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Fox School News & Releases

Fox School senior represents New Jersey in Miss USA competition

Vanessa Oriolo

Vanessa Oriolo’s initial foray into beauty pageants came about when she saw a banner advertisement on Facebook. She hardly expected this would lead to being crowned Miss New Jersey USA.

Oriolo, a senior marketing major from the Fox School of Business, represented Temple University and her home state in the nationally televised Miss USA pageant, held July 12 in Baton Rouge, La. While Oriolo did not advance past the initial stage of the competition, she said she learned a valuable lesson that also translates to the business education she’s receiving at the Fox School.

“I participated for two years in the Miss New Jersey Teen USA pageant, and two more years in Miss New Jersey USA, before I won. It took five tries before I found success, and that’s the most-rewarding experience, if you ask me,” Oriolo said.

“In business, or in life, nothing works out exactly the way you hope it will. It’s having the patience and the confidence to try again that matters. I like to roll with the punches and accept things for what they are, because that’s how you arrive at the most-satisfying outcomes in life.”

Oriolo was crowned Miss New Jersey USA in October 2014, following a rigorous three-day competition. She bested a field of 119 young women, aged 18 to 27, to earn the right to represent the Garden State in the Miss USA pageant.

“The moment felt surreal,” Oriolo said. “You work so hard to get there. I think it took a few months to settle in that I had won.”

Though Oriolo did not win the Miss USA competition, her duties as Miss New Jersey are far from complete. She will continue to make public appearances at children’s hospitals, fundraisers, and various galas, promoting charities and good causes along the way.

“The Miss USA organization does not require you to select a specific platform, which I like,” she said. “I don’t have to select one specific cause, but I do consider myself an advocate against dating violence, encouraging women to recognize the warning signs of unhealthy relationships. And I also hold a special place in my heart for any and all foundations that benefit children.”

A Colts Neck, N.J., native, Oriolo said she yearns for a career in the fashion industry working for a luxury designer brand, and even potentially starting her own fashion brand one day. Yet, she has not dismissed other professional paths being that she has so many different passions. She has not ruled out the possibility of a career in modeling or in the entertainment industry. She also said attending law school, another lifelong aspiration, still remains a possibility, as well.

“Literally or figuratively, your education never stops,” said Oriolo, who is slated to graduate in December 2015. “You don’t have to limit yourself to one career choice. I would never turn down an opportunity that I thought was interesting. So for me, I’m keeping my career open-ended.”

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Boris Iglewicz, longtime statistics professor, dies

Boris Iglewicz

Dr. Boris Iglewicz, a renowned researcher and tenured faculty member within Temple University’s Fox School of Business, died Aug. 25. He was 75.

Iglewicz, a professor emeritus, had taught within the Statistics department since 1969, upon his hire as an associate professor by Temple’s School of Business and Management. In 1974, he was promoted to full professor. He acted as the department’s chairperson from 1978-82, chaired Temple’s Graduate Affairs Committee from 1974-75, and served as director of the PhD program in Statistics from 1971-76. Additionally, in 1984-85, he was a visiting professor at Harvard University.

Most recently, he served as Director of Temple’s Biostatistics Research Center, which is housed at the Fox School. Iglewicz organized 17 annual Merck-Temple conferences, joining leading academics with researchers from the pharmaceutical firm.

“Boris was a distinguished member of our faculty at the Fox School, as both an educator and a research innovator whose tenure here covered parts of six decades,” said Dr. M. Moshe Porat, Dean of the Fox School of Business. “It was with great regret to learn of Boris’ passing, and my thoughts at this time are with his family, friends, and colleagues.”

“Boris was a pillar of the department in his 45 years, having created our PhD program in 1973 and nurturing its growth since then,” said Dr. Sanat K. Sarkar, Cyrus H. K. Curtis Professor of Statistics and Chair of the Fox School’s Statistics department. “His enthusiasm and passion for the department and the School was infectious. He was a true scholar and a great mentor who deeply cared for the success and well-being of his students and colleagues. We will deeply miss him.”

Iglewicz’s research publications have been referenced in leading advanced texts on clinical trials, distribution theory, multivariate analysis, outlier detection, quality improvement, regression, sequential analysis, survival analysis, and robust methods. He wrote or contributed chapters to four published books, wrote 57 refereed journal articles, and served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Quality Technology and Statistics in Biopharmaceutical Research.

At the Fox School, Iglewicz successfully supervised 24 Ph.D. dissertations, with students winning 17 international awards for dissertation research.

For his contributions to the field, he was elected as a fellow of the American Statistical Association and the Royal Statistical Society, an elected member of the International Statistical Institute, and a senior member of the American Society for Quality.

In 2001, Iglewicz received the Musser Excellence in Research Leadership Award, which recognizes a member of the Fox School faculty for outstanding research.

He was the recipient of the American Statistical Association’s 2003 Don Owen Award, which recognizes excellence in research, statistical consultation, and service to the statistical community, and the 2001 W.J. Youden Award, which acknowledges authors who have made outstanding contributions to the design of interlaboratory tests.

Iglewicz earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Wayne State University, in Detroit, and his PhD in statistics from Virginia Tech University.

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Ride-sharing service shown to reduce drunk-driving deaths, according to Fox researchers

Photo of Brad Greenwood

Brad Greenwood

The inspiration for his co-authored research paper, Brad Greenwood said, materialized rather organically.

“I was in the backseat of an UberX vehicle,” Greenwood said, “and I wrote myself a cell phone note: ‘Call Sunil about writing an Uber paper.’”

According to research by Greenwood and Sunil Wattal, professors at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, the introduction of UberX, a low-cost, ride-sharing service, has led to the reduction of alcohol-related vehicular fatalities in California.

Their research findings have been featured widely in mainstream national and international media outlets, including Newsweek, Fox News, Forbes, Canada’s Globe and Mail, Britain’s Daily Mail, Quebec’s La Presse, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Tech Times, and others. Their working paper, titled, “Show Me The Way To Go Home: An Empirical Investigation of Ride Sharing and Alcohol Related Motor Vehicle Homicide,” is under review for publication in an academic journal.

Uber is a mobile-app-based service through which consumers can call for transportation to and from any destination. The system requires credit card registration prior to usage, which means no physical money changes hands in the transaction. Available in more than 50 countries, Uber’s popularity has soared recently, and an August 2015 report from Reuters suggests that Uber’s bookings in 2016 could exceed $26 billion.

Greenwood and Wattal are believed to have written the first academic paper investigating the effects of Uber on reducing alcohol-related vehicular homicides.

“The issue is timely and fresh. Everyone is talking about Uber,” said Wattal, an Associate Professor of Management Information Systems (MIS) at Fox.

Photo of a cell phone“There was evidence that Uber could be linked to such decreases in fatalities, but the question as to whether it could be tied together rigorously, and under certain circumstances, wasn’t yet known,” said Greenwood, an Assistant Professor of MIS.

Using publicly available data obtained from the California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Report System, for a period between January 2009 and September 2014, Greenwood and Wattal analyzed reports that included the blood-alcohol content of the driver, contributing factors like weather, speed, and environmental factors, and the number of parties involved in the accidents. Greenwood and Wattal said they chose to review California’s data because Uber is headquartered in San Francisco, and the ride-sharing service has been available in that state longer than in any other.

In their research, they found that alcohol-related deaths decreased by an average of 3.6-5.6 percent in cities where UberX service, the least-expensive service offered by Uber, is available. They also found limited evidence of change in conjunction with the use of Uber Black, the most-expensive service, which requires a luxury vehicle.

Other findings from the co-authored research paper include:

  • The effects of UberX on the number of alcohol-related fatalities took hold, on average, from nine to 15 months following Uber’s introduction to a particular city, “after Uber has built up a network of customers and drivers in that marketplace,” Greenwood said.
  • There was little to no effect in periods of likely surge pricing, a system that allows Uber to increase the cost of the services rendered dependent upon the consumer demand.
  • There was no effect between Uber and overall deaths, indicating that the entry of Uber is not making roads more dangerous for sober people.
Photo of Sunil Wattal

Sunil Wattal

For Greenwood, who has previously studied the societal benefits of technologies, and Wattal, who has researched online crowdfunding and peer-to-peer economies, their research interests overlapped, which made this project a natural choice on which they could collaborate. Unsurprisingly, their Uber research, which was independently funded, has generated requests for follow-up studies.

“We could try to replicate this study in the context of other states to see if the data is robust,” Wattal said, “but that could take considerable time, given that Uber is not available everywhere and that data is not as readily available in other states.”

“The options are endless for this type of work,” Greenwood said.

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Fox School student appeals to Pope Francis for blessing of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback’s knees

Pratik Patel

A student from Temple University’s Fox School of Business is hoping that divine intervention will lead his favorite sports team to “the promised land.”

Senior Pratik Patel initiated an online petition in August to have Pope Francis bless the knees of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford during the Pontiff’s visit to the city Sept. 26-27 for the World Meeting of Families.

More than 6,400 supporters have signed Patel’s petition, at, which has received widespread media attention. However, Patel said the digital signatures are inconsequential. He said the online petition is merely the means through which he hopes to spread the word about his intention to facilitate a meeting between Pope Francis and Bradford.

“Pope Francis is a man of high power and great regard, and as a lifelong Eagles fan, I think his blessing on Sam Bradford’s knees would help the Eagles reach the Super Bowl,” said Patel, who will graduate in May 2016 with undergraduate degrees in Accounting and Finance. “I’m Hindu, so this meeting is not expressly about religious beliefs.”

Bradford played in only seven games of the 2013 season and missed the entire 2014 season, then as the quarterback of the St. Louis Rams, with separate injuries to his left knee. The Eagles, who traded for Bradford in the offseason, have gone 54 years between championships.

Patel and his online petition have been featured nationally on a Fox News broadcast and linked to in stories by ESPN and Sports Illustrated. He’s also been interviewed locally by 6ABC, Fox29, and NBC10 in Philadelphia, and he has appeared on a news broadcast on EWTN, a global Catholic television network.

Patel acknowledged it is highly unlikely that Pope Francis, whose Philadelphia travel itinerary is quite thorough, will have the time to meet Bradford. After all, the Eagles will be in East Rutherford, N.J., that weekend for a game against the New York Jets.

“The two will only be 100 miles apart,” Patel said. “While I haven’t heard anything yet, from the Eagles, from (Philadelphia Mayor) Michael Nutter, or from the Pope himself, I’m not giving up hope. That’s what faith is all about, right?”

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William A. Graham selected as recipient of 19th annual Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership

Photo of William A. "Bill" Graham IV

William A. “Bill” Graham IV, recipient of the 2015 Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership

Temple University’s Fox School of Business will award William A. “Bill” Graham IV the 2015 Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership – the school’s highest honor, for outstanding achievement, leadership, and commitment to the community by a distinguished member of industry.

Graham will be honored at the 19th annual Musser Award reception and dinner Nov. 5, 2015, in Mitten Hall, on Temple University’s Main Campus.

Graham is the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of The Graham Company, a privately held and leading U.S. insurance and surety brokerage and consulting firm considered one of the largest in the nation based on revenue size. The company provides property and casualty products, employee benefits, and surety bonds for an elite client base.

“Bill Graham helped build a family business into a recognized and respected brand. He’s a giant in the insurance and risk management industries,” said Dr. M. Moshe Porat, Dean of the Fox School of Business. “For nearly two decades, we have honored distinguished business professionals with the Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership, and Bill certainly fits that description.”

Graham has been a member of the Philadelphia business community for more than 50 years.

He joined his father’s insurance agency as a sales representative in 1962, eventually becoming the sole owner in 1972. He served as president from 1970 to 1999, and currently serves as chairman and chief executive officer. He has overseen the growth of The Graham Company, from six employees with revenues of $300,000 in 1972, to more than 160 employees and revenues exceeded $40 million.

Graham is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of Bucknell University, and is on the Boards of Directors of Xanitos, Inc.; Adhezion Biomedical, LLC; and Aspire Bariatrics, LLC. He also serves on the Advisory Board of Guest Counts Hospitality.

He is an alumnus of Bucknell University and the William Penn Charter School.

Previous Musser Award winners include Lewis Katz, director of the Katz Foundation; Steven H. Korman, founder of Korman Communities; Joan Carter, co-founder and president of UM Holdings Ltd.; Ralph J. Roberts, founder of Comcast; Stephen A. Cozen and Patrick J. O’Connor, of Cozen-O’Connor; H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, president and CEO of The Lenfest Group; and Dennis Alter, former chairman and CEO of Advanta Corp.

For sponsorship and reservation information, contact Amy Gurreri, Assistant Director of Special Events and Facilities, at 215-204-4889 or

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Fox School alumnus sponsors four STHM students to attend sports agent academy

Fox School of Business alumnus Cosmo DeNicola, fourth from left, financed scholarships to the Leigh Steinberg Sports Agent Academy for four students from the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management. From left, STHM students JaCarl Smith and Kristen Kemnitzer, Steinberg, DeNicola, and STHM students Erin Johnson and Matthew Swiren.

Fox School of Business alumnus Cosmo DeNicola, fourth from left, financed scholarships to the Leigh Steinberg Sports Agent Academy for four students from the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management. From left, STHM students JaCarl Smith and Kristen Kemnitzer, Steinberg, DeNicola, and STHM students Erin Johnson and Matthew Swiren.

At every turn of his career, Leigh Steinberg has asked for a business card. It’s how he started a Rolodex, in the days that predated smart phones and digital contact lists. It’s also how Steinberg turned face-to-face connections into potential business opportunities.

One of the nation’s best-known sports agents, Steinberg has represented more No. 1 NFL draft picks and NFL Hall of Famers than anyone else in his trade. That didn’t happen overnight, either, he said. He’d often turn to the blank sides of those business cards he had collected and jot down personal notes about someone with whom he had interacted.

“All it takes is one player,” Steinberg said. “One successful player gives you a practice.”

Steinberg recently brought his travelling Sports Agent Academy to Philadelphia, sharing tales and tips on a career than has spanned 41 years. He addressed a room of college students and established professionals Aug. 1 on the 56th floor of One Liberty Place, in the Law Offices of Remick & Cabott.

Four students from Temple University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) attended the one-day agent academy, thanks to the financial support of a Fox School of Business alumnus. Philadelphia businessman and entrepreneur Cosmo DeNicola, FOX ’76, sponsored the junior Sport and Recreation majors from STHM: Kristen Kemnitzer, Erin Johnson, JaCarl J. Smith, and Matthew Swiren.

DeNicola, who runs Cosmo DeNicola Companies, first partnered with Steinberg in December 2014 to provide capital and business experience to drive Steinberg Sports and Entertainment’s expanding client-marketing services. DeNicola said his professional interests, as owner of the Arena Football League’s Philadelphia Soul and of a Hollywood talent management firm, intertwined with perfectly Steinberg’s academy.

“When Leigh and I first formed our partnership, we knew could accomplish special things together,” DeNicola said. “Meeting these four students and seeing their excitement and passion reminded me of myself when I was a student at Temple. I love Philadelphia and I love TU. It brings me great joy to give back to my roots.”

Earlier this year, Swiren said he began giving serious consideration to a career as an agent.

“I knew I had to jump at this opportunity,” Swiren said. “I know the knowledge that Leigh Steinberg and (COO of Steinberg Sports & Entertainment) Chris Cabott passed along to me, combined with all of the concepts taught by my STHM professors, will have prepared me for any endeavor in my life.”

The STHM students shared a few minutes with DeNicola, expressing their thanks for his sponsorship to participate in Steinberg’s event. Kemnitzer called it “an incredible experience to learn more about the professional sports industry, and connect with accomplished alumni.”

“One day, I plan on being a director of player personnel, if not an athletics director,” added Johnson, “and after sitting in the academy and getting advice from the greatest agent, it made me more excited to start my career.”

From getting started and getting licensed, to building a base of clients, Steinberg covered the sports-agent industry from top to bottom during his Sports Agent Academy, which has visited Newport Beach, Calif., and Houston, and has plans for similar one-day academies in New York, Miami, and Chicago.

Steinberg offered advice on recruiting clients. Having represented players since 1975, he instructed attendees to allow integrity to dictate their professional philosophies and brands. Steinberg, who’s often credited as the inspiration for the sports-agent movie, Jerry Maguire, said he’s built his name as a top-tier agent by doing just that, working with clients who have good hearts, good families, and a good sense of community.

“You have to master the skill of putting yourself in another’s heart and head, because you’ll be able to solve a lot of life’s problems that way,” he said. “It’s about being able to listen, to peel back the layers, and better understand who these people are. That’s recruiting, not only of the players, but of the teams you want to have fall in love with your players.”

“That comment stuck with me,” said Smith, one of the STHM students in attendance. “The industry is all about networking and making connections with others, but that advice is applicable to life, in general. The sports industry is one of the most competitive, and the sports academy will help a great deal in my professional development due to everything I learned from a legendary sports agent like Mr. Steinberg.”

Steinberg said he first came to value relationships after receiving advice from his father at an early age. He learned that a key to good business practice, he said, was in relating to people on a personal level, and by opting never to sacrifice professional reputation for short-term gain.

The breadth of opportunities in the sport industry, Steinberg told the attendees, includes careers in television, radio, multimedia, marketing, public relations, and more.

“And that’s why I want to be reading about all of you in the papers in the next five years!” Steinberg said with a wide smile.

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TD Ameritrade awards $25,000 grant to Fox’s new Financial Planning program

Photo of Fox School of Business and TD Ameritrade representatives on Wall Street.

Director of Development Don Kirkwood (fourth from left) and Financial Planning program director Cindy Axelrod (fifth from left) represent the Fox School of Business July 22 on Wall Street, with a group from TD Ameritrade Institutional, which award Fox’s new Financial Planning major a $25,000 grant. (Courtesy TD Ameritrade Institutional)

TD Ameritrade Institutional has awarded a $25,000 grant to Temple University’s Fox School of Business to foster development of a new financial planning degree program, as part its third-annual Next Gen Financial Planning Grants.

Through its Next Gen Financial Planning Grants, TD Ameritrade Institutional hopes to help the registered investment advisor industry remain vibrant for years to come by encouraging more colleges and universities to expand and enhance their financial planning degree programs, increasing the number of graduates produced each year. According to U.S. Department of Education data, roughly 700 students completed bachelor’s degree programs in financial planning in 2013, while only 90 U.S. colleges and universities offered degrees dedicated to financial planning.

“Independent financial planning is one the fastest-growing areas of the financial services business and may offer some of the brightest career prospects in the marketplace, but advisors need more than financial expertise. They need a strong desire to help people and a talent for building strong ties with clients,” Tom Nally, President of TD Ameritrade Institutional, said in a statement. “Schools like … Temple are helping educate and train a new generation of advisors so they can enter the workplace well-prepared for solving real world challenges.”

As part of a broader effort to encourage more undergraduates to pursue financial planning careers, and avert a talent shortage when thousands of baby boomer-era advisors leave the business, TD Ameritrade Institutional also awarded a grant to the University of North Texas, in Denton, Texas, to expand its existing financial planning degree program.

Temple University’s Fox School of Business will launch its Financial Planning undergraduate program this fall. Grant funds will help fund scholarships to attract top-tier students, underwrite a weekly “seminar series” that brings the workplace to campus, engaging financial planning practitioners in the Philadelphia area to speak with students providing insights into the profession’s challenges, trends and potential opportunities.

The Financial Planning major will prepare students for careers in the growing field bearing the same name, which takes a holistic approach to working with clients in order to enable them to identify and attain lifestyle and retirement goals. Students who complete the Financial Planning curriculum are eligible to sit for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) examination upon graduation – a unique feature of the program.

“We are incredibly proud to have been selected by TD Ameritrade Institutional as the recipient of this grant,” said Cynthia Axelrod, Program Director of Fox’s Financial Planning major and Assistant Professor of Finance. “Professionals in this field are in high demand, and this grant will bolster Fox’s efforts to provide highly qualified students that will excel as Financial Planners. “

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Temple University’s Institute For Business And Information Technology And Lockheed Martin To Host National Cyber Analyst Challenge

Organizers of Temple University's National Cyber Analyst Challenge include (from left) Laurel Miller, Director of Temple University's Institute for Business and Information Technology; John McGroary, Lockheed Martin's Project Engineer Principal, Engineering & Technical Capabilities, Information Systems & Global Solutions; Michael Bradshaw, Lockheed Martin's Vice President & Chief Information Officer, Mission Systems and Training; Dr. Munir Mandviwalla, Executive Director of Temple University's Institute for Business and Information Technology, Chair and Associate Professor of Management Information Systems department; and James P. Connelly, Lockheed Martin's Vice President of Corporate Information Security & Chief Information Security Officer.

Organizers of Temple University’s National Cyber Analyst Challenge include (from left) Laurel Miller, Director of Temple University’s Institute for Business and Information Technology; John McGroary, Lockheed Martin’s Project Engineer Principal, Engineering & Technical Capabilities, Information Systems & Global Solutions; Michael Bradshaw, Lockheed Martin’s Vice President & Chief Information Officer, Mission Systems and Training; Dr. Munir Mandviwalla, Executive Director of Temple University’s Institute for Business and Information Technology, Chair and Associate Professor of Management Information Systems department; and James P. Connelly, Lockheed Martin’s Vice President of Corporate Information Security & Chief Information Security Officer.

Temple University’s Institute for Business and Information Technology (IBIT) and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) are joining forces to help solve the cyber talent crisis that faces the country. This fall they will host a National Cyber Analyst Challenge designed to encourage and support the best students currently pursuing cyber related degrees in the top cyber programs in the nation.

Between seven and 10 schools with appropriate programs will select and field a team of top students (undergraduate or master’s studying information systems, computer science or engineering) to participate in the three-phase competition. First, each team will analyze and propose solutions to a cyber case. The second phase is a full day of virtual training. The finals, a real-time practical challenge, will be held in Washington, D.C. in October.

Each school that joins the contest will receive $15,000 to support students, faculty and travel. The winning team will be awarded up to $25,000.

The Cyber Analyst Challenge was created to respond to strong needs in the industry.

According to, in April 2015 there were 26,980 open cyber-security related positions. The need in these positions is less for operators and more for analysts. As threats multiply and diversify, intelligence analysis and identification is becoming critical, rather than secondary to the ability to configure or code secure servers. Yet, the job seekers in the talent pipeline find it difficult to integrate operational skills with strategic threat and cyber analysis.

“Our programs and our customers have a significant need for students to enter the workforce with not only the technical cyber skills but the analysis mindset that a competition like this will foster,” explained Chris Kearns, Lockheed Martin vice president of Enterprise IT Solutions. “We are thrilled to partner with our nation’s top universities to invest in the future workforce.”

The competition will not only enhance the skills of the future workforce and inspire students to pursue careers in cyber-security. Students will receive fast-paced, real world practical experience, scholarships, recognition and the opportunity to engage with others who share their interests, nationwide.

“This competition is unique because it focuses on student development from the start and will serve as a role model for how to develop talent by engaging with industry in systematic and sustained manner,” said Dr. Munir Mandviwalla, Associate Professor and Chair of the Fox School of Business’ Management Information Systems department, and IBIT Executive Director.

Fox School’s Institute for Business and Information Technology (IBIT), at Temple University, provides cutting-edge knowledge and valuable connections to sustain excellence in information technology. IBIT integrates industry perspectives with academic research expertise to create forums for generating and exchanging best practices.

IBIT is affiliated with the Fox School’s nationally ranked Department of Management Information Systems. IBIT draws participating faculty and students from MIS as well as the expertise of the entire Fox and Temple University community.

For more information please visit

About Lockheed Martin
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 112,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2014 were $45.6 billion.

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Apps & Maps students make pitch to Samsung executive

Dr. Karl A. Morris, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Temple University’s College of Science and Technology, demonstrates Samsung Self, an application developed by Philadelphia high school students in Temple’s Urban Apps & Maps Studio.

Dr. Karl A. Morris, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Temple University’s College of Science and Technology, demonstrates Samsung Self, an application developed by Philadelphia high school students in Temple’s Urban Apps & Maps Studio.

Two Philadelphia high school students temporarily put their summer plans on hold for a unique afternoon activity: The students, from Temple University’s Urban Apps & Maps Studios, delivered a technology prototype presentation to a leading executive from Samsung.

Sharing conference-room space with Young-jun Kim, Senior Vice President of Design of Samsung Electronics and President of Samsung’s Art and Design Institute, the students unveiled Samsung Self, a platform they developed to incentivize youth to have an active lifestyle and reduce the health risks associated with obesity. Using an avatar that reflects the user’s current condition and activity level, a user’s every movement is tracked, including staircase climbing, walking, watching movies in front of a TV and listening to music. Self connects various aspects of a busy youth’s life that can affect their health through digital rewards that could be applied to music downloads, for example.

The students’ mission was to create a digital platform that would appeal to fitness junkies and novice exercisers, alike.

“A student’s life is very well-structured, and doesn’t leave much time for activities like exercise,” said Dr. Youngjin Yoo, the Harry A. Cochran Professor of Management Information Systems and the founder of Temple’s Apps & Maps Studio. “Self was designed with the student in mind. It’s a fully synchronous application that would cater to their busy schedules in order to maintain healthy lifestyles.”

Samsung, a project sponsor, had supplied Urban Apps & Maps students with the company’s smart phones and existing fitness wearables, so that they might provide research findings and feedback from one of the world’s most-coveted marketing demographics – teenagers. What the students found, in a thorough five-tiered research methodology, was that while high-school-age students were prone to using wearables, these devices had the most impact “on people who didn’t need them,” said Sylvia Lin, a senior at Philadelphia’s Central High School.

The group’s research rendered startling statistics, as well. More than 61 percent of the students they polled do not consider portion size, and fewer than 42 percent packed their lunches each school day. According to the Center for Disease Control’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, released in 2013, more than 14 million American high school students are classified as obese.

That’s how the student group arrived at Self. Lin and Jeff Cook, a senior at George Washington Carver High School for Engineering & Science, detailed its features, primarily SSENERGY, which issues points for users’ healthy eating and exercise habits. SSENERGY points act as a currency in the system, for online purchases or downloads.

“We propose that motivation for fitness and exercise can be achieved through unorthodox methods,” Lin said during the presentation. “Teenagers are already using their phones to complete so many functions. An interface like Self is one way technology can curb the trend of teenage obesity.”

“Samsung is a global company and our products are available everywhere,” Kim said. “However, our products and services must reflect local culture and context. Working with high school students through Temple University gives us great insights that we cannot buy even if we hire the top design agencies”.

Added Yoo: “We see our area’s high school students as cultural researchers who are experts in tomorrow’s high tech culture.”

Lin and Cook developed Samsung Self with the assistance of a half-dozen high-school-age peers, as well as student and professor mentors from Temple, including: Yoo; Dr. Karl Morris, Professor of Computer Science at the College of Science and Technology; Tyler School of Art graduate Bill Pierce; Fox School of Business MBA student Vivienne Dobbs; and more.

Urban Apps & Maps Studio is Temple’s university-wide, interdisciplinary program geared toward the encouragement, development, and founding of start-ups to transform urban challenges into products and services.

Apps & Maps, which receives funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, offers hundreds of high school students from Philadelphia access to a six-week program, through which they learn digital design and business skills from Temple student and professor mentors. From that larger group, a few are handpicked to remain as year-round fellows.

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Undergraduate Real Estate program earns top-20 ranking

Forrest HuffmanThe undergraduate Real Estate program at Temple University’s Fox School of Business has been ranked among the best in the nation.

Fox’s Real Estate program is ranked No. 19 nationally by, which published in June its first-annual list of the top-30 undergraduate real estate programs in the United States. The ranking lauds the program’s “lean toward the financial sector.” The Real Estate program is housed within Fox’s Finance department.

“We are delighted to learn that Fox’s Real Estate program has been ranked among such elite company,” said Dr. Forrest Huffman, Professor of Finance and Director of Fox’s Real Estate program. “Fox’s real estate students are consistently recognized by the prestigious student honorary organization, Alpha Sigma Gamma, for their academic achievements. Our students hone a variety of skills that will enable them to become leaders in all aspects of the real estate industry. Inclusion in this rankings report demonstrates the caliber of our program and students on a national level.”

The Real Estate program at Fox prepares students for careers in a variety of sectors, like real estate valuation, mortgage lending, residential and commercial brokerage, corporate real estate analysis, and beyond.

Fox is also home to the Temple Real Estate Organization (TREO), one of more than two-dozen student-professional organizations. TREO bridges the gap between the academic and business professional communities in real estate, finance, development, architecture, urban planning, law, and land economics, while also fostering scholarship in those fields.

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Fox alum applying IT skills in new position at TIAA-CREF

Rahul Merchant

Rahul Merchant moved to the United States in 1979, carrying whatever belongings he could squeeze into two suitcases. His flight from India had landed at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and, not long after, he managed to lose one of his suitcases.

Merchant sat curbside in a blue wool suit, the only suit he owned, with the late-August sun bearing down. A taxi driver picked up Merchant, and took him to his destination without asking for a fare.

“The driver said to me, ‘When you make money, you can pay somebody else,’” Merchant said. “That was the fundamental principle I learned in this country, and I’ve been touched by that moment ever since. That was a great experience for me, and I feel that in the corridors of TIAA-CREF.”

Merchant, who earned his MBA from the Fox School of Business, applies the same principles to his new position with TIAA-CREF. As Chief Information Officer and Executive Vice President, Merchant is tasked with overseeing the existing information technology and implementing new IT initiatives for the nearly 100-year-old financial services firm.

In his role with TIAA-CREF, Merchant leads teams responsible for core infrastructure, enterprise architecture, data and information security systems, and application delivery for core enterprise functions. These are tasks, Merchant said, didn’t exist when he broke into his industry nearly three decades ago.

“Traders and sales folks had conducted business on the trading floor by telephone back in those days,” Merchant said. “Today, 90 percent of business is closed over the wires and without even hitting the trading tickets. It’s all electronic. What does that mean? The systems are more technologically driven and efficient, but the other side of the IT coin is that business is done openly and transparently.

“Our task is to ensure that we are setting up a financial environment in which our clients can conduct this efficient business in a safe and secure setting, where their personal information is protected.”

Merchant’s career began in the technology field. After earning undergraduate and graduate degrees at Memphis State University (now known as the University of Memphis), he moved to Philadelphia to be near relatives. His employer at the time “encouraged employees to further their educations in the evening,” spurring Merchant to consider Fox’s MBA program. He complete coursework at Temple University’s Ambler Campus, graduating in 1989 with his MBA in Finance.

He’s been working in the financial markets arena ever since. He’s acted as Operating Partner at Exigen Capital; Executive Vice President, Chief Information and Operations Officer at Fannie Mae; and Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer and Chief Technology Officer of Merrill Lynch. He’s also served on the boards of public and private companies such as Sun Microsystems, Level 3 Communication, and Fair Isaac Corp.

In 2012, then-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg asked Merchant to join his cabinet as the city’s first Chief Information and Innovation Officer. Merchant reported to Bloomberg directly, working closely with the mayor on New York’s IT initiatives. Merchant identified this position as a defining moment in his career.

“We treated all 8.2 million people who lived, worked and were educated in our city as customers,” Merchant said. “Michael’s vision was to transform New York City into a data-driven city with one of the most-advanced digitally enabled infrastructures, and to give everyone in New York a top-class digital experience. We enabled WiFi in Harlem, Times Square, and Central Park without spending taxpayer money. We did all of it through corporate partnerships. It was in this position that I matured as an executive.”

The New York-based executive said he travels to Philadelphia periodically, and hopes to become more involved at his alma mater. He’s been a guest at a previous meeting of the IT Advisory Board, a function of the Fox School’s Institute for Business and Information Technology.

“Whenever I’m in the city,” Merchant said, “I’m committed to spending time at Temple and making a difference where I can.”

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Fox alumna shares personal story of perseverance as featured speaker at TEDx Philadelphia

Photo of Yasmine Mustafa

Yasmine Mustafa

An image of a lottery machine and its bouncing Ping-Pong balls appeared on the projection screen behind Yasmine Mustafa, as she spoke from the stage at Temple University’s Performing Arts Center, at TEDxPhiladelphia.

“Everyone gets a birth lottery ticket, and I was given the unique chance to transform mine,” Mustafa said, describing to the near-capacity gathering the concept of being born into a set of traits and circumstances that shape life’s opportunities and challenges. “Because while the birth lottery shapes who we become, it doesn’t define who we must be.”

Mustafa, a 2006 alumna of the Fox School of Business, was chosen as one of 14 featured speakers for TEDxPhiladelphia, an independent and not-for-profit one-day conference. TEDx brings together engaging speakers from various professions and community roles to build dialogue on topics of scientific, social awareness, and cultural significance. Among the invited speakers were Philadelphia Chief of Police Charles Ramsey, Philadelphia Daily News columnist Ronnie Polaneczky, and children’s rights lawyer Marsha Levick.

The theme of Mustafa’s talk – and those of her peers’ – was “…and justice for all,” the last four words of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Born in Kuwait, Mustafa witnessed the Gulf War during her formative childhood years. She opened her talk, roughly 15 minutes in length, with vivid descriptions of bombs being detonated near her family’s home. The randomness of her life’s starting point, she said, could be credited to the birth lottery, and how much of one’s life can be determined by outside factors.

Mustafa said it’s a concept she often ponders.

Had her mother not accompanied her father on a business trip to Philadelphia, Mustafa’s younger brother never would have been born in the United States. Had her brother not been born in Philadelphia, two men from the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait never would have rescued her family of eight from the Gulf War and promised them safe haven in America. Had they never emigrated to the U.S., Mustafa might have been forced to forgo her dreams of college and business ownership, for an arranged marriage and family.

“The birth lottery does not have to define who you are,” she said. “I’m living proof.”

Upon her arrival, Mustafa said, nothing was guaranteed. She eventually needed to work two under-the-table jobs, each paying an hourly wage of $5, to support her education. It took seven and a half years to complete her college education, earning an Associate’s degree at Montgomery County Community College and a Bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurship from the Fox School.

“And I haven’t stopped hustling,” Mustafa said.

A two-time winner of the Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, a Temple University-wide business plan competition. In 2010, she earned first place in the Upper Track, for alumni, graduate students and faculty, for her tech company, 123LinkIt. This past April, she won first place in the Social Track for ROAR for Good, LLC, a developer of wearable self-defense tech designed for women.

In September, Mustafa will celebrate the 25-year anniversary of her and her family’s emigration to the United States. She became a naturalized citizen in 2012.

“I threw a party to celebrate,” Mustafa said of earning her citizenship. “You don’t realize the privilege you have until you’ve either gained it, or you’ve lost it.”

“The opportunity to speak at TEDx was incredibly exciting because you’re surrounded by some of the greatest thinkers in the area, all with different perspectives and experiences and opinions. I was honored to have been nominated, and then chosen as one of the 14 speakers.”

Mustafa’s speech is available via TEDx’s website. Click here and scroll to the 1:13:00 mark.

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Ralph J. Roberts, cable TV pioneer and past Musser recipient, dies at 95

Photo of Ralph J. Roberts

Ralph J. Roberts

Ralph J. Roberts, a past recipient of the Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership from the Fox School of Business, died June 18 in Philadelphia. He was 95.

He was a businessman and cable pioneer who co-founded the Comcast Corporation, serving as its chairman and chief executive.

In 1963, Mr. Roberts purchased a 1,200-subscriber cable provider in Mississippi and turned his investment into the Philadelphia-based Comcast Corporation, the largest cable company and Internet provider in the U.S. The company now serves more than 27 million customers and generated nearly $70 billion in revenue in 2014.

Brian L. Roberts succeeded his father as president of Comcast in 1990. In retirement, Mr. Roberts served as Chairman Emeritus of Comcast’s Board of Directors.

Mr. Roberts received the 2005 Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership, the highest honor conferred by Temple University’s Fox School of Business, recognizing outstanding achievement, leadership and commitment to the community by a distinguished member of industry.

“I was deeply saddened to learn of Ralph’s passing,” said Dr. M. Moshe Porat, Dean of the Fox School. “Ralph was an entrepreneur in the truest sense, looking for business opportunities everywhere he could. Ultimately, he built a company that forever changed the way we view television. Ralph was a great man, an industry trailblazer and a philanthropist who will be greatly missed. His family and friends are in my thoughts.”

“Ralph was a remarkable man who touched the lives of so many people. He was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather and, perhaps most importantly, a kind and humble human being,” the Roberts family said in a statement. “He will always be remembered for his generosity, integrity, honesty, kindness and respect for everyone around him. He was an inspiration to us all, and we will miss him greatly.”

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IT could reduce state-government spending, Fox researcher found

Min Seok Pang

A researcher from Temple University’s Fox School of Business found that investments in information technology (IT) can reduce overall spending by state governments.

According to Dr. Min-Seok Pang, Assistant Professor of Management Information Systems, American state governments could stand to save $3.49 from their budgets for every $1 that’s invested in IT.

Pang’s paper, titled, “Do CIO IT budgets explain bigger or smaller governments? Theory and evidence from U.S. state governments,” was co-authored by Dr. Ali Tafti, of the University of Illinois at Chicago and Dr. M.S. Krishnan, of the University of Michigan. Their paper has been accepted for publication in top academic journal, Management Science. A related study by Pang has been published by MIS Quarterly.

Pang and his fellow researchers analyzed the IT budgets of chief information officers from each of the 50 states, during a five-year period from 2001 to 2005. Pang said he and his team chose to analyze the spending patterns of state governments, as opposed to those of federal governments, because state governments spend on similar services, like education, police, recreation, finance, human resources, and facility management.

“One could argue that because government has no comparative motive, meaning state governments are not competing with one another, there’s no imperative need for survival and, therefore, no value in making IT investments,” Pang said. “But my research shows that is not the case. In fact, IT has demonstrated that it can generate value.”

IT has the potential to make a state government’s processes more efficient and transparent, thus leading to a reduction in spending, Pang said. The digitizing of traditionally paper-based processes, for example, could help a state government trim its manpower and waste production, he theorized. A state government also could elect to disseminate data or publish its annual budget through digital mediums, he said, creating a level of transparency that would prevent a government from spending too much.

Overall, Pang said, the implementation of IT by a state government would free up additional resources that can be best applied to areas like police, education, human resource and more.

“In the government sector, the use of IT would lead to improved transparency and, in the long run, would help governments refrain from wasteful spending,” Pang said.

Pang’s research study is believed to be one of the first of its kind, in examining the benefits of IT spending by state governments.

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Innovation on the rise in less-traditional locations, Fox researchers find

Ram Mudambi

Innovation in the United States is not lacking. It’s just that patents are being registered in less-likely locales, according to researchers from Temple University’s Fox School of Business.

The findings are part of an ongoing research initiative spearheaded by Dr. Ram Mudambi, the Frank M. Speakman Professor of Strategic Management.

The umbrella project is dubbed iBEGIN, or International Business, Economic Geography and Innovation. A segment of the project explores innovation hubs in the United States, undertaking detailed analyses of more than 900 metropolitan areas in the U.S. In one of the first published outcomes of this research effort, Mudambi and his team examined the evolution of Detroit, a mainstay of the global automotive industry for over a century. While Detroit, a downtrodden city, continues to experience manufacturing decline, it is doing well as an innovation center, he said.

“The beauty of innovation is that it never stops,” Mudambi said. “In 1960, the U.S. was the richest country in the world, and Detroit was its richest city. And while the city has been in a continuous state of decline, we found that Detroit’s innovation numbers are very healthy.”

iBEGIN researchers define innovation through patent output, and they say Detroit’s patent output since 1975 has grown at a rate of almost twice the U.S. average. Detroit’s innovative resilience, Mudambi said, is due to its continuing centrality in global innovation networks in the automotive industry. It has maintained this centrality through connectedness to other worldwide centers of excellence in this industry, such as Germany and Japan. Its innovative links to Germany have been rising steadily over the last three decades, while its association with Japan began more recently, but also shows a steep upward trajectory.

Their research also unearthed a clearer picture of the shifting lines of American innovation. Today, Mudambi said, the Sun Belt features the country’s leading innovation hubs like San Francisco; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Austin, Texas. Though the more traditional centers of innovation excellence in the Rust Belt cities have generally maintained healthy rates of innovation output, they have seen their shares of national innovative output decline. These include cities like New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Detroit and Chicago.

“In the 19th century and for most of the 20th century, the innovation hotspots were co-located with centers of manufacturing mass production,” Mudambi said. “These were concentrated in the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic and the Midwest. That’s not the case anymore. We’re seeing the lion’s share of patents being registered in regions dominated by high-knowledge industries. These industries create mainly white-collar positions for people with a bachelor’s degree, at minimum.

“However, what Detroit’s innovative success says about economies everywhere is that the roots of innovation are very deep. Policymakers spend a lot of time worrying about manufacturing. But manufacturing can be very ephemeral and firms often relocate manufacturing plants with very little notice. Innovation is more deeply rooted and, once an innovation center roots itself in an area, it’s much more likely to stick.”

Mudambi said the ongoing iBEGIN research initiative is a collaborative effort, with professionals in centers around the world, including: Denmark’s Copenhagen Business School, Italy’s Politecnico di Milano and University of Venice Ca Foscari, the Indian School of Business, and many others.

In addition to studying innovation in American cities, iBEGIN has ongoing research exploring other contexts. These include country contexts like China, India, Brazil, Portugal, Greece and Korea as well as specialized industry contexts like automobiles, renewable energy and pharmaceuticals.