Today marks the end of my tenure as interim dean of Mays Business School. As you may recall, in June 2007 Jerry Strawser, dean of Mays Business School, was asked to serve Texas A&M University as interim executive vice president and provost. Jerry, in turn, asked me to serve as interim dean.

The last 15 months have been both challenging and exciting. Our primary accrediting agency, the AACSB, strongly reaffirmed our accreditation (this review is done every five years). We laid the framework for launching an executive MBA program in Dubai (with a planned start date of September 2009). We also received approval from the board of regents to assess a differential tuition charge for upper division business majors. While this was a painful step, it will allow us to substantially increase the number of sections we provide for our business majors, thereby lowering their average class sizes. Our Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Disabled Veterans also got off to a rousing start. And external rankings of our various programs continue to reflect our progress and our reputation for academic excellence.

I’d like to thank Jerry Strawser for having the confidence to entrust me with this important position. I’d also like to express my sincere appreciation to the faculty, staff, and students of Mays Business School for the dedication and enthusiasm they bring to Mays each and every day. Our former students, individual donors, and corporate supporters also provide valuable support in many different ways.

As for me, Monday I’ll walk into Wehner for the first time in 12 twelve years as a full-time faculty member with no administrative responsibilities. I look forward to getting back to full-time teaching and research. After all, it was these activities that first attracted me to this profession. Again, thinks to everyone for their support and encouragement throughout my administrative tenure, and especially the last 15 months.

I know that with Jerry’s return to the Office of the Dean, and with the top-notch leadership team that we have in Mays, the best is yet to come!

Ricky Griffin
Distinguished Professor of Management and Blocker Chair in Business

Categories: Deanspeak

John Reed owns the Double R Ranch, 30-acres in Gatesville, Texas, where he and his family raise horses and cattle. Reed has a big dream for his ranch: for it to be a refuge for disabled veterans and others with physical or emotional trauma. He wants it to be a place for soldiers, and their families, to find healing together.

Reed
EBV participant John Reed plans to open a ranch offering healing for disabled veterans and their families

Until last year, Reed was a sergeant in the Army, serving tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Combat injuries led to medical retirement, leaving him with severe emotional issues as well as hearing loss and damaged knees. “I have real bad PTSD. The only place I feel comfortable is with my animals. I thought maybe that would work for others,” he said. Reed realized the need for this sort of operation when he returned from duty and found that his disability was destroying his marriage. While there were plenty of medical services available to him, he couldn’t find help for his wife and children, who needed to learn how to cope with the man who returned from the battlefield so changed.

Someday soon, Reed’s dream could be a reality, thanks to a new program offered at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School. He and 15 other disabled American veterans were the first to participate in the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV), which offered wounded warriors with vision and determination the tools needed to be able to make their businesses a success.

The Program

Dallas resident Natasha Espinoza is the sort of student you’d expect to find at Mays. She’s young, trendily dressed, and full of excitement about her proposed business venture, Royal Recreation, a boutique for “sneaker freaks,” those that pay top dollar for rare footwear. You would never guess by looking at Espinoza that she is an Army veteran, a Purple Heart recipient, and that she struggles daily with debilitating injuries sustained during a tour of combat duty in Iraq.

Espinoza
EBV participant Natasha Espinoza presents her business proposal on the final day of the program

It’s for people like Reed and Espinoza that the EBV program began in 2007 at Syracuse University. It was offered in consortium with that program through the Center for Executive Development at Mays, with UCLA, and Florida State University. Participants were required to complete a three-week on-line course prior to an eight-day residency on one of the four campuses. This crash course in small business start-up and operation is supported by a year of one-on-one mentoring from business faculty volunteers.

One of the best features of the program is that it is 100 percent cost-free for participants. Donors underwrite the entire program, including travel and lodging.

Mays Interim Dean Ricky Griffin says that partnering with Syracuse in this venture was “the easiest decision [he’s] made in the past 15 months as dean,’ as Mays is a natural spot for this type of program.

“This university has a unique history that reflects a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a pervasive military culture,” Griffin said citing noted Aggie entrepreneurs such as Lowry Mays as well as the tradition of the Corps of Cadets, which enables A&M to produce more officers than any other school with the exception of the military academies.

A&M President Elsa Murano echoed Griffin’s thoughts. “The folks that are in this program are the epitome of one of the values that we treasure so dearly here at Texas A&M and that is selfless service…A&M has a legacy of loyalty and love of country.”

Van Alstyne greets a participant
Lt. Gen. John A. Van Alstyne “66, Commandant of Texas A&M’s Corps of Cadets, greets EBV participant Keith Wright at a reception at the Sam Houston Sanders’ Corps of Cadets Center

While on the A&M campus, participants heard from some of Mays best faculty who taught on a variety of topics, including innovation, sales, marketing, accounting, financing, supply chain, and business structure and strategy. Bootcamp was an accurate title. While the student vets may not have had to endure physical hardship, they did have a marathon of mental exercise to complete, culminating in a final presentation of their business plan in front of an audience of their classmates, local entrepreneurs, and faculty members. Participants were often faced with 12-15 hour days as they took a dream and crafted a workable business plan around it.

Guest presenters provided part of the curriculum as well. Successful entrepreneurs told participants about their own, real-world challenges. A disability specialist presented daily about benefits and services the vets could take advantage of as they set out on their new venture. A banker and a law expert both gave participants advice about common pitfalls of entrepreneurs and helped them to get the inside track on those vital components of the business world.

There was a little time for entertainment, too, as the group was treated to a dinner at the Sam Houston Sanders’ Corps of Cadets Center. They toured the museum, ate real Texas barbeque, and visited with the next generation—Corps members that will soon be officers in the military. EBV participants also spent an evening at Messina Hof, a local winery owned by Mays graduate Merrill Bonarrigo “75 and her husband, Paul, who gave the would be-entrepreneurs a realistic look at what it takes to start a business.

The people

Those that took part in the program at Mays were a variety of ages, some in their early 20s others in their early 60s. Some were amputees, others had scars, several wore hearing aids. They were of different ranks, races, genders, and education levels, with varying lengths of service in all four branches of the service, but they were united by the shared experience of military life. It didn’t take long for the members of the group to unite into a close-knit family, helping each other with their projects and giving encouragement through the long and challenging classes.

Casteneda
Army veteran Orlando Casteneda aims to take his passion for art and turn it into a burgeoning small business

Many of their business plans focus on veterans services, from websites that help others get the benefits they deserve, to affordable housing for the disabled. This group of entrepreneurs isn’t out to make millions for themselves; their focus on service extends beyond their military deployment. Take for example Orlando Casteneda, an Army vet from Arlington, Texas. When he was medically retired, he went to work raising money for scholarships for the children of disabled veterans. Discouraged with the number of businesses and individuals that said they supported the troops but wouldn’t open their wallets to show it, he determined that the best way to get the funds he needed would be to start a business and raise the capital himself.

Casteneda’s trade in customizable wearable art began while he was serving in Iraq: He drew a design on his patrol cap and people noticed. Friends liked it so much, they asked him to personalize their combat wear. In 2003, his vehicle hit a roadside bomb, leaving him with brain trauma that affects his vision, hearing, and memory. While recovering at a military hospital in Germany, his business continued to grow as he made personalized items for other patients. The light bulb moment came when he was offered $100 for a hat that cost him $3 to make. Today, his work can now be seen on celebrities such as rapper Lil Flip and NBA player Devin Harris. This kind of success only fuels Casteneda’s passion for using his art to raise money for other disabled veterans and their families.

Casteneda says he gained more than just business knowledge from the EBV program, he also found important business contacts: two other participants with previous business experience have agreed to serve as his CEO and chief marketing director. “If we make enough money, we’re going to be able to finance everyone else in the class,” he says, noting that his EBV classmates all had excellent ideas that he wants to be a part of.

“Boots on the ground” at Mays

Donald Martinez was medically separated from the Army only a few days ago. He has a two-inch, pink scar running down his right wrist, a memento of a humvee rollover. After multiple surgeries, he still can’t do a push up or fire a weapon. What is harder to see are the emotional scars he bears. He, like many veterans of this war, is a victim of post traumatic stress disorder, which leaves him sleepless, anxious, and unable to focus. His experiences with these unexpected setbacks motivate him in his new business venture as a financial advisor. His dream is to help young soldiers plan for financial security in life beyond the military, so that they can be prepared for whatever might happen when they go into the field.

America’s Veterans ((Information taken from U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs website and CBS News article “Number of Disabled U.S. Veterans Rising“.))
  • 23.8 million American veterans living today
  • 2.9 million U.S. veterans receive disability compensation
  • 37 million children and others are dependent on U.S. veterans
  • 329,000+ Veterans compensated for PTSD
  • 755,000 Vets from Iraq and Afghanistan wars (of that number, more than 181,000 collect disability benefits)

“All of us in the [EBV] program joined the military before the war on terror, not knowing what we were getting into, unlike today’s officers and enlisted,” said Martinez. “Despite the war, people are still volunteering for the military, and that’s why I am doing what I am doing as a financial planner for those coming in. I want to provide them protection and service that I did not get when I came in.”

That preparedness is part of the military mindset–and part of the logo for the EBV program: a set of combat boots standing at attention. This image symbolizes troops at the ready, prepared for action. That idea was prevalent throughout the week of residency at Mays as the student vets equipped themselves for action with education.

To send the participants off into the real world with their new skills and knowledge, a formal graduation ceremony was held at the Annenburg Conference Center at the George Bush Presidential Library at the conclusion of the week. With much fanfare, the EBV participants entered through a saber arch provided by the Ross Volunteers. The Singing Cadets provided stirring entertainment, including Lee Greenwood’s “God bless the USA.” President Murano and other top A&M system administrators attended the event.

Perry speaking
Texas Governor Rick Perry “72 gave the keynote address the program’s closing ceremony

The capstone of the evening was an address from Texas Governor Rick Perry “72, who lauded the vets for their service. As a former Corps of Cadets member and Air Force captain, Perry’s remarks had special significance for the audience.

“Texas has always been a place that has respected its veterans,” said Governor Perry. “Texans understand that men and women that have sacrificed for our freedoms are special individuals. Therefore, how can we take care of them?” He introduced a plan being developed by the state called The Texas Veterans Leadership Program, which will help returning soldiers to reorient into civilian life.

“The future of America is in young men and women’s hands, just like yours,” he told participants. “Thank you for giving back. Thank you for understanding that this country is great.”

For a closer look at this year’s participants and the program, visit the 2008 EBV Photo Gallery.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2009 EBV program. Details may be found at http://whitman.syr.edu/ebv/.

Categories: Centers, Featured Stories, Programs

At Mays Business School our outstanding faculty are consistently recognized for their research and teaching accomplishments. This year, we welcome ten new faculty members to Mays.

Wang
Wang

Dechun Wang
Assistant Professor of Accounting
PhD: University of Missouri-Columbia
Recent affiliation: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

“Students are competent problem solvers and can be motivated to learn on their own. My role is to positively impact them by stimulating their active learning in accounting principles.”

If you pay more for an audit, does that mean it will be more accurate? According to research by Dechun Wang and colleagues, the answer is yes. They find that auditors with industry expertise at the office level charge a fee premium and do indeed provide higher audit quality. This is just one of the many research interests Wang pursues in the field of accounting. He has published and presented several works, including one paper that was honored as the “best manuscript” at the 2007 American Accounting Association international accounting mid-year conference.

When Dechun Wang was looking at prospective universities, he says that the department of accounting at Mays stood out to him for the quality of the faculty, strong research support, and “the inspiring PhD program.” He is excited to be joining this highly-ranked faculty to teach intermediate accounting II.

Wang doesn’t hold with the notion that students are empty vessels waiting to be filled. Instead, he sees learning as a much more interactive process in the classroom, where students shoulder the responsibility for their own learning. “The purpose of my teaching is to help students develop accounting knowledge, critical thinking and analytical thinking skills, and professional and ethical
reasoning,” he says.

McGuire
McGuire

Sean McGuire
Assistant Professor of Accounting
PhD: University of Georgia
Recent affiliation: University of Georgia

“I enjoy connecting with students and challenging them to think deeply about the concepts we discuss in class.  My goal is to help them develop problem-solving and analytical skills that will translate into their careers.”

How do market participants use tax-related information and other data firms voluntarily disclose to investors? That’s the question that keeps Sean McGuire examining the news. His experiences working with the Enron Corporation and Ernst & Young, LLP have helped mold this researcher’s thinking about corporate taxes and disclosure.

McGuire’s dissertation investigates the voluntary disclosures that firms provide for a fourth quarter decrease in their effective tax rate (ETR).  His results suggest that firms strategically explain ETR decreases and use disclosure in an attempt to enhance market participants’ perception of earnings created by an ETR decrease. His current areas of study examine whether credit analysts utilize the information contained in the difference between book and taxable income to analyze a firm’s credit risk, and whether firms involved in a proxy contest change the amount and type of information they provide to investors.

It is appropriate that McGuire should return to A&M to teach introduction to tax classes, as it was during his time as an undergraduate majoring in accounting at A&M that he first discovered his talent for teaching while serving as a tutor. In 2006, McGuire was named an AAA/Deloitte/J. Michael Cook doctoral consortium fellow. The following year he was recognized with an Outstanding Teaching Assistant award from the University of Georgia.

Simpson
Simpson

Nancy Simpson
Clinical Professor, Director of the Undergraduate Special Programs Office
PhD: Texas A&M University
Recent affiliation: Texas A&M University

“I love helping students learn mathematics…It means helping them see math as a way of thinking about the world, rather than as a set of rules and formulas to memorize.”

Nancy Simpson has spent more than 20 years helping students overcome their math-phobias. Starting as a graduate assistant in the mathematics department at Luther College, Nancy has cultivated her teaching talents through practical application as well as theory. She has two degrees in mathematics and a PhD in curriculum and instruction. Previously she was the director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at Texas A&M, which provides faculty with resources, workshops, and consultation for reaching students more effectively.

Her current position as the director of the Undergraduate Special Programs Office at Mays puts her at the head of several innovative programs, such as Transitions (helping students make the leap from high school to college successfully), Business Honors, Fellows, and the Center for Effective Communication. She will also be teaching two basic math classes and coordinating a student-staffed math lab for first year business students.

Simpson’s research interests focus on teaching and learning. In her new position as director, she plans to investigate the effectiveness of the experiences students have in Mays special programs. She will examine whether or not students are transferring and applying skills such as teamwork and communication from their program experiences to their upper level coursework.

Flint
Flint

G. David Flint
Clinical Associate Professor of Management
PhD: Texas A&M University
Recent affiliation: Utah Valley State College

“Students need to be challenged to perform beyond their past levels, encouraged to be inquisitive and probing, provided lots of attention when they have questions, and given the opportunity to step out and think about applying knowledge instead of just absorbing data.”

When it comes to business, David Flint has been active both in the marketplace and the classroom. “I like to do it, teach it, and learn it,” he says. He was an entrepreneur before he became interested in deeper studies of the field of management. He has maintained that dual interest, as throughout his academic career he has been involved in management positions in start-up companies ranging from software development to real estate investment. He also has been involved in the creation of two non-profit organizations and currently serves as a board member for both.

His marketplace experience has led him to interesting topics of research in the areas of international business and politics, social responsibility, and business strategy as influenced by CEOs and governments. He has numerous publications, proceedings, and conference presentations to his record, and has served as a reviewer for several research publications.

Flint ties in all of his various experiences as a businessman, scholar, and researcher in his role as professor. “My basic mindset in the classroom is to think about what I have experienced as the “best’ learning environments and then borrow from those experiences to create what I hope is an effective learning experience for my students,” he said.

Parish
Parish

Janet Turner Parish
Clinical Associate Professor of Marketing
PhD: University of Alabama
Recent affiliation: Texas State University

“I see myself as a facilitator. My job is to encourage students to build knowledge by sharing what they already know and by applying specific classroom learning to real projects.”

Janet Parish says she is “thrilled to be rejoining the family” at Mays Business School. She taught here from 2002-2007 before leaving for a one-year term at Texas State University. Parish says she didn’t always know she was destined for the classroom; She “accidentally discovered” that she wanted to be an educator after working as a training coordinator for a bank, where she taught employees about customer service and marketing.

Parish teaches principals of marketing, a subject she is very familiar with, as she has taught it at four universities over the last 13 years. “I am excited about this opportunity to give so many of our undergraduate business students a glimpse of what marketing is all about,” she says.

Parish’s own research focuses on the role of employees in service encounters. Some specific examples she gives are how patient-physician relationships impact desirable patient outcomes (e.g., healthy eating behavior) and how aspects of the physical workspace influence employee outcomes, such as productivity and turnover. She has published work and has work in progress on both of these topics.

Parish earned her PhD in 2002, and since that time has published seven articles in well-respected journals, such as the MIT Sloan Management Review. She also has one article forthcoming. She has presented her research in numerous settings, most often at conferences hosted by the American Marketing Association.

Ramkumar
Ramkumar

Rishika Ramkumar
Clinical Assistant Professor of Marketing
PhD: University of California, Irvine
Recent affiliation: University of California, Irvine

“It is the great Aggie spirit that drew me to A&M. Mays Business School offers a wonderful research environment with world-class faculty to share ideas with and resources that help in conducting good research.”

What factors influence the size of quantity discounts? Does more competition increase or decrease those discounts?  How do those discounts affect the consumer welfare? Rishika Ramkumar’s research interest in the practice of offering quantity discounts on large size packages asks just these questions, and a host of others. She notes that most products are offered in multiple sizes with large size products often carrying substantial unit price discounts. This common pricing strategy can have an impact on the firm that produces the product, competitors in the market, and the consumers that use the product.

Ramkumar says she’s always been interested in analyzing the economy. That interest paired with her desire to do meaningful research to improve standards of living led her to a career in academia. She holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in economics as well as a PhD in marketing. As an instructor, Ramkumar wants to impart more than just knowledge. She also motivates her students to practice analytical and team working skills, as both of these are necessary components of a career in the business world. She will teach marketing management and product development courses at Mays.

Ramkumar has an impressive resume, listing several fellowships as well as grant funds she used to evaluate the impact of cigarette advertising on consumer behavior while she studied at the University of California.

Galpin
Galpin

Wendy Galpin
Clinical Assistant Professor of Finance
PhD: Indiana University, Bloomington
Recent affiliation: American University

“I strive to make students understand why they are learning the materials in the course, in addition to teaching them what they should be learning. I want the students to see the “big picture’ as clearly as possible.”

How do protection of property rights and access to capital interact to affect economic growth across national boundaries? Research by Wendy Galpin and colleagues suggests that better access to capital does not always promote growth: In countries with weak property rights, lower financing barriers actually reduce growth. This implies that a country’s first step in promoting economic growth is improving its institutions, then buttressing these improvements with increased access to financing.

Galpin says her interest in international issues of finance was piqued in high school and was refined through undergraduate work at a university in her native country, China, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in that discipline. She then achieved an MBA and PhD in finance in the U.S. Before coming to A&M, Galpin spent five years teaching at American University in the Department of International Business.

Galpin says she loves literature and music and enjoys calligraphy, but chose to pursue a career in academia as it combines her passion with practicality. “I try to get my students to think about future career plans and some of the best students to think about graduate school work,” she says. “It’s emotionally rewarding to hear from former students who claim that they have been inspired by you, who have followed your advice and found it helpful.”

McBryde
McBryde

Carol A. McBryde
Clinical Assistant Professor, Undergraduate Special Programs Office
PhD: Oklahoma State University
Recent affiliation: Texas A&M University

“My job as a teacher is to prompt students to think. Teaching is not about the specific content; it is about asking students to use their critical minds to examine what they are reading, hearing, and saying.”

Carol McBryde is fascinated by the dual processes of leadership and learning. How do students’ perceptions of leaders influence their learning experience? How does intuition impact the process of leadership? How do students learn to themselves be leaders? These are the questions McBryde’s research examines.

McBryde will have a firsthand look at her research interests in the classroom as she begins this fall to work with the Mays Transitions Program. She will work with students to build up their core competencies, such as communication, teamwork, and ethics.

McBryde has had a variety of work experiences in higher education, including residence life and student affairs. Most recently, she served as the coordinator of the Leadership and Service Center at Texas A&M, where she developed a program to promote leadership education and community engagement for students.

McBryde’s PhD is in agricultural education, with an emphasis on leadership education. Her dissertation focused on Red Cross workers’ perceptions of leaders in disaster. She has presented a number of workshops on the topics of personal strengths, leadership styles, and developing leadership skills.

Tomaszewski
Tomaszewski

Lesley Tomaszewski
Clinical Assistant Professor, Undergraduate Special Programs Office
PhD: Texas A&M University
Recent affiliation: Texas A&M University

“I apply a lot of adult education theories to my classroom so it’s much more learner-focused than lecture-focused. My students work in teams while I take the roles of facilitator, supervisor, and coach.”

Lesley Tomaszewski comes to business education from a uniquely varied background. Her initial interest in anthropology and archeology took an unlikely turn as she shifted her focus to adult education in graduate school at A&M. After earning a masters and a PhD in educational human resource development, she worked as an assistant research scientist in the Texas Center for the Advancement of Literacy and Learning. While in that position, she began teaching as a visiting lecturer at Mays Business School working with the Transitions program.

Tomaszewski’s previous work experience includes other research positions, such as involvement with a study for the Health Science Center at A&M regarding patient-doctor interaction, and two years as a study abroad program liaison. She has been published several times in journals of adult education issues, such as Studies in Continuing Education and Adult Basic Education and Literacy.  She has also presented at numerous conferences, often on topics related to adult education in Texas.

Tomaszewski is a member of the American Educational Research Association, the Texas Association for Literacy and Adult Education, the Commission on Adult Basic Education, and the Academy of Human Resource Development. At Mays she will be teaching a sophomore level course in integrated work-life competencies, focusing on teamwork and creative problem solving.

Visser
Visser

Roemer Visser
Clinical Assistant Professor, Undergraduate Special Programs Office
PhD: Texas A&M University
Recent affiliation: Texas A&M University

“I want to take away obstacles to my students’ professional and academic success. I want to stimulate them to bring out what is they already have and know deep inside.”

Roemer Visser’s background is in human resource management and adult education, specialties he has been able to draw from as a lecturer and now a clinical assistant professor in the Mays Transitions program. Visser holds a master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology with an emphasis in personnel selection from Vrije University in his home country of the Netherlands. He recently completed his doctoral degree in educational human resource development and adult education at Texas A&M.

Visser’s research and teaching are complementary. His research interest is teamwork and issues relating to it, such as effective communication with in a team, how to improve team decision-making and problem solving. Visser teaches two classes in the Transitions program that touch on these same topics, focusing on practical work-related skills.

Visser has co-edited a volume on the aging workforce, as well as co-authored two chapters for that publication. He has presented at conferences on a variety of topics from prejudices in the interview process, to World War II, to community-based learning. In addition to business courses, Visser also teaches karate at A&M and has guest lectured on issues of culture, aging, diversity, conflict resolution, and leadership in a number of classes and other settings.

Categories: Faculty, Featured Stories

Today’s generation of Mays Business School students are fluent in “cyberspeak” (truncated English used when texting and instant messaging) and most can write a research paper for a class, but are these students prepared for the written communication needs they will face in a job after graduation?

They soon will be, thanks to the newly created Mays Communication Lab.

The lab, piloted in the spring 2008 semester, is a branch of the Transitions Program, which helps students successfully navigate the transitions from high school, to college, to the real world. When Martha Loudder, associate dean for undergraduate programs, began brainstorming ideas for the Transitions Program in 2004, she asked corporate partners what soft skills, or “core competencies,” would make Mays students more employable and successful. Among the answers she heard, communication consistently was at the top of the list.

“Recruiters complained that we were not doing a good job of preparing our students for oral and written communications,” said Loudder. However, when she conducted a formal assessment of students’ writing skills using samples they had written for class, she found that 88% of them were writing at a level that Mays deemed acceptable. When she took that data back to employers, those that had voiced concerns clarified: it was just the basics of business correspondence that students were not successful with. They didn’t know how to write good memos, professional emails, or executive summaries. “We realized that somewhere in the curriculum, we needed to teach these very basic skills,” said Loudder.

By the time they graduate students may know how to write well in the classroom and they should know how to behave professionally, but these skills don’t always transfer to the real world application without practical lessons. That’s where the Mays Communication Lab comes in.

Broccoli in your teeth

Mays lecturer Sommer Hamilton ’04 heads up the lab, creating the curriculum, managing the peer tutors, and giving one-on-one assistance to students. Her lessons are presented in tandem with the sophomore level integrated worklife competencies course. Over the semester, Hamilton’s lessons provide practice in several forms of common written and oral business communication.

Instructor working with two students in lab
Mays lecturer Sommer Hamilton ’04 (center) heads up the Mays Communication Lab, creating the curriculum, managing the peer tutors, and giving one-on-one assistance to students.

She says that initially, some students are apathetic when it comes to communicating well. She combats that attitude by reminding them that communication is tied to their appearance. “It’s about that moment when you are sending an email to the CEO of your company and he sees that you’ve used the wrong “your.’ You’ve written “your’ instead of “you’re’, and he thinks, “Huh, is this person really as educated as I thought? Do they not know, or do they just not pay attention to details?'”

Hamilton likens these minor errors to broccoli in your teeth, little things that can change one’s appearance drastically. She helps students keep their smiles broccoli-free by helping them master the language, audience concerns, style, transitions, tone, spelling, grammar, and needed content for great business writing. “We are in a culture of impressions. In business we need to come across as polished as possible,” she says. “Even in e-mail, you need to present yourself with your best foot forward, to your boss and to your clients, to the lawyer you’re writing to on behalf of your company. You need to be as correct as possible.”

Until recently, Mays students could graduate without ever having written that staple of corporate communication, a memo. Hamilton says it’s more than just practice they are lacking. “They need to be graded on their writing so they have feedback for improvement,” she says.

That feedback and improvement loop is the main focus of Hamilton’s grading system. For each assignment, her students turn in a rough draft, which she and her staff of seven student aids critique exhaustively. Students are then expected to consider all of the comments and revise their work before turning in a final draft.

If students struggle with an assignment, they have two options: they can drop by the writing lab in Wehner (open 20 hours per week) to get individual help or go to the web to view dynamic e-lessons Hamilton has created.

“If they’re writing their draft at two o’clock in the morning, they have the access to an e-lesson online when they need it,” says Hamilton, who sees great benefit in this kind of on-demand learning.

After one semester using this system, Hamilton was pleased with the results. In her pilot class, all 160 students passed the communication portion of course. She saw it as a mark of success that by the end of the semester, much less revision was needed on each assignment. “They were definitely starting to internalize some of those standards that are needed in good communication. My biggest goal was to make them their own editor,” she says.

Bigger picture: Transitions Program

Hamilton says that the value of the Transitions Program and the Mays Communication Lab is their practicality. “We get them thinking, “How would I do this in the real world? I’m not going to be a

The Transitions Program stresses these seven core competencies:
  • The ability to get your ideas across with effective communication
  • Being able to identify and fix performance gaps with problem solving
  • Creating new opportunities for organizational or personal growth
  • Leading others to aspire to a noble purpose
  • Being comfortable managing a project
  • Relying on and working with others in a work group or team
  • Maintaining your character and integrity by acting ethically

college student all my life.’ We help them to understand in college what is going to be asked of them after graduation.” Helping students identify their strengths, build upon them, and be able to articulate and implement them in a professional setting is a large part of the program.

Open to all business undergraduate students, the Transitions Program fosters learning in large classes, small groups with peer leaders, and through teamwork on projects. Each student creates an AggiE-folio, an electronic portfolio of their best work from all four years of their academic career. This acts as a showcase of the skills developed in the program, such as PowerPoint slides, videos of their presentations, personal web pages, and classroom assignments.

Transitions brings continuity to the undergraduate program as the lessons are multidisciplinary, touching on subjects such as teamwork, communication, and ethics that students need in every course, as well as in the professional world.

Director of Business Undergraduate Special Programs Nancy Simpson says she hopes to communicate with faculty members outside the program in all areas of the college to better understand the way that students will encounter these core competencies in upper division courses. “Repetition is key to learning and the more we are using similar language, the more likely students will be to transfer ideas and skills from one area to another,” says Simpson.

For more information about the Transitions Program, visit http://mays.tamu.edu/transitions/.

Categories: Centers, Featured Stories, Programs

Un-Belizeable! That is the best way to describe the North Belize Medical Mission team that I have been a part of for the past five years. In 2003, my mother, a nurse practitioner, was invited to be part of a team providing care to the villages of northern Belize around the town of Corozal. So I went with her, along with my sister, an ’08 Aggie graduate in psychology. We began spending the 2nd week of July providing medical, dental and eye care to over a thousand Belizeans every summer.

Tyler Eads and his mother, Shawna Eads, with a family at Corozal Clinic.
Tyler Eads and his mother, Shawna Eads, with a family at Corozal Clinic.

As a freshman at Mays Business School, I enrolled in the BUSN 289 Integrated Work-Life Competencies course with Dr. Roemer Visser as my professor. In this class, students are put into teams that are challenged to raise money for the organization of their choice. I thought getting my class team, Team Corozal, to support North Belize Medical Missions was a great way to tie in Mays Business School with a third world country in need of help. After fundraisers, solicitations to local dentist offices, and the donation of an RX medical mission pack from Johnson & Johnson, Team Corozal had raised over $5,000 dollars for North Belize Medical Missions. It was awesome to directly see the donations being distributed out to the needy Belizean families. I greatly respect Mays Business School for its desire to not only reach out to support local organizations but to support a team of students in its desire to make a difference in the world.

North Belize Medical Missions is a mission based out of the Central Church of Christ in Bryan, Texas. This year, our team of 33 people came together from all over the state of Texas, with a few from Indiana. We accomplished the enormous task of treating 1,452 Belizeans in just five days. Every Belizean we saw at the clinic received medical checkups along with eye and dental exams. Prescription lenses and sunglasses were distributed. Many rotten teeth were pulled. In the end, our pharmacist from San Angelo distributed 4,913 prescriptions that included vitamins, worm medicine, antibiotics and Tylenol, along with medication for high blood pressure and diabetes. Many of the medications distributed came from the donations Team Corozal (Mays Business School students) obtained.

Student and family in clinic
Tyler leading a Belizean family through the clinic in the village of San Narciso.

When I first began participating in this program at the age of 13, my duty was to weigh and measure each patient before sending them to triage. Eventually, I progressed to triage where blood pressure, pulse, temperature and medical histories are taken. This year I took over my sister’s role of coordinator of care. My multi-tasking skills were definitely tested as I moved each family from triage to the medical station, eye clinic, dentist (if they needed a tooth pulled), and on to the pharmacist — all inside of a hurricane shelter. Because many Belizeans only speak Spanish, I often caught them chuckling at my “hick” Spanish as I attempted to communicate.

One story that has really impacted me is that of a workingman named Norberto who lost part of his leg after he was hit by a drunk driver. When our team first came in contact with him, we arranged for him travel back to the United States to be fitted for a prosthesis. After receiving his prosthetic leg and returning to Belize, he returned to our clinic every year to see our team. Unfortunately the prosthetic foot deteriorated and turned to powder. He had to continue to work in the papaya fields to provide for his large family, so Norberto got creative and used the top of a butter carton as a replacement foot in order to prevent his peg leg from sinking in the mud. When you see a man not promoting Adidas or Nike shoes but Land O’Lakes margarine, it really opens your eyes to how lucky we are to have the life we take for granted.

In Belize, Tyler is not a common name and therefore stands out. Most of the kids cannot pronounce my name and instead call me “Tiger.” On my first trip to Belize I was weighing and measuring the patients when I noticed this young woman’s son was also named Tyler. I told her I had to take a picture with her son in order to have proof that another Tyler lives in Belize. Five years later I have not missed my annual photo op with this young boy. His mother informed my mom that she was not going to come to the clinic this past trip because the ride on her bike was too far, but she wanted Tyler and I to take our annual picture. They made the trip. It’s people like this that motivate me to always find a way to go back year after year. I know we are touching lives, and that is an amazing feeling.

Categories: Perspectives

In new ranking from U.S. News & World Report, the management department at Mays Business School at Texas A&M University has moved up in its national placement. This year, the undergraduate program in management is ranked number 10 in the nation overall and 7th among public schools. This is an improvement from last year, when the program was ranked 13th overall and 9th public.

Mays Business School as a whole has also seen improvement in the rankings, as it has tied for 30th overall and 18th public in the best undergraduate business program category for 2009. Last year the school was ranked 31st overall and 19th public.

U.S. News & World Report arrived at these rankings by surveying deans and senior faculty in spring 2008 at undergraduate business programs accredited by the AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business).

Mays Business School currently enrolls more than 4,000 undergraduate students and 875 graduate students. Mays is nationally ranked among public business schools not only for the quality of its undergraduate program, but also its MBA program and the faculty scholarship of its 105 professors in five departments.

Categories: Programs