20151113_alter-hall_night_046-300x202One of the first-established academic departments at Temple University’s Fox School of Business is getting a new name, and is set to introduce a new undergraduate degree program.

The Fox School’s Department of Statistics will soon be rebranded as the Department of Statistical Science. Additionally, the department will unveil a Bachelor of Science degree program in Statistical Science and Data Analytics. Both changes are effective for the 2016-17 academic year, following the approval in March by Temple’s Board of Trustees.

The department had been known as the Department of Statistics since its establishment in 1929, 11 years after the founding of the Fox School.

“Rebranding our department as the Department of Statistical Science reflects the breadth of our department’s academic research, the discipline’s changing landscape, and our department’s renewed focus on engaging in quality research that reshapes the field of statistics and to train new generations of statistically skilled graduates,” said Dr. Sanat K. Sarkar, Chair of the Department of Statistical Science.

The new department name, Sarkar added, is reflective of the discipline’s evolution into one that “develops newer subfields and its interdisciplinary research with scientists in modern scientific investigations involving complex data.”

In Fall 2016, the department will launch its Bachelor of Science undergraduate degree program in Statistical Science and Data Analytics. The demand for the program, said program director Dr. Alexandra Carides, has been driven by the proliferation of computing technology, software, and statistical tools for capturing and interpreting the substantial volume of data now available at the enterprise, government, and personal levels.

The program will qualify students for professions in some of the fastest-growing job sectors, according to Carides.

“The program will provide undergraduate students with the ability to select, utilize, and apply quantitative reasoning and data analytic skills to their future field of study,” said Carides, an Assistant Professor of Statistical Science. “Knowledge of statistical theory and methods has become increasingly important to students in many disciplines. As more data are collected, stored, and analyzed, students are finding it increasingly beneficial to gain expertise in statistical science to strengthen their skills and enhance their career opportunities.”

Dr. Aubrey Kent
Dr. Aubrey Kent

Dr. Aubrey Kent, Chair of Temple University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) and founding director of Temple’s Sport Industry Research Center (SIRC), is the winner of the 2016 North American Society for Sport Management Garth Paton Distinguished Service Award.

The award, the highest service honor within NASSM, recognizes a member with outstanding dedication to the promotion and growth of the sport management industry. Kent, a NASSM member for more than 20 years, credited the organization for providing him with exceptional mentors, including Paton, for whom the award is named.

“Garth was one of my mentors and a dear, dear man. It is special to receive this honor,” said Kent, Professor of Sport Management at STHM.

Kent’s commitment to the NASSM is strong. A past president of the organization, he helped establish the Janet B. Parks NASSM Research Grant, awarded at NASSM’s annual conference, as well as the Commission of Sport Management Association (COSMA) inaugural board of directors, which is dedicated to sport management education at the collegiate level.

Kent received the NASSM Student Research Award five years after joining the organization as a graduate student at Canada’s University of Windsor. In deepening his NASSM involvement, he served on several student committees and, in 2006, was recognized as a Research Fellow. He followed up that recognition with a highly successful stint as an Executive Board Member-at-large, which included several chairpersonships across various committees.

During his tenure, Kent has served on the editorial board for NASSM’s Journal of Sport Management, the leading academic journal in the field. He also has published more than 10 peer-reviewed articles within the journal.

“NASSM promotes the field, facilitates scholarships, and brings together academics to trade best practice ideas around teaching and research,” Kent said.

Kent will receive the Paton Award this June at the 2016 NASSM conference, to be held in Orlando, Fla.

Molly Belmont

Molly Belmont, a Risk Management and Insurance student from Temple University’s Fox School of Business, has been selected as the winner of the 2016 American Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA) Student White Paper Research Contest.

A junior, Belmont won the AAMGA competition’s Technology and Wholesaler category for her paper, “Internet of Things Insurance, Opportunities, and Threats.”

In her paper, Belmont focused on three distinct areas – the connected home, the connected car, and the connected self – and discussed benefits and potential flaws in the collection of data through the Internet of Things IoT.

“While these devices can help insurance companies price better premiums and lower risk, and can also better educate the consumer and help them identify exactly what they’re paying for, there is a cyber risk involved with these devices that most companies didn’t necessarily consider,” said Belmont, a native of Malvern, Pa. “These systems can be hacked and create unforeseen dangers.”

Belmont said the paper was the culmination of more than one month’s work, during which time she utilized more than 20 sources. She said it was the first writing competition in which she’s taken the top prize. Belmont credited Fox School Assistant Professor Storm Wilkins with the encouragement to enter the competition.

For her winning entry, Belmont will receive a scholarship totaling $1,000; an all-expenses-paid trip and registration for the 90th AAMGA Annual Meeting, to be held May 22-25 at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz.; an opportunity to shadow an AAMGA member during his or her meetings at the conference; and publication of her paper in the May issue of Wholesale Insurance News magazine, which is distributed to more than 1.4 million insurance professionals in more than 40 countries globally.

“I’ve been looking into the schedule of events and the networking opportunities available at the conference,” said Belmont, who this summer will serve as a benefits intern in the Philadelphia office of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. “I wasn’t expecting to win, so it’s a big thrill.”

Read about the 2015 research contest winner, Hayley Leather.

hrm-in-sue-ohThe Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) has awarded Dr. In-Sue Oh a 2016 Distinguished Early Career Contribution Award. This is the second early career achievement award Oh has received, also earning one from the Academy of Management Human Resources Division in August 2014.

“This award has been one of my ambitious career goals since I started my PhD at the University of Iowa about 12 years ago,” said Oh, a Paul Anderson Senior Research Fellow and Associate Professor of Human Resource Management at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. “I am very glad and grateful that I have fulfilled this goal.”

The SIOP’s award is the oldest and most-prestigious early-to-mid career award in the field of Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management. Each year, it is given to a scholar who received his or her PhD within the last eight years and has made influential research contributions to the science of Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Oh will be invited to present reflections on his research accomplishments at the following year’s SIOP conference to be held in Orlando, Fla. At the conference, Oh plans to share his current work, as well as discuss how he developed his research program. Since 2005, Oh has researched the validity of personality traits for performance across levels of analysis and criteria, and developing new meta-analysis methods.

“While working on a project on the relationship between personality traits and employee performance about 10 years ago, I realized that the personality-performance relationship must have been underestimated, given serious limitations in how both variables were measured,” said Oh.

Since then, he has investigated various ways to enhance the relationship. In addition, he will also share his personal tips for reaching ambitious goals and maintaining research productivity.

“I’ve discovered that the key to research productivity is persistence, teamwork, and not blindly trusting the data we see,” said Oh. “Data can lie to us without even blinking an eye.”

Oh hopes winning this award will enable him to continue pursuing research projects through the remainder of his career.

“One of my great mentors, Dr. Phil Roth, told me that research as a career is not a sprint but a marathon,” said Oh. “My PhD advisor, Dr. Frank Schmidt, who retired four years ago at the age of 68, is still actively working on research projects. This is exactly where I hope winning this award will lead me.”

Oh credits winning the award to his various mentors, role models, family members, teachers, deans, and department chairs who have offered support and guidance throughout his career. He also credits his fellow scholars, journal editors, reviewers, more than 70 co-authors, and Schmidt, in particular, for nominating him for the award, and five letterwriters in support of this nomination.

“I truly hope that winning this award will contribute to further elevating the research profile of the Human Resource Management department, the Fox School of Business, and Temple University as a whole,” Oh said.

–Mary Salisbury

foxdamid39932__1jr3494-200x300Caitlyn Jenner identifies as transgender. Tiger Woods identifies as “Cablinasian,” a term he created.

What do the television personality and champion golfer have in common? Their racial and gender identities are not easily defined.

Like Jenner and Woods, many Americans can relate. A researcher at Temple University’s Fox School of Business posits that employment laws in the American legal system be restructured to offer civil-liberties protections for citizens who face identity discrimination.

“This isn’t a race or a gender issue. It’s an identity issue,” said Leora Eisenstadt, an Assistant Professor in Fox’s Legal Studies in Business department. “Society has changed, but our laws and legal formulas often look at individuals as members of categories into which a person can fit neatly. Today, there is no such purity. That doesn’t exist, which demonstrates how our laws are out of step with reality.”

Eisenstadt’s research points to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. She said Title VII, however, does not always or easily protect against the discrimination of multiracial or transgender individuals. Courts are often baffled by these fluid identities, she said, sometimes rejecting the cases on those grounds and, other times, ignoring the worker’s actual identity to make the legal formula work.

“Cases have been thrown out of court because the plaintiffs did not fit into a box,” Eisenstadt said. “Unfortunately, according to many courts, if you can’t prove you are a member of a single protected class, your case will not reach a jury. As a result, the law has often prompted individuals to sacrifice part of their identity in order to fit into a box and have their case heard.”

And this confusion in the courts has a negative impact on employers and employees alike, since a lack of clarity in the courts can lead to more difficult employment decisions, an inability to effectively train management and human resources professionals, and litigation that eats up precious resources.

In her research, Eisenstadt cites the United States Census and Facebook as examples of society being ahead of the courts. In 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau implemented a system in which it asked Census respondents to “check all that apply” in regard to the races with which they identify. She also called attention to Facebook. This year, the social media platform began offering its 189 million U.S. users more than 50 gender-identity options.

What these prove, Eisenstadt said, is that people cannot always be categorized so easily.

“In employment discrimination law, workers need to prove that they are a part of a protected class in order to bring a discrimination suit,” she said. “In theory, everyone is a member of a protected class. But in society today, those categories are porous and fluid. Not everybody has a single race or a gender. You might have multiple races or multiple genders or you might reject that categorization altogether.”

The American Business Law Journal recently published Eisenstadt’s theoretical research paper, titled, “Fluid Identity Discrimination.”

Eisenstadt’s research centers on employment discrimination as it relates to race and gender. In 2012, she published a theoretical research paper, titled, “The N-Word at Work: Contextualizing Language in the Workplace,” in the Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law. That paper examined the power of language, and who – based on identity – was permitted to use particular words in the workplace.

“We are moving toward an age of fluid identities, if we aren’t there already, and our employment laws have not caught up,” Eisenstadt said.

From left, Consultants 2 Go co-owners Sandi Webster, a Fox School Executive DBA student, and Peggy McHale provide marketing and analytic consulting solutions for companies in a variety of industries. (Associated Press)
From left, Consultants 2 Go co-owners Sandi Webster, a Fox School Executive DBA student, and Peggy McHale provide marketing and analytic consulting solutions for companies in a variety of industries. (Associated Press)

Sandi Webster has always strived for self-improvement. That’s why she’s pursuing her Executive Doctorate in Business Administration at Temple University’s Fox School of Business.

In October, the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) and Fortune selected Webster’s company, Consultants 2 Go, to join the 2015 Inner City 100, a program that honors the nation’s fastest-growing inner-city businesses.

Based in Newark, N.J., Consultants 2 Go provides consulting and marketing services in the telecom, pharmaceutical, financial services, and insurance industries. Webster, who is pursuing her Executive Doctorate of Business Administration at Fox, founded the company in 2002 with a former colleague, Peggy McHale.

“Peggy and I are very fortunate that our company has excelled in the way that it has,” Webster said. “We’ve rapidly grown our consulting firm beyond our wildest imaginations and it’s an honor that we were recognized in this way by ICIC and Fortune.”

The Inner City 100 program “recognizes successful inner-city businesses and their CEOs as role models for entrepreneurship, innovative business practices, and job creation in America’s urban communities,” according to ICIC.

The list of companies was unveiled Oct. 7 at the Inner City 100 Conference and Awards in Boston. Winners gathered for a full-day business symposium featuring management case studies from Harvard Business School professors and interactive sessions with top CEOs. Keynote speakers included Governor Charlie Baker, and Harvard Business School Professor and ICIC Founder and Chairman Michael E. Porter.

Webster’s professional trajectory changed due, in part, to missing the bus.

Then an executive with American Express, Webster didn’t arrive to work on Sept. 11, 2001. Early-morning crowdedness on the day of New York City’s mayoral primary election kept her from catching her usual morning bus and, as a result, she never made it to her company’s building, located less than two city blocks from the World Trade Center.

“I had been with the company for 18 years and, after the attacks, I never went back to work for American Express at that building,” Webster said. “We lost so many good employees that day, and it caused the displacement of so many others. It altered the lives of everyone who was in New York City.

“I can’t tell you how many people started their own businesses after the tragedy of 9/11, simply out of need.”

After that day, Webster said she connected with McHale and began to reconsider her line of work.

Webster, whose company generated nearly $10 million in revenue in 2014, is always looking to improve. She, too, was looking to further herself.

“Being in the business world, I aspired for a higher-level degree,” she said. “I have a unique perspective, having worked in corporate America and now in representing clients in the small-business side. I can see where gaps are and help them work more efficiently.

“That’s why I chose the Fox School. I found the Executive DBA faculty to be knowledgeable. The proximity to our offices in Newark, N.J., was important, as well.”

Webster said working mothers comprise 80 percent of Consultants 2 Go’s employees. Her vision for her company, she said, is to offer flexible hours and locations for her workers.

“Corporations tend to let go of senior executives, some of whom are women, and that’s intellectual capital walking right out the door,” Webster said. “Conversely, there’s no one around to train young executives. That’s where I believe Consultants 2 Go can fill a void.

“Within the Executive DBA program, I hope to earn greater knowledge and complete research so I can more-closely work with companies to help them realize a better use for their intellectual capital.”

wmof-logo2mb-300x157Roughly 800,000 people flooded Philadelphia in late September for a visit from Pope Francis and the World Meeting of Families, a global gathering of Catholics.

So… now what?

An event jointly sponsored by Temple University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) and Temple’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) considered that very question.

Gathering Philadelphia’s leading minds in tourism, international business, and government at its event, titled, “The World Meeting of Families is Gone: Now What?”, STHM and CIBER aimed to address how Philadelphia could leverage the international exposure and media focus it received from the World Meeting of Families in order to further its status as an elite host for future global events.

“This was our finest hour and it can be again,” said Pat Ciarrocchi, the event’s keynote speaker and a longtime Philadelphia news anchor who covered the World Meeting of Families.

“The World Meeting of Families brought Pope Francis to Philadelphia and, along with him, more than 15,000 reporters representing media outlets from around the world,” said Dr. Elizabeth H. Barber, STHM Associate Dean. “This event generated an unparalleled level of visibility to viewing audiences that wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to what Philadelphia has to offer. In order to best capitalize on the tourism opportunity created by the World Meeting of Families, we as a city will need to maintain the open dialogue we’re initiating today through this event.”

In examining the future of a post-Pope Francis Philadelphia, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) CEO and President Jack Ferguson nodded to the efforts by Desiree Peterkin Bell, director of communications for the Office of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, the Mayor’s Office, and Visit Philadelphia in building upon the city’s strengths.

Photo of event at Mitten Hall.“We can dissect this forever, but what we will learn is what works,” Ferguson said.

In the days and weeks following the WMOF, Ferguson said he observed how the event boosted the reputation of the city’s businesses, for how well they worked with a large influx of tourist traffic. This positive interaction, Ferguson said, won over consumers.

To do that, Meryl Levitz said she designed a faith-based marketing strategy that invited those looking for love and family with the pope to experience it in Center City, too.

“We watched, we listened, and we helped tell Philadelphia’s story,” said Levitz, CEO and President of Visit Philadelphia of the campaign that featured local catholic organizations, bible studies and family-friendly events.

For Brian Said, executive director of the Tourism Division of PHLCVB, Bell’s efforts to remove the walls between the pope and those wishing to see him resonated with Philadelphia’s foreign visitors. Accessibility to Pope Francis, according to Said, was what put Philadelphia on the map as a global city that is welcoming to all.

“We cannot arm-wrestle New York, and we cannot arm wrestle D.C.,” he said. “We have to work together to show Philadelphia is both safe and fun.”

Zabeth Teelucksingh, executive director for Global Philadelphia, looks forward to that “next great event,” as Ferguson called it. Global Philadelphia works to show foreign travelers the city’s significance as a birthplace of democracy and innovation. Philadelphia has the potential to be the next World Heritage City, which Teelucksingh said is a highly marketable title in countries looking to experience a quintessentially America city. Should Philadelphia become the next World Heritage City, it will enjoy increased property value, stature and economic gains, Teelucksingh said.

All of the event’s panelists agreed that the city’s next steps must be geared toward reminding the world that Philadelphia has successfully managed a world-class event once, and is capable of doing so yet again.

“No one else could have been at the helm of this event,” Bell said. “We’ve done big events and we do big events well. We’re on the map.”

Dr. Deanna Geddes
Dr. Deanna Geddes

There’s an unlikely emotion that acts as the moral compass of a workplace. According to a researcher from Temple University’s Fox School of Business, it’s anger.

Dr. Deanna Geddes’ conceptual research delves into moral anger, an emotional expression that is geared toward the improvement of the human condition within the workplace. She and fellow researcher, Dr. Dirk Lindebaum of the University of Liverpool, (now Cardiff University), proposed a new definition for moral anger within their research paper, “The Place and Role of (Moral) Anger in Organizational Behavior Studies,” which was published online December 2015 in the Journal of Organizational Behavior.

The Chair of Fox’s Department of Human Resource Management, Geddes said employees potentially place at risk their jobs, careers, and companies for which they work when moral anger motivates actions that expose inappropriate circumstances at work.

Where moral anger varies from expressions of personal anger, she said, is in the identification of the subject who is suffering from workplace injustice and improprieties.

“It’s important to note that, with both moral anger and personal anger, social norms are violated and likely people were treated unfairly,” she said. “But instances of moral anger prompt action when you witness an incident that impacts someone else more than it impacts you. Speaking out on behalf of others is the core differentiator.

“Moral anger isn’t a self-serving type of anger expression. It’s the opposite. It’s someone’s response when another is being treated unfairly or being bullied, for example. Moral anger triggers corresponding action that is not intended to cause further harm, but instead to help repair the situation.”

Often an employee who expresses anger at work is viewed as “an out-of-control and hostile deviant,” Geddes notes. However, unless it’s a common occurrence, Geddes’s research found that those who express anger in the workplace are likely to be a company’s most-committed and most-loyal employees.

That’s because moral anger is a fairness-enhancing emotion, through which employees can act with the wellbeing of others in mind. Geddes said moral anger has the potential to restore equity, protect dignity, improve working conditions, and rectify damaging situations.

She and Lindebaum reviewed literatures on similar anger constructs, including those which pertained to moral outrage and moral conduct, to see how moral anger differentiated. Then, they reviewed literature pertaining to expressions of anger, to arrive at a more-practical “redefinition,” she said.

“Moral anger, by our definition, is not intended to avenge an individual person’s slights,” Geddes said. “It is to demonstrate that the human condition within an organizational environment can be improved. That’s truly the goal and the social function of moral anger – to defend those who are vulnerable.”

If you’d like a quick tutorial on “moral anger” read their short column on UC Berkeley’s Greater Good website: “The right way to get angry at work”

Franklin Douglas
Douglas Franklin

Douglas Franklin, a second-year PhD student at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, co-authored a paper that has been accepted for publication in Leadership Quarterly, a top journal. Franklin’s paper, titled “An Exploration of the Interactive Effects of Leader Trait Goal Orientation and Goal Content in Teams,” explores how leaders’ personalities and goal orientations affect teams’ task commitment, learning, and overall competency. “One of my co-authors and mentor, Dr. Christopher Porter, introduced me to the concept of leader-goal orientation, which relates to a leader’s tendency to guide their teams to focus on learning more or displaying their current knowledge when working on tasks,” said Franklin.
When working in a group, it’s inevitable that a team’s goals won’t always align with its leader’s predisposition, Franklin said. He and his fellow researchers found that, ultimately, goal orientation of leaders has a direct effect on overall team competency, for better or for worse.“When team leaders have a high tendency to encourage learning-goal orientation, it helps teams perform better when assigned performance goals,” Franklin said. “However, when team leaders have a high tendency to encourage absolute performance-goal orientation, their teams learn less when assigned learning goals.”

Franklin added that he and his fellow researchers also found that team commitment improved when leaders placed a stronger emphasis on learning goal orientation rather than on performance goal orientation. Goal Goalsorientation of leaders affects society as a whole because it is a large factor in everyday life, he said.
“Whether at work, in outside organizations, or even at home, it is important to take into consideration how your personality and your tendencies may affect those who you lead and collaborate with,” Franklin said. “Sometimes our goals do not necessarily align with subordinates, co-workers, and collaborators, which may have negative consequences if not checked.”
Though organizations typically use Big Five personality traits, and Meyers Briggs tests to understand employees during recruitment and training decisions, goal orientation may be a meaningful quasi-trait to test, Franklin said, because “it mirrors the achievement habits of people.”
At the Fox School, Franklin is pursuing his PhD in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resource Management and Organizational Behavior. He expects to complete the doctoral program in Spring 2019 and receive a faculty appointment in higher education thereafter.
Prior to his studies at the Fox School of Business, Franklin earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Florida A&M University. He also earned an MBA from Rice University, and a Master’s degree in Management from Texas A&M University.

–Mary Salisbury

Soojung Han
Soojung Han

“Most research projects in my field take a couple years, during which we go through a continuous process of testing, learning, and refining ideas that will ultimately make it into the paper.” Making it onto paper is exactly what Fox School of Business PhD student, Soojung Han, has been able to achieve in her distinguished field, Human Resources Management and Organizational Behavior. Han has been able to seize her opportunities to the fullest and continues to be an example of what Fox has to offer.

Han who has not has just one, but three papers accepted this summer, is pleased to be in the company of a school and department that is determined to bring the ultimate best out of its students. “Everything about Fox is designed to allow students the opportunity to focus wholly on producing research,” Han said.

Being in an environment that offers a strong support system has allowed Han to collaborate with faculty members and develop new material, while learning to reach agreements and ultimately find the best solutions. “The faculty here are especially top-notch. My mentor and co-author, Dr. Crystal Harold (Paul Anderson Research Fellow) not only trains me in producing quality research, but also takes a personal interest in my professional future,” Han explained.

Although Han has had experience with faculty here at Fox, she continues to broaden her research activity with other collaborators. She recently co-authored with students from various institutions, “How I Get My Way. A Meta-Analytic Review of Research on Influence Tactics,” which was published in the Leadership Quarterly. This particular paper investigates the moderating effectiveness of 11 influence tactics between supervisors and subordinates, and how this relationship responds to these various directions.

“Our results indicate that certain influence tactics could be more effective than others. However, it should be noticed that the effective strategies do not always guarantee good outcomes. Thus, understanding the relative differences on outcomes can guide individuals to select and use appropriate tactics to achieve their goals at the workplace,” Han said. The meta-analysis aspect of the research has allowed Han and her co-authors to delve deeper beyond the typically inconsistent results concerning this study.

“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such talented people on these projects, and I’m glad we have positive results to show for our efforts. I feel that the sense of accomplishment from these endeavors will further drive me to achieve in my future research work.” Han is in her 3rd year within the HROB department and with over four years of industry experience, she continues to make a mark for herself here at Temple’s Fox School of Business.

Sarah Diomande, SMC ‘18

Fox’s Ram Mudambi hosts NSF-sponsored iBEGIN Conference

Click here to view the December 2015 issue
Discussed in this issue:
• NSF iBegin Conference
• Regulating Emotions
• Social Media Branding

Named professors, lifetime achievement, honored at annual Research Roundtable ceremony


Faculty in this issue:
• Dr. Kose John
• Dr. David E. Jones
• Dr. Mitrabarun “MB” Sarkar
• Professor of Strategic Management Dr. Robert D. Hamilton III

Photo of Cassandra Reffner
Cassandra Reffner

For Cassandra Reffner, winning the Temple Analytics Challenge for a second straight year was about honing her visual storytelling skills one data set at a time.

“Graphic design isn’t just about making these things look nice, but also telling a story,” Reffner said.

A senior graphic design student from the Tyler School of Art, Reffner took home the $2,500 grand prize at the third annual Temple Analytics Challenge, held Nov. 16 in the MBA Commons at the Fox School of Business.

Organized by the Institute for Business and Information Technology (IBIT), the competition awards prizes totaling $10,000, from corporate members of IBIT and the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies at Temmple University. The Temple Analytics Challenge focuses on making sense of big data through visualization — a key component of data analytics cited by experts as a promising path to job opportunities.

This year, the Temple Analytics Challenge awarded 10 prizes totaling $10,000. The competition saw participation increase by 300 percent over the previous year, with 395 entries. Participating teams included 719 students from eight of Temple’s 17 schools and colleges, as well as students from the State University of New York and Cornell University. The finalists came from programs in the Tyler School of Art, the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Engineering, the School of Media and Communications, the College of Public Health, and the Fox School of Business.

“The Temple Analytics Challenge emphasizes the Fox School’s commitment to teaching and research in the various fields connected to big data,” said Dr. M. Moshe Porat, Dean of the Fox School of Business and the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management. “But big data and data visualization are academic components in which students across Temple University regularly engage. This truly was a university-wide competition.”

Corporate partners provided competitors with large sets of data that they must analyze and visualize in a way that is both innovative and accessible. This year’s partners included Merck Pharmaceuticals, QVC, and The Pennsylvania Ballet.

Photo of presentation
Cassandra Reffner’s presentation on The Pennsylvania Ballet earned her the grand prize at the Temple Analytics Challenge for a second consecutive year.

Reffner, who won the Temple Analytics Challenge in 2014, chose to work with the data from The Pennsylvania Ballet, saying she could see the visuals presented within the data set. In the Pennsylvania Ballet challenge, students had to conceptualize the best way for the company to attract new audience members.

“With our limited resources, we just don’t have the time or the staff to do this kind of imagining,” said David Gray, executive director of The Pennsylvania Ballet. “Having so many smart and creative people trying to help us address challenges is a godsend.”

To expand on the project’s proposal, Reffner scrolled through various mentions the company received on social media — from Tweets and hashtags to status updates — to see what about the company got people talking. She said was intrigued by the company’s position as a “19th-century product for a 21st-century audience,” and drafted a plan that took this value and social media’s talk-back feature to improve customer interaction. She suggested a redesign of The Pennsylvania Ballet’s website to respond on all devices, including desktops, smartphones, and tablets, so customers could interact with the ballet by any means necessary.

“The main thing I look for (in the Temple Analytics Challenge) is to see if I can solve the problem, to really step into their shoes to see what they want,” Reffner said.

Reffner and 19 other finalists went before a panel of judges comprised of industry leaders, including representatives from Lockheed Martin, Campbell’s Soup Company, Deloitte Consulting and AmerisourceBergen. The judges were impressed with the overall dedication the students brought to the challenge.

Reffner, who received employment interest from two companies based upon her presentation, reflected positively on how the challenge opened up opportunities to students from all majors and schools.

“This competition is not focused toward any specific major,” Reffner said. “It’s people from all over the place that entered the competition. That’s why I love the Temple Analytics Challenge.”

Photo of presentationBeyond The Pennsylvania Ballet challenge, student participants had the choice of two others. The Merck challenge tasked students with synthesizing data to show how a vaccine will best benefit world health. QVC provided data relating to product placement in various markets and asked students to show how this data could predict where it should next focus its attention.

“Data alone is just information. It’s usage to inspire change or action and turning it into competitive intelligence is where the value lies, and the Temple Analytics Challenge did just that,” said Maurice Whetstone, QVC’s Director of Enterprise Data Management.

“Analytics in business, and especially in healthcare, is an amazing lever toward gaining unique insight to improve business performance,” said Bill Stolte, the Executive Director of Merck’s IT Business Performance Analytics. “It is an honor to be actively engaged in the Temple Analytics Challenge, and it is remarkable to watch Temple University students rapidly self-organize and use data and visualizations in innovative ways to solve complex problems.”

Dr. David Jones, inaugural holder of the Jerome Fox Chair in Accounting, Taxation, and Financial Strategy
Dr. David Jones, inaugural holder of the Jerome Fox Chair in Accounting, Taxation, and Financial Strategy

The Fox School of Business at Temple University adds to its growing number of endowed chairs and professorships with the creation of the Jerome Fox Chair in Accounting, Taxation, and Financial Strategy.

This distinguished chair was created through a $2 million gift from Saul A. Fox, SMC ’75, in honor of his father, Jerome Fox. The late Jerome Fox was a World War II veteran, a certified public accountant, and the founder of the former Philadelphia accounting firm Gelrod Fox & Company. This chair is to be held by high-level practitioners of accounting, taxation and financial strategy, who hold the same zeal for these areas of academic focus as Fox did.

“My father was an accountant by trade, but he viewed a position as a high school history teacher as perhaps his highest calling,” Saul Fox said. “Though he chose a different career path, my father equally valued the accounting industry and the role of education in our society. The establishment of this distinguished chair at the Fox School of Business melds my father’s two lifelong passions and honors his memory as a successful accounting practitioner.”

Following an extensive global search, Dr. David E. Jones in July 2015 was appointed an Associate Professor of Accounting at the Fox School and the inaugural holder of the Jerome Fox Chair in Accounting, Taxation, and Financial Strategy.

With more than 35 years of public accounting experience, Jones has worked with Ernst & Young LLP as a tax partner in Atlanta, Orlando, Indianapolis and Cleveland. He became the U.S. National Tax Leader and Global CEO of the GEMS (Global Mobility) Tax Practice at Ernst & Young. He has significant Big Four managerial leadership and global tax experience at Ernst & Young in the U.S. Jones has served large SEC tax clients, individuals with high net worth and entrepreneurial ventures.

Jones, who has presented at regional or national conferences, conducts behavioral research on tax professionals, and legal tax research, especially on international and domestic tax topics. His research explores issues that impact taxpayers and tax professionals as well as tax policy matters of importance. He has published in academic and practice oriented journals.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Auburn University, a Master of Taxation degree from Georgia State University, and a Doctor of Management degree from Case Western Reserve University.

Saul Fox will visit Temple University’s Fox School of Business Wednesday, Nov. 18, for a Jerome Fox Chair Talk and Reception event, to be attended by Dr. Neil D. Theobald, Temple University President, and Dr. M. Moshe Porat, Dean of the Fox School.