New Book Celebrates First 100 Years of UM Business School

Launch party set for Nov. 10 at Off Square Books

A 200-page illustrated history of the school is being published and will be featured at a Nov. 10 event at Off Square Books.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Business Administration concludes its series of events celebrating the school’s centennial with a book launch Friday (Nov. 10) at Oxford’s Off Square Books.

The 5 p.m. event will feature signings and a video commemorating “100 Years of Ole Miss Business.” It is free and open to the public.

The book, “Ole Miss Business: The First 100 Years,” a 200-page illustrated history of the school, takes the reader on a journey from the inaugural 1917 semester as the School of Commerce, led by Dean James Warsaw Bell, through the spirited leadership of Ken Cyree, the school’s current, and 11th, dean.

The volume opens with the speech Cyree made in September at the kickoff event in the courtyard of Holman Hall, the school’s home, which was newly adorned with centennial banners along the front.

“Thousands of lives have been changed, thousands of opportunities created and thousands of people making a difference,” Cyree said. “I look forward to the next 100 years and know we are poised to do great things with the dedication and commitment of this group of people in the business school.”

Bell was not only instrumental in the school’s launch, but also in the university’s athletics programs. In the early 1900s, he personally financed the football squad. As a member of the athletics committee, Bell was also instrumental in hiring C.M. “Tad” Smith, the school’s longest-serving athletics director, who coincidently married the school’s first female graduate, Frances “Bunch” Clark Smith.

The book explores the move from the Lyceum to Conner Hall in 1961, when enrollment spiked from several hundred to 1,100. Many observers partially credit the explosion in enrollment to the fact that Conner Hall had air conditioning and the Lyceum did not.

It chronicles the extraordinary accomplishments of the school’s graduates in the 1950s, the enrollment of its first black students in 1965 and the peaceful separation of the schools of Business Administration and Accountancy in 1979.

The school has more than 3,800 students, 63 faculty members and 18 staff members, making it the largest business school in Mississippi. It offers 11 majors, a top 10 insurance program and a new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

In honor of the centennial, the UM Foundation has created the 1917 Order, a fundraising effort to recruit faculty, provide scholarships and increase class offerings, among many other initiatives. Membership begins with a gift of $25,000 or greater, with pledges scheduled over five years.

“This effort will allow us to continue to grow in national rankings, recruit top students and faculty, and reach for new heights of excellence for the school,” said Tim Noss, the school’s development officer.

A number of alumni, featured in the book, will be on hand at Off Square Books to sign their individual pages of “Ole Miss Business: The First 100 Years.”

Business School Students Visit the ‘Oracle of Omaha’

Group gets rare chance to learn from world-class investor Warren Buffett

UM students and faculty members who met recently with Warren Buffet are (front row, from left) Charles Fillmore, of Fort Worth, Texas; Akilah Showers, of Memphis; Ian Soileau, of Hernando; Buffet; Kyle Cullen, of Houston, Texas; Grant Wiley, of Dallas; Jocelyn Cropper, of Houston, Texas; and Nicole Georgis, of Downers Grove, Illinois; and (back row, from left) Parker Rutherford, of Vicksburg; Stephen Fier, associate professor of finance; Renee Kakadia, of Brookhaven; Travis Box, assistant professor of finance; Aziz Al Maskari, of Oman; Tyler Adams, of Van Alstyne, Texas; Cameron Iadeluca, of North Kingstown, Rhode Island; Sam Sexton, of Perry, Georgia; Christian May, of Memphis; Makail Johannesson, of Red Lake, Ontario; Lamar Norsworthy, of Memphis; Ashley Glennon, of Austin, Texas; Andrew Lynch, assistant professor of finance; Alexis Dibenedetto, of Auburn, Alabama; Bailey Currie, of St. Louis; and Hannah Clark, of Jackson. Photo by Valerie Wham/Berkshire Hathaway

OXFORD, Miss. – A group of University of Mississippi students got career advice and wisdom from Warren Buffett, better known as the “Oracle of Omaha,” during a recent face-to-face conversation at his headquarters in Nebraska.

This was the first time the UM School of Business Administration had participated in such an event, but the experience proved to be invaluable to students, Dean Ken Cyree said.

“We are thrilled to have our students experience the opportunity of a lifetime by meeting with Mr. Buffett,” Cyree said. “His business wisdom and impact on the U.S. and global economy is legendary, and his willingness to share it with our students is amazingly generous.”

Buffett is chief executive officer and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. As of August, he was recognized as the second-wealthiest person in the United States and the fourth-wealthiest in the world, with a net worth of $81.1 billion.

Andrew Lynch, UM assistant professor of finance, helped arrange the trip through connections made by teaching a Buffett class at the University of Missouri. Cyree and Bonnie Van Ness, chair and professor of finance, helped arrange funding for the trip.

Those efforts allowed faculty to focus on researching and preparing students for the visit instead of fundraising, said Stephen Fier, associate professor of finance.

“We are fortunate to have a dean and department chair who work tirelessly to ensure that the financial and nonfinancial resources necessary to organize this type of trip are available,” he said.

A measure of good luck also was involved, said Travis Box, assistant professor of finance.

“A lot of things had to break our way in order to make this trip work,” Box said. “We were thrilled to find out that we had been selected in late August. We only had a month-and-a-half to prepare, but Dean Cyree gave us the support we needed to get us back and forth from Omaha on short notice.”

It was a rare opportunity, and Buffett delivered on the promise of the event, Lynch said.

“Mr. Buffett is energetic and engaging, repeatedly reminding students that being a good person is an important part of being a good investor,” he said.

Lynch, Box and Fier selected the students for the trip through a competitive application process. The students were required to be involved in the Financiers Club or Gamma Iota Sigma, a risk management and insurance business fraternity.

It was a tremendous honor to represent the business school, said Grant Wiley, a senior from Dallas majoring in managerial finance.

“Buffett was funny,” Wiley said. “He was very personable and stressed how important it is to love what you do and to do it with a group of people you enjoy.”

Throughout the semester, students were given reading assignments on Buffet and Berkshire Hathaway for classroom discussions.

“In the final weeks before our trip, these students identified interesting topic areas and drafted a list of questions to ask during our session,” Box said.

The students derived their two questions from weeks of thorough research, including analysis of financial statements, previous interviews, annual reports and various compositions from Buffett.

Students who participated in the event will remember it the rest of their lives, Cyree said.

“Several have commented to me on the impact that the visit had and marvel at Mr. Buffet’s easy command of intricate business details while engaging the students for over two hours,” he said.

Box said the biggest surprise for him was the sentimentality of Buffett’s comments.

“Despite being the world’s most gifted investor, he weaved into the discussion friends, family, marriage and children into nearly every response.” Box said. “He wanted us to know these relationships and experiences have aided his success.”

Jocelyn Cropper, a senior managerial finance major, and Hannah Clark, a senior majoring in risk management and insurance, said they were inspired that the 87-year-old Buffett takes time to share his wisdom with students.

“Mr. Buffett has an incredible amount of knowledge beyond investing capabilities and he credits this to reading each day,” said Clark, from Jackson. “Mr. Buffett claims that reading has been his talent and hobby, and he enjoys reading business-related material.”

Ashely Glennon, a senior managerial finance major, was surprised to learn that Buffett claims to have had read every book on investments in the public library by the time he was 11.

Besides meeting Buffett, the Ole Miss students toured three Omaha-based businesses owned by Berkshire Hathaway: Nebraska Furniture Mart, Borsheims Fine Jewelry and Oriental Trading Co.

“We were able to see firsthand how efficient they are when it comes to getting orders out in time, and I was able to appreciate the amount of time and effort it takes to receive an online order from a distribution center” said Glennon, of Austin, Texas.

“It was amazing to see how three completely different companies ran and also to see the similarities between the three since they are all owned by Berkshire Hathaway,” said Cropper, of Houston, Texas.

Other business schools participating in the event were: Gonzaga University; Northwestern University; the universities of Arizona, Minnesota, Nebraska at Lincoln, Nebraska at Omaha, Peru and Tennessee; and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

School of Business Administration Kicks Off Centennial

Receptions, commemorative book planned to celebrate 100 years of excellence

Alumni, faculty and staff of the UM School of Business Administration gather in the courtyard of Holman Hall to kick off the observance of the school’s centennial. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Business Administration kicked off its centennial celebration Friday (Sept. 8) with an early fall reception for faculty, staff and alumni in the courtyard of Holman Hall.

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter led his remarks by recalling the state of the university in 1917, the year the business school was established. That year, the university had an incoming class of 150 students, the population of Mississippi was 1.8 million, John D. Rockefeller became the world’s first billionaire and only 8 percent of homes had a telephone.

This fall, the school has more than 3,800 students, 63 faculty members and 18 staff, making it the largest business school in Mississippi. It offers 11 majors, a top 10 insurance program and a new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“I challenge the School of Business to imagine a future in which we increase entrepreneurship and connections to businesses and other external entities to support research programs, academic programs and creative initiatives,” Vitter said. “Our school of business is well-poised to increase the reach and potential of the university’s creative outputs and garner additional resources to propel us to even great heights of excellence.”

New banners celebrating the milestone have gone up on the outside columns of the school as students settle into a new academic year. The business school also hosted a tent in the Circle for tailgating around the Ole Miss-University of Tennessee at Martin game for faculty, staff and alumni.

“This centennial celebration is really a celebration of human accomplishment, a celebration of the people who have been dedicated for 100 years to improving the understanding, the teaching and the service to advance business and business principles,” said Noel Wilkin, the university’s interim provost. “One hundred years is a significant milestone, one that signifies the perseverance of human accomplishment toward improving the practice of business for an entire century.”

The Master of Business Administration program, started in 1941, is ranked among the nation’s best, at No. 36 among the nation’s public universities by Bloomberg Businessweek News Service, and the online program came in at No. 22 in U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 ranking.

“Thousands of lives have been changed, thousands of opportunities created and thousands of people making a difference,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration.

“I look forward to the next 100 years and know we are poised to do great things with the dedication and commitment of this group of people in the business school.”

In honor of the centennial, the UM Foundation has created the 1917 Order, a fundraising effort to recruit faculty, provide scholarships and increase class offerings, among many other initiatives. Membership begins with a gift of $25,000 or greater, with pledges scheduled over five years.

“To grow the endowment for the UM School of Business Administration, we have created the 1917 Order,” said Tim Noss, development officer for the school. “This effort will allow us to continue to grow in national rankings, recruit top students and faculty, and reach for new heights of excellence for the school.”

The school has relaunched BusinessFirst, the school’s magazine, which was distributed to alumni and friends by mail and given out at the celebration Friday. The magazine features alumnus Gen. Major Leon Collins on the cover and includes stories on a myriad of programs, students, faculty and alumni.

A report on the Risk Management and Insurance program’s recognition as one of 12 programs in the U.S. to receive the prestigious Global Centers of Insurance Excellent designation at the International Insurance Society’s Global Insurance Form in London is among the features included in the magazine.

Other highlights include the efforts of a group of MBA students to help a friend paralyzed in a car accident; the student portfolio team coming in fourth in the TVA Investment Challenge, among 23 other schools, with an 11.95 percent return; and the Rebel Venture Capital Fund, a group of alumni who invest in student-run startup business to help them grow.

The school’s leadership has planned two more events to continue the centennial celebration throughout the fall. On Oct. 17, Chancellor Jeffrey and Sharon Vitter will host the business school students at Carrier House.

The final event is set for 5 p.m. Nov. 10 at Off Square Books on the Oxford Square, where a celebration and book signing will take place for “Ole Miss Business: The First 100 Years,” a 160-page illustrated history of the school forthcoming from Nautilus Press.

A number of alumni, featured in the book, will be at Off Square Books to sign their individual pages, and the school’s communication officers, Stella Connell and Chad Hathcock, will screen a video commemorating “100 Years of Ole Miss Business.”

All Ole Miss alumni are invited to attend the Square Books event and celebrate the centennial with business school faculty, staff, alumni and friends.

New Business School Majors Bring New Ways of Learning

'Lecture-capture' format creates a virtual online classroom of live teaching

Richard Gentry leads his GB 370: Entrepreneurship and Management class using the lecture-capture option. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – With more than 3,600 students enrolled in the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration, the challenge of meeting students’ needs provides opportunities to develop additional and creative ways to teach.

This fall, the school launches two new majors for undergraduate students: entrepreneurship and general business. Along with these programs, the school also is introducing a “lecture-capture” option that allows students to complete courses either in a physical classroom or through a virtual classroom using the internet.

“Students today grew up watching content over the internet at the time of their choosing,” said Rich Gentry, associate professor of management. “By building a professional facility to produce lectures, we can give the students what they want and need without sacrificing quality, academic integrity or rigor.

“Sixty-seven percent of students rate the online experience as very good or excellent, and enrollment is increasing in these classes. One student asked me when biology was going to roll out this format.”

The new entrepreneurship program provides students with education and tools to create a business, work with start-ups or to contribute, through innovative efforts, to an existing company.

The general business option provides a solid core curriculum in business and requires students to match that with a minor outside the business school. For instance, a student interested in owning and running an art gallery one day might opt to major in general business and minor in art history.

The lecture-capture option was the brainchild of Gentry and Bob Robinson, chair and professor of management.

“We are excited to offer this program, because it allows us to effectively teach a new generation of students,” said Ken Cyree, UM business dean. “In our surveys, we find our students like our lecture-capture option and online formats.

“This choice allows them to review parts they did not understand. This additional method of delivering classes helps students manage their busy schedules and, in general, provides flexibility that they appreciate.”

Holman Hall North, Room 122, is where Chad Hathcock, a multimedia specialist for the school, films many of the business school’s faculty, including Gentry, David Gligor, Paul Johnson, Jamieson Posey, Bonnie Van Ness and Allyn White.

These professors lecture to roughly 25 students – the live section – in areas of entrepreneurship, finance, management and marketing, all classes that are part of the general business curriculum.

“The level of student satisfaction with the lecture-capture format used for the online sections of these classes has been very impressive but not surprising,” said Del Hawley, the school’s senior associate dean. “We strive to make the quality of the recordings as high as possible, and the students really appreciate it.

“Not having to go to a class at particular times of the day throughout the semester is also very popular, as it frees up students’ time for jobs or other activities, and allows them plan their time more effectively.”

This approach is also a way to utilize some of the school’s best teachers to train a much larger audience.

Professors present a traditional lecture to a classroom of students who ask questions and engage. Then, a larger group – the web section – is able to use this instruction online. Students in the web section sit for examinations four times a semester.

This method of learning is different from online teaching because students are able to watch live interaction between the professor and live section students.

“The lecture-capture format gives the students an enormous amount of flexibility,” said James Flanders, general business program coordinator. “The students can watch the lecture at the time and place of their choosing and are not tied down to a physical classroom.”

UM-Tupelo Students Hit Top 10 in Bloomberg Stock Trading Challenge

Class project yields solid investing experience for group

Finance students at the UM-Tupelo campus placed in the top 10 among 265 teams from colleges around the country in the Bloomberg Business Stock Trading Challenge. The winning team includes (from left) Daniel Patterson, Zack Marcinek, faculty adviser Ivonne Liebenberg, Candy McDonald and Heather Couture. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss.­­­ – Managerial finance students at the University of Mississippi at Tupelo regional campus have been busy this spring managing a $10 million investment for the Bloomberg Business Corp.

Although the money existed only in theory, the students who participated in the 2017 Bloomberg Trading Challenge gained a real-world knowledge of financial trading principles that helped them bridge classroom theory with actual stock marketing trading.

“I had never participated in anything like this before,” said Zack Marcinek, a senior at UM-Tupelo from Corinth. “I enjoyed it so much that I’ve switched my career goals a bit from wanting to be a financial adviser specifically for individuals to now being more interested in becoming a corporate financial analyst for a larger corporation.”

Ivonne Liebenberg, UM instructional assistant professor of finance, said that when Bloomberg representatives reached out to her in fall 2016 about participating in their new collegiate stock market competition, she jumped at the opportunity for her students to garner investing experience.

“I knew this would be an exciting, interactive way for students to apply what they were learning in class,” she said. “They had the opportunity to learn more about how the stock market works, handling orders, learning about transaction costs and analyzing the outcomes.”

The Tupelo students named their trading team “I. Liebenberg & Co.” in honor of their instructor. Team members included Heather Couture of Mooreville, Zack Marcinek of Corinth, Candy McDonald of Guntown, Daniel Patterson of Pontotoc and Katie Watson of Shannon.

“We started out letting the students pitch their stock ideas,” Liebenberg said. “They had to give me a good reason to add their stock pick to the portfolio. Once we made our decisions, the students began analyzing and following their investments.”

To diversify their portfolio, each student focused on different stock areas to create a balanced investment. Marcinek said he focused on technology stocks and ultimately recommended Netflix and Adobe Connect.

“Both companies are tried-and-true,” Marcinek said. “Most of my friends use Netflix. It seems to be cannibalizing regular television.

“The university uses Adobe Connect in several of my classes. I think it’s only going to progress.”

Both his stock picks recorded gains during the competition.

The trading challenge introduced students to Bloomberg’s Stock Terminal, which is used to define market assumptions, develop a return-generating strategy and execute trades over a closed network.

“It was interesting seeing all of the tools that were part of the trading terminal and how they helped you assess your trades,” Marcinek said. “It wasn’t too complicated and coached us through.”

The competition continued for eight weeks, with students having opportunities to buy and sell stocks throughout that timeframe. The teams that generated the highest return and presented the best investment methodology at the end of the challenge were named among the top 10 finalists.

“We decided to go invest Warren Buffett-style, that is, to buy and hold,” Marcinek said. “We thought by diversifying well and staying patient, our strategy would pay off.”

The students had to keep a close eye on their stocks, but Liebenberg said she felt that trading too much might not garner the greatest return in the competition’s short eight-week timeframe.

In mid-April, Bloomberg representatives informed Liebenberg that the team was came in ninth among the 265 competing teams from 81 colleges around the country.

“I’m very proud of the students’ work, especially since this was their first time competing,” Liebenberg said. “I think they learned a great deal and came up with solid strategies to guide their trading.”

‘Billion Dollar Buyer’ Tilman Fertitta to Speak at UM

Restaurant mogul set for May 5 event at Pavilion

Tilman Fertitta

OXFORD, Miss. – Businessman Tilman Fertitta, CEO of Landry’s Inc. and star of the CNBC reality show “Billion Dollar Buyer,” will share insights and advice Friday (May 5) at the University of Mississippi.

The 11:30 a.m. event at The Pavilion at Ole Miss is free and open to the public. The first 1,000 guests get a complimentary lunch and poster from the event, and will have an opportunity for Fertitta to autograph it personally.

The event is a collaboration between the university’s School of Business Administration, Meek School of Journalism and New Media, and Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, with assistance from Blake Tartt III, president and CEO of New Regional Planning, a real estate consulting firm in Houston, Texas.

“When we built The Pavilion at Ole Miss and opened the doors in January of 2016, our vision was to continue to make our university community the place to be for big-time events,” said Ross Bjork, vice chancellor of intercollegiate athletics. “Mr. Fertitta’s message about self-made success will be inspiring for our students and community leaders so they can see firsthand that anything is possible if you take the right approach and have a plan.

“We are grateful to be in a position to host these top-flight events and partner with the School of Business, Meek School of Journalism and New Media, and our friend Blake Tartt.”

Fertitta, whose company owns and operates more than 500 properties with more than 40 brands, including Landry’s Seafood, Chart House, Saltgrass Steak House, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Claim Jumper, Morton’s The Steakhouse, McCormick & Schmick’s, Mastro’s and Rainforest Cafe, will talk about his success and how others can apply what he has learned.

“For our students to be able to interact with one of the major business leaders in the United States is enormously satisfying,” said Will Norton, dean of the UM journalism school. “We are grateful to Blake Tartt III for making the arrangements to have Tilman Fertitta at Ole Miss.”

With a reported net worth of nearly $3 billion on Forbes’s list of the “world’s wealthiest people,” Fertitta is a self-made success. He started in the food business in Galveston, Texas, where he worked at his father’s restaurant after school.

He began selling Shaklee vitamins before following his dream of owning restaurants. The second-youngest inductee into the Texas Business Hall of Fame, Fertitta began as a partner in the first Landry’s restaurant in 1980 and bought a controlling interest in the company in 1986. Landry’s went public in 1993, and he took it private again nearly 20 years later in a $1.4 billion deal.

“We are excited to have Tilman Fertitta coming to campus to speak to our students, faculty, alumni, and friends,” said Ken Cyree, UM business dean. “Tilman is an outstanding example for our stakeholders of what hard work, ingenuity, business acumen, recognizing opportunity and executing business strategies can create in a company.”

This is the second year the Ole Miss business and journalism schools and athletics department have collaborated for a significant event to cap the school year. Last year’s event brought urban visionary Joel Kotkin to campus for a message on the importance of planning in urban environments and creating quality of life in dense development settings.

“We wanted to top last year with a personality who was both entertaining and enlightening,” said Tartt, a UM alumnus and chairman of the business school’s real estate advisory board. “Who better to captivate our audience than a market leader with a perspective that no one else has?

“I’ve known Tilman since childhood and have worked with him on real estate developments for over 30 years. He’s a rare blend of creativity and candor, vision and veracity.”

Besides his business ventures, Fertitta is the chairman of the University of Houston’s board of regents, and he recently donated $20 million to renovate the Cougars’ basketball arena at the Fertitta Center.

“I’m eager for the attendees to have the opportunity to experience Fertitta’s rare blend of wit and wisdom,” Tartt said.

Lunch is provided by sponsors Renasant Bank, Evans Petree P.C., White Construction and HottyToddy.com.

UM Sophomore Wins Entrepreneurial Spirit of Mississippi Scholarship

Mary Eveleen Brown honored for accomplishments, involvement with $2,500 award

UM sophomore Mary Eveleen Brown (center) is presented with the 2017 JAMAS Entrepreneurial Spirit of Mississippi Scholarship by (from left) Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration; Madison Turnage, daughter of JAMAS CEO Ben Turnage and an Ole Miss senior; Karen Turnage, Ben Turnage’s wife; and Don Duckworth, senior adviser with JAMAS Capital Management. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – JAMAS Capital Management, a private investment firm based in Jackson, has named University of Mississippi sophomore Mary Eveleen Brown as the recipient of the 2017 JAMAS Capital Entrepreneurial Spirit of Mississippi Scholarship.

A native of Brentwood, Tennessee, Brown got an early start in entrepreneurship at age 12, when she made and sold purses to raise money for a charity that provides plastic surgery to burn victims. In high school, she started an online business making and selling headbands to raise funds to attend camp.

Most recently, Brown immersed herself in a start-up jewelry business, which was “transformative in my understanding of the business environment of today,” she said.

“I discovered that the most crucial question in today’s business environments is, ‘Why do we do things this way?’ It encourages people to look at their business from a different point of view.”

Brown is majoring in integrated marketing communications with a minor in business administration. She has become involved in the Ole Miss community, serving on the Student Activities Association Executive Council, the Associated Student Body Marketing and Engagement Board, and the Student Alumni Council.

She recently served on the sponsorship committee for RebelTHON/Children’s Miracle Network annual fundraiser, which raised more than $100,000.

“Mary Eveleen has demonstrated the motivation to create and succeed in new business opportunities while also serving her community,” said Ben O. Turnage, founder and CEO of JAMAS Capital Management. “We at JAMAS are proud to contribute to the success of this impressive young woman, who has a bright future as a pioneering business leader.”

Ken Cyree, dean of the UM School of Business Administration said, “We are very proud of Mary Eveleen’s accomplishments so early in her college experience and are confident she will continue to build on this success at Ole Miss and well beyond graduation.

“We are also thrilled that JAMAS Capital Management is funding this important scholarship that supports our Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and our entrepreneurship major.”

The $2,500 JAMAS Entrepreneurial Spirit of Mississippi Scholarship helps Ole Miss students pursue their education and goals to create successful businesses after graduation. For more information, visit http://jamascapital.com/.

UM Students Help Manage Investments for Tennessee Valley Authority

Ole Miss team places fourth in investment competition, gains real-world experience

UM students Christian May (left), Ian Soileau, Claire Fulkerson, Lamar Norsworthy and Makail Johannesson presented the team’s strategy and results to TVA officials at the Tennessee Valley Authority Investment Challenge in Nashville, Tennessee. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Twelve students from the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration’s portfolio management team recently represented the university in Nashville, Tennessee, for the Tennessee Valley Authority Investment Challenge.

The TVA’s investment program is one of the nation’s largest student-managed investment plans. It allows student teams to manage stock portfolios for the agency, giving them better understanding of investments through experience. Based on the portfolios’ performances, students are awarded prizes by the TVA.

For calendar year 2016, the Ole Miss portfolio team earned a return of 11.95 percent, which placed them fourth among the 23 participating schools. Only Trevecca Nazarene University, at 18.7 percent; East Tennessee State University, 18.6 percent; and the University of Tennessee, 16.7 percent, earned better returns over the year.

“It was a cool experience to immerse ourselves in a professional environment like the TVA conference,” said Makail Johannesson, a junior economics major from Red Lake, Ontario. “We learn a lot of content and fundamentals in the classroom, but there is no better way to grasp corporate culture than being a part of it.”

The strong performance was supported by Ole Miss’ portfolio holdings in T-Mobile, Chevron and AT&T, stocks which recorded gains of 65 percent, 35 percent and 34 percent, respectively, during 2016.

The students managed approximately a half-million dollars of the TVA’s funds by designing long-term investment strategies, making trades and providing performance reports to the agency.

The real-world experience will be valuable in helping the students compete professionally, said Ken Cyree, dean of the business school.

“We are pleased that these students have an excellent experiential learning opportunity through the TVA,” Cyree said. “We are also thankful that the competition provided an opportunity for the students to hone their presentation skills.

“The use of real funds helps add to the importance of decision-making, and the presentation of the results adds to the importance of being accountable for our decisions.”

Besides Johannesson, the team included Jocelyn Cropper, a junior managerial finance major from Cypress, Texas; Claire Fulkerson, a junior majoring in accountancy from Dallas; Ashely Glennon, a senior managerial finance major from Austin, Texas; Boyce Holleman, a senior from Jackson majoring in managerial finance and banking and finance; Blake Maum a senior from Chattanooga, Tennessee, majoring in banking and finance; Christian May, a senior managerial finance major from Memphis; Lamar Norsworthy, a junior accountancy major from Memphis; Kyle D. Snyder, a junior marketing major from Keller, Texas; Ian Soileau, a sophomore from Hernando majoring in mathematics and managerial finance; Tyler Whitmore, a senior in accountancy from Sherwood, Arkansas; and Grant A. Wiley, a junior from Dallas majoring in banking and finance.

Five of the team members – Fulkerson, Johannesson, May, Norsworthy and Soileau – presented their performance results and explained their strategy to the TVA executives.

Travis Box, UM assistant professor of finance, and Jonathan Daigle, adjunct instructor of finance, organized the team and serve as faculty advisers.

“The students studied the markets and conducted meetings all year,” Box said. “They presented their research, fought for their ideas, and it paid off.

“There is so much talent in this group, and I can’t wait to see what they are able to accomplish going forward.”

The money used for the challenge comes from the TVA’s Asset Retirement Trust Fund, established in 1996 to meet the financial obligations of decommissioning the agency’s non-nuclear power units. The Investment Challenge is part of a larger strategy to diversify the financial management of the Trust Fund.

When the program began, 19 universities received investment funds of $100,000 each, totaling $1.9 million. The program has expanded to include 25 universities, with some $10 million being invested.

“The Investment Challenge is another example of the many great things the TVA provides people,” said Richard Howorth, an Ole Miss graduate, owner of Square Books in Oxford and chair-elect of the TVA’s board of directors. “This program is especially meaningful because it is an opportunity for the organization to help young people learn about the world of financial investment as well as broaden their interest in potential career paths.”

Tutoring Startup Takes Top Prize at UM Business Competition

12th annual Gillespie Business Plan Competition celebrates another successful year

Winners of the Gillespie Business Plan Competition are pictured with the judging panel: (front row) William Yates III, CEO of Yates Construction; Sam Bertolet, partner with Pontus Andersson in Myra Mirrors, the second-place winner; Lee Ingram, first-place winner; Austin Darnell, third-place winner; John Oxford, director of external affairs for Renasant Bank; and Lawrence Adams, Jimmy John’s franchise owner in Jackson; and (back row) Ken Cyree, dean of the UM School of Business Administration; Emmet Seibels, co-founder of Versus Health in Nashville; Johnny Maloney, co-owner of Cowboy Maloney’s; Clay Dibrell, professor of management and CIE co-director; Richard Gentry, associate professor of management and CIE co-director; and Josh Mabus, owner of the Mabus Agency. The competition finals were April 7 at The Pavilion at Ole Miss. UM photo by Cobie Watkins

OXFORD, Miss. – An online enterprise that helps University of Mississippi students find tutors for their college studies took first place in the 12th annual Gillespie Business Plan Competition, hosted by the UM Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Lee Ingram, a master’s candidate in accountancy from Madison, wowed judges with his presentation for Collegiate Tutoring, a tutoring matchmaking service he started in 2014. Its largest clients are two Greek organizations, and the service has assisted more than 200 students, bringing in revenues of more than $50,000 to date.

“Ole Miss is such a fantastic place for students to pursue entrepreneurship,” Ingram said. “There is so much support available from people like Owens Alexander at the CIE, as well as professors like Clay Dibrell and Rich Gentry.

“My goal with Collegiate Tutoring is to help students see that entrepreneurship is a viable career option. I hope to set an example for students looking to take a risk and bet on themselves and their business idea.”

Ingram won $10,000 and a year of free office space at the Innovation Hub at Insight Park, the university’s business incubator.

Pontus Andersson, a senior from Ridgeland, took second place and $5,000 for his company, Myra Mirrors, which developed a software system that integrates apps into surfaces and mirrors. Third place and $2,500 went to Manalsu Athletics, founded by Austin Darnell, a junior from Wake Forest, North Carolina.

“We looked at other smart home spaces,” Andersson said. “We realized that while home automation had been covered by the likes of Nest, Google, Apple and Amazon, few companies had attempted it with furniture.”

Darnell founded Manalsu Athletics in September 2015 with a theme of “Designed for a Life in Motion” after raising $11,000 on Kickstarter for his first product, a high-end style of men’s underwear. He hoped to place in the competition to receive additional funding to expand into other styles of durable men’s activewear.

“We are so proud to be able to provide this unique opportunity for our students,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration. “The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship has quickly become one of the many great programs in the business school, and we look forward to seeing what these students are doing to meld together creativity and business.”

The Gillespie Business Plan Competition is the center’s signature event of the year, said Rich Gentry, associate professor of entrepreneurship and strategy and CIE co-director.

“We saw students who have put in a tremendous effort to develop their business and their pitch,” Gentry said. “As in years past, the winner is a successful student we are excited to see benefit from our program.”

The competition is conducted in three rounds. This year’s first round was a review by doctoral candidates of 48 proposals for student businesses.

The second round included 15 participants who gave eight-minute presentations to a committee of 16 local and regional business owners and community leaders, and the final round featured six participants who each gave an eight-minute presentation to a panel of nine judges. The final round was conducted April 7 at The Pavilion at Ole Miss.

Besides the winners, the final six competitors also included Sujit and Sangeet Adhikari of Dhading, Nepal, whose company, Adhikari Brothers, would produce bamboo as a substitute for wood; Alicia Hydeman a sophomore from Dallas, whose company, Lulu Jax, focuses on women’s apparel for extremely petite women – Hydeman is 4 feet 10 inches tall – and Nathaniel Snyder, a senior from Elburn, Illinois, whose company, Purifico, produces a super-hydrophobic chemical coating designed to improve sanitation on bathroom surfaces.

UM alumnus Hunter Carpenter (second from left), is congratulated by Jan Farrington (left) Lawrence Farrington and Dean Ken Cyree upon being announced as recipient of the Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The presentation came after the Gillespie Business Plan Competition at The Pavilion at Ole Miss. UM photo by Stella Connell

Following the announcement of the winners, Lawrence and Jan Farrington presented Hunter Carpenter, a partner in Redbird Capital Partners in Dallas, with the Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year award.

“Lawrence and I are both interested in encouraging young entrepreneurs in Mississippi, especially those associated with the University of Mississippi,” Jan Farrington said. “This yearly award provides the opportunity to honor successful entrepreneurs, and also to provide encouragement and inspiration to our students with an entrepreneurial spirit.

“Hunter’s career grows more impressive each year. He not only exemplifies a very successful entrepreneur, but also a person who shares his time and talents to help others. He has served on the UM Foundation Board for many years and is currently the chair of its investment committee.”

A four-year letterman on the Ole Miss men’s basketball team, Carpenter earned his bachelor’s degree in 1999 from the UM Patterson School or Accountancy, his master’s in accountancy in 2000 and a Juris Doctor from the UM School of Law in 2003.

“It is an honor to receive the award from the Farringtons,” Carpenter said. “They are special people to Ole Miss and to me, and have long carved a path as special entrepreneurs and investors in the South.”

Ole Miss Insurance Symposium Tackles Critical Issues

Risk Management and Insurance program hosts 22nd annual meeting of industry leaders

UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter (left) and Andre Liebenberg (right), associate professor of finance, congratulate Bill Bryson of Jackson, a member of the first class of Ole Miss risk management and insurance graduates in 1947, at the Ole Miss Insurance Symposium. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Key industry issues, including the Affordable Care Act and catastrophe management, were examined in depth at the annual Ole Miss Insurance Symposium, hosted for the 22nd consecutive year by the University of Mississippi’s risk management and insurance program.

The event, held March 22-23 at The Inn at Ole Miss, continues to attract industry leaders to campus and is one of the hallmark events of the School of Business Administration.

Andre Liebenberg, associate professor of finance and the university’s Gwenette P. and Jack W. Robertson Chair of Insurance, praised the Ole Miss Insurance Advisory Board for developing this year’s program.

“We are proud to host over 200 industry guests on our beautiful campus and to showcase our nationally ranked program and, more generally, our exceptional university and town,” Liebenberg said. “In addition to being our largest fundraiser, the symposium provides us an opportunity to serve the industry by providing continuing education.”

Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration, praised the dynamic lineup of presenters.

“We are thrilled that the RMI program is able to attract first-rate speakers (and) attendees and provide such an extraordinary experience for leaders in the insurance industry,” Cyree said.

Leigh Ann Pusey, president and CEO of the American Insurance Association, opened the symposium with a discussion of critical issues facing the industry in 2017. She noted the need for talent in the insurance industry and commended the RMI program on the strength of its students.

“Life is full of ethical dilemmas, and we have to make decision,” said Lance Ewing, executive vice president of risk management for Cotton Holdings Inc., who led the large audience through a myriad of situations where their judgement would be called into action.

Using leadership examples of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Adolph Hitler, along with corporate policies of Caesars Casino and Wal-Mart, Ewing weaved through complicated situations and philosophies RMI industry professionals deal with often.

“We are in the business of ethics,” he said. “Our word is our bond.”

Introduced by his daughter, Isabelle, a sophomore from Southlake, Texas, David Repinski, CEO for the Americas of Cunningham Lindsey and a self-admitted “claims guy,” discussed catastrophe management.

“Plan when the skies are blue,” Repinski said. “Make sure your team knows what to do when a cat happens.

“Run drills. Find out who is available to be on site when it happens, and who is around to rapidly process 5,000 claims if necessary.”

The worst catastrophes of the past 15 years were the 2011 flood in Bangkok, the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, followed by Hurricane Katrina in the U.S. in 2005, Repinski said.

Cunningham Lindsey is the second-largest insurance concern of its kind in the world, with offices in 63 countries and annual revenue of nearly a billion dollars.

In a concurrent session, Aaron Sisk, president and CEO of Magnolia Health Plan, spoke about the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the implications of the potential changes in health insurance legislation for insurers and citizens of Mississippi.

“The two biggest challenges in our industry are lack of human capital and technology,” said Glenn Spencer, COO and president of Lockton U.S., who spoke to a packed room of industry practitioners and Ole Miss students.

“If we aren’t growing, we can’t award and retain our people. We want to be the best place in the world to work.”

In an address to the group, Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter congratulated the insurance program on its 70th anniversary and recognized alumnus Bill Bryson, a member of the first class of graduates in 1947.  He acknowledged the program’s high job placement rate for graduates and noted that its rank has risen to the ninth-largest RMI program in the country.

“It is a common will and drive to always get better,” Vitter said. “Nothing is more important than higher education. It inspires innovation and allows people to improve their lives.”

The chancellor emphasized the UM community’s commitment to service locally and around the globe.

“We focus on the people and resources of our state to make a difference around the globe,” Vitter said.

Hank Watkins, president of North American operations for Lloyd’s of London, presented a brief history of the company, which was founded by Edward Lloyd in 1688, and explained that few new insurance companies are being launched because start-up costs and risks are intimidatingly high.

Many new industry professionals use Lloyd’s as a start-up incubator to grow their own businesses underneath the Lloyd’s umbrella. The firm has a franchise board to make sure compliance issues are met, he said.

The symposium concluded with a panel featuring Mike Chaney, Mississippi insurance commissioner, and Joel Wood, senior vice president of government affairs for the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers.

Chaney and Wood led the audience through a lively discussion of insurance concerns in Mississippi under the Trump administration, regarding flood issues and the low tax rate the state receives. They examined efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which failed the day after the symposium concluded.

The UM School of Business Administration was established in 1917 and the insurance major was introduced in 1947. For more information on the RMI program, go to http://www.olemissbusiness.com/rmi/.