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Taking Flight – November 2017

deanphotonewsletter2016Message From the Dean

In our last newsletter, I talked about values and about the impact of our values on the things we do in the College of Business. I said that our values drive our strategy and, so, are evident in everything we do. This month, I’d like to follow up on that and illustrate what I mean. But, first, let me again quote our value statement: “In pursuit of our vision and mission, we are guided by common values of continuous improvement, excellence, integrity, accountability, respect and sustainability.”

Continuous improvement and excellence are there, at the very beginning, because they are so fundamental to everything we do. Every day, we should be a little better than the day before. We bring our “A-game,” and we invest in the things that will allow us to grow and develop. What does that look like in real life? Take a look at this newsletter. Students from our Southern Investment Association attended the Georgia Southern 1906 Gala and demonstrated how they use cutting-edge technology to manage a portfolio that out-performed the market. Look at our Internship Spotlight and read about Bradley Morgan, who has put the knowledge gained in his classes to work for the World Trade Center, Savannah. Or, read about the BB&T Leadership Institute and the 25 students who earned Emerging Leaders Certificates this fall. Like iron sharpening iron, we push our students into real situations, challenging them to improve and to craft a skill set and work ethic that will make a positive difference.

We demand a singular commitment to integrity, accountability and respect with no room for negativity, no time for games and zero tolerance of deception. We are a meritocracy, and we embrace anyone who can make a contribution. To compromise on that would hurt the individual and the team and would move us all in the wrong direction. For a great example, read about our Dean’s Advisory Board. These individuals are exemplars, representing the diversity and accomplishments of the Georgia Southern family. They reflect a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. Yet, they all have succeeded through innovation, talent, hard work and persistence. They push us to be better, and they hold us accountable. They model the sort of integrity that we want to build into all we do. That is why we promote mentoring and why we are so proud to recognize and honor our veterans. Look at all of these stories, and you’ll see tangible evidence of our core values of integrity, accountability and respect.

Finally, we believe in sustainability. To be clear, though, sustainability means more than just conservation or recycling. Sustainability is a mindset that means approaching everything we do in such a way that we leave it better than we found it. When I am no longer dean of this great College, I want it to be better than I found it, and I want those improvements to last, to be sustainable. Take a look at the story on our Finance Association and the visits by the managing director of Invesco and the staff director of the Federal Reserve Bank. Both leaders reflect the philosophy of investing for the long term by building organizations that are sustainable. Or look at the story on the BIG Café and the work that is happening at our Business Innovation Group. We want to promote the vitality of the business community here in Statesboro and the surrounding region. Doing so is good for the business community, good for the people of our region and also good for Georgia Southern. That sense of connectedness and of leaving the whole ecosystem better than we found it is key to our value proposition.

So, I want to underscore the importance of our values to who we are and to what we do. In just one newsletter, you can see evidence of the course we are charting, and you can see evidence of the impact we are having. And, you can rest assured, we will continue on this path and continue to be led by our values. Hail Southern and no place else!


Alumni Spotlight – Bryan Saxton

After graduating from Georgia Southern, Bryan Saxton (MGMT, 2002) went to the University of Miami to earn a Master of Science degree. He worked in university administration for several years before deciding he wanted to become a lawyer. When Bryan graduated from law school, he knew he wanted to meld his business degree and the law and specialize in some type of business law. Today, Bryan is a real estate lawyer at the Chase Law Group in Baltimore, Maryland. He practices in the area of transactional real estate and helps clients to buy, sell and lease industrial, office and retail properties at all stages of the transaction from initial contract through closing. In his current position, Bryan uses not only his legal education but also his business education to analyze and provide advice to his clients on the business aspects of their transactions. Bryan uses his knowledge of finance and accounting, gained in the Georgia Southern College of Business, to allow him to analyze the financial aspects of his clients’ transactions. His clients find this ability to be very valuable.

Bryan finds being able to work toward the tangible goal of seeing a transaction close the most rewarding part of his job. So many aspects of law are so vague, but property law always has the tangible thing at the end—the property itself. Even though every day provides a new challenge in the area of real estate law, Bryan sets discrete goals and steadily works toward them. He works toward an “inbox zero” mind set; if something needs to be done, he does not put it off; instead, he gets it done. This mind set has led to his proudest career accomplishment—helping to start a law firm and growing it into a successful real estate boutique.

While at Georgia Southern, Bryan admits he was overly involved. He was SGA president, a SOAR leader, an admissions ambassador, a University Honors Program ambassador, and served on the College of Business dean’s search committee, just to name a few of his activities. His favorite class was business law, a definite foreshadowing of his future career choice. He also enjoyed Trey Denton’s, Ph.D., professor of marketing, marketing courses.

Bryan’s proudest personal accomplishment is becoming a father of two great kids. He fills his spare time with his family. Bryan also enjoys date nights with his wife. In addition, he coaches soccer, attends swim meets and goes hiking. Bryan’s wife is a travel planner, and the family’s favorite thing to do is going to Disney World, which they do quite often, although the family has started to branch out to other destinations as well.

In the future, Bryan hopes to continue being successful in the real estate arena. Since he is always looking for ways to grow, Bryan’s ideal would be to practice law but find concurrent opportunities that would allow him to incorporate his interests and expertise.

BB&T Emerging Leaders

The BB&T Leadership Institute presented an Emerging Leaders Certification program to 25 Georgia Southern College of Business student leaders on October 19–20, 2017. Students representing all majors in the college were selected to participate in the program based on recommendations from faculty members and administrators, taking into account their extracurricular involvement, academic performance, and potential for further leadership growth.

The program is an intense and highly interactive two-session experience that allows students to learn about the beliefs and characteristics that drive leadership behaviors, allowing students to develop a better understanding of their personal strengths and weaknesses, along with understanding key relationships between beliefs, attitudes, motivation, behaviors and results. Students who complete the program leave with a set of practical tools and strategies for being a more effective leader.

“The opportunity to participate in this program is one that I’m glad I took advantage of. I went in without any confidence in my leadership abilities and came out ready to conquer the world,” stated Brittney Varnadoe, a senior accounting major and finance minor. “I find myself using the lessons taught in the program and know I will continue to do so. I would encourage any student to participate in the BB&T Emerging Leaders program.”

The BB&T Leadership Institute was formed in 2014 and provides leadership development and human resources programs and consulting to help companies and organizations build leadership capacity and reach their performance goals. The Emerging Leaders Certification program is made available to emerging leaders in colleges and universities within the market footprint of BB&T Corporation.

Tifton Alumni & Friends Cheer on Eagles Together

On Saturday, October 21, 2017, Georgia Southern University alumni and friends gathered at the Elk’s Club in Tifton, Georgia, to renew old friendships, make new ones and share their passion and love for Georgia Southern. They were greeted by a beautiful day of sunshine and warm temperatures.

Gathering around the pool and the Tiki Bar, alumni and friends representing each of the University’s Colleges reminisced and told stories of by-gone times. The attendees reminisced about past professors and shared memories of late nights studying as well as some embellished tales of epic parties that stripped away the years and brought the party goers back to fond memories.

Revelers watched the Eagles football team play the U-Mass Minutemen. Unfortunately, the faithful were disappointed with a 20-55 defeat, but that did not dampen the mood. Members of the Brown Town Band, Kacey Brown and Hal Wiley, kept the party going throughout the afternoon with a great selection of old and new songs.

Dean Allen Amason presented Double Eagle Pins to Lori Brown, Thad Clayton, Natalie Hall and Curt Petrie. Double Eagle pins are awarded to alumni with a combination of multiple degrees from Georgia Southern. Participants enjoyed good food, good beverages and good friends, and a great time was had by all. Door prizes and party favors were given out, keeping the crowd lively and in good spirits.

Thanks to the members of the organizing committee for this event, Debra and Mike Weil, Natalie Hall King, Trey Luckie, Hal Wiley, Gary Roberts, Spud Bowen, Bobby Stewart, Andy and Mandy Johnson, Steve Taylor, Leslie Clemons, Kim Carter, Jenny McCranie, Jeff Smith, Amanda Roberts, Gary Kincaid, Kent Guske and Scott Downing.

Discussions are already underway for an event in Fitzgerald, Georgia, next year. To organize a College of Business Alumni and Friends event in your area, contact Chris Osborne at 912-478-5377 or

Finance Association Hosts Managing Director of Invesco & Staff Director of the Federal Reserve Bank – Atlanta

The Finance Association welcomed College of Business finance alumnus Scott Hixon, managing director and senior portfolio manager at Invesco, and Marion Williams, staff director in Community Bank Supervision of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (FRB Atlanta), as part of the Georgia Southern University Finance Association Guest Speaker Series on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, and November 1, 2017, respectively. Hixon has 25 years of experience in the financial services industry with the majority spent at Invesco and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®), while Williams has served the FRB Atlanta for more than 30 years in the Department of Supervision and Regulation.

Hixon discussed his career path and time spent at Georgia Southern. As an asset manager, he explained that he wears many hats: developing/running models, setting investment policy for his group clients, reading and conducting research as well as interacting with clients in a variety of ways. He noted that staying disciplined in a developed investment strategy and explaining to clients are two of the most difficult things to do, but they pay off in the long-run. Mr. Hixon advised the students that the biggest mistake they can make is trying to cover up a mistake—admit it, learn from it and move on.

He encouraged students to develop a multitude of skills: be experts in MS Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, of course, and that some basic programming knowledge and skill is helpful in the field as well. Additionally, he noted that third-party validation (i.e., industry certifications) is desirable as well. He stressed that those who are the most successful are (1) intellectually curious, (2) work hard and (3) ask questions—they are not afraid to admit when they do not know something or need help. Hixon also noted to the relatively few women in attendance that they are highly valued in the industry—a concrete example of supply and demand at work. Several students chatted informally with Mr. Hixon at the conclusion of his presentation.

Williams talked to the students about his banking career prior to joining the Federal Reserve and how he became an examiner and staff director for the Federal Reserve. He explained to the students the main functions of the Federal Reserve System as well as their top-down approach of examining banks. He talked about what working at the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis was like and went on to explain how the Federal Reserve helps troubled banks to get back on track.

Williams advised the students to find a career they enjoy and emphasized the importance of having a great mentor and encouraged the students to pursue an advanced degree, such as a master’s degree. He stressed the importance of hard work to be successful in a competitive environment. Finally, Mr. Williams encouraged the students to apply to the Federal Reserve, as it is a great place to work with excellent opportunities and resources.

Over the course of his career, as an examiner and, now, director, Williams has performed commercial bank and BHC examinations, drafted supervisory actions, and served as a report review examiner as well as oversight of career and performance management programs for examination staff.

Invesco is an Atlanta-based firm founded in 1978. With operations in more than 20 countries worldwide, nearly 7,000 employees, and assets under management of $917.5 billion, Invesco serves clients in more than 150 countries, offering a wide variety of products and services. For more information about Invesco as well as internship/employment opportunities, visit the firm’s website at

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, based in Atlanta, Georgia, is part of the Federal Reserve Bank System of the United States and is one of 12 Reserve Banks in the U.S. The FRB Atlanta is in the sixth district and includes Florida, Georgia, and Alabama along with portions of the surrounding states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The FRB Atlanta participates in and supports the overall missions of the Federal Reserve System. For more information about the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, including internship/employment opportunities, visit its website at

Southern Investment Association Attends 1906 Gala

On Friday, November 3, 2017, the Southern Investment Association (SIA) represented the College of Business at the 1906 Gala, an evening event during which major donors celebrate the university and their philanthropy to the university. The SIA is a select group of Georgia Southern University students who seek to increase their knowledge and experience in the field of investments and asset management through real-life application of skills learned in the classroom.

The students of the SIA presented their investment strategy, back-testing results and performance of their fund, which follows a long-only strategy of value investing in stocks of mid- and large-market capitalization, to interested donors. Additionally, the students demonstrated how they apply their investment strategy through the Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters Eikon Terminals. The students showed alumni and friends of the University how they use the equity screener of the terminals to filter stocks that fit the fund’s investment strategy.

Students Learn Business Etiquette on the Golf Course

On the afternoon of Friday, October 27, the Eagle Executive Society Student Chapter hosted its annual Golf Etiquette Outing at the Georgia Southern University Golf Course. Assistant Golf Professional James Kittinger began by taking the students to the driving range, where they were instructed on the proper hand placement when holding the golf club and the optimal technique to swing the club and hit the ball. Everyone then put these new found skills to use by practicing and sending balls down the range as they molded their individual swings and tailored their shots to perfection. After an hour on the driving range, members returned to the club house for a cookout provided by Eagle Dining and a presentation by James Kittinger and Georgia Southern Golf Course Director Marten Olsson on golf course etiquette and the proper way to conduct business while playing golf.

11th Annual Southeast Georgia Community Bank Symposium

The 11th Annual Southeast Georgia Community Bank Symposium, hosted by the College of Business at the Nessmith-Lane Center on campus and presented in conjunction with the Georgia Bankers Association, was held on November 1, 2017.

The symposium brought together about 70 bankers from community banks in Southeast Georgia for an informative and educational program on issues and concerns that impact the banking industry and the economy.

Highlights of the symposium program included

  • Kevin Hagler, commissioner, Georgia Department of Banking and Finance, and Joe Brannen, president and CEO, Georgia Bankers Association, presented an outlook on key trends and issues in banking, with particular emphasis on hot-button regulatory issues and the upcoming Georgia General Assembly session for 2018.
  • Cal Evans, marketing intelligence manager, Synovus Bank, provided a presentation on market valuation and regulatory trends in commercial real estate.
  • Terri Sands, director of Payments Systems Risk, State Bank & Trust Company and founder, Secura Risk Management, lead an informative session about the changing world of FinTech, focusing on innovations in the financial payments system and related security concerns.
  • Roger Tutterow, Ph.D., Econometric Center Director and Professor of Economics, Kennesaw State University, presented an outlook for the economy, noting both national and regional strengths and concerns for the near future.

“Once again, I believe the Southeast Georgia Community Bank Symposium was a great success,” said Don Cox, Ph.D., BB&T Professor of Banking and Finance at the Georgia Southern University College of Business. “Our partnership with the Georgia Bankers Association and [its] staff resulted in a great turnout and an impressive group of speakers for the event. The symposium is a wonderful opportunity to provide valuable and timely industry insight to community bankers in our region.”

Dean’s Advisory Board/Young Alumni Board Fall Meetings

On November 3–4, the College of Business welcomed the Dean’s Advisory Board (DAB) and the Young Alumni Board (YAB). During the meetings, the boards discussed the current and future business of the College.

The YAB discussed their accomplishments for the previous three years, reviewed the organization’s mission and vision statements, and discussed whether their goals are still relevant. Then, they began a strategic planning session to create a vision for the next three years including conducting a SWOT analysis of the organization, discussing new ways to communicate both among the board and to the College, and the best way to organize to achieve their goals.

After their meetings, the two boards joined to enjoy a special tailgate with Skillet & Spurs Chuck Wagon prior to the Georgia State vs. Georgia Southern football game at Paulson Stadium.

Become a Mentor to Our Business Students

The College of Business offers all business students the opportunity to be mentored by Eagle Executives (College of Business alumni). Through E-visor, mentors advise students about career choices and give insights to the career path chosen by the student, critique résumés and conduct mock job interviews. To become a mentor and build your future Eagle Executive network through E-visor, visit today and click on give advice. This service is free to College of Business students and alumni.

Be A Hero for the College of Business

This year’s annual fund focuses on being a hero for education, athletics and cultural opportunities for our students. By giving to the College of Business through Be A Hero, you are helping students realize their academic dreams, building a culture of philanthropy within the College, assisting in the growth of College of Business programs, and you are helping Georgia Southern and the College of Business remain an excellent place for students, faculty and staff to learn and grow.

Support the College of Business today by being a hero for our students. No gift is too small, and every bit helps. Visit to Be A Hero for a deserving business student today!

Second Annual Veteran’s Day Ceremony

from the University Newsroom

On Friday, November 10, a flood of red, white and blue lined the walkway through Sweetheart Circle. The 491 flags, representing each of the veteran and military students at Georgia Southern, signified the second annual Veteran’s Day ceremony at the University.

The Georgia Southern University Military and Veteran Student Center (MVSC) hosted the Veteran’s Day ceremony on Friday at 9 a.m. in the Williams Center on campus. Master of Ceremonies, ROTC Cadet and Military Student Advocate Woo Jung, began the celebration. The Georgia Southern Symphonic Wind Ensemble performed followed by speakers Maj. Jeremy Horstman and Staff Sgt. (Ret.) John Kitchens.

Horstman, program director for the Veteran’s Business Outreach Center (VBOC), is a veteran of the U.S. Army National Guard and has served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He was named 2017 Veteran Small Business Champion by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Georgia District Office and continues to help VBOC grow at the University. Horstman was recently appointed deputy inspector general for the Georgia National Guard and currently serves as the chief of inspections at the Georgia Joint Force Headquarters.

Kitchens, a Purple Heart recipient, served in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed four times throughout his military career, serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The Statesboro native is a graduate of the Georgia Southern College of Business and a soon-to-be Double Eagle this December. Kitchens currently works as a graduate assistant in the Office of Career Services.

Freedom, the University’s live Bald Eagle mascot, made an appearance.

Immediately following the ceremony, 13 members of the Student Veterans Association (SVA) marched 36 miles on foot to the Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Glennville, Georgia, and met up with the Glennville Boy Scouts to place flags on the graves of fallen soldiers. This march, known as the “Ruck to Remember,” was developed by Erik Burkett, an Army veteran and the vice president of the SVA on campus.

“The ceremony is an annual ceremony meant to honor not only our veteran students, but also the faculty and staff who have served at Georgia Southern,” said Director of Military Affairs, Justin Williams. “It is our responsibility to not only remember the sacrifices of our veterans, but also to respect the freedoms that their sacrifices guaranteed.”

BIG Café

The BIG Café is a monthly, one-hour structured business innovation session used to create a space for peers, mentors and advisors to help other local entrepreneurs while enjoying a cup of coffee. On November 8, 2017, local entrepreneurs and business people from Statesboro and Savannah joined for their monthly coffee at 9:00 a.m. to hear Britt Hendrix from Your Pie and Susan Adams and Jose Perez from Total Wellness Georgia present.

Britt Hendrix graduated from The University of Georgia and has owned the Your Pie in Statesboro, Georgia, for four years now. After graduation, Britt didn’t know what he wanted to do, so he moved to the beach and started traveling. On his sixth trip, he was contacted by a friend who informed him of a business opportunity to buy a store known as “Your Pie” that Britt couldn’t pass up. With this being his first investment, Britt has learned a lot. During the first two years, Britt endured growing pains such as learning that communication is key to resolving any issue and how to be more proactive.

Your Pie is a “build your own bake oven pizza” restaurant started and inspired by Drew French, who was visiting his wife’s family in Italy when he fell in love with the region’s use of brick ovens. Your Pie pioneered personal brick oven pizzas in America. At Your Pie, you can expect to walk into a restaurant with an exposed kitchen, ensuring authentic food. If you’re not in the mood for a pizza, Your Pie also serves paninis, chopped salads, gelato, and beer and wine. Britt Hendrix’s aspirations for Your Pie include expanding while maintaining a “family friendly” atmosphere and envisioning a globally-marketed, respected brand.

After a networking coffee break, Susan Adams from Total Wellness Georgia introduced herself and informed the audience of how Total Wellness Georgia got started. Susan and her husband, Brooks, started the business after Susan suffered from stress and anxiety that led to sickness, weight gain and other issues. This business aspires to bring total wellness to the community focused on balancing the mind, body and spirit. Susan then introduced Jose Perez, who presented the newly launched fitness and nutrition division. Jose Perez obtained his bachelors and masters degrees in exercise science from Georgia Southern University and is now running the fitness and nutrition division at Total Wellness. Total Wellness’s goal is to target the different interests of workouts as well as uncovering different motivation techniques that are appealing to all ages, fitness levels, etc. Classes will take place on Wednesdays and Thursdays and will have a color indicating the work-out’s intensity level. Workouts aren’t all Total Wellness Georgia offers. It also provides workshops with vital information everyone can benefit from such as different exercises for a good efficient workout when you don’t have access to a gym, what you should be eating and meal prepping. Jose collaborated with the audience on ways to reach their target demographic, rewards and incentive programs, different ways to increase energy through social media and pricing.

BIG Café was another success thanks to our presenters, everyone who attended in Statesboro and watched through Facebook Live in Savannah, and those who gave constructive and beneficial feedback. Thanks to sponsors, Cool Beanz, for providing the coffee each month, and Downtown Statesboro Development Authority for providing donuts. If you would like to present your business challenges at BIG Café, please contact Suzanne Hallman at or 912-478-5586. Attend the next BIG Café if you’re interested in networking, drinking coffee and helping one another solve business problems. Also, attend five times, and you’ll receive a free BIG Café coffee mug!

The Economic Development Administration Selects Georgia Southern to Run a University Center

from Business Innovation Group

By Eminah Quintyne, Feature Writer

Georgia Southern is now one of 13 universities in the region to house a University Center Economic Development Program (UCEDP).

The UCEDP is run by the Economic Development Administration. It is a federally funded grant opportunity awarded to select institutions of higher education to facilitate and operate University Centers dedicated to building strong regional economic systems that support progressive entrepreneurship and innovation. Dominque Halaby, director of Georgia Southern’s Business Innovation Group (BIG) said, “I need not tell you how ‘BIG’ a deal this is for our unit and our University. Some of the other awardees in this eight-state region include the University of Kentucky, University of Florida, Auburn University, Mississippi State, University of South Carolina, UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Tennessee and Georgia Tech. I am very proud of the strides we continue to make, and I am excited about what this award means for the future of our region.”

This opportunity is about utilizing the capacity of the university to positively impact local economies and change lives. BIG is charged to implement regional strategies to support learning, skills training, job creation, capable talent pools, and business expansion. The nature of a good economy exists when resources are allocated both efficiently and effectively. The government’s role is to facilitate public welfare and that is often done in the form of grants, education, or skills training. Grant funding for the benefit of public welfare provide jobs for those in need or for the poor. More people with earnings in turn spend money at local businesses, and that is good because it is likely the economy will grow.

“I chose to start my business here because I live here, I have a passion for food, and I was at a point in my life where I could work for myself. I love what I do because I offer fresh wholesome ingredients,” said Elaine Minick-Stone owner of CAKE Bakery in downtown Statesboro.

On a regional scale, BIG will appeal to entrepreneurs who call this area home by creating a good environment to get startups to take risks. Resources, awareness of one’s skills, and believing you can launch a startup are among driving forces behind bringing economic growth to fruition. BIG’s business incubator offers leases for affordable office space that can often be a barrier for many startups. BIG’s multifaceted abilities provide valuable support for these businesses.

Last updated: 1/27/2023