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Taking Flight – June 2022

Message from the Dean

What does it mean to be purpose driven? I’ve pondered this question for some time and thought about the implications for the Parker College. As background, the phrase, “purpose driven” gained popularity following two books by Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in California. The books, The Purpose Driven Church (1995) and The Purpose Driven Life (2002), focus on the value of one’s overarching purpose or mission in guiding, organizing, and motivating action. You can imagine how quickly this idea spread through the business press as well. From leadership to entrepreneurship to social activism, Amazon has hundreds of books that include purpose driven in their titles or descriptions.

Reflecting on this led me to think about the Parker College, our overarching purpose, and how it impacts the way we do things each day. Our stated mission is to “produce career-ready professionals…” by creating “a learning environment characterized by inspired teaching, relevant research, and meaningful service.” Like most mission statements, it’s hard to argue with the basic ideas. Every school claims to be preparing the leaders of tomorrow and to be tackling the world’s problems. The question is, does form follow the function? Are we really applying our purpose to prioritize, organize, and drive the things we do? I believe we are, and, so, I’d like to give you some examples.

To begin, notice that our mission includes three imperatives—teaching, research, and service. All are fundamental to our identity. So, we invest heavily in recruiting faculty who are true scholar-teachers. It’s not enough just to publish articles or teach classes; we want faculty with world-class expertise, who can also translate their knowledge into impactful educational experiences. Attracting and retaining such quality people takes intentionality and effort. But it’s key to our purpose that we build a world class faculty, with nationally recognized experts who are also committed instructors. Or, consider the phrase, “career-ready.” If we really mean that, then we must be able to track and follow student outcomes. So, we have painstakingly built a process of surveys and follow-ups, designed to measure placement, starting salaries, and signing bonuses. We’ve collected these data for three years and can report that 84% of our graduates have professional positions within six months of graduation. The average starting salary is $52,296 for undergraduates and $72,001 for graduates, and 15% of our graduates receive signing bonuses. Finally, we must provide an education that extends beyond the classroom and prepares students to impact the global marketplace. So, we’ve invested in Business Abroad and Business Away courses, taking nearly 100 students each year to places like Wall Street; Silicon Valley; Washington, D.C.; Costa Rica; Greece; and Portugal. It takes effort to organize and coordinate these trips and classes, but it’s key to producing world-class graduates.

So, what does it mean to be purpose driven? Ultimately, it means having a clear sense of your rationale and motivation. It means understanding how to translate that motivation into action. And it means having the confidence and conviction to put your time and treasure behind the priorities your purpose demands. For the Parker College, our purpose is to produce graduates who will one day change the world for the better. And that’s what we’re doing—one day at a time.

Alumni Spotlight: Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson (MBA, 2007)

Michael Johnson (MBA, 2007) has worked for Norfolk-Southern Railroad in various positions for the past 14 years. Currently, he serves as market manager over dimensional and military shipments in the commercial area of the firm’s industrial products group. In this role, Michael interacts daily with multiple customers, fellow railroads, and a host of internal groups involved with moving freight. He says it is these trusting relationships that make movement of freight possible. In his time with Norfolk-Southern, Michael has been able to see some really cool things. He has travelled throughout the U.S. and been inside an Apache helicopter. He was even able to watch one being assembled. While at a port, Michael was able to see a million plus pound generator one of his customers had manufactured being made ready to ship overseas. Though these things are fun, the best part of his job is knowing that the professional relationships he has worked so hard to build are the key to getting his job done.

While working on his MBA at Parker, Michael felt his approaches toward issues and people change in a positive way. He remembers having struggled for years with accounting until Abbie Gail Parham’s, assistant professor emerita of accounting, cost accounting class. Using the example of the hidden costs of an order of McDonald’s fries, the class began a discussion of the farm-to-consumer supply chain and opened Michael’s eyes to the necessity of incorporating the full A–Z spectrum of business and the importance of covering all stakeholders. The most useful MBA course for Michael was leadership principles. Before the class, he had been told to “treat everyone the same.” It was in this class that he learned the fallacy of that idea. Instead, he says, we must “treat everyone FAIRLY” because everyone is different, and our interactions with them should be different to match. Working with people every day, Michael already knew that personalities differed, but building solid, trusting relationships to get things done only reinforces what he learned in leadership principles. Finally, as part of “Team DeLoach,” Michael found a home and an awesome social crowd leading him to make a life-long friend, MAcc student Bryant Hosch.

Although spare time is a luxury in a busy life, Michael looks forward to spending time with his family at night and on weekends. He also enjoys golfing and fishing off the Georgia coast along with his association with First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta. Michael encourages his fellow Parker alumni to “Work hard…Play harder… Be a Servant Leader…[and] give and financially support OUR Parker College of Business.”

Parker Accounting Students Make First “Eagles on Pennsylvania Avenue” Trip

by Danielle Smith

This year marked the inaugural trip for the new “Eagles on Pennsylvania Avenue” program offered for students in the School of Accountancy. Over the course of a week from May 15–21, 2022, a group of 18 MAcc and BBA students spent time in the nation’s capital with Profs. Stephanie Hairston and Gloria Stuart to visit with a variety of government agencies, non-profit groups, and public accounting firms. A major goal for the group was to engage with individuals and organizations that utilize accounting backgrounds to provide services for the public and private sectors and to learn more about the broad spectrum of career opportunities that exist for students who earn an accounting degree. During their visits, students learned a great deal about how auditing, in particular, plays a major role in the day-to-day world of governance. The full week’s schedule included presentations and tours at the FBI, GAO, Committee of Inspector Generals, Pentagon/DOD, LMI, Capitol Hill, and KPMG. And, of course, the group also took in the sights of the city by touring major monuments and museums while enjoying the variety of global foods for which Washington, D.C., is known. The College is already planning for next year’s visit and will make this program part of the permanent rotation of travel offerings for students.

Alumnus and Colleagues Open NYSE

Nicolet Bankshares Inc. (NYSE: NIC) Rings The Opening Bell® on May 24, 2022, in celebration of its listing. Photo courtesy of NYSE.

Phil Moore (ACCT, 1984), who worked for the CPA firm Porter Keadle Moore (PKM) based in Atlanta for more than 30 years, eventually becoming managing partner of the firm, and who remained with the firm as southeast market leader after Wipfli, a CPA firm based in Wisconsin acquired it in 2019, is now CFO of Nicolet Bankshares, Inc. On May 24, 2022, Nicolet moved from NASDAQ to the NYSE. In celebration of its listing on the NYSE, Phil, along with colleagues, Mike Daniels, president & CEO, and Hope Jarkowski, general counsel, were invited to the trading floor to participate in the ceremonial ringing of  the opening bell. “It’s not every day that one of our alums is on the floor of the NYSE,” commented Chuck Harter, SOA interim director.

Over the years, Phil has been a great supporter of Georgia Southern and Parker College. While at PKM, he was instrumental in setting up two endowments for the School of Accountancy that were funded by Georgia Southern who work at PKM and were matched by the firm. He has also been very supportive of Georgia Southern athletics and is the former chair of the athletic foundation.

Business Abroad Program Takes Students to Costa Rica

by Danielle Smith

The return of Business Abroad is in full swing, and a group of Parker College students spent the last week of May 2022 in Costa Rica. Taking advantage of the country’s natural resources, the activities and business visits for this program focused on the business of sustainability. This is one of the country’s primary economic drivers to promote a healthy environment and sustain the ecotourism-dependent services sector industry. In this trip led by Rick McGrath, students had the ability to interact with, among others, government officials at Procomer, tour the production center of major regional dairy company Dos Pinos, and spend time in the free trade zone at one of three global service centers operated by 3M. But, in Costa Rica, not all business takes place in the office. The group also spent time outdoors at Arenal National Park, Laz Paz Waterfall Gardens, and Doka Coffee Farm to understand wildlife biodiversity in Costa Rica and the emphasis on how conserving the natural environment is part of Costa Rica’s national economic strategy. These trips continue to serve as invaluable learning experiences that help Parker College students enhance their degree programs by gaining comparative perspectives about the global business environment.

Savannah Doctor Completes MBA

Dr. Timothy Connelly

by Benjamin Tankersley

When seeking their Master of Business Administration degrees, many people are doing so to move up in the business world, whether that be through a new job or a pay raise. That was not the case for Timothy Connelly (MBA, 2022). “I did not [get my] MBA to look for a different job, a better job, a higher paying job. I went for it to do a better job,” Timothy said. “And I have already seen that start to pay off as early as after the first few classes.”

Timothy, who works as a teaching doctor at Memorial Health Center in Savannah, has always had that sort of determination about him. Though medical school was not in Timothy’s picture initially, he attended school to become a physician’s assistant. While there, he lived frugally, saving up to attend medical school. After five years, Timothy was finally able to attend medical school and become a physician. He came to Savannah for his residency and loved it so much he never left.

According to Timothy, seeking an MBA after already being a teaching doctor was natural. After receiving certifications in areas related to clinical informatics, he became a utilization review doctor, who reviews clinical information and insurance coverage for patients to determine eligibility for treatment. “I came to a crossroads where once we were acquired by HCA—which is a for-profit healthcare system—I wanted to better understand how I could improve patient care, and, at the same time, be mindful of the business environment and how businesses work,” Timothy said.

In searching for an MBA program, he looked for one that had the right balance of flexibility, reputation, and cost effectiveness, as well as one that would allow him to share what he learned with the doctors he was teaching. “I wanted something that would give me a good amount of training so that I could take patient care to another level and make it more available and more cost effective when possible and provide the highest value care that I can for the patients I care for,” Timothy commented. “And, in doing so, being a teaching doctor, I also want to teach that to the resident physicians I train, so that they are not just effective at being doctors, but they are effective in a three-dimensional way,” he added. Timothy’s search brought him to Georgia Southern’s in-person MBA program offered in Savannah, which offers night classes two nights a week. Since he joined the program right at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Timothy shifted into the online program, which ended up being a good thing as he was shifted into an ICU doctor role.

“I was basically a Covid doctor,” Timothy remembered. “I would work 12 hours and spend a couple hours working on my MBA. Fortunately, the professors needed everything completed every other week, so I either got it done a week and a half early or right on the verge.” Once in the program, the professors were more than willing to accommodate Timothy’s busy schedule. “The corporate finance class was extremely difficult, but the professor would always find time to meet with me at odd times, go online and do problems with me, so I could work towards the A,” Timothy remarked. “The marketing professor—Dr. Eastman—would meet on a Sunday, late in the evening to accommodate our team,” he continued.

For more information about Georgia Southern’s MBA program, please contact the Parker College of Business Graduate Programs Office at 912-478-5767 or The Parker College of Business also offers a Master of Accounting and Master of Science in Applied Economics as well as a Ph.D. in Logistics and Supply Chain Management.

Faculty/Staff News

Chuck Harter, Ph.D., acting director and professor of accounting, Paula Mooney, MAcc, lecturer of accounting, and Gloria Stuart, MAcc, senior lecturer of accounting, have received a Georgia Southern Faculty Service Grant in the amount of $1,605 for their work in the VITA program. Well done!

Errol Stewart, Ph.D., associate professor of accounting, was recently honored as Student Organization Professor of the Year at the University’s annual Eagle Excellence Awards ceremony. Congratulations, Errol!

Last updated: 6/24/2022