Author’s Note

From September 15 to October 15, we celebrate people and traditions of Hispanic Heritage – those who have come before us, and the leaders of tomorrow. We recognize their achievement, honor their cultures, and commemorate the heritage and history of Hispanic Americans who have helped shape the face of America. Mays Business school recognizes the remarkable contributions of its Hispanic American students, faculty, staff, and former students who continue to advance the world’s prosperity.

In the Beginning

With roots in Argentina, Mexico, and the United States, Celeste Nava ’23, Business Honors student, embodies the hard work and determination underwriting the Hispanic American experience. Nava, who graduated Valedictorian from her high school, set a high bar and clear goals. A first-generation college student, given the opportunity to attend virtually any university, she only had eyes for Texas A&M.

“Call it tunnel vision, I only applied to Texas A&M,” shared Nava. “The school, the network, the students – from the moment I first stepped foot on campus, I knew this was the place I needed to be.” One college application and acceptance letter later, Nava began her journey as a Mays freshman eager to achieve academic success but also ambitious to show her leadership chops beyond the classroom. She knew Mays could offer her the resources, direction, educational value, and opportunities to prove herself that every college student longs for. Now, stepping into her senior year, Nava reflects on all she’s accomplished and experienced in her time at Texas A&M – the good, the great, and the struggle.

Excelling in Aggieland

With a vision for her future that included lofty goals and bigger dreams, Nava quickly found herself in the Aggie community, immediately buying into the tradition and culture, connecting with the people around her. As a freshman, the next step in her plan included academic exceptionalism at Mays, as she applied to the Business Honors Program.

Although excited and determined, when it came time for her to interview for the Honors program, Nava felt overwhelmed by anxiety and fear. Describing the emotions that accompanied her application process, Nava was transparent about the challenges.  Even as a student excelling academically, she stated, “I didn’t know how competitive the program was, I just wanted to apply even if it was a long shot.” Despite her trepidation, Celeste wowed the committee. “I was so vulnerable with them! I cried during my interview,” sharing that, “despite being unsure of what to say, I knew I wanted to be a part of this program!” Her passion, personality, and intelligence made up for any uncertainty, Nava’s authenticity during her interview left the Mays representatives uniquely in awe.

Self-doubt and anxiety lingered in the weeks that followed. “There was no way I was getting in after my interview… I mean I just cried!” explained Nava. “I thought, it’s not going to happen for me.” But the Business Honors team was as excited to accept Celeste as she was to join the group. Nava’s ability to be vulnerable, honest, and open has underscored her successes at Texas A&M. In concert with those traits, her dynamic energy and penchant for encouragement leave an indelible imprint on everyone she meets. Part of what makes her so relatable is her imperfect path to success.

Turning Struggle to Success

Like many other students, Nava is no stranger to trial and tribulation. Spanish is her first language, and learning English afforded her empathy and a fresh perspective toward others facing obstacles. “I felt that I was a part of two different worlds,” she shared. Growing up, Nava struggled to communicate with teachers and had difficulty making friends because of the language barrier. “It’s great now, being bilingual, but it took 21 years of perseverance.” Nava participated in multiple ESL (English as a Second Language) programs as she worked to master English and to overcome the challenges of communicating simultaneously in two different languages. Simultaneously, she navigated the complexity of two distinct cultural perspectives — her interactions with her family and her connections with her school community. Instead of derailing her efforts, Nava’s struggles nurtured her high-achieving work ethic and determination.

Now, she’s leveraging those experiences to make a difference in the Aggie community. This year as a senior, Nava is the Minority Outreach Director of Howdy Crew (Texas A&M’s welcoming committee for prospective students) where she has been a powerful advocate for students for whom English is not their first language. Wanting to create a sense of belonging for students like herself, Celeste’s ears perked when students reached out to Howdy Crew to request Spanish Speaking interpreters for campus tours.  To her dismay, none were available –  an opportunity for the impact she couldn’t ignore. In her role, Nava was able to establish a program for (and to train) Spanish-speaking tour guides to hold campus tours in Spanish. “Now Spanish-speaking students and families can be just as engaged as their English-speaking counterparts in getting to know Texas A&M,” shared Nava, “and hopefully they can experience that same sense of belonging that defined my introduction to Aggieland.”

Continuing to Grow

Nava is bold and determined, steadfast in her desire to make an impact both on and off campus. When asked about a prospective career path, her answer has been consistent since early high school: a lawyer, with a specific interest in criminal defense. Like many students, she sought an internship in her field of interest and found one, through a client of her parents.  When the time came to tap into the Aggie network, her father knew just who to ask. So, for the past two summers, Nava has interned with Criminal Defense Attorney, Mark Lassiter ’02 (also a Mays former student). Nava experienced Aggies helping Aggies firsthand, and Lassiter is just as grateful to work alongside her, “Celeste has become an invaluable member of my office since she began as an intern,” shared Lassiter. “She is loyal to a fault and her integrity is unparalleled.” Nava has gained real-world experience and learned a lot from this Aggie-led team. With her dedication to the law office, her studies, and her leadership in multiple organizations at Mays, Nava inspires those in her university community to strive for more, those who share her Hispanic heritage, and those who don’t.

Mays’ vision is to advance the world’s prosperity. In keeping with that focus, the school prioritizes leveraging the strengths of its diverse student population, as part of its efforts to equip the next generation of leaders. With students like Celeste Nava, Mays will further its mission, all while equipping its students to make a valuable impact in their communities. Nava’s story is unique, and she strives to leverage her experiences and education to change the world, one step at a time. But the advantages that come with being a part of the Mays family are not lost on her. “Mays is like a tunnel; the way you go in is not the same way you come out,” she shared. Certainly, Nava has laid the foundation for students like herself to drive forward progress, walking out of the tunnel with more heart and determination than when they started. Nava may have roots in multiple worlds, but she is right at home in her Aggie community and is committed to helping others feel that same sense of belonging.

Take the next step

Categories: Business Honors, Diversity and Inclusion, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

The Master of Science in Analytics (MSA) program was created in 2013 and has created an undeniable impact on the students that it enrolled. “Yes, we were about professional development and impact; but seeing how students literally generate millions for companies, create analytics divisions, and open their own businesses, amongst other things, is something I didn’t expect to happen so soon!” said Myra Gonzalez, Director of the MSA program as she kicked off her 10th fall MSA Orientation.

With a competitive admission process, the program carefully selects those candidates that demonstrate the ability to work in teams, have strong academic backgrounds and have a passion for data.

The fall 2022 cohort is diverse:

  • 49% female enrollment
  • Over 18 industries represented
  • 31% of the entire cohort holding advanced degrees already
  • Working professionals that average between 10.5 – 13 years of full-time experience

As a nationally-ranked hybrid delivery program measured on inclusion, technology, and quality, the MSA program makes sure students joining remotely are properly engaged. “We go to great lengths to replicate the classroom environment for our distance students,” said Associate Program Director Javier Aldape. With an equal split of face-to-face and distance students, the program makes sure ALL receive quality instruction, dedication, and attention. In ten years of offering live video stream delivery, satisfaction is high. Investments in the audio/video technology of the classroom have ensured this. This track record earned MSA a #1 ranking in online business analytics program according to

And the investment does not just occur in the MSA classrooms. For ten years, the program has invested in nonprofit organizations. Every year, the program reviews admitted students employed in this sector for scholarship consideration. “It’s our way to give back and also propel nonprofits into data-driven strategies,” Aldape noted. Over the years, students from education, government, military, law enforcement, and others have created models that have provided significant contributions to their employers and likely many of us. From combating drug trafficking to improving educational intervention programs, our students are at the forefront of analytics. “It is getting harder every year with the quality of students we are evaluating. Everybody brings something big and impactful,” said Gonzalez. Dao Henry is the 2022 scholarship recipient and is a Senior Management Analyst for the City and County of Denver, Department of Aviation/Denver International Airport. She engages in department-wide program and data analytics, reporting, and special projects. She aspires to lead an initial assessment of issues or problem areas by researching best practices, trends, and historical and current data, along with related laws, policies, procedures, and methods, to develop a methodology for the selection of relevant data. Then she hopes to assemble data into a meaningful format for data-driven decisions. She believes that data can be applied to good and wishes to advance her city to the forefront of data-driven city management.

Dao Henry, 2022 scholarship recipient

The uniqueness of MSA begins with the coordination of curriculum and faculty members. “From standard, easy-to-navigate learning management course templates to collaboration using real datasets, our faculty understand the importance of a cohesive curriculum,” said Myra Gonzalez. Prior to starting semesters, program staff and faculty meet to discuss expectations and objectives. The goal is to share the feedback and to build strategies for how classes can collaborate through projects and topics. This elevates the class discussion and the applicability of the material to the real world. Serena Antone, a member of the class of 2024, stated that this was a component that drew her into the program. “I attended a class, I saw how the professors taught and the discussions it generated, and the examples covered. It was an overall unique experience because it was easily relatable. This is what graduate school should focus on, rather than reading textbooks and learning theory.” Indeed, faculty bring with them relevant real-world experience and problems that students must solve as part of the class. “They formulate a problem, they prep the data, they delegate amongst themselves, they build a model, they validate, they present. It is something that is learned through doing rather than books,” said Aldape. Serena Antone is one of fifty-three students that make the class of 2024 cohort. She said as orientation was starting, “I’m looking forward to the journey with the rest of my classmates. I can’t wait to get started.”

“As a program administrator, nothing brings me more joy than to see a student go from no experience with statistics, data, programming to a Data Scientist leading divisions, running their own business, and even using data for social impacts. They go from asking what is a P value to solving problems using data,” said Gonzalez. The program calls on people who want to level up their careers. “This is our 10th year. We are excited about this upcoming recruiting cycle,” said Jerry Strawser, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs. Interested applicants are encouraged to research program admission criteria on their website. “We have sixty-five seats each semester. Applying early is key,” recommended Strawser.

The Master of Science in Analytics is offered in a hybrid format that offers both in-person and live video stream class delivery. Face-to-face classes are offered at the Mays Business School at Houston CityCentre.

To request information, please contact Javier Aldape, Associate Program Director, at 797-845-2149 or email at:

Categories: Analytics

Texas A&M’s Business School honors the firm for advancing their mission

Three leaders holding awards

Texas A&M’s Mays Business School is pleased to announce Deloitte as its 2022 Partner of the Year. Mays Business School presented the award at a ceremony on Friday, September 16, which included roundtable discussions featuring Deloitte leaders and students.

Ahead of the ceremony, Deloitte representatives met with Texas A&M Vice President and Associate Provost for Diversity Dr. Annie McGowan and Professional Program in Accounting interns. Interim Dean Ricky W. Griffin presented the 2022 Partner of the Year Award to Deloitte.


Deloitte gives a gig 'em celebrating Partner of the YearSince 2016, the Partner of the Year honor has been given to organizations that have achieved excellence in advancing Mays’ vision – providing career opportunities, developing quality professionals, and investing intellectual and financial capital toward the realization of Mays’ mission.

“Mays is fortunate to have so many stellar partnerships with a wide array of organizations,” said Interim Dean Ricky W. Griffin. “Our vision to advance the world’s prosperity is made possible by these organizations. Those who have received the Partner of the Year recognition from Mays have taken the responsibility of partnership to a new level.”


Deloitte provides industry-leading audit, consulting, tax, and advisory services to many of the world’s most admired brands, including nearly 90% of the Fortune 500®, more than 7,000 private companies, numerous government agencies, and higher education institutions.

Building on more than 175 years of service, Deloitte’s network of member firms spans more than 150 countries and territories. At Texas A&M, Deloitte has developed deep ties with Mays, as well as with the broader university community.

Students listen to the presentation celebrating Partner of the Year 2022“Deloitte offers a wide variety of internships and employment opportunities to our students and their professionals have consistently visited us in Aggieland to speak in our classrooms and events,” Griffin said. “Deloitte goes above and beyond in their selfless service of Mays and Texas A&M through their time and talent. They are phenomenal partners, on campus and off, and we are delighted to honor them.”

“Deloitte is proud to be able to make an impact at Texas A&M and is honored to be recognized with this award. Our team — including 983 Aggies who are Deloitte professionals — wants to see Texas A&M, Mays, the students, faculty and administration be successful,” said Amy Chronis, Houston managing partner, Deloitte LLP. “We are thrilled to continue to deepen our work with Texas A&M and Mays through faculty development, curriculum support, enhanced student experiences, and strategy development.”


Initiated in 2016, Mays’ Partner of the Year has previously been awarded to Phillips 66, KPMG, EY, and Reynolds and Reynolds.

Please see for a detailed description of Deloitte’s legal structure.

Categories: Alumni, Executive Speakers, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, News, Programs, Students, Texas A&M

“I’m not a big crowd follower,” he assures me, “but there’s a time and place for everything…sometimes you just have to go with the flow.” The story packaging this gem is one about Kevin gripping his duffel bag, pushing through a crowded airport in Germany, and rushing to catch a flight back to the United States for a $70 million presentation. According to Kevin, his flight was getting out of there even if no one else’s was—it wouldn’t be the first time he willed something to work. Ultimately, belief wasn’t enough.

Years have passed since Kevin Moore, former director of the esteemed MS Finance (MSF) program, ran through an airport with his bag in hand. He has suitcases with wheels now. And even though his days as the guy who assures the big, bad firms of a good deal are now over, he knows a great idea when he sees one. So, when Sorin Sorescu, Executive Associate Dean of Mays Business School, appointed him executor of a program that would allow Texas A&M to compete at the highest level of finance, it was a no-brainer.

What made Kevin Moore, former analyst and part-time Tuesday night professor, qualified for such a lofty task? He had a unique set of qualifications and an atypical experience that made him the perfect fit. It was a match made in Kevin.

The House that Kevin Built

Plus, he’s big time. His students adore him. Brittny Efendy, Chemical Engineering ‘22 and MS Finance ‘23, and Michael Miller, Industrial Distribution ‘20 and MS Finance ‘21, cited Kevin in their figurative ‘memorable moment’ catalogs from their time in the program.

“He’s great” Efendy remarked.

Ask his team, and it is clear that they also think the world of him. A few minutes into our hour-long conversation, I, too, have sent in a membership for the fan club.

In all of his grandeur, he’ll tell you that he is only as good as the people around him. And at 6:30 am in September 2021, his trusted circle—a group of accomplished Aggies— responded hurriedly to a call of duty, selflessly and willingly—frazzled nonetheless—on his behalf. The core group that would lead MS Finance down its intended path to graduating another prestigious class of future financiers rallied, committed, and prepared to “point and shoot,” as Kevin would say.

Forced to step away from his high-perching post due to a health complication, MSF needed to be rescued from the threat of crumbling under its own prestige. Luckily, Misty Page, Donna McClure and Rebecca Itz—“The All-Stars” as they are sometimes referred to— embraced the challenge. None of them opted to wear a cape while absorbing the weight of the MS Finance program because not all superheroes do.

The Call

It’s September 2021, and in the midst of shaking off the fatigue from the infamous MSF August boot camp, Page, Associate Director of MS Finance, received news that dramatically changed her trajectory. At 6:31 am, she unofficially had two full-time jobs—only one of which she actually signed up for. Over an undisclosed period of time, she was the provisional Director of MSF. She inherited the responsibility of introducing 150 highly desirable students to the robust world of finance, fully equipped with business attire, etiquette skills, and know-how; her hands were entirely too full.

In her new role, Page was responsible for maintaining the level of excellence in all things academics, career development, and corporate relationships. “There was no time to think; I had to act,” she said. She was on a mission.

Within the next few hours, the call reverberated through Mays Business School. From it, a small, but mighty task force consisting of Page, two student workers, and Itz, an academic advisor by day and Master’s Student during “off” hours, was born. And by 10 am, carried by adrenaline and a resounding theme of “what do we have to do to get the job done,” they had created a plan for the rest of the semester.

For the next six weeks, Page worked 70 to 80 hour weeks—a significant increase from her usual 45 to 50. That is until McClure, current Associate Program Director of MS Finance and proud Aggie, whose sole ties were in the Mays Career Management center, readily absorbed some of the load. She felt a deep connection to the program and her students. Just ask about the job offers she didn’t take because of the work she wanted to continue doing within the MSF program.

“I couldn’t even think about saying no, not stepping in, not doing whatever I have to do to make sure things go well,” McClure said.

McClure accepted the portion of responsibility that focused on the relationships between employers and students. She was entrusted with the holy grail of the MSF Program: the advisory board. Connections are key in the highly competitive landscape of Financial Services, Consulting, and Corporate Finance, and as an MSF student, advisory board members are the people to meet.

In the meantime, Itz, who describes herself as someone “who helps students achieve their academic goals for two overlapping degrees,” would try to keep everyone from falling off the rails while also handling the challenging logistics of two trips: one for the sophomores, which Moore traditionally handled, and a strategically unprecedented one for graduate students planned for December of that year.

The Last Puzzle Piece

Months into a concerted team effort, Chris Wilson, member of the MSF Steering Committee, Chartered Financial Analyst, and Chartered Market Technician ‘88, heard the call. He was offered an executive professor role for Kevin’s classes at the start of the second semester. It was an opportunity well beyond his initial offer to guest lecture. And with a plethora of knowledge, experience, and qualifications that eerily resemble Kevin’s, he checked all of the proverbial boxes. Only, he had never taught a semester-long class and lived two hours away, so this too would be a squeeze.

Perspective. Perhaps attending program orientations as the father of Colin and Parker Wilson, both MSF ’23, foreshadowed his place at the front of the classroom the following semester. Or maybe acknowledging the impact of the fabled MSF bootcamps on his sons’ level of professionalism and preparedness gave him the energy to overcome his lack of teaching experience. Wilson has witnessed every side of the gem that is MSF, and his reviews do nothing but glow—his enthusiasm radiated through our phone call. As a member of the Steering Committee, a group that oversees the entire program, he understood the hierarchy of associated companies; the gold standard companies hire the most Aggies. He observed the maturation of his sons in just a summer. He had the vote of confidence of the man in charge and all of the people who make things work. He was sold.

The Aftermath

Moore is confident and speaks with pace and certainty. Amidst stories regarding the determinants of success, the magic of high-caliber alumni networks, and the nuances of his journey, it isn’t until we get to his connection to the students—arguably the piece that differentiates MSF from other rigorous programs—does his demeanor change. His eyes water with passion and dreams. “Before anybody believed in them…before they knew they were going to be great…I knew.” The legend behind the high-functioning machine is, at his core, a man who believes in his students.

They all believe. MSF has a standard of excellence—admired by many, but executed by few—because every member of the team cultivates the growth, development, and–ultimately–the success of the students, and one another, at whatever cost. They are propelled by loyalty and service to a cause that is far greater than any one of them.

Since that early morning call, the MSF Class of ‘22 has graduated, 150 of 152 students have acquired internships, and Kevin is back in at work, albeit part-time. Representatives of 30+ MSF ally companies have taken over “industry briefs” once reserved only for experienced faculty; the number has ballooned from 4 or 5 to 11. And most notably, every person who has touched the MSF program in the last year expanded their capacity without thinking twice. They love what they do. They love watching their students, be they sophomores or recent graduates, blossom into high-performing stars in the companies of the future.

Polished, High-Performing Professionals

According to the Advisory Board, as shared through McClure’s beaming smile, graduates of MSF are “polished, professional, and they can perform.” So too, is the group behind them. They are leaders committed to building leaders. Achievers who nourish the minds of achievers. They are Aggies, and Aggies help Aggies become the best versions of themselves. The work that this core group has done in light of unforeseen circumstances is a reflection of the 100-year-old 12th Man lore that we Aggies hang our hats on. After all, we are one school with one vision sustained by a spirit that can ne’er be told.

Unlike the majority of his counterparts, Kevin Moore isn’t an Aggie by degree, but wholeheartedly one by action and association. His essence oozes throughout the home that he has built within Mays Business School. So much so, MSF students meet the expectation of excellence because, according to their esteemed leader, “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” Marry the Texas A&M core values with industrious students, a dedicated staff, and an unmatchable drive of a prized leader, and you have your match, undoubtedly made in Kevin.

Categories: Uncategorized

On August 12, 2022, the James Benjamin Department of Accounting hosted a Junior Accounting Research Workshop in partnership with Rice University for associate and assistant professors in the colleges’ accounting departments. For the conference, 5-6 of Rice’s junior faculty joined Mays junior faculty for a day of sharing research with each other. The following Q&A is with Assistant Professor of Accounting at Mays Business School, Dr. Sarah Stuber.


Q: What is the “Junior Accounting Research Workshop” that took place on Friday, August 12, 2022?

Stuber: The workshop was an opportunity for assistant and associate professors from Rice University to join us for a day to share our research, provide feedback on working papers, and network.

Q: Who was involved in the workshop itself, and why was that audience important to the purpose of the event?

Stuber: The workshop featured presentations from 2 assistant professors from Rice University and two of our fantastic TAMU assistant professors—Emily Shafron and Junwei Xia. The workshop participants were professors from Rice and here at TAMU. The focus of the workshop was on giving junior faculty from the schools an opportunity to connect and share research.

Q: How did the Research Workshop come to be?

Stuber: One of the assistant professors at Rice University and I have connections from our time as PhD students, and she suggested the idea of having an event for the junior faculty at our schools. I jumped on the opportunity and, after confirming with our department head, extended the offer to host the event here in College Station. From there, we found a date that worked for everyone and then reached out to identify junior faculty that would be interested in presenting. Initially, we were planning to have only assistant professors in attendance, but there was enough enthusiasm for the event that we decided to expand the workshop to include associate professors from both schools.

Q: Why was this workshop such a big deal? What was rare about it?

Stuber: This was the first time a collaborative event focused on junior faculty has been held with Rice University. The event was significant as Rice University has an outstanding reputation as a premier institution with a strong research reputation. The fact that they reached out to us to establish a formal opportunity for collaboration is a signal of the quality of the faculty and the research that is being done within the James Benjamin Department of Accounting at Texas A&M. The geographic proximity of our two schools and the shared expectations and record of excellence in research make it a natural fit for future collaboration.

Q: What were some key takeaways from the event for the attendees?

Stuber: The feedback from the event has been overwhelmingly positive. The workshops were active, with presenters receiving high-quality feedback on their projects. One of the presenters from Rice expressed how impressed he was with College Station, our campus, and how appreciative he was for the feedback on his paper. The biggest takeaway was the development of relationships that will hopefully build into collaboration and co-authorships on projects in the future.

Q: What will happen next?

Stuber: We are hoping it becomes an annual event, as the Rice faculty have already expressed a desire to host a similar workshop on their campus in Houston next year. More importantly, though, the hope is that the relationships established and a chance to discuss research will lead to more opportunities for future collaboration between the faculty at the schools.

Q: What did I not ask that you’d like to share?

Stuber: I am thankful to Nate Sharp for his support of the event from the beginning and for all of the work put in by our administrative staff to help us show Aggie hospitality to our guests!

Categories: Accounting

In late July, Michelle Fraire ’22, Mays Marketing Communications Student Assistant, asked Trevor Hale ’97, Clinical Professor of Business Analytics at Mays Business School, about his experience as a Senior Faculty Fellow in the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Summer Faculty Research Program (SFRP).

Enjoy the interaction:

Fraire: 1. In your words, what is this program and why does it matter?

Hale: The Office of Naval Research (ONR) Summer Faculty Research Program (SFRP) is run by the ONR and supports about 75 faculty members and their research efforts at various US Navy research labs and bases across the country. The goal is to unite Naval facilities that have some research needs with university faculty that have relevant research skills. The result is a nice win-win. (Visit the official Navy website for program information.)

Fraire: 2. What has been the highlight of your experience so far?

San Nicolas Island. Credit: Flickr: twiga_swala

Hale: There are a bunch. If I had to pick one, I’d have to say that one was today. This summer was my (unprecedented) fifth ONR SFRP. I’ve spent the summers of 2009, 2011, 2013, 2017, and (now) 2022 in Port Hueneme, California. And today (July 25, 2022) I went out and back (a 16-minute flight each way from and to US Naval Air Station Point Mugu) to San Nicolas Island …a completely US military island that the US Navy acquired in 1933. It was awesome to see.

Fraire: 3. What of this experience has had the greatest impact on what you want for your career going forward, if at all?

Hale: The joke is I now have California residency as I’ve now spent 52 weeks there…albeit spread over five summers at 10 weeks and change each time. As for impact, they have varied. One of those summers has resulted in a journal article in energy management. One summer resulted in a white paper that was snail-mailed to 535 particular offices in Washington, DC. One summer I’m not allowed to talk about as it was a classified project. This summer was about reaching out to potential academic partners to be part of the new Microgrid Academy that my supervisor, Dr. Bill Anderson, started about a year ago. Among about a hundred others, this included inviting, of course, Dr. Stratos Pistikopoulos, the Director of the Texas A&M Energy Institute.

Fraire: 4. What is something you’ve learned about yourself that you didn’t know before you started this program?

Hale: I learned that I am more resilient than I thought I was. I am able to immerse myself in someone else’s research. As an academic and as an American, I am proud that I can support the US Navy…if only in a small way.

Fraire: 5. What do you find the most rewarding about participating in this program?

Hale: The most rewarding part of participating in the ONR Summer Faculty Research Program is being part of team US Navy. This may sound a little hyper-patriotic but it is so true. Like Mays, we…the United States Navy…really are a family. Mission-driven but family at heart. My brother (a 6’4”, West Point alum, US Army Lieutenant Colonel version of me) might disagree but he’d be wrong.

Fraire: 6. How is this program related to your interests and field of research?

Hale: My Ph.D. student, Aaron Heinrich, has started and will be writing a dissertation in the energy management arena. Aaron is a Navy veteran. The synergy therein is downright palpable.

Fraire: 7. When you’re not conducting research, how do you spend your time off?

Hale: In the ‘year’ of my life that I’ve been out here, I have surfed at Rincon Point, I have had brunch at Geoffrey’s two tables down from Tom Hanks, I have ridden my bicycle from Ventura up to Ojai and back on a 15 mile bike-only bike path (probably 5 or 6 times), I have played sand volleyball at my office on Naval Base Ventura County during my lunch hour as well as at the infamous East Beach in Santa Barbara. I have visited Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo, UCSB, UCLA, UCSD, USC, Claremont McKenna, Cal State – Northridge, and nearby Cal State – Channel Islands…which was founded just 20 years ago in 2002. I rode my beach cruiser up and down the Venice Beach boardwalk. I have visited a friend in Goleta, a cousin in La Jolla, and a best friend in Ventura. I have hiked the nearby mountains and I have strolled across the base. I have stayed off base at the Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Resort and I have stayed on base in ‘BEQs’ (Bachelor Enlisted Quarters). I have played golf on the base at the Seabee Golf Course as well as off base at private Riviera Country Club with a member. In both 2009 and 2011 when my daughter, Lauren, was younger (she just celebrated her 21st birthday the other day) I spent three-day weekends at Disneyland and had tea and crumpets with the Princesses….IYKYK.

Professor Trevor HaleTrevor Hale is a clinical full professor of business analytics at the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University. He teaches in the MS Finance and MS Management of Information Systems programs, among others.

He received a Ph.D. in operations research Texas A&M University, a M.S. in engineering management from Northeastern University, and a B.S. in industrial and management systems engineering from Penn State University. Previously, he was a faculty member at University of Houston-Downtown, Ohio University, and Colorado State University-Pueblo.

Dr. Hale is a third generation professor and a fifth generation Texan. His father, the late Dr. Leslie C. Hale, Jr., was the A. Robert Noll Professor of Electrical Engineering at Penn State while his father’s father was a professor of economics at then Texas College of Mines, now UTEP.

His research interests are in the areas of location science, warehouse science, data analytics, and grid-scale energy management. Dr. Hale spends about a third of his summers as an Office of Naval Research Senior Faculty Fellow at Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme, California. He is the managing co-author of Pearson’s number one textbook in business analytics, Quantitative Analysis for Management, now in its 13th edition. His research has been published in the Annals of Operations Research, the European Journal of Operational Research, the International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, and the International Journal of Production Research among other outlets. He is a senior member of both INFORMS and DSI.

Categories: Departments, Faculty, Mays Business, News, Perspectives, Research, Spotlights, Texas A&M

Huseyn Abdulla is the first Mays PhD student to receive a Texas A&M Distinguished Graduate Student Award from Texas A&M’s Association of Former Students and the University’s Graduate and Professional School.

The award is given to outstanding graduate students to recognize their exceptional achievements in the areas of research or teaching. Just over one dozen graduate students (university-wide) receive this award annually. The Association of Former Students presents a framed certificate of achievement and a custom gold watch to the honorees to commemorate their accomplishments.

Huseyn Abdulla – who received this significant award because of the quality of his scholarly research – has, to date, published three articles in top-tier, Class A academic journals. His pipeline of current projects suggests that additional publications in major journals are forthcoming. We visited with some of Huseyn’s advisors to gain a broader understanding of his achievements in terms of scholarly research.

The sheer volume of high-quality research that Abdulla engages in across multiple disciplines differentiates him from his PhD student peers, particularly those earning their degree in a business discipline. Chair of the Mays’ Ph.D. coordinators Dr. Sean McGuire states it this way. “If a student in a non-scientific field has one “A” publication upon graduating, it is exceptional; so, for a Mays doctoral candidate to have authorship or co-authorship on three, before graduating, is truly impressive.”

Another distinguishing attribute for Abdulla is his relentless commitment to engaging the scientific process appropriately as a foundation for completing research projects. With a background in industrial engineering, he entered the Mays’ PhD program with a strong commitment to a scientific approach. “Huseyn quickly set himself apart with his instinctive prioritization of the scientific method,” shared Bob and Kelly Jordan Professor in Business, and Huseyn’s PhD advisor, Dr. James Abbey. “This can be a sticking point for high-level behavioral scholars – and to address this challenge so early in his career – is exceptional.” Dr. Michael Ketzenberg, Abdulla’s other advisor, agrees. “But not only that, “usually it’s the advisor that sets the agenda and helps to direct the research, in the case of Huseyn, his passion and discipline has him leading and his advisors often playing catchup. Quite the rarity.”

Huseyn is dedicated to achieving positive results from his own program of scholarly research and is dedicated to helping others be productive scholars, too. In the highly competitive space of post-graduate studies, Abdulla helps his peers elevate the quality of their research initiatives. Abbey elaborates: “Huseyn has been a driving force in pushing other Ph.D. students to excel, working closely to boost the proficiency and skills of his peers to see their research thrive. This is not a common trait of Ph.D. candidates.”

Abdulla’s research addresses pressing challenges in global markets. Studying within the department of Information and Operations Management (INFO), he has had opportunities to focus his research in areas that currently, have relevance for individuals, organizations, and societies. Three years ago, consumers may not have had an acute awareness of the impact supply chain management had on their daily lives. However, the pandemic created supply chain disruptions from inventory and logistics to production and design with resulting effects on business and consumers alike. “For his part, Huseyn is studying supply chain at this critical moment when it’s top-of-mind at the average dinner table, and his research is really applicable to everyone,” says McGuire.

Today, Huseyn’s research focuses predominantly on a notable pain-point in the Information Systems space – consumer returns. “Even pre-pandemic, Huseyn was passionately tackling the issue of consumer returns – which have now nearly doubled from $350 billion to well over $600 billion in the U.S. alone during Covid,” notes Abbey. Abdulla’s work adds to the scholarly literature and to managerial practice as well as dollar returns of the magnitude being experienced today have significant global consequences both fiscally and environmentally. From an environmental perspective, millions of tons of waste are expected to result from such an inordinate volume of returns. “Information systems are essential to helping monitor, analyze, and improve our reactions to ever-evolving global economic forces – this area of study is central to how we emerge and thrive in the post-pandemic landscape,” shares Abbey. “As such, our students play a pivotal role in informing how business will function moving forward. Huseyn and his breakthrough research are a standout example of the relevance and importance of this work.”

Under the leadership and guidance of Department Chair, Dr. Richard Metters, the Texas A&M INFO department has moved from a top 50 ranking to a top 10 ranking in scholarly output over the last decade. Because of this, its draw for top PhD student talent such as Abdulla continues to increase. Across its five academic domains, Mays Business School maintains a strong commitment to facilitate PhD students’ efforts as they seek to become prominent academic scholars capable of both generating new knowledge and conveying that knowledge while working with active learners.

Abdulla receiving this award provides a powerful signal to current PhD students and to those evaluating the possibility of completing their PhD degree at Mays Business School. As McGuire notes, “Abdulla’s recognition for excellence by the university says to the school’s PhD students that “There are no limitations on your success when you come to our Ph.D. program. From faculty and administrative support to other students and the Dean’s office, everything is in place for exceptionally bright and hard-working students to excel – the sky is the limit.” “In many ways,” McGuire says, “this award reflects that.”

“Dr. Metters and the INFO department’s faculty have fostered a culture of optimal support for Ph.D. scholars,” says Mays Business School’s Interim Dean Dr. R. Duane Ireland. “This is evidenced by the prestigious honor awarded to Huseyn Abdulla.” “We couldn’t be prouder of Huseyn and this outstanding honor,” shared Associate Dean of Graduate Programs, Dr. Jerry Strawser. “In my 25-year tenure with the University, this is the first Mays Doctoral candidate I’ve been privileged to see receive such an award.”

Texas A&M University hosted a reception on Monday, April 25th to honor Huseyn and others receiving the Distinguished Graduate Student award.


Categories: Ph.D.

Three distinguished Texas A&M University graduates—Porter S. Garner III ’79, Dr. Eli Jones ’82, ’86, ’97, and Brian K. Pinto ’93—received one of Mays Business School’s top honors, the 2022 Outstanding Alumni Award. The trio was recognized during a celebratory dinner at The Stella Hotel on April 28, 2022.

This award spotlights former students who exemplify transformational leadership in their profession and community, as well as their service to Mays. “These honorees are leading lives of distinction,” said Mays Interim Dean R. Duane Ireland. “They embody the Core Aggie Values of respect, excellence, loyalty, leadership, integrity, and selfless service, while they support their communities as well as Mays and our universities.”

The active involvement of Mays former students is an integral part of the school’s success, as illustrated by their support for the new Business Education Complex (BEC), which is set to break ground in October. Moving forward, Mays is committed to becoming the preeminent public business school in the United States. “We are developing a strategy through which this objective will be reached,” he said. “Obviously, this is a very exciting time for Mays Business School. We are confident that by implementing our strategy, we will advance the world’s prosperity, which is our vision, by reaching our three-part mission, which is to create a vibrant learning organization, produce impactful research, and develop transformational leaders.”

Ireland stressed that Mays continues to hone its focus on excellence. “At Mays, we are one—one school, one vision to advance the world’s prosperity, and one Spirit captured primarily by our Aggie Core Values,” he said. “Being one is the building block for Mays to become the preeminent business school in the United States.”

Porter S. Garner III ’79

Garner’s love of Texas A&M was sparked while watching his first Aggie Muster on the banks of the Rio Grande River. “Watching the emotions and the profound reactions of my dad and other Aggies talking about their classmates and friends from A&M is what first motivated me and inspired me to say to myself—even at a young age—I want to be part of that,” he said.

He enrolled at Texas A&M and earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing before joining Hughes Tool Company. Two years later, he returned to Texas A&M as Field Director for The Association of Former Students and began to build an illustrious career.

Yet, one of his crowning achievements at The Association–being unanimously elected as chief executive, making him the seventh professional leader in The Association’s 143-year history—was preceded by the fall of Bonfire in 1999. “Those were indelible moments in my career because I saw the Aggie Spirit at its finest moment,” he said. “I saw the Aggie Network rally and support fellow Aggies, most of whom they never met and didn’t know. But all that mattered was they were Texas Aggies—and that began to shape my early CEO years because I thought differently than perhaps I had before November 18.”

During his 22-year tenure as the Association’s president and CEO, Garner has helped the organization grow into the premier alumni organization through enhancing its programs and services and broadening its reach and relevance to the global Aggie Network. Additionally, The Association of Former Students’ total assets have grown from $55 million to $190 million under Garner’s leadership. The organization also has raised over $400 million to support Texas A&M and individual Aggies during his tenure as CEO.

What continues at the forefront is the importance of Aggie Traditions. “There’s an old adage that the longer I live, the more I see both in my personal life and in my professional life—The more things change, the more they stay the same,” Garner said. “And I’ve seen it come full circle at Texas A&M with traditions and experiences. And while we are on the cutting edge on so many fronts at Texas A&M, we’re still doing things that are traditional, that are desired, and that are meaningful. I think it speaks to the value of tradition and why those many traditions are important to who we are as Texas Aggies.”

An active member of the Bryan/College Station community, Garner serves on the board of Baylor Scott & White Hospital—College Station Region and has a lifetime membership in the Brazos County A&M Club. Garner and his wife, Lisa ’91, are Endowed Century Club donors to the Association of Former Students, Eppright Distinguished Donors, and members of the Texas A&M Legacy Society. They also have three children, Claire ’21, Callie ’23, and Porter IV ’26.

Dr. Eli Jones ’82, ’86, ’97

Amid the promotions and accolades that Jones has received during his academic career, the Mays marketing professor and former Dean of Mays Business School ultimately sees himself as an educator. “What inspires and motivates me is watching leaders grow,” Jones said. “I love developing leaders, and I love the fact that we are all in on transformational leadership because we get the chance to watch students develop. They go on to be very successful; the cream rises to the top.”

Among the first generation in his family to attend college, Jones initially worked in sales and sales management for three Fortune 500 global companies before moving into higher education. He held faculty and administrative roles at the University of Houston before serving as dean at Louisiana State University’s E.J. Ourso College of Business and at the University of Arkansas’s Sam M. Walton College of Business.

Yet, throughout these experiences, Texas A&M and Mays Business School remained home.  He returned to Texas A&M to become Mays Business School’s dean in 2015. “When I think about Texas A&M, I think about the people–it’s the people that we hire, it’s the people who are impacting our lives,” he said. “When I would leave Mays Business School to go off and do something else and then come back—and I did that several times—every time I came back, I reconnected with those folks who actually touched my life in a dramatic way. Now it’s my opportunity to give back to them and recognize them, and that part is really special.”

In the role of dean, he oversaw the launching of a campaign to fund the BEC and collaborated with others to help Mays reach 147% of its Lead by Example campaign goal. He also led efforts to develop Mays’ strategic plan in 2016, which still influences the school today. Jones expanded Mays’ media and communications capacity, and also facilitated the establishment of several centers.

The Peggy Mays Eminent Scholar’s work as a leading academic also has received widespread recognition. Jones’ research in sales and sales management has been published in top academic journals, and he has written several published books. Jones also has received numerous Excellence in Teaching awards at the university, national and international levels for his work teaching undergraduate, MBA, and executive education students.

He has been recognized as the 2009 Outstanding Doctoral Alumnus by Mays’ Department of Marketing and the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Marketing Association (AMA) Sales Special Interest Group. Jones was inducted into the Ph.D. Project Hall of Fame and recognized as a “Most Influential Black Corporate Director” by Savoy magazine in 2021. That same year, the Association of Former Students’ Black Former Students honored Jones with the Aggie Impact Award. In 2022, Jones received the AMA-Irwin-McGraw-Hill Distinguished Marketing Educator Award and the Academy of Marketing Science (AMS) CUTCO/Vector Distinguished Marketing Educator Award.

Jones and his wife, Fern, have four children and 10 grandchildren. He also currently serves on the boards of Insperity, Invesco Funds, and First Financial Bank.

The former dean encourages everyone he meets—and especially the students he interacts with—to embrace faith. “When I look back at the incredible things that have happened to myself and my family, faith has always been embedded in that,” he said. “When I started believing in a higher power, I started building the confidence to do some things out of my comfort zone. But I had to have a foundation, and that became the foundation.”

Brian K. Pinto ’93

Pinto is committed to teamwork—and credits Mays for helping him learn to work collaboratively. “What inspires me is winning together as a team, working together to overcome some sort of challenge or to reach a goal,” he said. “I look back at Texas A&M and all the opportunities I had to network and learn. That’s really contributed to my success.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in Tax, Pinto started at  Anderson and then joined Deloitte in 2002, where he has had a stellar career. In his previous role as the global business change storefront leader, Pinto worked with mergers and acquisitions, post-merger integration, and value chain alignment. He also was the Central Region managing partner for International Tax and Transfer Pricing Services, as well as the national operations leader for the U.S. International Tax and Transfer Pricing practice.

Pinto currently serves as the Global Lead Client Service Partner and Global Lead Tax Partner on some of the firm’s largest accounts. He also is the Global Leader for Mergers & Acquisitions for Deloitte’s Tax and Legal business, the U.S. Tax Leader for the Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Industry team, and a member of the U.S. Global Business Council. He also has consistently been included as a leading tax professional in the Guide to the World’s Leading Tax Advisors.

From his professional perspective, Pinto sees great opportunities for Mays graduates. “We’re in a golden age of business, in terms of transformation, M&A, and regulatory change,” he said. “Mays is preparing our students to lead the way.”

Active in Deloitte’s initiatives around diversity, equity, and inclusion, Pinto has focused on increasing the company’s recruitment, development, and retention of women and diverse talent. To that end, he serves as the Advisory Leader University Partner for Texas A&M University, where he works closely with administration, faculty, and students to utilize Deloitte’s resources to support the university’s success across campus. Pinto also maintains a visible presence across campus as a frequent guest lecturer.

Pinto and his wife, Lori, have established the Lori and Brian Pinto Foundation Excellence Award (FEA) in Accounting. He is a member of the 12th Man Foundation, where he is an Eppright Distinguished Donor and a member of the 12th Man Foundation Champion’s Council. Pinto also is a member of the Dallas A&M Club, the United Way, the Ruth Sharp Altshuler Tocqueville Society, and the Trinity Christian Academy Dad’s Club.

Yet despite his busy schedule, Pinto wants to remain engaged in his alma mater. “I stay involved in Mays because I’m passionate about the university; it means a lot to me,” he said. “I love what we’re doing at Mays as an advisory board and as a group of Aggies to differentiate Mays and set it apart from all the other peer schools,” he said. “I feel like the team that we have pulled together, and the resources that we’re putting toward the Wehner expansion and our FEA scholarships and all the different ways we’re making impacts will differentiate Mays Business School from its peers. I want to do my part to help the team win.”

Categories: Mays Business

Out of 42 finalists, ten teams were given top honors and awarded cash prizes for their innovative and entrepreneurial ideasr

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS May 7, 2022 – The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship hosted its second annual and first in-person Texas High School Ideas Challenge today, with competitive presentations held at Texas A&M University’s Memorial Student Center and The Crowd Fund Showcase and Awards Reception (sponsored by Education Advanced) held at the McFerrin Center. Open to high school students across the state of Texas, the challenge, designed to encourage students to explore entrepreneurship and foster development of an entrepreneurial mindset, awarded more than $10,000 in cash prizes to the top ideas.

Launched in 2021 by the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, the Texas High School Ideas Challenge is modeled after the Raymond Ideas Challenge, one of the McFerrin Center’s longest standing programs open each fall to current Texas A&M students. Due to restrictions in place, the inaugural event in 2021 was held exclusively in a virtual format, but the 2022 event was held in person at Texas A&M, giving high school students from across the state the opportunity to visit campus and be introduced to Texas A&M, the McFerrin Center and the Aggie entrepreneurial ecosystem.

In addition to prize money for the top idea winners, this year’s challenge also awarded $3,750 in prizes based on “investments” from “The Crowd Fund,” with showcase guests having the opportunity to visit each of the ideas to meet the student teams and learn about their service or product concept and “invest” in their favorites via “McFerrin Money.”

For the 2022 event, Texas high school students aged 14-18 were invited to apply beginning in late 2021, submitting their idea as a team or individual, via a compelling application demonstrating creative, careful and methodical planning. Following a screening process, a total of 42 finalist teams, comprised of more than 100 students from 18 Texas cities, were selected as finalists and invited to compete in person on the campus of Texas A&M.

Throughout the day, each team presented their idea twice, each time to a different panel of judges. The presentations consisted of a 5-minute pitch of the idea, followed by a 5-minute “Q&A” with the panel. Judges, selected from the McFerrin Center’s network of mentors, successful entrepreneurs and Texas A&M faculty, were looking for competitors who have an outstanding idea and clearly indicate that their idea creates values, can defend their idea against other ideas in the competition, and demonstrate to the judges that the idea is viable in the marketplace with clear evidence that the idea is attractive to a customer. Ideas were scored based on idea uniqueness, target market, competitive advantage, resources, goals and presentation content.

Rudy A., a junior from Centennial High School in Frisco, walked away with top honors and $2,500 for his pitch of WorkBee, a business concept developed with his partner Sarthak D., also a junior, who was unable to attend the competition. WorkBee solves the problem of low inventory of quality holiday decorations and the hassle of installing decorations by enabling customers to purchase customized holiday decorations and labor from local, reliable, responsive, fair-priced contractors.

“A friend who applied for this challenge knew I had this idea, and he suggested I apply as well. I did, and then suggested a different friend also apply with his idea,” Rudy said. “I feel like that sums up entrepreneurship. Healthy competition, but always looking to help and assist others who are also trying to pursue and build their own ideas.”

Following high school graduation in 2023, Rudy plans to attend college, pursuing a degree related to technology and business. “The best takeaway from today was the feedback I received from the judges following my pitches,” he said. “One judge suggested I consider a subscription option, and one even told me it was probably the best pitch he’d ever heard, including from college students. That really made me feel like not only do I have a great idea, but the time, effort and energy I put into preparing for this challenge really paid off. I’m already thinking of a new idea to apply again and come back to Aggieland next year.”

“In only its second year, this is quickly becoming one of our Signature Programs, and one that brings so much positive energy and excitement to the Center and our partners. As a competition focused solely on inspiring, encouraging and celebrating our next great generation of entrepreneurs, the ideas this year did not disappoint, nor did the students themselves, who have been nothing short amazing,” said Blake Petty ’98, executive director of the McFerrin Center. “While we realize not all of these students will choose Texas A&M as a destination after high school, our ultimate goal and purpose is to pour into them at this earliest stage of their entrepreneurial journey and help fan the flame of their entrepreneurial spirit. If we can create a few new Aggie entrepreneurs along the way, we’ll consider that icing on the cake!”

The McFerrin Center is already planning the third annual event, scheduled for May 5, 2023. Updates and more information will be made available at

2022 Texas High School Ideas Challenge Winners

Top Idea Winners
1st Place ($2,500): WorkBee | Centennial HS | Frisco
sponsored by Active Industrial Fire Protection
Student receiving a big check
2nd Place ($2,000): FYDER, LLC | Alamo Heights HS | San Antonio
sponsored by CareerPhysician, LLC
3rd Place ($1,750): Com.Post | Round Rock HS | Round Rock
sponsored by Education Advanced
Honorable Mention ($750): Stoozies: The Heated Shoetree | Canyon HS | New Braunfels
sponsored by Critical Environments Group
Honorable Mention ($750): iPath American English | Centennial HS | Frisco
sponsored by Education Advanced
Honorable Mention ($750): sMile | Centennial HS | Frisco, TX
sponsored by Startup LLC
Honorable Mention ($750): Traverse Marketplace | Vista Ridge HS | Cedar Park
sponsored by Mays Family Foundation

The Crowd Fund Winners
1st Place ($1,500): M.T. Equipment Backpacking Table | Westlake HS | Austin
sponsored by Nexersys (XFit Inc.)
Students receiving a b
2nd Place ($1,250): FYDER, LLC | Alamo Heights HS | San Antonio
sponsored by Startup LLC
3rd Place ($1,000): Let’s Keep Talking | Elkins HS | Missouri City
sponsored by Mays Family Foundation

2022 Texas High School Ideas Challenge Sponsors

Education Advanced, The Crowd Fund Showcase & Awards Reception sponsor
Active Industrial Fire Protection
Critical Environments Group
Mays Family Foundation
Startup LLC (Living Learning Community)


About McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship serves as the hub for entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University. The McFerrin Center’s goal is to enhance entrepreneurial education by providing training, networking and assistance to enterprising students, faculty and former students.

The McFerrin Center enables the startup and growth of countless businesses and provides competitive opportunities, professional development and financial support to aspiring entrepreneurs in the Aggie community through the support of a robust volunteer mentor network, corporate supporters, faculty and staff.

The McFerrin Center defines entrepreneurship as an attitude that acts upon opportunity. In this spirit, the McFerrin Center strives to deliver programs and events that are inspiring, engaging, motivating and life-changing. This philosophy has resulted in the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship offering more than 30 unique programs each year that positively impact the lives of thousands of students, veterans and other professionals seeking to blaze their own trail as an entrepreneur.


Media Contact: Lara Robertson, communications manager, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, 979- 845-1724,

Categories: Entrepreneurship, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, Students, Texas A&M

The James Benjamin Department of Accounting’s Internal Audit Program (IAP), which is part of Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School, has been recognized as a Center of Excellence by The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), an international organization of internal audit professionals.

Only 12 university programs across the globe have completed the stringent requirements to be named an IIA Center of Excellence. “This recognition from the IIA is a tremendous honor for Mays Business School and for the James Benjamin Department of Accounting. It is also a tribute to the hard work of Professors Tara Blasor and Mike Head, and it will provide additional high-impact opportunities for our students,” said Department Head Nate Sharp, who holds the Nelson D. Durst Endowed Chair in Accounting. “Our vision is to be the preeminent Accounting program in the nation, and the IIA Center of Excellence recognition is an important step toward fulfilling that vision.”

Mays leaders and faculty decided to seek the highest recognition because of the growing interest in internal audit among both students and employers. “We’d seen a lot of growth in the number of students in our program,” said Tara Blasor, co-director of Mays Internal Audit Program and assistant department head. “More and more companies are looking to engage with and hire our students, so we felt it was a good time to apply to be recognized by the IIA as top tier, which is the Center of Excellence.”

Stringent Accreditation

The IIA’s tiered accreditation process incorporates a specific framework of standards. Overall, 56 universities in 15 nations have completed the necessary qualifications to be recognized at some level as an IIA-accredited Internal Audit Education Program.

The IIA’s highest tier is Center of Excellence, which builds on the requirements for the Foundation and Comprehensive levels. Currently, 12 higher education institutions internationally—seven of which are in the United States—have received this recognition. Texas A&M joins two other Texas schools—the University of Houston and the University of Texas at Dallas—and one Southeastern Conference School—Louisiana State University—in holding this distinction.

Building on Quality

The IIA accreditation process uses a scaffolded approach that is designed to continually increase an academic program’s level of excellence as it progresses through the tiers. This approach focuses on ensuring that the institution is providing a strong educational foundation for students who want to enter an internal audit career.

Being named a center extends Mays’ long commitment to ensuring that Aggies are well-prepared to make an immediate impact in their career. “The program being recognized as a center is a commendable step in its future – especially for those students who complete the certificate,” said Bethany Miller ’20, a recent graduate of the program who is an internal audit associate with KPMG. “The program’s level of excellence encourages students to understand the critical thinking, diversity, flexibility, and rigor that someone can bring to the table—and adds value to our teams and our clients. It is attractive to recruiting and exemplifies the unique skillset that students will have upon graduation.”

Internal Audit Advisory Board meeting

To reach and maintain IIA’s top level of accreditation, Mays has committed to numerous on-going efforts. These include:

  • The Internal Audit Program offers a 15-credit-hour Certificate in Internal Auditing, which is awarded by Texas A&M’s Office of Registrar.
  • Every faculty member who teaches the Internal Auditing course (ACCT 408/608) in the Internal Audit program is a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), which ensures that Mays’ instructional program is firmly grounded in practice.
  • Mays is committed to growing the program’s enrollment. With over 120 students currently enrolled, program leaders estimate that 35-40 students will graduate annually in the future.
  • The program provides exceptional support for students. A formal mentoring program links students with internal auditor professionals. Additionally, internships give students an opportunity to work in the field prior to graduation.
  • The program has an active Internal Audit Program – Student Association (IAPSA), which is affiliated with the Brazos Valley IIA chapter. The student organization offers leadership opportunities, professional networking, community service, and a social outlet for like-minded students who are interested in an internal audit career.
  • The Internal Audit Program has an active Internal Audit Advisory Board, which started in 2016. Representatives from more than 25 organizations and several Texas IIA Chapters are engaged in the advisory board and provide support through strategic direction, scholarship funding, internships, and full-time employment recruitment of graduates.

Mays Internal Audit Program’s rapid growth can be tied to Blasor’s hiring in 2012. “Since then, the program has seen incredible growth, and was further strengthened when Mike Head joined in 2016, bringing a career of experience as an Internal Audit leader to the table,” said Protiviti Managing Director Jordan Reed ’95, who has been recruiting at Texas A&M since 1996 and serves as a member of the program’s advisory board. “The Advisory Board has provided guidance and support over the past six years, and I could not be more proud to follow the program’s progression from a Foundation Program to a Center of Excellence in a fairly short time span.”

Continued Forward Movement

As the program grows, Mays’ leaders are committed to maintaining a strong student-centered focus—which Aggies appreciate. “The classes that we take in the program are valuable to our education,” said Ellyse Hahn ’22, an accounting major who is completing the Management Information Systems track in Mays Professional Program in Accounting (PPA). “When I went on my internship, I had a leg up from the interns from other schools due to my education here.”

Elise Hahn ’22, pictured (right)

Aggies also appreciate the opportunity to step into student leadership roles that help them hone their skills. “When I first joined IAPSA, I never dreamed that I would become the president,” said Hahn. “Now, it’s exciting talking to freshmen and sophomores that are joining and telling them about the opportunities that they can have here. If a student comes in and is driven to succeed, they will get to make a difference in the Internal Audit Program.”

Ultimately, Mays is committed to doing its part in preparing more graduates for this growing career field. “There is a high demand for students to go into the internal audit career. Additionally, there is far more demand than qualified students available,” said Head, who is a Mays executive assistant professor. “Mays’ Internal Audit Program gives another avenue where businesses can find students who have been exposed to this specific career and curriculum and are positioned to be successful in these risk-based services. This accreditation is telling potential employers that Mays is a source of very high-quality students because it’s been recognized as a Center of Excellence.”



Categories: Accounting, Mays Business