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Taking Flight – May 2020

Message from the Dean

As noted previously, with so many people away from campus, I’ve been devoting some of my time in the office to rereading classic, older articles from the academic business literature. This month, I’m contemplating one of my true favorites. In fact, I may devote a couple of these columns to this particular piece; it’s entitled Camping on Seesaws: Prescriptions for a Self-Designing Organization, and it was published in 1976, in the journal, Administrative Science Quarterly. I’ll admit, the title is unorthodox but so was the article, and that’s probably why it continues to resonate, more than 44 years after it was published. 

To understand why it is unorthodox and why people have been so fascinated by it, I need first to explain the concept of organizational inertia. Put simply, organizational inertia is the tendency for an organization to continue on its existing trajectory, in essence, to just keep doing what it has done in the past, as if on automatic pilot. All organizations are prone to inertia at some level because all organizations are human institutions, created by and for the purposes of the people who built and occupy them. Moreover, and as odd as this may sound, most people desire the very things that create organizational inertia. What sorts of things? Well, let’s start with certainty; for most people, uncertainty about the future is very uncomfortable. So, we do things to make the future seem more controllable and more certain. People also like reliability, and we tend to react poorly to things that seem random and arbitrary. Here again, then, we do things that make our world more consistent and reliable. Finally, people like sensibility; we like to know why things are happening and the method in the madness of everyday life. So, we do things, or we at least try to do things, that follow good logic and accepted wisdom. Now, creating structures, systems and routines that provide certainty, reliability and sensibility is a good thing. We fully expect as much from our leaders. But, note that these sorts of structures, systems and routines will, by their very natures, lead to organizational inertia. You can think about it this way: it is the inertia that actually makes organizations seem certain, reliable, sensible and so comfortable for the people who work in, with and around them. 

The problem is that organizational inertia tends to hinder organizational performance. Indeed, we tend to associate inertia with bureaucratic, slow and unresponsive organizations. Think about it; when was the last time you heard a company brag about its inertia? Inertia inhibits innovation, slows adaptation and is often a root cause of misalignment between an organization and the marketplace. It is a classic paradox then; we want good performance from our organizations. We also want organizations that are sensible, certain and reliable; however, those sorts of organizations tend to create the very inertial tendencies that undermine good performance! So, what is the solution? Well, unfortunately, it’s complicated, and it will be the subject of next month’s commentary. For now, I’ll simply say that it is this challenge that wakes me up every morning and that motivates my work here as dean of the Parker College. It’s a challenge faced by every organization. But, it is also an opportunity for this organization to improve and to position itself among the best in the world. 

Alumni Spotlight – Chris Tripp

Chris Tripp’s (IS, ’13; MBA, ’19) career got a head start while he was still a student at Georgia Southern, since he was able to interview for and secure an IT internship with Coca-Cola at an on-campus event. That internship turned into a full-time role implementing ERP solutions at Coca-Cola’s equipment warehouses around the country. After two years there, Chris took a position with The Home Depot as a supply chain product manager. At The Home Depot, he worked on building out an entirely new warehouse management system, which has been deployed to numerous sites across the country and helped the company achieve two-day shipping on most products from the ground up. Chris has since moved into the same type of role as a product manager for Oldcastle APG, a building product-focused company. On a daily basis, his responsibilities include finding new and innovative ways he and his team can deliver value to the company as well as ensuring that his team has a fully built out backlog of work. Chris provides guidance in this area and to others on agile practices as Oldcastle’s IT organization moves away from the more traditional waterfall approach to projects.

Chris really enjoys interacting with the many different groups within Oldcastle and regularly delivering value to them. He believes the broad range of business classes the Parker College of Business offered and the exposure to the range of skills and industries the College provided during his time as an undergraduate at Georgia Southern have provided him an interesting perspective to use when Chris solves problems and allowed him to generate a “Big Picture” view. In addition, the classes that utilized group work taught him the various ways in which different groups operate and to use those differences to be an effective team member, which prepared him for his position as a product manager/owner. Chris states that having a chance to hear about a problem one of his business partners is having and then quickly devising a solution is always a great feeling.

Professionally, Chris is very proud of being able to mold his career path to put himself where he is today. His discovery of his interest in product management allowed Chris to take on work at Coca-Cola that provided the experience needed to take on product management roles at The Home Depot and Oldcastle. Chris admits that, although he has yet to face major challenges in his career, he was once at risk of losing his position at Coca-Cola due to a reorganization that merged different parts of the company. All he could do was work hard and prove to management that he was a valuable resource.

Also, while at Georgia Southern, Chris, though not technically a marketing student, really enjoyed a marketing course taught by Lindsay Larson, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing. He found it fascinating to learn about a customer’s psyche and the mental processes involved in deciding whether to buy a product. He also enjoyed Manouchehr Tabatabaei’s, Ph.D., associate professor of enterprise systems and analytics, IT management course, which he regularly refers to today. Chris’s other fond memories of his time at Georgia Southern include spending time at Dingus Magee’s (He’s pretty sure his parents think they should own a percentage of Dingus’s!) and being a part of Sigma Nu Fraternity. Most of all, Chris is forever thankful to have met fellow student, Planter’s Row neighbor, and future wife, Jamie, which led to one of his proudest personal accomplishments—completing his MBA while working full-time and celebrating the birth of their first daughter.

In his spare time, Chris loves spending time with Jamie and their daughters, Emery (2) and Piper (1 month). With the little time that leaves, he enjoys woodworking, college football and watching the Braves. In the future, Chris looks forward to seeing his career in product management continue to progress and provide him with opportunities to take on more responsibilities and give guidance to other product managers. He would also love to find a way to spend more time giving back to others through charitable work.

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Parker’s Donates More Than 7,000 KN95 Masks to Frontline COVID-19 Healthcare Providers in Georgia and South Carolina

Staff Report –

Parker’s, an award-winning, nationally acclaimed convenience store company and food service leader, recently donated more than 7,000 KN95 masks to frontline healthcare providers at hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout coastal Georgia and South Carolina during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re deeply grateful to all the doctors, nurses, clinicians and staff who are providing exceptional healthcare to area residents throughout the Coronavirus pandemic,” said Parker’s founder and CEO Greg Parker. “We know there have been mask shortages throughout the region and want to make sure area healthcare workers have the Personal Protective Equipment they need to stay safe while caring for patients.”

Parker’s has donated 2,000 masks to Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, Ga.; 800 masks to St. Joseph’s/Candler in Savannah, Ga.; 600 masks to Liberty Regional Hospital in Hinesville, Ga; 600 masks to East Georgia Regional Hospital in Statesboro, Ga.; 600 masks to Effingham Hospital in Springfield, Ga; 400 masks to Candler County Hospital in Metter, Ga.; 80 masks to Allcare Healthcare in Lyons, Ga; and 50 masks to Savannah OBGYN in Savannah, Ga. Parker’s also plans to donate 300 masks to Hospice Savannah.

“On behalf of our entire East Georgia Regional Medical Center family, we would like to express our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to Parker’s for their recent donation of KN95 masks for our healthcare team,” said Jenny Maddi, BSN RN, patient safety officer and director of risk management at East Georgia Regional Medical Center. “Through this donation, we will continue to be able to protect our staff and provide the best care to our patients and community. We are very thankful for this support, and appreciate Parker’s for always being an engaged partner in our community.”

In South Carolina, the company has donated 800 masks to Beaufort Memorial Hospital in Beaufort, S.C., and 180 masks to Pruitt Health in Moncks Corner, S.C., Parker’s will also donate 700 masks to Roper St. Francis Healthcare in Charleston, S.C.

“Beaufort Memorial Hospital is very grateful to Parker’s for their support during this unprecedented time,” said Courtney Smith, special projects director at Beaufort Memorial Hospital. “Given the unpredictability of the PPE supply chain, Parker’s donation of masks is especially meaningful and will assist us in continuing to provide the highest level of protection to our workers on the front lines so they may, in turn, provide the best possible care to the patients we serve.”

ICYMI: Spring 2020 Commencement

On Saturday, May 9, 2020, the Parker College of Business celebrated its graduates with a virtual commencement ceremony. During the ceremony, some familiar alumni faces, Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A, Country Music Artist Cole Swindell, Lieutenant General Les Smith of the U.S. Army and NFL Running Back Matt Breida, congratulated the graduates with messages of inspiration and hope for the future. The Parker College of Business saw 716 graduates receive their degrees during the ceremony. To watch the Spring 2020 Virtual Commencement, visit or

Mattie Cantrall said climbing a volcano in Africa is just one of several experiences she’s had during her time at Georgia Southern that has prepared her for a career in the Army.

Georgia Southern Eagle Battalion Commander to Continue Soaring After Graduation

from the University Newsroom

Mattie Cantrall has been soaring over obstacles for the past four years at Georgia Southern, but after graduating this spring with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Logistics, the Eagle Battalion Commander will take to the air again. This time in U.S. Army Air Assault School in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Graduation for Cantrall also means she will assume the second lieutenant rank and start her commission as an officer in the U.S. Army Transportation Corps. She’ll undergo 16 weeks of training in Virginia before she heads to Fort Campbell, where she will become a cargo specialist and support combat arms as a member of the brigade support battalion.

Cantrall, a Parker Business Scholar whose major was logistics and intermodal transportation with a minor in military science, said her academic experience, as well as her time with ROTC, have prepared her for the next step in her career.

“The Parker College of Business academic program has pushed me further than I thought I could be pushed academically,” she said. “I have learned how to compartmentalize information and comprehend, not just memorize and brain dump following an exam. ROTC on the other hand has pushed me past my limits in every aspect possible: physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically. I grew as a person.”

Cantrall’s experience at Georgia Southern went beyond the classroom and ROTC. As a cadet, she had the opportunity to travel the world, including a trip to Cabo Verde, Africa, where she hiked two volcanoes, rebuilt a local school, trained with the military and swam in beautiful waters. She said these experiences will not only help her professionally, but also personally to motivate her throughout her career.

Cantrall poses with a child during her trip to Africa.

“The climb was brutal at some points with rocks slipping beneath our feet and our legs cramping up,” Cantrall said. “The view at the top was breathtaking, looking 10,000 feet down at the ocean beneath you. The most incredible part was going down. As I move forward in my career, I can tell people about the pain and the struggle of going up the mountain, or I can tell them about the beautiful view at the top and the enjoyment and weightlessness of going down.”

Cantrall has also made some wonderful memories in Statesboro. As a part of color guard, she carried the nation’s colors in Paulson Stadium before football games and represented the University during Georgia Southern Day at the Capitol in Atlanta.

The highest honor Cantrall received during her time as an Eagle, however, came in Kentucky at advanced camp, where she earned a Recondo Badge. Around 6,000 cadets go to the camp each year, where they must pass a series of tests to complete training. The tests include tactical combat casualty care, various firearm tests, land navigation, a timed 6-mile weighted run and the Army Physical Fitness Test. Cantrall passed all her tests on the first try, while also hitting a higher standard on all of them. She is the first female cadet to earn Recondo since it was reinstated two years ago.

“This Recondo is for every female that did not think they could accomplish something,” Cantrall said. “I give all the credit to two groups of people: my platoon and all the females in my regiment. We studied together while sitting out in the middle of the woods, we paced each other on the 6-mile ruck march, and we extended a hand every time we started to feel beat down.”

With all of her accomplishments, Cantrall’s favorite memory at Georgia Southern may be surprising to some.

“My fondest memory was in the fall of 2019 when the ROTC intramural softball team won the championship game,” she said. “There was no greater pride than to see the entire sideline packed with fellow cadets cheering on their teammates and battling back and forth until the final bat. That energy and comradery gave the energy in Paulson a run for its money.”

Students use the voice recognition function on their phones to sell to artificially intelligent animated customer bots in the RNMKRS Virtual Sales Competition.

Sales Students in Parker College of Business Compete Virtually in Global Competition

from the University Newsroom

When Samuel Pearson signed up to compete in the RNMKRS Virtual Sales Competition, where he would interact with an artificially intelligent (AI) animated customer bot to sell a product, he expected it to be similar to a video game.  

“The whole idea of selling to an AI seemed simple enough,” said Pearson, the top-performing Parker College of Business student in the competition. “At first, I thought the AI would react like a video game character and as soon as I learned how to beat it, I could win every time. That wasn’t the case.”

Pearson was one of 70 Georgia Southern University students and one of more than 1,300 students from 48 colleges and universities around the world to compete in the RNMKRS virtual competition where students used their mobile phones to interact with AI animated customer bots to compete for visibility with employers like Dell Technologies and HubSpot.

During the virtual sales competition, students used the voice technology on their phones to have conversations with the customer bot as they tried to win its trust and educate the AI on their product line of laptop computers. The customer bot then listened, adapted and responded as the students went through the sales call.

Despite his experience as a sales student in the Parker College of Business and his first-hand experience working in sales, the contest challenged Pearson in a new way. 

“This competition works to show you exactly what is needed to land a sale,” he said. “RNMKRS allows you to learn all the aspects that go into making a sales call without the fear of diving straight into a face-to-face (sales) situation without any experience.”

Pearson prepared for this virtual sales competition much the same way he would prepare for an in-person sales competition. He took notes on the specification of the laptops he was selling to include the AI’s given identity and took into consideration the tips the RNMKRS representatives provided.

“The key difference working with the AI is that you can’t simply convince the AI that you’re correct,” he said. “You must be 100% correct with your wording or else the sale won’t progress, or it won’t understand you. You also didn’t need to impress the robot like you would a person.” 

Linda G. Mullen, Ph.D., co-director of the Center for Sales Excellence at Georgia Southern, said the contest came at an opportune time for students after Georgia Southern moved to online instruction in March due to COVID-19.

“This competition’s first run was in Fall 2019, but I jumped at the chance for our students to participate when I saw we were moving to virtual instruction,” said Mullen. “This was our first time competing, and we will be doing this again in Fall 2020 for sure.” 

The first virtual, mobile selling skills competition was developed by the RNMKRS Faculty Alliance of Leading Educators, Dell Technologies training executives and developers from three countries. RNMKRS is a free online tool students and faculty can use to learn, practice and demonstrate selling skills in a Global Virtual Sales Competition.

Sales Education Foundation Names Georgia Southern University a “Top University Sales Program”

Sales Education Foundation (SEF) has recognized Georgia Southern University as a 2020 “Top University Sales Program.” SEF recognizes our Center for Sales Excellence for preparing students for successful careers in professional selling and helping to evaluate the sales profession.

The Center for Sales Excellence in the Georgia Southern Parker College of Business boasts a 98% placement rate for its sales students. Students participate throughout the year in various regional and national sales competitions, giving them the experience needed to succeed once they have graduated. Sales skills are viewed as skills for life, and the sales and sales management emphasis is one of distinction and reflects the University’s culture of engagement, bridging theory with practice, extending the learning environment beyond the classroom and promoting student growth and life success.

Founded in 2006, the Center for Sales Excellence, housed within the Parker College of Business, offers accreditation through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), full membership in the University Sales Center Alliance (USCA) and offers its students a professional fraternity, Pi Sigma Epsilon, for marketing and sales management industry professionals. Georgia Southern is also the only university to award Huthwaite’s Academic SPIN Selling Certification.

“Our work to improve our sales education program at the Parker College of Business has helped us maintain this recognition,” stated Linda Mullen, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing and co-director of the Center for Sales Excellence. “Hiring firms recognize this as an added assurance that we are turning out sales students who are [prepared] well above other universities’ graduates. Sales students at the Parker College of Business are in demand from hiring firms.”  

Executive Director Sally C. Stevens and Associate Director Marty Holmes stated, “We continue to see tremendous growth in the university sales education space and are excited to be a part of the ‘elevating the sales profession through university education.’”

For more information on partnerships with the Georgia Southern University Center for Sales Excellence in the Parker College of Business, contact Linda G. Mullen, Ph.D., co-director of the Center for Sales Excellence, at To learn more about the growing sales education space, visit  

Grad Student Receives Highest Honor

Melanie Hinterplattner, a candidate for the Ph.D. in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, is a recipient of the 2020 Averitt Award for Excellence in Graduate Instruction. The Averitt Award is the highest honor bestowed upon graduate students within the Jack N. Averitt College of Graduate Studies. Through nominations from each department’s graduate program faculty, two semi-finalists are chosen by the Graduate Program’s director/coordinator, one student from each category: Excellence in Research and Excellence in Instruction. Of these semi-finalists, two students are chosen in each category and each are given a $500 cash prize. This award is sponsored by the Graduate Student Organization and is named for the founder of our Graduate College, Jack N. Averitt.

“Melanie is a bright up and coming academic. She received external research recognition in 2018 as a second year Ph.D. student, and, now that she is teaching as part of our Ph.D. program, she is shining as an instructor,” stated Jerry Burke, Ph.D., department chair for Logistics and Supply Chain Management (LSCM). “Our faculty in the Department of LSCM mentor our Ph.D. students in teaching as well as research. So, Melanie being recognized for excellence in instruction campus-wide is encouraging for the department as a whole. Melanie teaches in a very interactive way, and her efforts are greatly appreciated by students and faculty in our programs. Recognition from the Averitt College of Graduate Studies is an example of how the Parker College of Business contributes in many ways to the mission of Georgia Southern University.”

“I am deeply honored that I’ve received this award—it is always great when hard work pays off,” stated Hinterplattner. “Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will learn. This statement guides my teaching, and my aim is to always support my students in building habits, developing skills and gaining the understanding to be articulate, grounded decision makers,” she concluded.

Georgia Southern’s Steven Curry Hauls in All-District Honors

from WJCL –

Despite the 2020 season being cancelled early due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Georgia Southern baseball standout Steven Curry has hauled in a big postseason honor.

Curry has been named to the CoSIDA Academic All-American All-District team. The senior infielder now advances to voting for CoSIDA All-American Team’s next week.

Curry posted a 3.77 GPA in Accounting at Georgia Southern University, while not starting only one game over his four-year career.

As a second baseman for the Eagles, Curry has started 187 of the 188 games he has appeared in. He collected a .297 career batting average, scoring 155 runs and wearing a school-record 66 pitches in four seasons. Curry batted in 82 RBIs and had an on-base percentage of .426. The Eagles second baseman made only 12 errors in his 188 games played.

Curry has also been named to the 2019 Baseball Coaches Association All-American Second Team and 2018-19 Sun Belt Commissioner’s List.

A 3D-printed Montana Mask

Innovating for a Cause: Georgia Southern University Manufacturing 3D Printed PPE for Healthcare Workers

from the University Newsroom

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded and healthcare organizations began experiencing shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), faculty, staff and students at Georgia Southern University stepped up to fulfill a need. 

Making use of the 3D printers on the Statesboro and Armstrong campuses, as well as at the FabLab at the Business Innovation Group’s (BIG) downtown Statesboro location, the campus communities quickly began production of protective face shields and respirators. 

“We can’t afford to sit back and wait for things to happen,” said Dominique Halaby, DPA, director of the BIG. “We have to make them happen. We have this responsibility to make a difference, to be a part of that front line, whether it’s immediately in our community, our state or our respective area.”

To date, the Department of Manufacturing Engineering has sent 200 3D-printed protective face shields with headbands to Augusta, Georgia, for healthcare workers at Augusta Medical Center, while the BIG has sent 100 face shields and 10 “Montana Masks,” a 3D-printable respirator filtration mask that can be fitted to a healthcare provider’s face and sanitized between uses, to Atlanta-area hospitals.

Wayne Johnson, Ph.D., professor of mechanical engineering, works with student Alicia Hawrylko to develop, test and donate 3D-printed respirators to St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital System.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering on the Armstrong Campus has also printed Montana Masks that will be delivered to workers in the St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital System (SJCHS) in Savannah, Georgia, while the Respiratory Therapy Program in the Waters College of Health Professions donated 10 ventilators to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency. 

“I am unbelievably proud of our faculty, staff and students who have their own families to take care of, but are putting themselves on the line to help our medical professionals in this time of critical need,” said Mohammad Davoud, Ph.D., dean of the Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Computing. 

Andrew Michaud, laboratory supervisor in the Department of Manufacturing, and Tara Drake, the department’s administrative assistant, worked together to produce 3D-printed face shields with headbands for distribution. 

“We are really glad to be able to help in any way we can,” said Daniel Cox, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Manufacturing Engineering.  “This is what engineers do—we see a problem, and we solve it.” 

Doug Masini, Ph.D., prepares ventilators for donation.

Wayne Johnson, Ph.D., professor of mechanical engineering, believes providing these materials to the Savannah community during a time of critical need is reinforcing a longtime commitment to the region.

“The Armstrong Campus of Georgia Southern has a long history of working within the Savannah community, and during this pandemic, it was especially important for mechanical engineering faculty and students at the Armstrong Campus to step up during a time of great need,” said Johnson. “Our work with SJCHS to develop, test and donate 3D-printed respirators may also lead to other research and development collaborations in the post-COVID-19 future.” 

In addition to benefiting area healthcare workers, Johnson believes this project is a great way for students to put their classroom skills into practice. 

“It has provided our mechanical engineering student, Alicia Hawrylko, with a great opportunity to apply the skills she learned in our engineering courses to a real-world application in real-time,” Johnson said. 

Hawrylko initially approached Johnson looking for a way to use her engineering skills to give back. Not only did she help with the Montana Masks, she even worked with her partner to design custom cloth straps for the masks to enhance comfort for healthcare workers.

“I would not have originally thought working on a respirator for medical personnel is how I would be utilizing engineering,” she said. “Having been a mechanic in the Air National Guard I had always assumed I would gravitate toward aerospace, but my time at the Armstrong Campus has taught me to rethink how I view engineering. I believe when students involve themselves in activities or projects within their selected degree programs, it benefits the entire school community. For me, it is a natural progression to also want to involve the community as a whole, in this instance working together with SJCHS to provide them the 3D-printed materials we are able to.”

FabLab Coordinator Jim Walker prepares face shields and masks for shipment.

At BIG, FabLab Coordinator Jim Walker said they have masks and shields ready for local healthcare organizations should a need arise. Until then, they are working with the North Georgia Health System to distribute supplies there due to high demand. 

“Bulloch County has been blessed to not have been hit with an enormous caseload, so there is not the need for additional PPE locally,” Walker said. “We are working with out-of-county hospitals, specifically, the Northeast Georgia Hospital System, which covers the city of Atlanta, to help with equipment shortages.” 

He believes helping during a time of crisis is a moral obligation.

“Those with the power to act have the responsibility to act, and we have the ability to make a small difference with our production means,” he said. “As an innovation center, we are always striving to solve problems. We feel connected to the community and that we should give back in this time of crisis by using our resources to help solve the supply chain problems of PPE production and distribution.”

Halaby believes that making swift moves to use the available resources at the BIG and other areas of the university to fulfill a need are truly showing Georgia Southern’s innovative capabilities. 

“This shows that great individuals and great ideas can come from anywhere,” he said. “I believe the common psyche is that we expect things to happen in Atlanta and kind of work their way down, but we’re showing that we have the ability, the skillset and the desire to have an impact anywhere in the world, even in a place as innovative as Atlanta.”

Georgia Southern Students Make “Key” to Help Combat Spread of COVID-19

from WTOC, by Dal Cannady –

A piece of plastic that fits in your pocket could help first responders and frontline workers reduce their chance for exposure to COVID-19. A group at Georgia Southern University’s downtown Statesboro campus says they don’t mind using their equipment to crank out devices to keep germs at arm’s reach.

Georgia Southern FabLab has figured out how to take sheets of polymer like this, turn it into dozens of keys and hopefully help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

A computer-guided router cuts lines and holes that turn a square foot piece of medical grade plastic into 21 safety keys. Leaders at the FabLab ask frontline workers at East Georgia Regional Medical Center what they needed, and this key topped the list. They got the materials and started cutting.

“We want to help mitigate and reduce the exposure for our first responders, and others touching potentially contaminated devices because it helps all of us,” Dominique Halaby, DPA and director of BIG said.

They took the first 100 to the hospital Thursday.

“To contain all those germs into one little area for easy disinfection, I think it’s a great way to reduce the risk of contamination in our facility,” PPE coordinator Bryan Realiza said.

Halaby said they’d rather keep equipment up and running and helping the people who’re helping everyone else. He said they’ll keep making these and distributing them as long as the materials last.

Social Distancing Business Impact Survey

The recent shutdown due to the COVID-19 response has been devastating in the short-term for local and regional businesses, particularly in Savannah—a city that relies heavily on tourism, conferences and special events. So, the Business Innovation Group (BIG) decided to survey local and regional business owners to get a feel for what they are experiencing in the marketplace.

Surveying more than 550 business owners and managers from April 8–20 across an 18-county region during the height of the COVID-19 shutdown in Georgia, BIG found that nearly 85% of businesses in the region have seen a moderate or substantial drop in the activities surrounding their businesses. The study found that a majority of businesses that have stayed open took measures to protect both their customers and their employees and that nearly half of all businesses said they have already sought funding support through the Small Business Administration or other avenues. On the bright side, about 46% of business owners believe business will pick back up in another three months.

To view the complete report, check out BIG’s COVID-19 Business Resource Center page on the Parker College of Business’s website. 

Class Notes

Kole Donaldson (ACCT, ’10; MBA, ’12), Evans, is CFO of the Augusta Country Club.

Julia Rodgers (ACCT, ’99; MAcc, ’00), Savannah, is now chief deputy tax commissioner for the Chatham County Tax Commissioner’s Office. She has 15 years of experience with the tax commissioner’s office, as well as experience with an area accounting firm.

Vik Sasser (FINC, ’09), Savannah, is a mortgage banker with BankSouth Mortgage. Vik has mortgage experience with Bank of America and nine years as a loan officer with Certainty Home Loans.

Faculty/Staff News

Kristen Ruhland, lecturer or marketing, was featured in WalletHub’s article about credit cards for groceries:

Hyunju Shin, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing, along with co-author Lindsay Larson, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing, had their paper, “The Bright and Dark Sides of Humorous Response to Online Customer Complaint,” accepted for publication in the European Journal of Marketing. Congratulations, Hyunju and Lindsay!

Last updated: 1/17/2023