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Taking Flight – May 2021

Message from the Dean

I get news from a wide variety of sources, left and right, new media and legacy; I want to be informed and want a variety of perspectives. So, I subscribe to several online outlets and just today, a story in one of those caught my eye. As reported by Axios and based on a survey of nearly 17,000 people, business is the most trusted among the major institutions. In particular, 77% of respondents reported a high level of trust in their own employers, and 62% reported a high level of trust in business in general. 

I was encouraged, even excited, by this. Why? Well, one of my significant frustrations is the common but inaccurate depiction of business and business people in pop culture. I get the sense that many believe in a false dichotomy between people and profit, between economics and ethics, or between the business world and doing good in the world. Contrary to this view, I believe business can and should be a force for good, that economics is practiced best when practiced ethically, and that people and profits are complementary and sustainable when applied to mutual benefit. I am also convinced that one of our great opportunities in the Parker College is to create, deliver, and reinforce this message through our research, our pedagogy, and our operations. Far from pushing students to choose between making money and doing good, we should be helping them to see business as a force for good and to understand that, when they do business right, they are in fact doing good.  In modern management thought, this view is called “stakeholder theory.” In a nutshell, stakeholder theory holds that firms perform best when they serve the interests of a broad array of stakeholders. For example, rather than dump waste cheaply and in a way that harms the environment, a firm should build practices and systems that support healthy communities, thereby insuring a sustainable customer base. Rather than squeeze suppliers for the lowest prices, firms should engage with suppliers, building cooperative relationships that encourage investment in durable supply chains. Or, rather than pay the lowest wages possible, firms should partner with their workers to create better conditions and greater satisfaction, so as to attract and retain employees who will invest in the firm more deeply. Some see this as a different perspective; I see it as mere common sense. Certainly, firms that operate with an eye on the long term and a focus on creating value, rather than merely turning a profit, will be worth more in the long run and produce better outcomes for everyone, from stakeholders to stockholders.  

And so, I was encouraged to see this statistic. Encouraged because it tells me this message has an audience. Business, when done well, can provide sustainable value; it can fuel innovation and offer prosperity to vast numbers of people; and it can help to make the world a better place. And, for us in the Parker College, it offers yet another opportunity to distinguish ourselves in the marketplace. We want our students well-trained, of course, but we also want that training steeped in the view that doing well means doing right and that true success in the business world is inextricably linked to making the world a better place.     

Alumni Spotlight: Tyler Flaim

After graduating, Tyler Flaim (MGMT, 2017) founded and ran an LED lighting company along with his dad and uncle. Starting a company from the ground up allowed Tyler a chance to work in all aspects of business except accounting, for which he is thankful to his mom for handling. Recently, Tyler joined a cyber AI company called Darktrace as an account executive. He says making the decision to transition from his family’s business to the corporate world is the largest challenge he has faced in his career so far. At Darktrace, Tyler’s responsibilities include driving revenue by prospecting, holding meetings and demonstrations, and attending marketing events. He really loves his new position and especially enjoys holding client meetings and demos and getting to meet interesting people from different places. He works with an wonderful team and is constantly surrounded by the cutting-edge tech that he feels privileged to introduce to others.

According to Tyler, the Parker College of Business did an incredible job equipping him with the hard and soft skills he needs to excel in the modern world of business. The classes gave him a foundation of knowledge, and Parker College faculty, staff, and student organizations really helped prepare him for life after graduation. Tyler was very involved in campus life as a student. Beginning as a freshman, he joined several clubs and, eventually, held leadership positions with them. He started out working in event planning, which led to a committee chair position on the University Programming Board. Eventually, Tyler became more involved in Parker College’s student organizations and joined the Eagle Executive Society becoming a chair in the organization. 

Tyler was inspired by many Parker College classes and professors whom he considers as having served as mentors. The introduction business law class, taught by Mike Wiggins, J.D., lecturer of legal studies, stands out in his memory. Tyler says Wiggins was an incredible teacher who continues to inspire him. He remains in contact with Wiggins and his family. In addition, Tyler fondly remembers often running into Bill Norton, Ph.D., associate professor of management, at their favorite local coffee shop as well as planning a Casino Night for students with Stan Suboleski, Ph.D., lecturer of management—a wildly incredible experience!

May Commencement Exercises

On May 11 and 13, respectively, Georgia Southern conferred 178 undergraduate and 74 graduate degrees to Parker College students. The in-person ceremonies were held at Paulson Stadium and live-streamed on the University’s Facebook page.

At the May 11 ceremony, Parker College of Business undergraduates shared commencement exercises with students from the Colleges of Education and Science and Mathematics. Lt. Col. Michael J. Gutierrez (BIO, 2004), commander, 330th Combat Training Squadron, Robins Air Force Base, Houston County, addressed the audience of graduates, faculty, staff, friends, and family. He spoke on being a first-generation college student and encouraged his listeners to seek out critical feedback and opportunities to grow and expressed his hope that each graduate would embark on a life filled with “experiences they are passionate about.”

On May 13, Patrice Buckner Jackson (Ed.D., 2016), associate vice president for student affairs, Augusta University, Augusta, addressed students receiving graduate degrees. Jackson drew on her experience as the child of a young mother with few resources and encouraged graduates and guests to remember “to recognize the accomplishments and the hard work you have put in” and “to get ready for your future.”

Congratulations, new graduates!

Getting an MBA Amid the Covid-19 Pandemic

by Benjamin Tankersley

Earlier this month, Georgia Southern graduated more than 20 students from its Online MBA program. Among them was Vanessa Hunter, who was cheered on by the family who supported her leading up to and through the program amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prior to enrolling in the MBA program, Vanessa worked as an occupational therapist with Dekalb Medical for ten years before spending the past five years doing quality reporting for the hospital. In 2018, Dekalb Medical was acquired by Emory Healthcare, opening new possibilities for Vanessa.

“I just started poking around on the Internet to inform myself about the great benefits I was entitled to as an Emory Healthcare employee,” said Vanessa. “And it turned out, they had a really great tuition reimbursement program, especially for graduate level programs.”

From there, she just had to decide what to do. After a brief stint as an adjunct professor with Brenau University, Vanessa ruled out teaching and, ultimately, settled on an MBA program.

“The degree that seemed to open the most doors for me was an MBA,” she said. “As I started to think of myself and any future career, like an MBA, I didn’t know what direction that would take me, but I knew it would give me a lot of options.”

Vanessa was recommended to the Georgia WebMBA® Program, which is jointly offered by seven University System of Georgia schools (including Georgia Southern), by two alumni of the program she worked with.

Two things sold Vanessa on Georgia Southern specifically: the free application window, which runs the first two weeks of February, and Karen Wells, Georgia Southern’s MBA recruiter at the time.

“I honestly met Karen Wells through Georgia Southern, and she was just really kind to me and seemed to understand my role as a working mom and all my other responsibilities,” explained Vanessa. “We just had some great conversations, and there was, like, no pressure; she just kind of listened and provided information and just went from there.”

While deciding which college to attend worked itself out for Vanessa, attending presented a bit of a greater challenge.

“I knew two people who graduated from the program, so they gave me an estimation of how much time it would take each week,” Vanessa recalled. “And I actually made myself an Excel color-coded file with all my different life roles of work, driving to and from daycare, meal prep, exercise, church. I blocked out all these times and had to answer the question: where would 20 hours a week exist? Did it exist? I started off with a question. I was not sure at all if I was going to be able to do this or pull it off.”

After all the mental preparation and planning, Vanessa was able to start the program in January 2020. Two and a half months into the program, the Covid-19 pandemic began.

“Who knew that when I started in January 2020, there would also be a pandemic as well,” Vanessa mused. “My husband works at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. I’m a healthcare worker on the frontlines. So it’s two and a half months into the program, and we were both working crazy schedules, extra hours, because of our roles and our jobs. There were more challenges than I imagined.”

Working together with her and her husband’s mother, they were able to get everything taken care of, including chores around the house, childcare, and cooking, all while Vanessa was focusing on completing her MBA program.

“I don’t know how I would have gotten through it without them,” Vanessa insisted. “Even like with the best laid plans as I had done, …. [W]e probably would have been quite a bit more stressed if we didn’t have all the support that we have gratefully accepted.”

Throughout the program, each of the courses impacted Vanessa in a different way, and the program allowed her to see what she does in a different light.

“The MBA has been a real different perspective on the world, a real different take on the world than occupational therapy,” Vanessa commented. “It’s just sort of meta, and a step back, whereas occupational therapy is like one patient, one intervention, trying to influence and help one person at a time and making that individualized intervention.”

After accomplishing so much through a pandemic-laid MBA experience, Vanessa is already making strides in her career. “Because I’ve earned this MBA, I was recently promoted to manager of operations improvement [at Emory Healthcare]. My next couple years are going to be in this role, and I don’t know what will come after that. But through the WebMBA® Program and through Georgia Southern, I have already achieved my next goal,” Vanessa concluded.

Sales Students Continue to Excel in RNMKRS Competition

Building upon last fall’s successes at the RNMKRS Competition, Parker College sales faculty and students were continued to excel at this spring’s RNMKRS competition. The RNMKRS competition allows students to learn and practice selling a product by speaking virtually with a consumer bot that listens, adapts, and responds as students use voice activation on their mobile phones.

Ashley Kennedy and Hannah Luke, coached by Linda Mullen, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing, and Kiara Rosado, coached by Lindsey Levine, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing, were inducted into the Spring 2021 RNMKRS 100+ Club. In addition, Mullen was named as one of the “Biggest RNMKRS Community Advocates,” and Georgia Southern, with 109 participating students, earned the “Highest Number of Students in the Top 30% by School.” Finally, Emily Dickson and Nicolas Sanchez earned the “Top 5% Spring 2021 Rising Star” designation.

Honors Research Business Seminar

The Parker Honors’ students in the Spring 2021 Honors Research Business Seminar course learned about research methodology and business leadership from a variety of scholars and business leaders on our campus and abroad. Zoom was a great resource in providing access to these guest speakers.

From Georgia Southern, the students learned about the IRB process with Ele Haynes and the Henderson Library resources from Lili Li, Ph.D. Suzanne Hallman and Ben McKay of the Business Innovation Group presented opportunities for working with businesses clients. Parker faculty, Axel Grossman, Ph.D., Britt McKay, Ph.D., and Marc Scott, Ph.D., discussed best practices from their experiences working with honors students on thesis projects.

Alumni Stephanie Thomas, Ph.D., Scott Sikes, and Marcus Johnson provided helpful life and career advice as part of the “What I would tell my 20 year old self” panel.

Finally, Steve D’Allesandro, Ph.D., University of Tasmania, and Jim Muncy, Ph.D., Bradley University, provided research guidance to the honors students on “Tackling the literature review” and “Methodology pitfalls to avoid” along with Dora Bock, Ph.D., Auburn University, and Raj Iyer, Ph.D., Bradley University.

WMBA Makes World Ranking

On May 14, CEO Magazine released its global ranking of online, executive, full-time, and part-time MBA programs. Using a ranking system geared and weighted toward fact-based criteria, the magazine ranked our WMBA 32nd in the world by averaging data received each year from 2017–2020. CEO Magazine ranked 338 different MBA programs from 27 countries located in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). The ranking process considered data related to quality of faculty, international diversity, accreditation, faculty-to-student ratio, cost, international exposure, work experience, professional development, and gender parity. For more information on the rankings process and CEO Magazine, go to

Faculty/Staff News

Jeff Schiman, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics, was named the Parker College’s first Solomons Fellow in Economics. The Solomons Economic Fellowship is funded by the same generous gift that established the Solomons Chair of Economics. Given by the Solomons family in 1997, the fund was established to assist the Parker College in attracting and retaining outstanding faculty in the field of economics. The Solomons Fellowship is a two-year award, providing a summer stipend to the recipient. Congratulations, Jeff!

Axel Grossmann, Ph.D., Freeman Chair of Free Enterprise and professor of finance, was recently featured in WalletHub’s piece about credit cards. You can read his contribution at

Last updated: 3/12/2022