Mays Business School’s Department of Accounting has placed nearly twice as many students in the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Postgraduate Fellows Program than any other university in the country.

Compared to Mays’ 14 placements from the founding of the postgraduate program to 2004, only the University of Wisconsin-Madison comes close with 8 students placed in the FASB postgraduate program up to 2004. Ohio State University and the University of Nebraska each had 7 graduates placed in the same time frame.

Mays also added a 15th student placed with 2005 Professional Program graduate Ricky Cronin’s acceptance into the program this year.

Other programs that have had four or more students accepted into FASB’s postgraduate program are among the nation’s top business schools — including the University of Michigan, the University of Notre Dame, the University of North Carolina and the University of Texas.

Ten of Mays’ most recent FASB postgraduate participants came from the Professional Program, an advanced study option that helps students earn an undergraduate degree in accounting and a master’s in accounting, finance, management information systems, or marketing/e-commerce, all in five years.

“The success of our students in this program reflects both the overall quality of our Professional Program as well as the outstanding personal attributes of Aggies, particularly as related to leadership and teamwork,” Accounting Department Head Jim Benjamin says.

Only some 51 schools of the 350 accredited U.S. business schools have had at least one student selected for the prestigious year-long postgraduate program in the accounting standards-setting process.

The FASB establishes and improves standards of financial accounting and reporting for the guidance and education of the public. Postgraduate technical assistants are assigned to major agenda projects or short-term practice and implementation issues. These graduates of the nation’s elite business programs come to have an in-depth understanding of the roles played by preparers, auditors and users of financial

Categories: Departments, Faculty, Programs, Students

J. Robert Chambers ’89 and Kimberly A. Chambers ’91, of Houston, have endowed a $60,000 scholarship fund that will support worthy students at Mays. The Chambers’ gift creates the J. Robert Chambers ’89 and Kimberly A. Chambers ’91 President’s Endowed Scholarship.

“The Chambers’ generous gift will keep the “Aggie Miracle’ — the process through which persons of modest means obtain a top-flight education because of the generosity of our former students — alive and well,” said Dean Jerry Strawser. “We appreciate Robert and Kimberly’s generosity and hope they know the tremendous difference they will make in the life of the student fortunate enough to benefit from their gift.”

Robert and Kimberly both received bachelor’s degrees in business administration from Texas A&M and were members of the Fellows program. They currently reside in Houston with their son, William. Robert is a managing director at Lehman Brothers, where he manages a hedge fund focusing on energy investments.

“Having received a President’s Endowed Scholarship myself, I am very grateful that God has blessed us so that we can, in turn, help support future students,” Robert Chambers said.

Categories: Deanspeak, Donors Corner, Former Students

Paula and Steve Letbetter ’70, of Houston, have committed $1 million to endow a chair in business at Mays. Their gift creates the Paula and Steve Letbetter ’70 Leadership Chair in Business, which supports the teaching, research, service and professional development of a Mays faculty member.

“Faculty are the catalyst for great programs and great opportunities for students,” said Dean Jerry Strawser. “The Letbetters’ generosity will enable us to recruit and retain the very best faculty and provide our students with the type of educational experience they richly deserve.”

Steve graduated from Texas A&M in 1970 with a degree in accounting. In 1974 he joined Houston Lighting & Power, the predecessor to Reliant Energy. The remainder of his career was spent as a part of this organization until retiring in April 2003 as chairman, president and chief executive officer of Reliant. Steve and Paula have two sons and three grandchildren, who hopefully will also become Aggies.

“Paula and I have been blessed beyond all expectations,” Steve Letbetter said. “Our success would not have been possible without the foundation laid and the education received while at Texas A&M. This gift is our way of saying thank you.”

Categories: Donors Corner, Faculty, Former Students

The Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team will head to its third national competition in as many years at the 2005 SIFE USA National Exposition May 22-24 in Kansas City, Mo. The team was named regional champion in Dallas on April 11.

SIFE presenters — two seniors, one junior and two freshmen — received a few more surprises in regional competition when they were named finalists in the Aflac Global Economics Competition for their “Penci-Cola” project and the Campbell’s National Ethics Competition for their “Aggie for a Day” project. Both honors earned the free enterprise team $2,500 in awards to use towards projects and travel expenses for Kansas City.

Students in Free Enterprise encourages students to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to real-life situations, using their knowledge to make life better in their communities by teaching the principles of free enterprise.

SIFE Texas A&M touched the Bryan-College Station community this year in several ways, including teaching ethics to fourth- through sixth- graders with the on-campus Aggie for a Day program. The team also simplified global economics by showing second graders how the world works together to make a simple wooden pencil in the Penci-Cola project.

Categories: Students

Marketing Associate Professor and PhD Adviser James Leigh was named the 2005 Journal of Advertising Outstanding Reviewer in April during the American Academy of Advertising’s annual conference.

Leigh is also a former recipient of the Journal of Marketing and Public PolicyOutstanding Reviewer award. He joined the business school in 1981 and has published more than 25 articles, most extensively in the Journal of Advertisingand the Journal of Advertising Research.

A research article by fellow Marketing Professor Venkatesh Shankar was also recognized recently as being among the top three most frequently downloaded at the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science‘s Web site. The 2004 paper, co-authored with Shun Yin Lam, Eramilli Krishna and Bvsn Murthy, is entitled “Customer Value, Satisfaction, Loyalty, and Switching Costs: An Illustration From a Business-to-Business Service Context.”

Shankar, who joined the Mays faculty in 2004, specializes in digital business, competitive strategy, international marketing, pricing, retailing, new product development and biotechnology.

Categories: Departments, Faculty

Amy Henry ’95, the last woman standing on the first season of Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice,” told students gathered in Rudder Theater in April to create their own personal brand and market themselves with it.

Sharing personal quips and insider stories from the set of the reality show that aired last spring, the marketing graduate said the biggest lesson she took from the show was how to edit herself. Some on the show always gave great face-time by being vigilant of the camera, while others weren’t seen for their ideas but rather characterized through flaws or emotional outbursts.

People in business see their co-workers and business partners through a similar lens, though without a camera to mediate, in daily interactions. “Remember, always, you will be edited — it’s up to you to provide the footage,” said Henry, who cautioned students to stay consistent with the message they want to deliver. “Figure out how to create your own brand and use it. What are your strengths and weaknesses, what do you do best, what are your stories?”

Henry is a former Mays Fellows Program member who earned an MBA from Texas Christian University in 1997. She was a dotcomer who went through the boom “and bombed” with in 1999, landing at the other end of the see-saw with more than $2 million less in her portfolio. Since earning a spot on “The Apprentice” — in which she was the last woman eliminated, fired on the second-to-last show — Henry wrote “What it Takes: Speak Up, Step Up, Move Up” and has toured the country relating life and business lessons to student groups and conferences.

Categories: Former Students, Programs

Two years of cooperation have paid off for a team of Mays professors in the form of a new textbook hitting Mays classes in fall 2005. The “Introduction to Business” text was written by six faculty members and tailors the presentation of business basics to the needs of first-year students.

The textbook features the basics of accounting, management, finance, marketing and information and operations management with underlying themes including international globalization, ethics and technology. The text is among the first products formed from such a large cumulative effort at Mays and, consequently, features leading authors in each discipline.

“It really is a joint effort of specific faculty members from all five departments of Mays,” says Julian Gaspar, director of the Center for International Business Education and Research. “The Mays environment is very conducive to such professional collaboration.”

Gaspar led the project and worked weekly with Professor of Management Leonard Bierman, Professor of Finance James Kolari, Foley’s Professor in Retailing and Marketing Richard Hise, Professor of Accounting L. Murphy Smith, Associate Professor of Information and Operations Management Antonio Arreola-Risa and Clinical Associate Professor of Management Ben Welch, who edited the textbook. Together, the group created a textbook that would challenge students and instill the view that business is technology driven, global in nature and needs to be conducted ethically to be successful in the long run.

“Our hope, given the strengths of the book, is that it will be a market leader,” Gaspar says. “We have done our part, now we will wait to see the outcome.”

The textbook has already gained national recognition, with numerous universities in the process of adopting the book as a required text for their fall undergraduate business classes.

Categories: Centers, Departments, Faculty

Management clinical associate professor Ben D. Welch — also director of the Center for Executive Development — was recently named a recipient of the 2005 Texas A&M University-level Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching. He is one of 22 faculty and staff to be honored in May by the Association of Former Students for achievements in teaching, research or student relations.

Welch, who says he was humbled to learn of the award, explains that his approach to teaching has always been to put his students’ needs first. Welch’s management 105 class was also named one of the two best courses to take at A&M by Texas Monthly in 2004.

“It’s about human compassion — students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” Welch says. “This is where my passion lies.”

A decade ago, Welch was recognized with another Association university-level award with the 1994 Distinguished Achievement Award for Student Relations.

Categories: Departments, Faculty, Texas A&M

Mays underclassmen took away nearly $6,000 in prizes last week in a trading competition piloted by BP as a recruiting and relationship-building tool that helps identify talented students.

The internal competition at Mays’ Reliant Energy Securities and Commodities Trading Center is the first of its kind for BP. More than 70 students — mostly freshmen and sophomores — executed simulated natural gas futures trades based on mock news feeds designed to influence trading behavior in the energy sector. In hour-long sessions in three separate rounds, students traded contracts based on the relevance of the news, such as a familiar scenario in which a hurricane is threatening oil production in the Gulf Coast.

Sophomore business majors Emily Merin and Erin Thomason, junior finance major Sean Shannahan, and junior finance majors Alex Forshey and Brian Ramos took 1st place in their rounds, each winning a $500 scholarship. Second and third place winners received iPod Nanos and $150 gift certificates to Best Buy.

In the 2007 competition, slated for February, the grand prize could grow substantially from this year’s scholarships. BP expects to invite top winners to fill internships on the natural gas and power trading floor of BP America’s Houston office.

The trading simulation at Mays is the first BP has held at a university that all business students could compete in. It’s a potential recruiting tool that BP’s integrated supply and trading division, a leader in the natural gas and power trading industry, also expects to take to the University of Texas, Rice and UH.

“The biggest problem we’ve seen in recruiting, even with the best students, is that they still ask, “What would I be doing at your company?'” says BP Trader Aaron Hall. “The trading competition really targets for us students who are going to be interested in what we do, as well as those that have an aptitude for our business.”

Students benefit not only in the experience of executing trades in a competitive situation, says finance professor Detlef Hallermann, but with exposure early on in college to trading careers and to professionals at BP. Of the 10 new analysts hired for the BP trade floor in 2006, six were Aggies.

“This competition furthers the relationship between A&M and BP in terms of providing students that can fill the need for the future,” says Hallermann, also co-program leader for the Reliant Trading Center. “A&M is providing students that can hit the ground running at BP.”

Categories: Centers, Departments, Students

The Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship needs your help to find the top 100 fastest-growing Aggie-owned or -operated companies worldwide. Nominations for the first-ever Aggie 100 awards are due June 1.

To be eligible, a company must have been in business for five years or more as of December 2004 and have had revenues of $100,000 or more in 2002. The top 100 nominated companies will be ranked by percentage growth in revenue from 2002 to 2004. Companies must either be owned or managed by one or more Aggies during the same timeframe, and must also exemplify the values and ethical image of Texas A&M.

The complete Aggie 100 list will be announced in October during an entrepreneur day on campus. Winners will also be featured in the November issue of Texas Aggie magazine, a publication of the Association of Former Students.

To access a nomination form, visit the center’s Web site at or e-mail

Categories: Centers