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Taking Flight – October 2020

Message from the Dean

A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Indianapolis 500. While I have friends who enjoy racing, I’ve never been a serious fan. Still, when the opportunity presented itself, to attend one of the world’s signature sporting events, and the world’s largest, single-day, single-location sporting attraction, I had to capitalize. I have to admit, it was amazing; the sheer scale of it all; more than 400,000 spectators; cars racing at over 230 mph; the intensity of the competition; and the fury of the consequences when someone made a mistake made the experience nothing short of riveting and something that I hope to see again, in person. But, there was also an interesting lesson, related to leadership and management, that I took from the experience.  

Specifically, the race consisted of three distinct phases, if you will. The first was the portion that occurred under a green flag. As the color implies, racing under a green flag is wide open. Drivers push their cars to the limit, pushing one another in an effort to capitalize on even the smallest openings and missteps. Racing under the green flag is intense and exhausting, with every car running at the limit of its capacity, and every driver focused intensely on the track and the competitors around them. Inevitably though, this unrelenting intensity and unforgiving pace leads to some sort of mistake, human, mechanical or both. Cars blow engines, tires, brakes and suspensions give out, or, in the worst case scenario, accidents occur, damaging the track, wrecking the cars, and, in some cases, injuring the drivers. These mistakes happen randomly and unpredictably but often as a result of the intense and wide-open effort exerted under the green flag. But, as a result of these random shocks, the race shifts from a green to a yellow phase.

Again, as the color implies, the yellow flag denotes caution, where the rules of the race change. Cars have to slow down; they cannot pass one another or otherwise advance their position in the field. What fascinated me was that, just as the wide open and wild abandon of the green often led to events that triggered the yellow, under the yellow, the strategy of the racers shifted towards preparation for the next green. Unable to run at full speed or advance their position by passing other racers, cars under the yellow flag went into the pits. While there, they refueled, changed tires, tweaked their suspensions or merely allowed their drivers to rest and get a drink of water. Put differently, they used these yellow flag phases of the race to focus on themselves for a moment, so as to better prepare for the next green flag, when opportunity and all out racing returned.

As I thought about it, it occurred to me that we, in higher education generally and in the Parker College of Business specifically, are operating in one of these yellow flag phases right now. Not long ago, we were running wide open; pushing the limits of our facilities and faculties, challenging our students, in large numbers, to run faster and reach higher, pressing our competitors with new programs and with aggressive marketing of every achievement. We were focused on the competition and the market, leveraging every opportunity and every advantage in an effort to improve our position. And then, the pandemic hit. Granted, it wasn’t our fault, but it impacted us nonetheless. In an instant, the world changed, and we had to pull back. Like an Indy car racing under the yellow flag, we were limited in what we could do, in how fast we could run and how far we could reach. It was a frustrating season; I suppose it still is. But, what I’ve come to appreciate is, just like a yellow flag in a race, it presents us with a momentary and perishable opportunity. Now is the moment to focus on our infrastructure and capability. Now is the time to step back and refuel, retool and tweak our operations. We didn’t ask for this, but we can still use it to our advantage by seizing this moment to work on our curriculum, to improve our technology, to bolster our infrastructure and to expand our skillsets. Right now we should be preparing for the green flag that will inevitably come. When it drops we have to be prepared to step on the accelerator and advance past those who failed to take full advantage of this opportunity.  

To be clear, this is just a metaphor, and so it has its limitations. At the same time, if we allow ourselves to see it, there is an important lesson here for leadership. Just as there is in a race, there is a pacing to the business world and to the world of business education. There are seasons when the opportunity for advancement is ripe and the incentives favor aggressiveness, engagement and speed. But, there are also seasons where the environment is less favorable and the opportunities more limited. In those seasons it makes sense to use your energies to get better and to get ready. The strategies are different because the conditions are different. But, they are merely different parts of the larger overall effort, to run the race with intentionality and with a desire to win, and to use each moment productively and appropriately, so as to achieve the best position overall. So, that’s the lesson I learned, and that’s the approach we’re taking here at the Parker College. Yes, the pandemic has caused us to pull back in a number of areas, to restrict our operations and to put caution ahead of accomplishment. But, we’re not standing still; we’re getting ready and looking forward to the next green flag.   

Alumni Spotlight – Jason Roberts

Jason Roberts (ACCT, 2008; MAcc, 2009) is a senior manager of corporate accounting at Focus Brands, a developer of global, multi-channel foodservice brands such as Auntie Anne’s, Carvel, Cinnabon, Jamba, Moe’s Southwest Grill, McAlister’s Deli and Schlotzky’s. As part of his duties, Jason is responsible for managing, coaching and developing a great team of accounting and AP professionals. In this role, he has hired, developed and promoted numerous people. Jason’s team is responsible for a multitude of corporate accounting tasks, but their main goal is to add value to the firm’s internal partners by delivering quality accounting results in a timely manner and to assist with questions and tasks arising from the firm’s other areas. Jason finds working with his team on a daily basis to be especially enjoyable.

According to Jason, working fulltime while finishing up the CPA exam has been his greatest professional challenge and, along with managing his team, his proudest professional accomplishment. Even though his employer was very supportive and gave him time off to sit for the exams, Jason still spent many nights studying in hotel rooms, while his days were spent auditing out-of-town clients.

While at Georgia Southern, Jason made lifelong friends with whom he is still in contact both personally and professionally. Some of these friends served as groomsmen at his wedding. He also fondly remembers walking from his off-campus apartment to attend home football games. A member of Beta Alpa Psi, the honorary organization for financial information students and professionals, which encourages and gives recognition for excellence in the business information field, Jason was able to learn more about his chosen profession and learn from guest speakers about their real-world experiences while still a student himself.

Jason credits the education he received in the Parker College of Business with laying the foundation for his career by providing him the skills and knowledge to become a successful CPA. In the future, Jason hopes to continue with the accounting profession and to, eventually, become an accounting department head at a successful company.

In his spare time, Jason enjoys travelling, hiking, cycling and just being outdoors. Along with his wife, Catherine, and their daughter, Addison, Jason enjoys walking and cycling on the Silver Comet Trail and hiking Kennesaw Mountain.

Parker’s Donates to Support Local Students and Teachers

Parker’s Chief of Staff Kate Smith, right, presented a Fueling the Community check for $27,000 to Savannah-Chatham County Public School System Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ann Levett, left, on Sept. 28.

Launched in 2011 with a mission to give back to every community where Parker’s does business, the Parker’s Fueling the Community charitable initiative distributes more than $200,000 annually to public and private schools throughout Georgia and South Carolina. To date, Parker’s has donated more than $1 million to area schools through the program.

“At Parker’s, giving back is truly part of our DNA, and we believe there is no better way to give back than to support education,” said Parker’s Founder and CEO Greg Parker. “We’re incredibly proud to be headquartered right here in Savannah and are deeply honored to support our city’s future leaders with this donation.”

As part of the company’s Fueling the Community program, Parker’s has recently donated $27,000 to the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (, $12,000 to the Effingham County School District ( and $7,200 to Liberty County Schools (

Deeply engaged with the communities it serves, Parker’s donated a record $5 million to create the Parker College of Business at Georgia Southern University, endowed the Parker’s Emergency and Trauma Center at Memorial Hospital in Savannah and spearheads the Keep Savannah Clean anti-litter campaign.

Named CStore Decisions’ 2020 Chain of the Year, Parker’s is strategically redefining the nation’s convenience store industry, offering customers high-quality products, freshly prepared food and superior customer service at retail stores throughout southeast Georgia and South Carolina.

Parker College of Business Bolsters MBA Program with New Professional Enrichment Plan

Jeff Bush, president of The Parker Companies, presented during the inaugural week of Parker PEP.

from the University Newsroom

The MBA Program in the Parker College of Business at Georgia Southern University is offering experiential learning opportunities to its students through the new Parker Professional Enrichment Program (PEP) which connects students to engaging business and civic partners. 

Through the PEP program, students are presented with opportunities to expand their professional network, cultivate lifelong commitments to professional and personal growth and development, and prepare to be high-functioning, effective leaders. 

“I think for many students, particularly at the [graduate] level, there is an interest in guest speakers and professional development,” said Kevin Joyce, current MBA student. “In most programs, these types of events are extracurricular and require time that may otherwise be spent on homework or studying. By directly incorporating professional development events into the program, we have the opportunity to learn from business and community leaders without having to make a conscientious decision to sacrifice time elsewhere.”

Through the Parker PEP, students are connected to the real world in four primary areas: self-care, career planning, professional development and community service. The program began in September and has made a positive impression on currently enrolled students.

“I have been very impressed with the balance of the program — it has been well thought out,” said Kristin Karam, current MBA student. “I started this program because I wanted additional professional options and choices, but I have found myself looking forward to class and interacting with the professors of the program. I already have a master’s degree, and I have been very impressed with the contrast of how this program is set up. There’s a strong focus on development that is layered on top of the learning objectives and outcomes.”

Jeff Bush (ECON, ’13), Parker College of Business alumnus and president of The Parker Companies, was the first in the PEP Executive Speaker Series. During his presentation, “Seize the Moment,” Bush focused on keys to success, stressing the importance of surrounding yourself with mentors, creating value for your organization, building a good reputation, trusting yourself, seeking and recognizing opportunities, and setting a high bar for success. 

Students will participate in additional workshops on body language and stress management, led by Perfectly Polished, an etiquette school founded in 1986, and Georgia Southern President Kyle Marrero, respectively.

“My biggest take away from Jeff Bush’s presentation was that opportunities exist everywhere — even locally,” added Karam. “Every person you meet may lead to a great opportunity, and you need to be ready to take advantage of those opportunities.”

Students also have access to workshops on topics such as emotional intelligence. Caitlyn Cofer, assistant director of career development in the Office of Career and Professional Development at Georgia Southern, worked with students on emotional intelligence training and an EQ-i 2.0 emotional intelligence assessment. 

“I have had the opportunity to take similar tests during my time in the military and was not surprised by most of the results about my strengths and weaknesses,” said Joyce. “However, what I learned through the EQ-i 2.0 assessment is how to better address those areas holding me back from an overall higher level of emotional intelligence.”

To learn more about our professional MBA in Savannah, visit

Parker College of Business Students Take First Place at National Academic Competition

from the University Newsroom

For the second consecutive year, a team of Parker College of Business logistics students won the Intermodal Association of North America’s (IANA) National Academic Challenge, an academic competition that supports instruction designed to educate logistics and intermodal transportation students. 

Alecia Breen, Ana Ortiz-Contreras and David Hudgins outscored the other teams with their team presentation about determining fleet allocation and sizing decisions for a ground shipping company with services at 12 large marine ports in the U.S. 

The team had to consider dimensions of uncertainty for import and export volumes at these ports related to shifting supply chain strategies, effects of the global pandemic on intermodal freight and tariffs stemming from the trade war between the U.S. and China.

It was the first time competing in the IANA Academic Challenge hosted by the University of North Florida for Ortiz-Contreras.

“In the beginning, it was a bit tough because we had to coordinate times when everyone on the team could meet,” she said. “We also had to balance this with our classes. Whenever we weren’t in class or doing homework, we were working on the case.”

Ortiz-Contreras accepted the challenges head on and is grateful for her experience. 

“Overall, it was a really great experience,” she said. “I was pushed to think beyond what I learned in the classroom and apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills to be able to solve the challenge. Looking back, working on the case this past month has helped me grow as a student and professional because it gave me the opportunity to experience what real-life situations are like. It also let me put myself in the position of someone who has to make these kinds of decisions in their everyday life.”

Allen Amason, Ph.D., dean of the Parker College of Business, is proud of the students’ achievement. 

“This is outstanding news — congratulations to the team,” he said. “The world is a competitive place, and our supply chain management program continues to compete with and win against some of the best programs in the country.”

Logistics students at the Parker College of Business have won four of the last five IANA-sponsored competitions. “These competitions give Georgia Southern’s business students the opportunity to experience real-world challenges and develop their problem-solving skills,” said Marc Scott, Ph.D., assistant professor of logistics and supply chain management and faculty advisor for the team. 

“The opportunity to work on problems that are characterized and based on current real-world problems with access to large data sets to conduct analysis to address those problems delivers an experiential learning platform that is second to none,” Scott said. “Further, IANA’s commitment to ensuring students gain exposure to, and interaction with, industry leaders throughout their events builds a bridge to future opportunities for students — we’ve seen it happen. This is workforce development at its finest. IANA is having a significant impact on our students and program, and we are very thankful.”

IANA is North America’s only industry trade association that represents the combined interests of the intermodal freight industry. The association’s mission is to promote the growth of efficient intermodal freight transportation through innovation, education and dialogue. The association offers valuable information and services specific to the intermodal industry encompassing consensus business solutions that facilitate operations, regulatory compliance and policy issue management. IANA’s membership roster of more than 1,000 members represents the diverse companies critical to moving freight efficiently and safely. For more information, visit

Parker College of Business Faculty Bring International Speaker to Students

from the University Newsroom

Students in the Parker College of Business got an inside look at international luxury marketing after two faculty members arranged for a special virtual presentation from an India-based guest speaker. 

Bo Dai, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing, and Jackie Eastman, Ph.D., professor of marketing, arranged for Sheetal Jain, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Luxe Analytics — a specialized luxury market intelligence and strategic advisory firm — to present about aspects of consumer behavior and managing luxury marketing in Indian and international markets.

“This presentation allowed our students access to a key researcher and consultant in an important emerging economy, India, who discussed a topic that many students don’t get the opportunity in a typical semester to learn more about,” stated Eastman. “While Dr. Jain applied it to the luxury market, it could be utilized in a variety of marketing domains and touches on many of the underlying lessons in the marketing courses taught at the Parker College of Business.”

Jain is a luxury industry expert, management consultant and internationally published author and researcher who focuses on consumer behavior, luxury, retail and sustainability. The global luxury market is an approximately $1.5 trillion industry, and with implications in both international marketing and marketing management, is an excellent interactive virtual presentation for both sets of students.

“My biggest takeaway would be that if you are trying to introduce a luxurious good or service to the market, then you should understand who finds your product luxurious and who does not,” added Jay Woyce, a marketing student from Marietta, Georgia. 

With the pandemic disrupting traditional events, Eastman said embracing virtual events has offered students more accessibility to industry leaders than ever before. 

“It is easy to focus on what we don’t have this fall semester, such as being able to walk in a room of students and feel the energy of 40 people together in a room learning,” Eastman said. “Being able to offer this presentation to students, to bring someone that would not be able to travel to Statesboro for a typical class presentation, was great. For the students, they got to meet and establish a contact with someone from another country, while for Dr. Jain, this was her first presentation to an American audience. So to be able to do something unique and special for the classes felt like a wonderful opportunity for everyone.”

Twelve Questions With Softball Senior Rylee Waldrep


Time to get to know another Georgia Southern business student-athlete a little better with 12 Questions, presented by Case iH Agriculture, Tidewater and Morris Bank. Next up is Rylee Waldrep, a senior pitcher for the Eagle softball squad and management major.

1. Which of your current coaches would win in a rap battle?
Coach Dani for sure. She is so funny and could easily come up with something good.

2. What is the craziest thing your parents have ever done after a win or loss?
Although my parents haven’t ever done anything crazy after one of my games, they have taken me to get three different desserts after pitching a good game in high school.

3. What is your pregame ritual?
Before games, I am usually very calm and quiet as I watch my teammates dance around in the locker room. Sometimes I join in on the games of hackey-sack, but I’m not very good, so I usually just watch. I clear my mind as warmups start, knowing that I’ve put in all the work. And, as my pitching song begins to play, I take a few deep breaths and sing along.

4. What is your definition of a good teammate?
The 21 athletes on my team are each their own kind of great teammate. There’s those who are always there to listen, some who are really good leaders and who motivate me, and others who just come to the field every day with a smile. Being a good teammate is mostly just showing up when someone needs you, and the girls on my team show up every time.

5. Do you think there’s life on other planets, and if so, do they play softball?
Before I could say yes or no, I would need some proof. But, if there is life on other planets, I’m not sure why they wouldn’t play softball!

6. What [was] your favorite show or movie to binge during the quarantine?
Outer Banks, All-American and The Walking Dead.

7. What’s the one movie you’ve watched the most times?
I used to watch Tarzan every day when I was younger.

8. You get to play one game for any professional sports team, regardless of what sport it is. Who do you play for?
Atlanta Braves.

9. Someone is going to install a free vending machine in your house that contains just one kind of candy. What kind of candy is inside?
Red Hots

10. You can bring three people with you on Carpool Karaoke. Who’s in your car?
Allyssah Mullis is screaming every word, even when it’s wrong, while Ashlynn Gunter just renegades (TikTok dance) to the beat, and Mekhia Freeman because she knows all the words and dances to every song.

11. Favorite toy growing up?
I had two of the same stuffed dog because I loved it so much.

12. What’s the last song that you listened to before answering these questions for us?
Anything She Says by Mitchell Tenpenny

NRF Virtual Career Fair

Gloriyah Caleb, senior marketing student and Parker Scholar, participated in the NRF Foundation Virtual Career Fair.

On Thurs., Oct. 8, the National Retail Federation hosted the NRF Foundation Virtual Career Fair. Participating retailers included Amazon, Belk, Burlington, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Meijer, PetSmart, Qurate Retail Group, Ross, Target, The Home Depot and Walmart. Employers recruited for both internship and entry-level roles, and students were able to speak with them over chat and video. Parker College of Business marketing students were encouraged to attend the virtual career fair.

Gloriyah Caleb, a senior marketing student and Parker Business Scholar from Augusta, attended the event, stating, “I was so fortunate for this opportunity to connect with prominent retail recruiters on the online platform, Brazen. As a senior at Georgia Southern University, entering into the “real world” is scary, especially with the new challenges of COVID-19. The National Retail Foundation eased my worries and concerns by sponsoring and hosting a virtual career fair for students interested in all sectors of the retail industry. I am happy to say that I received a couple of interviews from the career fair, and hopefully, I can secure my dream job in retail by the holiday season. That would be the greatest present I could receive.”

COO of Capstone Financial Speaks to Finance Association

Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Capstone Financial, Adam Bass, joined the Finance Association for the second installment of its Fall 2020 Guest Speaker Series. Bass has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin and a J.D. from the University of Miami, with nearly 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. More than 20 students participated in the event either in person or virtually, via Zoom. 

Bass spoke about his path to becoming COO at Capstone and how he moved from working in the telecommunication industry to the financial services industry and later into management. He stressed the importance of building strong client portfolios and what he loves most about working in the industry:  helping people and changing their lives.

He noted that the first years working as a financial advisor are tough, but that the rewards come later if one stays with the profession. Bass mentioned that the biggest part of his job is managing emotions and setting realistic expectations when working with clients. Being a financial planner is like owning your own business, with the most successful in the industry treating it that way. 

Bass also said that it is possible to be a financial planner within a financial institution—like a bank. In this scenario, a financial planner usually earns a salary instead of commission, making it a good alternative for some. Bass said that knowing your client is one of the most important aspects of the job. Many financial planners operate in markets, a choice they consciously or sometimes unconsciously make. Sometimes the market choice is driven by connections in a particular industry, like medical doctors or attorneys, or from an interest in a particular business. 

Wrapping up the visit, Bass answered a variety of questions from students about internships at Capstone, the hardest part of his job and what those first few challenging years are like as a financial advisor. In addition, he briefly discussed the challenges the firm and industry have been presented with due to current conditions and new regulations.

Capstone Financial is an Atlanta-based financial advisory firm founded in 1886. The firm has several offices in Georgia (Valdosta, Albany and Macon) as well as offices in Jacksonville, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; and Huntsville, Alabama. The firm’s objective is “to help clients navigate the complexities of managing wealth.” For more information about Capstone Financial, visit

Southern States Educational Foundation Presents Scholarship Donation to Support Area Students Pursuing Degrees in Transportation and Logistics

from Capricorn Communications

Southern States Educational Foundation, a 501(c)3 affiliated with Dulany Industries, Inc. that is dedicated to supporting education-related initiatives in Savannah, Ga., recently presented a $2,000 scholarship check to the Savannah Traffic Club to support area juniors and seniors at Georgia Southern University who are pursuing degrees in transportation and logistics fields.

The check was presented on Oct. 8 at the Savannah Traffic Club’s Oyster Roast at Old Fort Jackson in Savannah, Ga., which was held in conjunction with the Logistics and Transportation Association of North America (LTNA) Annual Conference. SeaGate Terminals Senior Customer Service Manager Todd Jones presented the donation on behalf of Southern States Educational Foundation and Dulany Industries, Inc.

“We think it’s important to support college students who are interested in professional careers in the transportation and logistics field right here in coastal Georgia,” said Jones. “Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders. We appreciate the Savannah Traffic Club’s ongoing commitment to supporting student success and nurturing future professionals in the transportation and logistics industry.”

Over the years, Dulany Industries, Inc. and the Southern States Educational Foundation have provided support for a wide range of local organizations including Savannah Classical Academy, Bethesda Academy, Junior Achievement, Historic Savannah Foundation and Georgia Historical Society.

Since 1996, the Savannah Traffic Club has provided scholarships to local juniors and seniors pursuing college degrees in a range of transportation and logistics fields.  


Founded in 1968, Southern States Educational Foundation is a 501(c)3 affiliated with Dulany Industries, Inc. that is dedicated to supporting education-related initiatives in Savannah, Ga. Over the years, Dulany Industries and the Southern States Educational Foundation have provided support for a wide range of nonprofits including Savannah Classical Academy, Bethesda Academy, Junior Achievement, Historic Savannah Foundation and Georgia Historical Society and many other important organizations. Learn more:


The Savannah Traffic Club is a nonprofit organization open to professionals in the transportation and logistics industries and related fields. Currently, more than 50 companies in manufacturing, shipping and allied industries are represented by the membership in the club. The Savannah Traffic Club promotes education in the field of transportation and logistics in partnership with Georgia Southern University by awarding scholarships to deserving college students seeking a degree in transportation and logistics. Learn more:

The Man Behind the Bird

As I sit on a cold metal bench outside of the Wildlife Center at Georgia Southern University, I can hear the sounds of nature all around me. Birds are chirping, squirrels are playing in the crunchy autumn leaves and water is babbling from a nearby fountain. 

The first thing someone sees as they enter the center are colorful and exquisite displays of wildlife. I spot some people milling around exploring the center on their own time, admiring the displays. There are snakes, fish and all types of animals on display. The feeling in the air is calm and eager to learn, which is something Steve Hein (FINC, 1983) loves to do.

Steve Hein’s office, located in the Wildlife Center, is decorated with what at first glance seem to be amazing photographs of wildlife and animals. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that they are actually paintings that Hein has done himself. Three sit across the top of his desk of the bald eagle: Georgia Southern University’s iconic symbol Freedom.

Hein graduated from Georgia Southern University with a degree in Business Administration in 1983. After graduating from GS at age 23, he dove headfirst and became a full time professional wildlife artist. Hein said he has “never had a real job” because it doesn’t feel like work to Hein since he gets to do what he has such a strong passion for every day.

Although Hein has never had an art lesson, his talent can be seen in his busy work history. Hein has done artwork for numerous companies like Coca-Cola and Georgia Power Company. Along with personal projects, Hein is also working on up to a year’s worth of commissioned art pieces at any given time. 

As a wildlife artist, Steve received the Georgia Governor’s “Artist of Excellence” award; won the 1987 and 1988 Georgia Wildlife Management Area Stamps; was chosen in 1986, 1987 and 1990 Georgia Ducks Unlimited Artist of the Year; and worked on a national level with Ducks Unlimited, Quail Unlimited and the National Wild Turkey Federation. 

Along with art, Steve also finds passion in falconry. Hein has been participating in the ancient art of falconry for 33 seasons, with this past season his most recent. Steve often credits his career here at Georgia Southern as a complete “accidental career” more than anything else. He said he was “in the right place at the right time” and that his talent and passion for falconry was the genesis for creating the Wildlife Center here at Georgia Southern. 

When it comes to other things Hein enjoys doing, the list is endless. Steve likes to fish, practice archery, woodworking, and the obvious: bird watching. He is also an avid hunter with his own falcons, hawks and dogs that he has trained to hunt alongside him. 

There is no way to put Hein’s typical work day into a strict schedule because every day is not the same. Although Hein does not participate in the many different types of educational presentations done at the Wildlife Center, he credits the staff for the smooth running operation of the center. 

“We exist on the backbone of the students who have gravitated to the wildlife center,” said Hein. 

While most students who work at the Wildlife Center are studying a subject related to biology or wildlife, Hein says he doesn’t just seek out biologists. He enjoys working with “people persons” because so much of what they do involves being the liaison between nature and man for people who come to visit the center. 

The way the Wildlife Center is run is fundamentally and philosophically different than a lot of other centers of the same caliber.  This center focuses on hands-on learning and having the educational process be an intellectual and emotional pursuit instead of one or the other. Hein helped create the Wildlife Center and was even working on the blueprints in his own kitchen.

“‘We [as humans] are tactile creatures, we don’t say ‘hey don’t touch that,’” said Hein. “We do the exact opposite. We say ‘hey come and touch’ in a responsible way.”

Game days in Statesboro are electric and something that everyone who has been to a game in Paulson Stadium looks forward to is Freedom’s Flight during the Southern Pride Marching Band’s pregame performance. Those 30-odd seconds where Freedom is flying over the heads of Eagle Nation are an iconic part of Georgia Southern culture. However, someone that is an important gear that keeps the machine turning is often in the foreground.

The preparation for game day flights actually begin the week before the flight is scheduled to take place, Hein said. He typically tries to get Freedom into the stadium at least two times during the week, doing practice flights around the same time he would be flying on Saturday. The staff also tries to mimic how Freedom’s eating cycle would be like if he were to be in the wild, so Freedom is looking for food on game days and is essentially hunting for Hein, who is his food source. 

Steve is always the person that Freedom flies to, so Hein has never been on the upper deck of Paulson Stadium for a release. Wildlife Curator Scott Courdin or Education Program Coordinator Wayne Paulk are one of two people who release Freedom. Hein is the person down on the field doing what he calls his “Freedom Dance”. 

Regarding what goes through Hein’s mind during Freedom’s Flight, he had two words to say: “Not again.” Hein knows very well that you can’t ever predict what an apex predator is going to do, and he calls Freedom’s flight pattern when he circles the stadium a “toilet bowl flight”.

“There are certain things that I reflect upon in that moment that puts it all in perspective for me,” said Hein. “Flying a bird is entertainment. There are things much more important. You have the national anthem, you’ve got a canon that’s signifying our military service men and women.” 

During the flight itself, Hein has to stay hyper-focused on Freedom. He is constantly watching his movements and trying to read his behavior. Only until Freedom lands safely can Hein somewhat relax and enjoy the crowds reaction. 

Freedom has given so many amazing moments to Hein. It was difficult for Hein to choose which moments stood out the most.

One of the moments that came to his mind was during the first time Georgia Southern played against the Naval Academy. As 4,000 midshipmen men and women marched onto the field, Steve Hein was right there with them. As they marched past, the midshipmen cut their eyes to Freedom in recognition. Later on in the game, Hein ventured into the stands that was a sea of white with Freedom.

Another moment he recalls happened after a game in Paulson Stadium. Steve and Freedom had just finished singing with the band and football players, and he was walking around and allowing people to snap some photos with Freedom when a Latina woman approached him. Hein recalls that she was tearful and trying to speak, but Hein unfortunately couldn’t understand her. She then placed a gentle kiss on Freedom’s shoulder. There was another woman nearby who was able to translate to Hein. He learned that the woman had just applied for America Citizenship and being able to be there and see the nation’s symbol meant a lot to her. 

“I had to turn around myself as to not get emotional in front of them,” said Hein.  “It was just so touching,” said Hein.

As our interview came to a close, one thing became very clear to me: Steve Hein is someone who loves what he does, and he has so much passion for art, wildlife and animals that it is sometimes difficult to put into words.

Watching Hein and Freedom interact in what some would call their “stomping ground” without the roaring crowd and bright lights game days offer in Paulson Stadium, was something truly special. Hein was stern, yet comfortable with Freedom, and it was clear to me that both of them have a mutual relationship of respect.

Everything boils down to his love and respect for the outdoors and everything in it. Hein has been able to bring two things he has an undeniable passion for, art and wildlife, into a career that seems perfectly tailored to him. 

“It’s been a really fun, unbelievably rich life that is more of an accident than anything else. I’ve been very blessed and I’ve been the beneficiary of the ‘serendipity and synchronicity of life,’” said Hein.

Men’s Golf Wins Bash in the Boro


Mason Williams (MGNT) and Brett Barron (FINC) each shot a 67 in the third round, and the Georgia Southern men’s golf team won the Bash in the Boro Tuesday at the Georgia Southern University Golf Course.

The Eagles (-33), who entered the day with a six-stroke lead, extended the margin to win the event by 13 strokes over second-place Augusta (-20). Appalachian State (-1) and Francis Marion tied for third.

The Eagles claimed the top four places on the individual leaderboard as well with Williams (-10) picking up his first collegiate victory and sixth top-10 career finish. Jake Maples (-7, management) shot 72 to finish second, his third career top-5 and sixth top-10. Barron (-6) tied for third along with Ben Carr, who carded a 70 today. It was Barron’s eighth career top-10 finish and Carr’s ninth.

Colin Bowles (+2) tied for 15th along with Avery Price, who played as an individual this week. Eagle individuals Wilson Andress (+4) and Jacob Bayer (finance) tied for 21st.

After a solid start, the Eagles put some distance between themselves and Augusta at the turn as the Georgia Southern lineup played holes 7 through 11 11-under par. Luke Dasher closed out his front nine with three consecutive birdies, Carr finished the front with back-to-back birdies, Maples birdied the par-5 9th and Williams made eagle at 9. Bowles opened his back nine with consecutive birdies, and Barron birdied 10.

From there, it was a race for first among Eagle teammates. After a bogey on 13, Williams made birdie on 15 and 17 to hold off Maples, Carr and Barron and post a comfortable three-stroke win.

How Rock-Country Artist Elizabeth Cook Rebuilds in The ‘Aftermath’ Of Disaster

by Rianna Turner

In a quick succession of tragedies, singer-songwriter Elizabeth Cook’s (ACCT, ’96) father died, her mother-in-law died, her brother died, her sister got a divorce, she got a divorce, and the farm burned down. Cook felt run-down, vulnerable to outside influence. She went to rehab. While struggling with her mental health, she was misdiagnosed, placed on incorrect medications. 

But after a disaster — or many disasters — there is a moment of reconciliation. The debris is swept from porches, the air is safe to breathe again. On Cook’s new album Aftermath, which released on Sept. 11 with Agent Love/Thirty Tigers Records, she sings about recovering after disaster. 

“As a creative person, you’re never not being inspired or uninspired,” Cook says. “You’re constantly taking inventory, because you’re sensitive to your environment. I look at all the things I’ve gathered and I construct a piece of music out of it. [Aftermath is] a second cutting that you return to the soil. It’s fighting my way through all that fog to take inventory and plant my feet where I am.”

Cook’s inventory comes primarily from personal experience — songwriting is how she processes emotion. She started singing at a young age, with her family’s traveling honky-tonk band. But her father drank often, went in and out of prison. Cook just wanted to be a cheerleader, so she quit. In a brief attempt to escape music, Cook went to Georgia Southern University and took an accounting job. This lasted a mere eight months. She started songwriting in Nashville, and has been stationed there ever since. 

Aftermath replants the seeds of many of Cook’s experiences: death and resurrection, familial piety and pain, the desire to construct a musical identity separate from the industry’s constraints. Some critics talk of the album as Cook’s break from country, but Cook envisions her music outside of genre. “It’s sort of like nationalism, it’s like flying a flag,” Cook says. “I’m not that into nationalism, and I’m not that into genre.”

Cook addresses this on “Perfect Girls of Pop,” the track with the most shimmery, pop-adjacent production. Through storytelling, it details the difference between the country-pop star of the “big machine,” and how Cook sees herself. Each song picks bits and pieces from various genre traditions, but keeps a consistent psychedelic-rock thread through the steel guitar and vocal production. Songs like “Two Chords And A Lie” tend toward the country tradition, Cook’s voice fluid like molasses from a spoon, taking listeners to a musky piano bar in Nashville. And the final track, “Mary The Submissing Years,” foils John Prine’s “Jesus, the Missing Years.” 

The song, in which Cook centers an experience she feels is “dismissed” in the story’s conventional telling, indicates the album’s other theme: empathy.

“I think I wanted to point out and consider that other people are also having a very intricate experience, not just what they’re sayin’ in your scene,” Cook says of the song. “I think it’s important for us to be able to do that, and be able to step into someone’s skin as a matter of our own survival. I wanted to try and get in her skin.” 

According to Cook, establishing empathy is “necessary if we’re going to be a joyful, peaceful world.” She tells stories to give listeners a foot-in-the-door, or, as Cook would say, a root in the ground. But this degree of honesty can be draining, especially since Cook’s music comes from personal places. 

“I perform as an occupational hazard,” Cook says. “I love to create music, I love to tour, I love for everyone to check out with me so we can go on a musical trip together. But when I’m doing it right, it drains me. When I jump off a cliff, and perform these songs in front of people, it’s like I get paid to lose my mind.”

The current touring hiatus gives Cook extra space to process the album’s release before she bares her insides on a stage. But hough it’s challenging to let others into your personal disaster, Cook won’t stop performing. “People need to see that,” she says. “We’re all too self-aware.”

Study Predicts Spaceport on Georgia Coast Would Boost Tourism


A proposed commercial spaceport on the Georgia coast could attract 4,000 to 5,000 tourists with each satellite launch, according to a new study.

Spaceport Camden also would support 38 to 45 permanent tourism industry jobs, the Center for Business Analytics and Economic Research at Georgia Southern University found in a study conducted in partnership with Camden County.

“Building Spaceport Camden could bolster additional spending in the area’s hospitality industry throughout Camden County and the southeast Georgia region,” said Benjamin McKay, the center’s assistant director. “The potential per-launch benefit to total employee compensation could reach $1.1 million, with sizeable increases in the total goods and services used in the region and total business sales.”

Supporters of the controversial project, including Gov. Brian Kemp and Georgia’s congressional delegation, say a commercial spaceport would represent a huge economic boost for southeastern Georgia and attract aerospace engineering graduates from Georgia Tech who otherwise likely would take their skills and earning power out of state.

Environmental groups allied with property owners downrange from the launch site oppose the spaceport as a threat to public safety. The project also has raised concerns from officials at Cumberland Island National Seashore and the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced last May it was delaying its review of the project after Camden County officials submitted a revised application that calls for launching only small rockets from the site rather than the medium-to-large rockets envisioned in the original plan. A decision isn’t expected until next October.

Georgia Southern previously estimated that Spaceport Camden would generate more than $22 million in annual economic activity in addition to more than $9 million in economic activity that would result from the project’s construction phase.

“Small-lift launch vehicle launches mean big business for our hotels and restaurants,” said Camden County Administrator Steve Howard, who also is serving as Spaceport Camden project lead.

“Many hospitality businesses have been suffering as a result of COVID-19,” Howard added. “This report shows that a launch from Spaceport Camden can revitalize Camden’s tourism industry and ignite our recovery.”

BIG Awarded EDA Grant to Assist Regional Businesses

In order to assist local economic development efforts and help regional businesses deal with the increased burdens related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Business Innovation Group (BIG) has been awarded a $300,000 supplemental grant by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). The grant, administered by the EDA University Center at Georgia Southern University, proposed a two-prong approach to improve the economic diversity in the South Georgia region: providing technical assistance to entrepreneurs, business and communities to assist in the COVID recovery measures; and supporting and accelerating technology commercialization and entrepreneurship by helping companies commercialize innovative products and services.

To meet the first goal, BIG is working to expand its Georgia Enterprise Network for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (GENIE) to serve as a virtual incubator network to connect rural entrepreneurs and startup companies with the resources available at Georgia Southern. In addition to developing the StartUp GENIE, the EDA University Center is working to establish a technology transfer division within the university. The goal of this effort would be to assess university-derived intellectual property for its suitability in the marketplace. While both of these projects are at the beginning stages, BIG Director Dominique Halaby says he anticipates that these two programs will have a significant and long-lasting positive impact on the local community as well as the entire region serviced by Georgia Southern.

Class Notes

Rhett Sapough (MBA, ’14), Greenville, SC, recently joined Millsaps College as director of admission. Rhett has experience as a Title IX investigator and is an active member of NACAC and SACAC.

Debbie Spallino (ACCT, ’86), Crowley, LA, and her husband, Shane, have been named the 2020 Business Persons of the Year by the Acadia Parish Chamber of Commerce.

David Ussery (MAcc, ’11), Augusta, has been promoted to partner at SMA CPAs, helping oversee client relationships, work on new business development and assist with general oversight of firm operations.

Faculty/Staff News

Steve Stewart, Ph.D., associate professor of management, won Outstanding Professor for the WebMBA. He also had an article published with colleague Mark Peterson in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology titled, “Implications of Individualist Bias in Social Identity Theory for Cross-Cultural Organizational Psychology.” Congratulations, Steve!

Bo Dai, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing, and Hyunju Shin, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing, had a manuscript entitled, “The Efficacy of Customer’s Voluntary Use of Self-Service Technology (SST): A Dual-Study Approach” accepted for publication in the Journal of Strategic Marketing. Congratulations, Bo and Hyunju!

Ivy Sun, Ph.D, and Charles Marvil, both lecturers of management, attended the 39th Annual International Society of Travel & Tourism Educators Conference and won the Best Working Paper Award for their paper, “Past COVID-19 Recovery for the Full-Service Restaurant Industry: What Will It Take to Get Customers to Return.” Congratulations, Ivy and Charles!

Joseph Ruhland, Ph.D., associate professor of risk management and chair of the Department of Finance, was tapped as an expert for advice on how to get the best car insurance by the website MoneyGeek. To view the article, visit

Richard McGrath, Ph.D., professor of economics, was quoted as an expert by WalletHub on the price of car insurance. To view the article, visit

Last updated: 1/17/2023