (Amason & Ward 2021), published in 2021. He expects to have a copy in hand some time this summer. Congratulations, Dean Amason!

Nicholas Mangee’s, Ph.D., associate professor of finance, scholarly book, How Novelty and Narratives Drive the Stock Market: Black Swans, Animal Spirits and Scapegoats, will be published by Cambridge University Press. Congrats, Nicholas!

Michael Toma, Ph.D., Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Economics, was featured in WalletHub’s piece about Chase credit cards. To view the article, visit In addition to this article, Toma was also quoted in “States Hit Most by Unemployment Claims,” on That article can be viewed at

Chris Brunt, Ph.D., associate professor of economics, Amanda King, Ph.D., professor of economics, and John King, Ph.D., professor of economics, recently had their article, “The Influence of User-Generated Content on Video Game Demand,” accepted for publication in the Journal of Cultural Economics. Brunt also had another of his articles, “Primary Care Competition and Quality of Care: Empirical Evidence from Medicare,” accepted by Health Economics. Congratulations!

Omid Ardakani, Ph.D., associate professor of economics, and his coauthors had their article, “MR Plot: A Big Data Tool for Distinguishing Distributions,” accepted in Statistical Analysis and Data Mining: The ASA Data Science Journal. Congrats, Omid!

Cuiping Schiman, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics, along with her coauthors had their article, “Education and Health over the Life Cycle,” accepted in Economics of Education. Schiman also received the Robert C. Whitt Award for the best article of the year in 2019, “Evidence of Prescription Drug Insurance on Hospitalization and Mortality: Evidence from Medicare Part D”  in the Journal of Risk and Insurance. Congratulations!

Last updated: 1/17/2023