The American Accounting Association (AAA) recently announced the recipients of the 2021 Distinguished Contribution Award, including Dr. Nate Y. Sharp, Head of the James Benjamin Department of Accounting at Mays Business School

COLLEGE STATION, TX — On June 15, 2021, the American Accounting Association (AAA) announced Dr. Nate Y. Sharp as a recipient of the 2021 Distinguished Contributions to Accounting Literature Award. This award is among the most prestigious research awards granted by the AAA.

The Distinguished Contributions to Accounting Literature Award is presented annually to that work or related works published more than 5 years but not more than 15 years prior to the year of the award. The award recognizes accounting research based on uniqueness and magnitude of contribution to accounting education, practice, and/or future accounting research; originality and innovative content; clarity and organization of exposition; and soundness and appropriateness of methodology. Sharp and his co-authors, Lawrence D. Brown, Andrew C. Call, and Michael B. Clement, were given this award for their work entitled, “Inside the ‘Black Box’ of Sell-Side Financial Analysts,” published in the March 2015 issue of the Journal of Accounting Research.

“This is a highly significant award for Nate and his co-authors to receive to recognize the quality of their scholarship,” shared Mays Business School’s interim dean, R. Duane Ireland. “We at Mays Business School are proud of Nate’s research projects and the questions he addresses through his studies—questions that when answered through his work, inform the academic literature as well as managerial practice. Nate’s research is quite descriptive of the Mays mission to ‘create impactful knowledge.’ On behalf of Mays Business School and Texas A&M University, I am truly pleased to highlight the importance of the award Nate is receiving.”

This AAA award will be presented to Professors Brown, Call, Clement, and Sharp in the form of unique glass art pieces and a monetary prize at the 2021 AAA Annual Meeting during the awards presentation on Tuesday, August 3rd from 11:30 am-12:00 pm Eastern.

More information about the 2021 AAA Awards can be found here.


About the James Benjamin Department of Accounting 

The James Benjamin Department of Accounting aims to provide notable contributions to the university, public, and accounting profession. The James Benjamin Department of Accounting designs environments that engender creativity and innovation while close relationships among students and faculty foster ingenuity through a sharing of interests and aspirations.

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About Mays Business School at Texas A&M University

At Mays Business School, our vision is to advance the world’s prosperity. Our mission is to be a vibrant learning organization that creates impactful knowledge and develops transformational leaders. Mays Business School educates more than 6,400 undergraduate, masters, and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing, and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools for its programs and faculty research.

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Media contact: Kiri Stanford,

Media contact: Blake Parrish,

Categories: Accounting, Departments, Faculty, Mays Business, PPA, Research, Texas A&M

The two-hour digital event hosted by the Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School will take a look at retail education and the skills needed by the Class of 2025 and beyond.

Engaging leaders from across the retail ecosystem, the Center for Retailing Studies (CRS) at Mays Business School will host a short-form discussion focused on the skills needed from future retail graduates to support the evolving needs of the industry. The virtual event will highlight the expertise and opinions of retail business function leaders, college recruiters, and trade press while informing participants of the plans for the future of the CRS program at Texas A&M.

“The pace of change has accelerated within the retailing industry, and many retailers and consumer brands are moving to integrate their physical and digital teams into a single, integrated business structure.  It’s important that we stay out in front of that change by continuing to update and refine our program,” said Scott Benedict, Executive Professor and Director of CRS and a 35-year omnichannel retail veteran.

The highly engaging, quick-format, agenda includes a roundtable discussion, breakout sessions, and recap discussion at the end of the session.

The roundtable discussion will focus on the evergreen retail skills that remain relevant, new expertise needed to run an omnichannel business, and ways to accelerate into the future, including high impact learning opportunities, featuring:

  • Whitney Cooper, Director, Omnichannel Transformation and Acceleration at Walmart
  • Jody Hall ’87 & ‘89, Vice President of Global Sourcing, H-E-B
  • Lauren Hill ‘07, Director of Merchandising – Home, Target

Breakout sessions will focus on relevant topics and experiences from speaker’s perspectives that will culminate with an alignment on 3-5 key findings and recommendations for the focus of retail education.

The report back from the breakout session leaders will recap the 3-5 key takeaways with layering comments by the roundtable members.

“It’s sure to be an exciting and informative time together,” shares Benedict. “From this input from our constituents and industry partners, we will gain another piece of the puzzle to how to best equip students for the future needs in the retail industry.”

Attendance is free. The Retail Innovators Roundtable – A look at retail education & the skills needed by the Class of 2025 and beyond will take place on Friday, July 16, 202,1 from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. CDT.

More information can be found at


About the Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School

The Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University serves the retail industry by educating the next generation of industry leaders, developing retail-related research, and by providing industry executive outreach & thought leadership. Founded in 1983 in response to an unmet industry need for college educated leaders, CRS has become a renowned source of industry knowledge and a pipeline for developing future retail leaders.:

Media contact: Andrew Vernon, Center for Retailing Studies,

About Mays Business School at Texas A&M University

At Mays Business School, our vision is to advance the world’s prosperity. Our mission is to be a vibrant learning organization that creates impactful knowledge and develops transformational leaders. Mays Business School educates more than 6,400 undergraduate, masters, and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing, and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools for its programs and faculty research.

Visit Mays:

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Executive Speakers, Former Students, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Programs, Texas A&M

By Meredith White, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

COLLEGE STATION, JUNE 14, 2021 – The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship hosted its fourth annual Aggie PITCH on the evening of June 13, 2021. Aggie PITCH is open to all current and former students of the Texas A&M University System and seeks to identify the best Aggie business pitch. 20 startups were selected as finalists to compete for $35,000 in prize money across three divisions: current student full pitch, Former student full pitch, and elevator pitch. This is the first year that Former students were eligible to compete at Aggie PITCH. Each founder competing in a full-pitch division was allotted 10 minutes to give a pitch and answer questions on their business. A panel of anonymous judges made up of investors, successful entrepreneurs, and professionals was hidden among the crowd and selected the winners of the current and Former student pitch divisions. In addition, 9 current and Former student teams gave a 1-minute elevator pitch. Elevator pitch winners were selected by audience vote. The 2021 finalists boasted impressive entrepreneurial endeavors that included medical devices, novel SaaS ventures, and innovative consumer products. At the end of the night, the top startup pitches were announced and awarded significant cash prizes.

Lila Ross ’21, co-founder of Phage Biosciences, won 1st place and $7,500 in the current student full-pitch division. Phage Biosciences provides custom engineered solutions for fighting and controlling disease-causing bacteria. Due to the overuse of antibiotics, many bacteria have become resistant. Phage Biosciences wants to solve this massive public health crisis with their custom tailocins, which are antimicrobial proteins that punch a hole in a bacteria cell, effectively killing it. Ross, who traveled back to campus from out of state to participate in Aggie PITCH, said “Hearing all of the ideas and stuff I would have never thought of was a really unique experience, and so was getting to connect with people who share the same passions as you.”

Blake Petty ’98, Executive Director of the McFerrin Center commented, “The world doesn’t need more great ideas, it needs problem solvers. With Aggie PITCH returning in person, and now including Former students, the selfless service of fellow Aggies is able to thrive in the community that founded it and once again provide the community-based system that leads to the success of many entrepreneurs.”

2021 Aggie PITCH Winners

Current Student Division

1st Place ($7,500): Phage Biosciences| Lila Ross ’20, ’21

2nd Place ($5,000): Al-Ris| Uthej Vattipalli ’22

3rd Place ($3,500): Olera, Inc. | Logan DuBose ’22 


Former Student Division

1st Place ($7,500): Datalogz | Logan Havern ’19

2nd Place ($5,000): HelioWave Technologies LLC | Adrian Guzman ’08, ’12, ’19

3rd Place ($3,500): Divergene | Paola Correa, PhD ’15


Elevator Pitch Division

1st Place ($1,500): Real Rejuvenations LLC | R’riel Smith ’20

2nd Place ($1,000): Lazarus | Benjamin Omonira ’20

3rd Place ($750): Exosphere Fitness | Connor Pogue ’16, ’18

A full listing of the 2021 Aggie PITCH winners can be found at


Media contact: Shanna Spencer, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, (979) 458-8631,

Categories: McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

Kyle Koehler ’09 is an unlikely founder of a food manufacturing company. Yet Wildway –the company he co-founded in 2012–has benefitted from his financial acumen, commitment to health, and desire to live a values-based life that supports the creation of a better world. Koehler’s unconventional but highly successful path led to his selection as Mays Business School’s Professional Program in Account (PPA) 2021 Rising Star Award.

This honor recognizes a recent PPA graduate who is making a substantial impact on society through business acumen, exceptional leadership, or entrepreneurial success. “Kyle represents exactly what the PPA Rising Star Award is intended to recognize: he is a young, successful entrepreneur who co-founded Wildway just three years after graduating from Texas A&M University,” said Dr. Nate Sharp, head of the James Benjamin Department of Accounting in Mays Business School and the Nelson D. Durst Endowed Chair in Accounting. “As a PPA Rising Star, Kyle’s success demonstrates that ‘advancing the world’s prosperity’ often goes hand-in-hand with improving people’s lives. We are incredibly proud of what Kyle has accomplished with Wildway.”

An Adventure in Entrepreneurship

Koehler, who was born and raised an Aggie, took a circuitous route to being an entrepreneur. After graduating from Mays PPA Group 17, the native of LaGrange, Texas lived briefly in Austin before moving to New York City, where he worked for Ernst & Young. However, the big-city lifestyle eventually took its toll. “The corporate life got draining and exhausting, especially in New York City,” he said. “The hours and days were long and living there wasn’t fulfilling in my personal life. I wanted to pursue something that spoke to the values that I had personally and the lifestyle that I wanted to live.”

Kyle and his wife at the time, Kelli, decided to return to Texas, selecting San Antonio as their new home. “The main reason we chose to move back to San Antonio was to be closer to family,” Koehler said. “Family has always taken precedence for us and the importance of family is also built into our company culture. I always tell our people that family comes before your job and to never sacrifice family for work.”

The city also has proven to be a good fit in other ways. The proximity to the Hill Country offers ready accessibility to outdoor activities. Additionally, San Antonio’s business-friendly environment has been instrumental in the Koehlers’ rapid success as food entrepreneurs. “San Antonio is a very business-friendly city with a strong entrepreneurial culture and a great workforce,” Koehler said. “We would not be where we are today if we had to deal with the cost of building a manufacturing business in a more expensive city or state.”

Clean Eating

The idea to create Wildway was sparked by the Koehlers’ decision to clean up their diet. “We took out a lot of added sugars from our diet and started eating really healthy. We felt really good with it,” he said. “We made snack items for ourselves that were gluten-free, didn’t have any sugars, and were made with really clean ingredients. At one point, we wondered whether we could turn this into a business and make something of this.”

After founding the company in 2012, Kyle and Kelli spent the next year testing products and formulations for clean and tasty cereals, granolas, and snacks at the city’s small farmer’s markets. Feedback and sales proved promising. “The first time we attended a farmers market in San Antonio, we made enough granola for the entire weekend,” Koehler said. “When we sold out of everything in a little over an hour, that’s when we thought that we might have something worth building on a larger scale.”

Healthy Growth

Now, the company’s products can be found on the shelves of over 2,000 grocery and health-food stores across the nation. Wildway is sold in a variety of leading national and regional supermarkets, including H-E-B, Whole Foods Market, Sprouts, Kroger, and Wegmans.

The business, which currently has 12 employees, differs from many other food manufacturing companies. “We do all of our manufacturing in-house, which is a little different from a lot of food manufacturers that outsource their manufacturing to a firm that specializes in food manufacturing,” Koehler said. “We built our manufacturing plant from the ground up and there’s a lot of learning experiences there.”

This business model works, and the company’s rapid growth has caught the industry’s attention. Wildway was selected from 700 applicants to be among the nine companies to participate in the Chobani Food Incubator. The Aggie-owned small business was also one of 10 chosen for the PepsiCo Incubator. Both incubators mentor entrepreneurs as they grow their business to the next level.

Feeding Success

The Mays graduate’s role continues to evolve as the company grows. Originally tasked with handling the accounting as well as a broad range of jobs necessitated in a small business, Koehler now primarily oversees the business’s finances and operations. Kelli, who was recognized by the Association of Former Students in the 2021 “12 Under 12 Young Alumni Spotlight,” focuses on marketing.

Koehler credits much of the company’s success to what he learned at Mays and Texas A&M. “There are a lot of people who go into business without a business background because they are passionate about a product, a particular service or particular thing they can make,” he said. “The business background for me was very important in starting and growing the business. Knowing how to read a financial statement and how to balance a budget when we were first starting out was incredibly helpful. I think a lot of extracurricular activities that I was involved in at the university also helped with my leadership ability and ability to manage people.”

As the company continues to grow, Koehler remains dedicated to bringing positive change to the world through manufacturing clean food. “Kyle epitomizes the Aggie core values, especially excellence, integrity, and selfless service. Wildway, the company Kyle and Kelli have created, provides a high-quality product intended to make people’s lives better and healthier,” said Dr. Mike Shaub, the Deloitte Professional Program Director Professor. “Kyle shows his integrity in being uncompromising about being fully himself, and his focus is on others, whether that is the customer or his employees. He wants a healthy work environment, a healthy community, and a healthy world. He did not go into this venture to get rich, but to make the world a better place by what he saw as a genuine need. What better way to advance the world’s prosperity?”

Categories: Alumni, Former Students, Mays Business, News, PPA, Programs, Texas A&M

Texas A&M University junior Sunjay Letchuman ’22 is the first Mays Business School undergraduate to have a manuscript published in a major medical journal.  He co-authored the article, “Trust-Based Partnerships Are Essential—and Achievable—in Healthcare Service,” with Dr. Leonard L. Berry, who holds the M.B. Zale Chair in Retailing and Marketing Leadership, and two leading clinicians. The article will appear in the June 2 issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Letchuman, who is enrolled in Mays’ Business Honors program, appreciated the support and guidance he received from Berry. “Publishing in a journal like Mayo Clinic Proceedings is essentially an unattainable achievement for an undergraduate student, so this has been an enormous privilege for me. Texas A&M professors perform top-tier research all across campus, and it is rewarding for Texas A&M students to perform any kind of research here,” said the Texas A&M’s University Scholar and Undergraduate Research Scholar. “But working with Dr. Berry is a distinct honor. Dr. Berry is a leader in improving healthcare service, and his work has been cited more times than any other Texas A&M professor. For a student like me who is committed to learning how to improve our healthcare industry, working with Dr. Berry is a dream come true.”

The article also marks the first time that Berry, a University Distinguished Professor and Regents Professor, has published an article with an undergraduate. “Sunjay is one of the finest students I have taught in my career—extremely smart but also intellectually curious, intuitive, and a hard worker,” said Berry, who also serves as a senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Boston, MA. “Following the end of the healthcare course he took from me he asked if he could collaborate on a future article; I had never collaborated with an undergraduate student before on research. But if I was ever going to do it, he was the student.”

Creating the manuscript also gave Letchuman, who is accepted to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the opportunity to work with two leading clinicians:

  • Rana L.A. Awdish, the director of the Pulmonary Hypertension Program for the Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine of Henry Ford Health System. She also serves as the medical director for Care Experience at Henry Ford Health System.
  • Karina Dahl Steffensen, a medical oncologist, and professor, and director of the Center for Shared Decision Making in the Department of Clinical Oncology at Vejle Hospital in Vejle, Denmark.

The co-authors’ article suggests that creating trust-based partnerships between patients and the clinicians who care for them have never been more important as the world’s healthcare systems continue to be challenged by the coronavirus pandemic. Offering a vision for healthcare’s role as a service provider, the paper’s core argument is that patients’ trust of their doctors is about more than the science.  The co-authors write, “…excellent healthcare requires more than mere trust in clinicians’ professional ability; it centers on both competence and partnership. This multidimensional trust involves patients’ confidence that a clinician is interested in them as a person, not just as a patient; will be a reliable, caring partner in preventing, diagnosing, and treating disease; and will offer support when curative treatment is not possible.”

This renewed focus on trust between clinicians and patients was underscored during the COVID-19 pandemic when clinicians were placed in a role of providing extraordinary support and clear communication when families were unable to enter intensive care units. The co-authors argued that the role of trust is a central issue in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines since many members of racial and ethnic minority groups have long-standing—and well-founded—concerns about healthcare.

The co-authors believe that creating and nourishing this deeper level of partnership between clinicians and patients will require the implementation of four, interrelated service-quality concepts: empathetic creativity, discretionary effort, seamless service, and mitigation of fear.

Health organizations that prioritize these concepts proactively adopt key institutional policies and procedures, including investing in organizational culture; hiring health professionals based on their values as well as their skills; promoting continuous learning; honoring the importance of language in all care interactions; offering patients “go-to” sources that provide timely assistance; and creating systems and structures that are designed to encourage trust.

Letchuman, who will have a health policy internship with the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in summer 2021, plans to use what he is learning at Mays to support his medical career and to influence healthcare policy. “The paper we wrote really boils down to how we can practice better medicine by improving trust between patients and clinicians. As a future clinician, it will be my duty to implement the service concepts and practices outlined in our paper,” he said. “In a broader sense, working on this paper has taught me the value of bringing a humanistic, empathy-driven approach to improving patient care. These are lessons that I will carry forward in my own career. By designating healthcare as one of its three Grand Challenges, the Mays Business School has cultivated an environment where business students are driven to make a difference in healthcare.”



Categories: Health Care