Ole Miss MBA Program Ranked by Businessweek

New mark is highest national ranking ever for program

The University of Mississippi School of Business is located in Holman Hall.

The UM School of Business Administration is housed in Holman Hall.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s MBA program has been ranked 76th nationally by Bloomberg Businessweek.

The schools that made the ranking are considered by Businessweek to offer the strongest education and best preparation for business careers.

“We are very happy with the MBA ranking,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration. “This ranking reflects the hard work of our faculty and staff, as well as the board who has helped us in many ways. We are grateful for the recognition and will continue the good work to provide an excellent education and preparation to our students entering the workforce, and enhance the value of the MBA degrees for our alumni.”

MBA_76The MBA program has been ranked in the low 90s by U.S. News and World Report, but this is the highest national ranking it has ever received, said Del Hawley, the school’s senior associate dean. The program was ranked higher than other respected programs, including those at the University of Alabama, Oklahoma University and Baylor University, he said.

“The Businessweek ranking is exciting news!” Hawley said. “Clearly, our program delivers tremendous value to our students and is an increasingly attractive alternative to many larger and more costly programs.”

The rankings are based on student satisfaction, which includes school culture and academic quality; a survey from employers that hire those graduates to reflect career prep of the program; and the expertise of the faculty that administers the education, including articles published in business journals.

“This upward ranking trend reinforces what so many global employers, alumni and current students know: graduating with an Ole Miss MBA provides students with an educational cornerstone to succeed throughout their career,” said Chris Daniel, MBA Alumni Board president and a strategic buyer for Exxon Mobil in Houston.

Ann Canty, the MBA program faculty director, said she is thankful for student participation in the survey.

“We are aware that MBA students consistently tell us that school culture is important in selecting the right MBA program,” Canty said. “The unique aspects of the Ole Miss MBA program school culture were communicated very well by our students.”

The program’s goal is to increase enrollment with strong candidates and equip MBA students with the tools to succeed in a competitive workforce, said Ashley Jones, director of MBA/MHA administration.

“Support from our MBA Alumni Board makes our program unique,” Jones said. “The board realizes the importance of professional development and has created a series of professional development workshops to make Ole Miss MBAs stand out. Their time and dedication to prepare our students is an asset to our program.”

According to the findings, the Ole Miss business school has an average GMAT score of 550 for admitted students. The cost of the program for Mississippi residents is around $15,000 and the average salary of graduates from the program is $56,000 annually.

Rebel Venture Capital Fund Aids Student Businesses

A student clothing line and an app were awarded the funds' inaugural grants

Left to right: John Cassimus, a successful entrepreneur and Ole Miss supporter, UM students Dwight Barnes and Jasmine Brown, who were awarded seed money for their clothing company, and Bill Fry, chair of the Rebel Venture Capital Fund.

Left to right: John Cassimus, a successful entrepreneur and Ole Miss supporter, UM students Dwight Barnes and Jasmine Brown, who were awarded seed money for their clothing company, and Bill Fry, chair of the Rebel Venture Capital Fund.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship has awarded seed money to students through the newly created Rebel Venture Capital Fund, which helps with business startup costs.

Clay Dibrell, an associate professor of management and executive director of the center who also holds the William W. Gresham Jr. Entrepreneurial Lectureship, said the fund began to gain traction last spring after UM business Dean Ken Cyree suggested it. Bill Fry chaired the fund, which has raised about $35,000 in donations from UM alumni, which will be used to help students with their business ideas.

“We think about it in terms of factors of production – land, labor, capital,” Dibrell said. “So the entrepreneurs are providing the ideas and the knowledge, and the drive to get something going. Our donors wanted to give them an opportunity to try, and possibly fail, with their ideas in a nurturing environment.”

Left to right: Diane Barrentine, a Domino’s franchisee owner, and UM students Alicia Netterville and Cydney Archie, who were awarded seed money for their app and website, and Bill Fry, chair of the Rebel Venture Capital Fund.

Left to right: Diane Barrentine, a Domino’s franchisee owner, and UM students Alicia Netterville and Cydney Archie, who were awarded seed money for their app and website, and Bill Fry, chair of the Rebel Venture Capital Fund.

Dibrell credits Fry with his work as chairman to get the fund started, which resulted in grants totaling $7,000 awarded to two student projects in October.

Dwight Barnes, a senior business management major from Jackson, and Jasmine Brown, a senior accounting major from Jackson, were given one of the grants to help get their clothing line started. “Chasing Ten Figures” clothing is a joint effort between Barnes and Brown, as well as Barnes’ cousin, Theodis Barnes, who lives in New Mexico. The clothing company idea was awarded $4,000.

“For us to be in the venture challenge and win, it just shows the hard work and dedication we put in is being rewarded,” Barnes said. “It just made me hungry to succeed and continue to do more and stay on the course. We’re going in the right direction. I’m very grateful for the opportunity.”

The company started in February, and the partners use digital printers for their T-shirts, and are also making baseball caps, bucket hats and hockey jerseys, among other items, Barnes said.

A proposal to launch a web platform and a mobile application that links  reliable students who want to sell their services to people and businesses willing to hire them got the other grant, for $3,000. The developers of the website and mobile app, called Geeks n Gigs, hope to give students a place to get both professional and nonprofessional jobs, which can help them earn extra money or find jobs that beef up their resumes.

The venture also helps people and businesses find and hire students to perform their temporary tasks.

The website is expected to launch in January 2015. Two third-year law students, Alicia Netterville, of Greenville, and Cydney Archie, of Brandon, created the site and are preparing it for launch.

“The Rebel Venture Capital Fund has allowed us to significantly increase our marketing campaign and complete the method by which payments will be received and distributed via our system,” Archie said. “Outside financial support, the Rebel Venture Fund has provided a wealth of information and support that has made some of our growing pains easier. The fund also provided us with mentors who have offered candid and valuable advice.”

The CIE’s mission is “to inspire our students to create valuable new businesses and enhance the economic value of all businesses in the state of Mississippi through excellent teaching, exceptional service and world-class research.” Through the Rebel Venture Capital Fund, the CIE is to award grants to student projects each semester.

The next grants are slated be awarded this spring, and students are invited to present business proposals.

Applications should not be submitted until student entrepreneurs have discussed their ideas with friends and, preferably, already generated some sales or revenue, CIE officials advised. Proposals are not likely to be considered for funding if they have not generated revenues. Students seeking more information can email questions about the fund to CIE@bus.olemiss.edu.

New Funding to Support UM Entrepreneurship Programs

Two grants provide collaborative opportunity for UM business, community engagement programs

School of Business Administration Dean, Ken Cyree

School of Business Administration Dean, Ken Cyree

OXFORD, Miss. – A grant from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation is expanding the capacity of the University of Mississippi’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The $370,500 grant will provide support for the center’s student-led consulting program for three years.

Through the Student Entrepreneurship and New Venture Development Program, the center will create a student-led consulting program that focuses on helping startup and early-stage Mississippi businesses achieve growth, profitability and success.

“This grant is extremely important to get the center off the ground and to help us provide the knowledge and skills so our students can start businesses and engage in the economy,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration. “I believe this is a watershed moment for the Mississippi and regional economy and I am hopeful that the center will provide the catalyst for many startup firms that are successful, in addition to better innovation in existing businesses. We look forward to the focus the center will bring to entrepreneurship and to funding Rebel-led businesses for many years. ”

The program, which will launch during the fall 2014 semester, will provide employment for up to 10 UM business students. Working under faculty supervision, the students will assist entrepreneurs throughout Mississippi, including those in UM’s Office of Technology Transfer, Small Business Development Center and to businesses located within UM’s Insight Park business incubator. The students will also participate in the projects and initiatives developed by the center.

“A primary goal of the business school is to provide our students with opportunities to gain real-world work experience,” said Clay Dibrell, UM professor of business management and the center’s executive director. “The Hearin Foundation grant provides us with an avenue for students to be able to work on actual entrepreneurship projects, which will help their entrepreneurial clients be more successful. This experience will allow the students to use the skills they learn in the classroom and to apply these skills, which we anticipate will enable them to be more competitive in the job market or enhance their probabilities of success if they choose to start their own business.”

Student teams will provide a broad range of services aimed at helping startups develop and implement stable business plans. Services will include social media marketing, payment system development, accounting system implementation, marketing design, customer outreach, promotions, process reengineering, bank document preparation and more. Students may also connect clients to other university resources as needed.

A separate, $1.6 million grant from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation for the university’s McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement will support the Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Initiative, which seeks to increase entrepreneurship and promote economic development in rural Mississippi communities. The McLean Institute and the business school plan to collaborate on projects that will help improve economic development through both traditional and social entrepreneurship programs.

“The entrepreneurship faculty envision the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to be a catalyst in continuing to develop and enhance the Ole Miss entrepreneurial ecosystem to benefit our stakeholders,” Dibrell said. “This grant enables us to further develop our collaborative relationships with other departments on campus, as well as increasing the likelihood for entrepreneurial ventures coming out of Ole Miss to be successful, which is good not only for the university but also for the state of Mississippi.”

Jones Earns Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneur Award

Annual recognition honors visionary graduate building unique business to aid security personnel

Henry Jones, recipient of the 2014 Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneurship award.

Henry Jones, recipient of the 2014 Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneurship award.

OXFORD, Miss. – Henry Jones, co-founder of Kopis Mobile, is the recipient of the 2014 Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneurship award. The award, named for University of Mississippi alumni Jan and Lawrence Farrington, is given annually to a graduate who exemplifies the best of entrepreneurship.

Jones, a Richton native who earned his mechanical engineering degree from UM in 1995, calls the recognition “a big surprise and an enormous honor.”

“I know who the past honorees are; they are entrepreneurs who are working hard to grow businesses in Mississippi,” Jones said. “To be included in that group is humbling, and it is also a vote of confidence from peers who face the same challenges that I do as an entrepreneur.”

The Farrington Distinguished Award was created to honor successful entrepreneurs who carry on the tradition of the Farringtons in creating impactful businesses.

“Jan and Lawrence Farrington have been involved in entrepreneurship in the state of Mississippi for many years and have been an integral part in funding a number of businesses,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the UM School of Business Administration. “They are keen business people who help other entrepreneurs bring their ideas to fruition, thereby providing valuable goods and services, as well as creating employment for Mississippi citizens. They give back their time as well to the university and are great ambassadors for the business school and the university.”

According to Jones, whose Flowood-based company creates apps and app-enabled equipment for use by law enforcement, private security personnel and the military, the experience gained at Ole Miss set him on a path to success. While studying at Ole Miss, Jones took advantage of opportunities to participate in student government and study abroad programs. The diverse exposure helped him earn a full scholarship to graduate school at Stanford University.

He also credits his time at Ole Miss with allowing him to build relationships with other entrepreneurs – relationships and friendships that continue to this day – as well as to learn from people as successful as the Farringtons.

“I truly appreciate what the Farringtons have done in creating this award,” Jones said. “What they do to support young entrepreneurs is meaningful to me and to others who also have a vision for a brighter future for Mississippi and are trying to create businesses as a way to make that happen.”

For the Farringtons, lending a helping hand is all part of their desire to give back.

“Lawrence and I want to do everything we can to encourage entrepreneurs in Mississippi,” Jan Farrington said. “We have so many bright, talented entrepreneurs in our state who have had the vision and tenacity to start their own companies. These businesses can and will make a difference in the future of our state if we can keep them here in Mississippi. Encouragement from the government, universities, organizations such as Innovate Mississippi, investors and individuals can help make this happen. This award was just a small way that we thought we could contribute.

“Recognizing successful Mississippians highlights examples of what is happening to brighten the future of our state. We not only want to celebrate these successes, but we also want to help and encourage our students to pursue their own visions and dreams of becoming entrepreneurs.”

University Honors Burns Family with Building Dedication

State-of-the-art residence hall, team meeting room named in honor of accountancy alumnus

Roland Burns with wife, Sheryl, son Derek, Ole Miss Accountancy Professor Jimmy Davis and son Tyler stand in front of the newly dedicated Burns Hall. Roland and Derek shared Davis as a professor while at Ole Miss, and youngest son, Tyler will be taking a class Davis is teaching this fall.

Roland Burns with wife, Sheryl, son Derek, Ole Miss Accountancy Professor Jimmy Davis and son Tyler stand in front of the newly dedicated Burns Hall. Roland and Derek shared Davis as a professor while at Ole Miss, and youngest son, Tyler will be taking a class Davis is teaching this fall.

OXFORD, Miss. – A crowd of nearly 100 students, faculty and staff participated in a ceremony hosted Friday (April 4) by the University of Mississippi to honor Sheryl and Roland Burns of Frisco, Texas, for their legacy of support with the naming of a premier campus residence hall and the new football team meeting room in the Manning Performance Center.

The Burnses have given generously to support both academic and athletics programs, with their recent $2 million gift elevating their lifetime giving to more than $5 million. Roland Burns, a 1982 graduate who earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in accountancy, says it is humbling to see his family’s name on the building.

“It is not anything I ever thought I would see,” Burns said. “It is a really attractive building and there is a lot of history here (on this campus). We are so proud to be associated with Ole Miss and the School of Accountancy; it has been such an outstanding program.”

The Public Accounting Report, the independent newsletter of the accounting profession, recently rated UM’s undergraduate accountancy program as No. 4 in the country (behind Texas, Illinois and Brigham Young) and the master’s and doctoral programs at Nos. 5 and 8, respectively. The accountancy programs are No. 1 in the Southeastern Conference.

Burns Hall, which has been temporarily known as Ridge South, stands on the site of the former Miller Hall. Burns Hall opened in August 2012 and is one of three new residence halls on that site. The four-story structure houses 272 students and provides a shared courtyard and many of the amenities requested by students, including private bathrooms, microwaves, refrigerators in each room, study rooms, community kitchens, laundry facilities and lounges with TVs on each floor.

“Today, the residence halls are an extension of the learning experience, and when we talk about the Ole Miss family, it’s important that we know our family comes home here every night,” said Brandi Hephner Labanc, UM vice chancellor of student affairs. “We see this as a wonderful extension of our academic environment, and we are grateful to the Burnses for being involved in the living learning experience here.”

With a growth in enrollment on the Oxford campus from 9,412 in the fall of 1982 to 18,423 in fall 2013, much has changed since Burns graduated. The former Kincannon Hall resident noted that the housing looks quite different than when he was a student here.

It was a visit from UM Provost Morris Stocks, who at the time was the new dean of the School of Accountancy, and Debbie Vaughn, senior executive director of development, that reinvigorated Burns’ connection to the university. They visited Burns in Texas, where he is president and chief financial officer of Comstock Resources Inc. Stocks asked Burns to create an intern program in his company’s financial reporting department that would provide opportunity for Ole Miss undergraduate students.

“Morris got us interested by showing us the success the (accountancy) program is having on the national level, and that gave us a deep sense of pride,” said Burns, who transferred from Mississippi State after his freshman year to join the then-new accountancy school in its first year of programs set apart from the School of Business Administration.

“Being a part of something new made all of us know we were part of something special. Giving back through the internship program and in other ways is really rewarding to us, and we are grateful to be included as part of the Ole Miss family.”

This was the second time in a year that a campus building has been named for a Patterson School alumnus. Another of the Ridge residence halls was named last spring for alumnus Lucian Minor.

“There is much to celebrate today, as we are so grateful to Roland and Sheryl for their continued dedication to the university,” said Chancellor Dan Jones. “They support us financially and today, they are lending us their name, and what a great thing for the university to be associated with their name.”

Stocks praised the Burnses for their holistic approach to support for the university.

“The Burnses have continued to support our school and our university in many ways, including the Burns Chair in Accountancy,” Stocks said. “Outside of the major public accounting firms, (Roland) has also recruited more accountancy students to our program and formed an internship program at his company that is critical to our program. The Burnses’ lend constant moral support to our efforts to transform lives. We are a better place because Roland chose to attend Ole Miss.”

During a ceremony held earlier in the day, Ole Miss Athletics honored the Burnses with the naming of the team meeting room. That naming took place in conjunction with the ribbon-cutting for the newly- renovated Indoor Practice Facility, now called the Olivia and Archie Manning Athletics Performance Center.

“Sheryl and Roland support excellence in academics and support academics in athletics equally, making sure that we move forward together,” Jones added. “They are making a big difference in the lives of students in their local community and here. We are so grateful to them.”

Along with family friends, the Burnses were joined by their sons Derek, an Ole Miss graduate student in accountancy who earned a bachelor’s degree here in 2013, and Tyler, an Ole Miss freshman majoring in biology with a minor in accountancy. Their daughter, Stephanie, is a graduate of Southern Methodist University.

MBA Students Sharpen Business Skills for Case Competition

Rivalry among Southeastern Conference teams extends beyond athletics with second annual MBA event

From left, William Dunphey, Anastasia Verenita, Steven Murphy, Julian Sanchez,  and Dr. Samantha Fairclough, Faculty Advisor.

From left, William Dunphey, Anastasia Verenita, Steven Murphy, Julian Sanchez, and Dr. Samantha Fairclough, Faculty Advisor.

OXFORD, Miss. – A team of four University of Mississippi MBA students faced off with teams from other Southeastern Conference schools during the second annual SEC MBA Case Competition.

Steven Murphy, of Charleston, S.C.; Anastasia Varenita, originally from Chishinau, Moldova, but who grew up in Jackson; Julian Sanchez, from the New York borough of Queens; and Will Dunphey, of Picayune, represented Ole Miss. The competition took place April 3-5 at the University of Alabama, with all 14 SEC universities taking part. Though the University of Florida walked away with the top prize, each student who participated learned something to help them succeed in the future.

The student teams were given a current, real-world problem facing the banking industry. Each team analyzed the information, developed a strategy for addressing the problem and made oral presentations to a panel of judges.

“This competition provides two of the most important ingredients that help our students to learn and to be successful,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the UM School of Business Administration. “The two things are the ability to get into a case and analyze it, and then the competition itself.

“The competition requires a broad-based analysis, so you are applying many business skills to solve problems, and you are doing it quickly. So, it’s not just a finance or a marketing niche; it’s more of an overall view. The competition allows students to compare themselves to others, which helps raise their game and sharpen their skills.”

UM students prepared by working closely with the team’s faculty adviser, Samantha Fairclough, UM professor of management in business administration. The students also participated in the 2014 Speaker’s Edge event, a transformative public speaking competition for Ole Miss MBA students, who spend a week-and-a-half working with world-class communication coaches to learn the skills of high-impact public speaking. The program culminated in a two-day competition, where students give three different presentations in front of a panel of judges, composed of industry business leaders.

The 14 teams were divided into four divisions Friday (April 4) before the Saturday competition. The Saturday morning sessions included divisional rounds that were judged by a three-member panel consisting of leaders and experts from Regions, the sponsoring company.

The four divisional winners advanced to a final round Saturday afternoon.

“This is a live, strategic competition where the students have less than 24 hours to solve a business problem and develop a plan,” said Brian Gray, associate dean of Alabama’s Manderson Graduate School of Business. “We want to keep it as real as possible for the students and in line with what they will actually experience in their careers.”

The winning team received $10,000, second place took $6,000, third place got $3,000 and fourth place received $1,000. Additional awards were presented to individuals in each division for categories such as best Q&A and best presentation.

Regions, the SEC’s banking partner, was the competition sponsor. Regions also presented the case for analysis and provided company leaders and experts to serve as competition judges.

The first competition was held at the University of Missouri in 2013, and the University of South Carolina is scheduled to host the 2015 event.

Speaker’s Edge Competition Helps Hone Presentation Skills

Annual event challenges students to prepare, think and state their case before judges

Speaker's Edge graduate level winner, Phillip Clothiaux

OXFORD, Miss. – In today’s world, college graduates entering the workforce with well-developed speaking skills have a huge advantage. University of Mississippi students recently got an opportunity to hone their public speaking skills and vie for a championship during the 11th annual Speaker’s Edge Competition.

The program culminated in a two-day competition, where students present three different presentations before a panel of judges loaded with industry business leaders.

The program is open to graduate accountancy students enrolled in Accountancy 503, MBA students enrolled in MBA 603 and undergraduates in engineering, journalism and the Center for Manufacturing Excellence enrolled in Speech 105. In these courses, students spend a week-and-a-half working with communication coaches, who provide early preparation and a point person to answer questions and guide the students through the process.

Graduate student winners included Phillip Clothiaux, of Rogersville, Mo., who was named overall Speaker’s Edge champion; Julian Sanchez and Victoria Ragland, both of Jonesboro, Ark., who were first-place winners in the ethical dilemma and marketplace pitch categories, respectively; and Chris Conley, of Bradenton, Fla., who took first place in the informative category.

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Ole Miss Students Excel in MBA Case Competition

Team member wins Best Student Presenter Award in inaugural SEC event

UM case competition team

OXFORD, Miss. – A student team from the University of Mississippi’s MBA program recently participated in the inaugural Southeastern Conference MBA Case Competition in Missouri, bringing home the event’s Best Presenter Award.

All 14 SEC member universities participated in a real-time business case competition created by AT&T. MBA students created a proposal for the company to identify the best solution for the panel of judges.

The Ole Miss MBA team consisted of Jennifer Urban of Littleton, Colo., Thorne Williams of Birmingham, Ala., Dillon King of Madison and Bret Babcock of Liberty Center, Ohio, winner of the Best Presenter Award for Division 212. All four students completed their MBAs in May.

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Three Business School Faculty Awarded Endowed Positions

Van Ness is Moore Scholar of Finance, Dibrell and Bush named Gresham and Roberts lecturers, respectively

Robert Van Ness, the Bruce Moore scholar of Finance

Three University of Mississippi faculty members in the School of Business Administration have been awarded newly endowed positions within the school.

Robert Van Ness is the Bruce Moore Scholar of Finance, Clay Dibrell is the Gresham Entrepreneurship Lecturer and Tori Bush is the Donna Ruth Roberts Lecturer.

“It is an honor for a faculty member to receive an endowed position, and (it) allows us to enhance our academic reputation and reward meritorious faculty members,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the business school. “The School of Business is able to provide support for our faculty members due to the generosity of our donors, and these external funds provide the margin of excellence for what we are doing.

“These gifts will enhance the educational environments for generations to come, and through them leverage the donations to impact thousands of students.”

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Ole Miss MBA Students Travel to New York City

Group to tour New York Stock Exchange, network with business executives

OXFORD, Miss. – Students from the University of Mississippi MBA class are preparing to experience the thrill of being in the middle of the high-energy New York Stock Exchange.

Peter Costa, a governor and senior floor official of the NYSE, invited the MBA students to come to New York to tour the exchange floor, experience the closing bell, meet with other New York executives and participate in tourist activities.

Costa visited Oxford in September as the keynote speaker at the MBA’s Spark Symposium. He has kept in touch with the 2013 MBA students ever since his visit, which led him to offer the students an invitation to this Big Apple experience.Read the story …