Sometimes ideas for academic research can come from the unlikeliest of places. Like out of your earbuds.
Hilal Atasoy, assistant professor in the Department of Accounting at the Fox School, was hardly expecting to discover a subject that would lead to years of study while listening to a podcast, but that is exactly what happened.
“I was listening to a story about a cancer patient,” says Atasoy. In addition to being physically and emotionally difficult, having cancer can be costly. The patient explained that during her treatment she had moved and had to change hospitals and doctors several times because of her relocation and other reasons.
“She was saying how difficult it was to keep transferring her tests, results, procedures, and other records. She had to go through this ordeal again and again,” recalls Atasoy. Finally, the patient landed at a hospital with a good electronic health records (EHR) system, and she didn’t need to go to any extra trouble or expense anymore.
That got Atasoy thinking. Since the HITECH Act of 2009 made the migration of patient information from paper files to electronic health records mandatory, many studies have investigated whether this shift actually benefits hospitals, as electronic health records systems are costly to implement.
The results of previous research, particularly around healthcare costs, have been inconclusive. Studies point to the likelihood that costs actually go up—not down—as electronic health records systems are put into practice, at least for the individual hospital in question. But Atasoy’s research looks beyond the adopting hospital to the region surrounding it. “The question we’re asking in the study is whether the impacts of the electronic health records go beyond the adopting hospital.”
It’s common for someone to have a dermatologist at one hospital, get a mammogram at a different hospital, and see a primary care doctor affiliated with a yet a third institution, especially if that person lives in a city. When you factor in the costs at not only the individual hospital that adopted EHRs but also the costs at surrounding hospitals where there are shared patients, Atasoy has found that there is a marked cost-saving benefit after all. Estimates suggest that if one hospital in each area adopts an EHR system, it would add up to a net reduction of $18 billion in healthcare costs nationwide.
To conduct her research, Atasoy relied on several data sets. “We tracked information about the adoption of electronic health records systems at almost all the hospitals in the U.S. from 1998 to 2012,” she says. She also used Medicare data, census data, and HIMSS data (a dataset that comprises information about EHR use across the country). Atasoy and her team used statistical analysis software to interpret the numbers and come to their conclusions about the costs and benefits of EHR beyond the walls of any one hospital. Her research was published last year in the journal Management Science.
Atasoy notes that implications for her research extend beyond the healthcare sector. “It shows the importance of connections across different organizations. Businesses might be connected, for example, through shared customers,” she says. “Obviously, the firms are focused on their customers and their purchases and all the information they have on their customers right within their business, but there are many organizations that share customers or share suppliers. They have these connections.”
Her work on hospital-level data led into her current research, which focuses on patient-level data and seeks to identify the cost and quality of care benefits that could come with the widespread sharing of EHR between health institutions. “We’ve learned that only 20 percent of doctors use electronic health records, and what we’ve seen suggests that there are significant benefits to patients when doctors do use them,” says Atasoy. This seems to be especially true for patients living with chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes, or heart disease.
Atasoy hopes her research will help spark a discussion about the value of hassle-free information reciprocity at hospitals, something that, on a policy level, she believes needs to be incentivized. Just as she began to look at the bigger picture, viewing hospitals regionally as a group and not individually, viewing a patient’s multi-year health journey and not just a single procedure, she hopes hospital administrators will zoom out, too.
“One big problem with healthcare in the United States is that it’s very fragmented,” says Atasoy. Her work reveals that a hospital isn’t an island and that the free flow of information will ultimately benefit everyone’s bottom line.
This story was originally published in On the Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.
The Fox School is focused on making a positive impact on its students, community and the global business world. This focus can be seen as a through line across much of the school’s research, including the current interdisciplinary industrial ecology project by Daniel Isaacs, legal studies professor, Avner Ronen, civil and environmental engineering assistant professor and Vidya Sabbella, a current MBA student.
The project works to address a combination of interconnected desired outcomes that are global in scale and go beyond creating a sustainable supply of lithium. A primary goal of the team is to illustrate a practical application of industrial ecology for business systems in order to reduce wastes and serve as a basis for innovation and intergenerational justice.
“Business, technology, science and education should not be siloed. With broader educational opportunities like this one, environmental issues can be the drivers of innovation,” says Isaacs. “Students and leaders alike need to start thinking about business in terms of what their obligations to future generations should be.”
The Interdisciplinary Dream Team
Dan Isaacs, director of the Global MBA program, teaches business ethics, sustainability in business, corporate governance and more at the undergraduate and graduate levels. His research seeks to align economic incentives with ethical behavior.
Dr. Avner Ronen is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Temple University. His research interests include water and wastewater treatment, membrane separation process, nutrient recovery from wastewater and more.
Vidya Sabbella is currently pursuing an MBA in health sector management. She spent the majority of her career working as a pharmacist in India. When she moved to the U.S. and spent time volunteering at local hospitals, she became determined to pursue a career where she could help ensure efficient management practices for healthcare institutions.
They are working together in order to uncover whether or not the use of desalination, or the process that takes away mineral components from saline water, can replace traditional, more environmentally impactful methods of extracting lithium. This collaboration of business and science sets a new standard for how business schools can think about the future of the industry and the role that sustainability can play within it.
The Role of Lithium in the Modern World
Lithium is and will continue to be an invaluable resource for the U.S. and beyond. According to sources such a Mining.com and Bloomberg, lithium demand is expected to increase by 650% by 2027 from companies that produce batteries to power electric cars, laptops and other high-tech devices.
But why should society rethink the ways it is currently extracting lithium? Traditional lithium extraction methods have significant environmental impacts, such as water pollution and depletion, soil damage and air contamination. In contrast, lithium recovery from seawater has a negligible impact and uses naturally occurring resources. It also makes good business sense, as it would be more cost effective and energy-efficient for organizations that use lithium as part of their manufacturing processes.
Where Chemistry and Market Research Meet
If Ronen and Sabbella’s work on the chemistry side of the project is successful, the team will have created a new, sustainable method of extracting a resource whose value will only increase over time.
From there, Dan Isaacs and the Fox School will assist with the business side of the project, helping to commercialize lithium desalination. Together, Isaacs and Sabbella will conduct market analysis and develop a business plan.
The exercise presents a unique opportunity for Sabbella to combine her scientific past with her future in business. “Being a pharmacist and MBA candidate, I believe this is a perfect blend of my background qualifications and experience and my future as MBA graduate,” Sabbella says. “It’s a great opportunity to apply the concepts that I am learning every day at the Fox School to develop a business model. By working in the lab, I have a chance to utilize my chemistry knowledge.”
This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.
The spring semester was busy for the students for the Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program; the MAcc students used the past semester to learn about career management from Al Chiaradonna, visit Public Company Accounting Oversight Board and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and finalized their post-graduation employment plans.
Al Chiaradonna, a senior vice president at SEI and Temple University alumnus, presented during a MAcc Colloquium on Feb. 21 about century career management. He has spoken all over the world on topics ranging from industry dynamics and global talent management to leadership, business strategy, change management and work-life integration.
Speaking to the MAcc class, Al talked about his personal career journey and provided key career advice. He encouraged students to focus on learning opportunities and to chase experiences, not titles. He also discussed how the students must embrace technology as it is changing the working environment and allowing for more flexibility in the workplace. The empowering conversation was appreciated by the students, who asked many follow-up questions about managing their careers in accounting.
The following month, the MAcc class spent a full day Washington, D.C. visiting the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The students visited the offices of both organizations and heard about audit and regulatory issues from PCAOB and SEC representatives. This is the eighth visit by the Fox School MAcc program to these agencies.
The MAcc students graduate in September 2019 and are ready to enter the workforce. Nearly all students have secured jobs.
|Jonathan Angeline||Ernst & Young (EY)|
|Joseph Cannella||Kreischer Miller|
|Zaynub Cheema||PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)|
|Walter Chrobocinski||Veralon Partners|
|Bryan King||Grant Thornton|
|Trung (Tony) Le||PwC|
|Alamelu Mangai Sockalingam||RSM|
|Matthew Thompson||Baker Tilly|
|Xiqing (Claire) Xu||Deloitte|
|Wendolyn Yang||Mitchell & Titus|
Congratulations to the 2019 MAcc class! The next cohort starts in Fall 2019.
Greetings from Alter Hall! Here is the Spring 2019 Footnotes from Fox. What have students, faculty and our alumni been up to? We search out and dispense the news about department doings to loyal readers.
Probably still abuzz are the minds of attendees with warm memories from the Third Annual Accounting Achievement Awards dinner, held May 1, 2019 at The Lucy by Cescaphe. We hosted over 260 guests, including Temple University Provost JoAnne Epps, the Fox School Interim Dean Ron Anderson and most of the members of the Accounting Circle Executive Committee. This was both the most successful and most fun of the three of these events we’ve held. Six Fox alumni were recognized during the festivities. A story in the newsletter provides more revelations and photos.
Our MAcc students are at it again — earning top scores on the CPA Exam! This time it’s Valerie Brooks, Melissa Cameron and Colleen Diehl. Melissa, now an audit associate with Deloitte, says, “Having three of the fifteen top scorers in the state in our cohort is a testament to what we gained from the MAcc program.” Thanks for your apt acknowledgement.
Joshua Khavis, a 2019 Accounting PhD graduate, will joining the faculty at University at Buffalo SUNY in the fall after he defends his dissertation at the Fox School during the summer. Congratulations are due, Joshua — you’ve done us proud. Read more about his accomplishments within.
Rita Cheng, president of Northern Arizona University, in Flagstaff, Arizona, is another successful alumna from the department’s accounting PhD program. The Fox School recognized her this spring with its inaugural PhD Alumni Diamond Award. This and more stories await you within.
This is the 20th edition of Footnotes from Fox that I’ve signed off as Chairman. Having scored a score of newsletters, I am about to depart for a sabbatical year in 2019 – 2020. Elizabeth (Betsy) Gordon will begin as the new head of the Fox School Department of Accounting on July 1, 2019.
It’s been an honor to have led the Department of Accounting for 13 years. I am sure Betsy is capably prepared to don the mantle of leadership. There’s a story to come on her thoughts about and vision for the department.
I want to acknowledge my colleague Sheri Risler. She has been continuously helpful, nudging and urging in the right combination, and has been a glue that kept the production of this newsletter going for 10 years. I could not have done it without her!
As is ever the case, you get full disclosure when you read Footnotes from Fox.
Victor H. Gutierrez-Velez never expected his work to lead him to the topic of public health. His expertise lies in remote sensing science, analyzing data such as satellite images. “Every day, numerous satellite images are taken,” says Gutierrez-Velez. And the information drawn from these images has both academic and commercial applications.
For example, satellite images can help prescribe management, fertilization, irrigation, and other activities in precision agriculture, according to Gutierrez-Velez. They can help the insurance industry assess risks related to flooding or other natural disasters, or to verify crop insurance complains. Satellite imagery can allow energy companies to pinpoint the ideal location for solar panels. And this kind of data, it turns out, can even come in handy when it comes to fighting certain diseases.
To that end, partnering with colleagues with expertise in biology and public health, Gutierrez-Velez, assistant professor in the College of Liberal Arts, has recently been drawn to an unlikely research subject: mosquitoes. Specifically, the tiger mosquito (scientific name: aedes albopictus). What’s so interesting about this tiny, blood-sucking bug?
“It’s worrisome. They can spread the Zika virus and other dangerous diseases,” says Gutierrez-Velez.
In 2016 when the Zika pandemic caught his interest, mosquitoes dominated the headlines. Once thought to be limited to tropical and subtropical regions, the tiger mosquito had expanded its territory into most continents. Climate change plays a role, but these mosquitoes are also particularly aggressive. They’re among the 100 most invasive species in the world. In the 1980s, they were first spotted in the U.S. in Texas. Today, they reach as far north as Connecticut. Their presence in Pennsylvania remains an ongoing public health concern.
For his project, a recipient of the Office for the Vice President of Research‘s Targeted Grant Program and supported by the Data Science Institute housed at the Fox School, Gutierrez-Velez decided to look at multiple datasets, including climate data, information gathered from sampling for the presence of the tiger mosquito, land cover data, and census information. Gutierrez-Velez believes that with these and other datasets as inputs, machine learning and advanced algorithms can be used to predict the locations of tiger mosquito populations in advance of the season.
One of the most interesting possible findings of this research is that the tiger mosquito is less of a rural dweller than previously thought. “What we’re finding contradicts conventional wisdom about where these mosquitoes live. They are becoming domesticated animals. They prefer to be where lots of humans are living closely together—in cities. Because they love our blood,” says Gutierrez-Velez.
Scientific curiosity led Gutierrez-Velez to census data, which is not necessarily an obvious source of information to predict the presence or absence of a small flying bug. “If they feed on humans, human behavior should have something to do with it,” he says. And it does seem like including this data makes for a more accurate prediction about where the mosquitoes will go next.
Gutierrez-Velez’s ultimate goal for the project is to perfect a reliable working model that can be used to predict the upcoming mosquito season. Knowing that a particularly bad mosquito season is about to start will give officials the opportunity to plan in advance.
For example, the most affected areas can be targeted for treatment before the problem becomes unmanageable. Residents could be strongly cautioned in advance of the season to deal with housing-related conditions, such as places that collect standing water, which act as mosquito breeding areas. In the event that mosquitoes are spreading Zika or another virus, these protections could even save lives.
“There’s a lot we can do if we have a model that can say, ‘Hey, it’s going to be a bad year for mosquitoes, get ready,’” says Gutierrez-Velez.
This story was originally published in On the Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.
In the Winter 2018 issue of Fox Focus, readers were introduced to a group of Fox students who were among the first to participate in the school’s new and improved Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Core Curriculum. The curriculum was redesigned with innovation in mind and focuses on topics such as critical thinking, communication and quantitative reasoning skills.
Fox undergraduate students use these skills every day. The editorial team checked in with Nasir Mack, Meredith Orme and Robert Zurzolo to see what has changed for each of them in the last year.
Nasir Mack, a business management major, has taken on more leadership roles in his extracurricular activities. He is now the strategic partnership coordinator of the Fox Student Philanthropic Society, and he is involved with the Dean’s Student Advisory Council, which is a diverse group of students working shape the school’s culture. He is also starting to explore whether he wants to major or minor in something that will build upon his creative, artistic side, such as Marketing.
“Last year, I was constantly grinding away and pushing for more and more. Now that I am more comfortable in myself and my education, I am learning to stride and pace myself,” Mack says.
Meredith Orme, now double majoring in accounting and legal studies, is involved with student professional organizations (SPOs) on campus and is an intern for the Philadelphia Flyers. Since her freshman year, Orme discovered that she is interested in a career in forensic accounting.
“While my classes have taught me a lot, I think the most important skill I have learned is how to present myself,” Orme says. “I am much more sure of myself and confident in who I am and what I want. I am not only more confident in how I present myself, but in my set of skills. I’ve also learned how to communicate effectively and how to be much more straightforward.”
Robert Zurzolo, after changing his major a few times over the course of the last year, decided on double majoring in finance and accounting in order to pursue a career in investment banking or private equity. Currently, Zurzolo is studying abroad at Temple University’s campus in Rome, Italy. In addition to attending classes and exploring Europe, he has gotten back to his hobby of playing soccer.
“I feel that I have grown as a student; I take more pride in my assignments,” he says. “During my time abroad I have become more appreciative of the opportunities that I have been given, both here and back at home, and it has also reaffirmed my desire to travel as much as possible in the future.”
This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.
The 2018-2019 academic year was a transformative one. It saw the establishment of programs including a flexible 30-credit Master of Science in Statistics and Data Science, and the opening of centers like the Fischer-Shain Center for Financial Services. The school also embarked on a journey of strategic reinvention in order to set the stage for the future of the Fox School.
Since the strategic planning process began, the Fox School community has been part of the process. The Strategic Planning Task Force (SPTF) engaged students, faculty and staff via in-person activities and events and alumni via virtual town halls. All of these groups were surveyed and participated in focus groups in order to share their ideas and expectations for the mission, vision, culture, values and goals for the school.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
“It’s really an exciting time to be a part of Fox,” says Meredith Okenquist, director of the alumni career and professional development for the Center for Student Professional Development (CSPD). Okenquist is also a member of the SPTF and a part-time MBA alumna. “There has been a tremendous effort to really assess where we have been in the past as a school, where we are currently and how we are going to move forward.”
“These declarations are a cornerstone in the foundation we are building for the future of our school,” says Interim Dean Ronald Anderson. “This process of identifying the important qualities of an institution allows us to build our future from the ground up. With a defined vision and mission guided by our culture and values, we can create a significant and substantial set of goals to pursue in our next five to seven years.”
It is the culmination of all of these activities that serve as the basis for the Fox School’s Strategic Declarations:
To transform students’ lives, develop leaders and impact our local and global communities through excellence and innovation in education and research.
The Fox School of Business transforms our students into socially responsible professionals and leaders, through engagement with Fox communities committed to lifelong learning, service and the advancement of management practice.
The Fox School of Business is home to a community focused on excellence in the creation, application and dissemination of knowledge. The Fox School thrives on collegiality, collaboration and competition, guided by a strong sense of ethics and trust. We foster transparency, open communication and inclusion. Grounded in the power of our values, we combine thought leadership with an entrepreneurial spirit to develop future leaders. We reward innovation and encourage everyone to be forward-thinking, entrepreneurial, action-oriented and empowered. Our community is strong, diverse, connected and proud.
Values define the principles that guide expected behavior in an organization. Our shared values guide our actions and describe how we behave in the world.
These values are the underpinning of our culture and the essence of our mission.
- Collaboration: We work together to achieve common objectives, and we recognize, reward and encourage cross-disciplinary efforts.
- Diversity and Inclusion: We encourage and respect diversity in all forms and perspectives, and we create an inclusive, welcoming environment where everyone is emboldened to reach their full potential.
- Empowerment: We support, recognize and reward people by providing them with the tools and resources they need to learn, develop and succeed. In so doing, we challenge and encourage one another to persevere and excel in these pursuits.
- Ethics and Integrity: We create an atmosphere where trust, honesty and transparency are expected, valued and recognized.
- Innovation: We embrace innovative thinking, unique action and challenging norms while seeking solutions that solve problems and have a positive impact on our community.
More information about the strategic plan will be unveiled this summer. Stay tuned!
A personalized touch can make all the difference.
When you log into Amazon, Netflix, or Facebook, one of the first things you see are recommendations for products, shows, or friends you may know—all based on things you have already bought, watched, or liked.
Recommender systems have eliminated the time-consuming effort of understanding and anticipating what exactly users want, sometimes before they know they want it. Using vast collections of detailed data points, data scientists can create a trail of digital breadcrumbs, which follows Internet users as each sale, search, and interaction becomes part of an algorithm for new suggestions. These platforms can predict and encourage your next shopping sprees, binges, and bucket lists.
In the private sector, companies have long been using technology-enhanced learning in order to proactively suggest and anticipate their consumers’ choices. But how can these mechanisms be most effectively applied to academia?
“We have to learn something new every day,” says Dr. Konstantin Bauman, assistant professor in the Management Information Systems (MIS) Department at the Fox School of Business. “With the traditional path, we go to university, take some courses, meet with the instructor once a week, and go to lectures. But today, there are many different types of tools and materials available online that are able to educate large groups in a personalized and direct way.”
Educational companies like Coursera, Lynda.com and the Khan Academy already use recommender systems to suggest courses their users may like, based on their history. Bauman, however, wanted to know whether personalized e-learning can help students struggling to comprehend a particular subject.
“Education is one important application of recommender systems for society to target materials for specific learning paths,” says Bauman.
Bauman, along with co-author Alexander Tuzhilin of New York University’s Stern School of Business, examined the personalized e-learning systems approach with the help of a tuition-free online university. By using curricula from 42 classes and test results from 910 students over three semesters, the researchers created a system to pinpoint—and address—specific areas within a student’s comprehension that needed improvement.
The team reported their findings in the paper, “Recommending Remedial Learning Materials to Students by Filling Their Knowledge Gaps,” which was published in MIS Quarterly in 2018.
In this real-life experiment throughout the 2014-2015 academic year, Bauman’s team identified where students’ knowledge waned and provided materials to supplement these gaps. “Instead of revising the entire lesson, we provided catered lessons to fill those gaps,” says Bauman.
The students had diverse backgrounds, from both the United States and developing countries, and studied in a variety of programs, from business to computer science to art history. The researchers split the students into three groups: a control group that received no recommendations, a group that received non-personalized recommendations, and a group that received recommendations tailored to the individual student.
Bauman and his team created taxonomies that mapped all the topics covered within a specific course, built a library of remedial learning materials, and matched test questions with course topics. After analyzing test scores, the researchers identified the students’ weaknesses. The students in the non-personalized group received generic recommendations for the course, while students in the personalized group received remedial materials for specific topics that were identified via testing.
“First, we showed that most of the students who received our recommendations found them relevant and helpful,” says Bauman. Second, the “average” students, who received a test score between 70 and 90 in previously taken courses, were most affected by personalized recommendations. “These students improved their performance on the final exams significantly more, in comparison to their prior performance before they received personalized recommendations than the students from the control group.” For this subset of students, the personalized group received an average grade of 83.22 in their final exams, while the control group scored an average of 79.39.
The study received limited interactions with students who were classified as “falling behind” (those whose previous grade averages were below 70) as only six students who received personalized recommendations actually clicked on the materials. Similarly, students who were “excellent” (with average grades above 90) were less likely to need remedial lessons.
Bauman found that, by determining specific materials needed to supplement their understanding, students saved time and energy in preparation for their exams.
“Learning systems have the capability of picking up patterns and behaviors that can clearly predict necessary methods that are worthwhile and timely,” says Bauman. For students and professors, time that may be used to teach a specific lesson can be accomplished through recommender systems, saving more time for interactions that encourage new ideas and understandings.
One thing is for sure—when it’s time to come back for more, a new suggestion will be waiting.
This story was originally published in On the Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.
In the early ’80s, John Milligan, BBA ’75, faced a choice: remain in a dead-end job or set out on his own. Milligan decided to move on, build his own diverse accounting firm and create opportunities for minorities. over 30 years later, his business Milligan & Company LLC is the largest minority-owned CPA firm in the Philadelphia region and a champion for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
As a teen in Norristown, PA, Milligan never thought about owning a business or attending college. He dropped out of high school after 10th grade and joined the Navy, serving for four years. After two years of junior college in California, Milligan returned to the Philadelphia area. On the recommendation of a friend, he enrolled at Temple University.
Being one of the few students of color in his classes, he felt out of place at school but he received support and guidance from his professors. They encouraged him to consider public accounting, connected him with employers and coached him through interviews. Milligan graduated magna cum laude with an offer from Coopers & Lybrand, the largest accounting firm in the city at that time.
Milligan left Coopers & Lybrand after nine years when it became apparent that leadership was not ready to make an African American a partner at the firm. However, his experiences there were formative. Not only did he learn the basics of public accounting and auditing, but he also learned about entrepreneurship and running small businesses.
“I had a mentor [Bruce Cohen] at Coopers & Lybrand who really helped me focus not only on becoming a good auditor but also being a good entrepreneur,” says Milligan. “So when I made my decision to leave, that experience and that mentoring really helped me prepare to start my own CPA firm.”
With his staffing choices, business practices and outside endeavors, Milligan has surpassed his initial goal to establish a more diverse accounting firm. Today, approximately 50 percent of Milligan & Company’s employees are minorities and 75 percent of the employees are women. He has made a commitment to support minority-owned businesses in his personal and professional life.
One of the most important decisions he made was to get involved in government programs for small businesses and work with government agencies. Milligan & Company was, for a number of years, a member of the Small Business Administration’s 8(A) Business Development Program. This program offers a broad scope of assistance to firms that are owned and controlled at least 51 percent by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. After outgrowing the program, Milligan’s company now provides assistance to other businesses seeking 8(A) certification.
Milligan & Company managed the Philadelphia Minority Business Development Center for eighteen years. “That was very rewarding,” he says. “We helped literally hundreds of businesses with their business and marketing plans, and get bank loans.”
Milligan also created a nonprofit, the Greater Philadelphia Minority Business Strategic Alliance (GPMBA), a network of twenty organizations dedicated to promoting the growth of minority business enterprises with shared resources and collaboration. While GPMBA is no longer operational, one of their most important partnerships remains; Milligan sponsors SCORE, a network of expert business mentors, by providing them with office space in Center City.
Milligan’s interest in community service isn’t limited to his work with entrepreneurs and small businesses. He has served on the boards of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Norristown Area School District Education Foundation, and Montgomery Hospital in Norristown. He is currently the president of the Greater Norristown NAACP. The Fox School Department of Accounting will honor John Milligan with the Community Service Award at the 2019 Accounting Achievement Awards.
“It’s rewarding to be able to have an impact on people and their lives and know somehow you helped other people reach their full potential.”
This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.
“For me, this is not just an opportunity to flesh out a business venture,” says graduating senior Daniel Couser. “I’m working to really find a solution to a problem that I’ve seen so many people struggle with.”
The problem: Anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults ages 18 and older. Couser, an entrepreneurship and innovation management major, is currently developing a device that has the potential to provide relief for 18.1% of the population every year.
“A friend I grew up with had terrible anxiety. It was then that I realized what an interruption this disorder can be in someone’s life—the physical manifestations, the emotional toll,” he says. “I found that there weren’t really options on the market to combat anxiety other than medication and breathing techniques.”
Couser is the CEO and founder of Kovarvic LLC, a medical technology company that designs tools to manage cognitive disorders like anxiety. The company’s flagship product is CALM, a handheld device that uses a series of vibrations to relieve anxiety. After learning about research that explored the potential of using vibrations, electrotherapy or light can stimulate the brain to thwart fight-or-flight impulses.
Over the course of about 18 months, Couser began working with business advisors, medical technology companies and a consumer device company to discuss the feasibility of his new idea. He also partnered with the Blackstone LaunchPad at Temple, an organization that helps students get their inventions and companies off the ground, and CALM began to take shape.
Then, in 2018, his pitch for CALM won the undergraduate track of the Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, an annual business-plan competition hosted at the Fox School of Business. The process of working with the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) was tremendously helpful for Couser. He explains that the IEI team helped him deconstruct his ideas to build them up bigger and better, and exposed him to a vast and lively entrepreneurial network.
“On top of the prize money, it added credibility to my company and help to legitimize my idea,” he says.
After graduation, Couser will work on Kovarvic LLC and CALM full-time. The team is in the middle of a clinical trial for CALM, and he is continuing to research and beta test the technical as well as the usability of the product.
“I plan to continue the long, full, rewarding days building out CALM,” says Couser.
The Class of 2019 from the Fox School is full of high achievers. Jonathan Huynh is one of them, but he took a path unique to undergraduate students—a deep dive into research.
“I have always been purpose-driven,” says Huynh. “The education I’ve received at Fox has constantly challenged me to delve deeper into concepts and ideas and look at them from an out-of-the-box perspective.”
Huynh is a part of the first graduating class of undergraduate students with a Statistical Science and Data Analytics (SSDA) major at the Fox School. Looking back at his journey, “I actually started out in actuarial science, but ultimately got drawn to [this program],” says Huynh. “I liked the idea of being able to gain quantitative and analytics skills to translate large data sets into meaningful solutions.”
Dr. Pallavi Chitturi, deputy chair of the Statistical Science Department, says that the new undergraduate major in Statistical Science and Data Analytics is highly rigorous. “Students get a solid foundation in statistical methods, programming languages and statistical computing, which is why the major is gaining popularity among students and employers alike,” says Chitturi.
It is rare to see an undergraduate student so deeply involved in high-quality research. “My first exposure to research was through Dr. Robert Pred, the academic director of the Fox Business Honors program,” says Huynh. ”My friend and I did an independent research project over the summer of 2017 and Dr. Pred helped set us up with an advisor to oversee our research.”
Since then, Huynh became involved with data science research projects at Temple’s College of Public Health. One of the ongoing projects that Huynh is working on compares the difference between the cost to patients and their outcomes at the Temple University Hospital versus other hospitals in the area. “Dr. Michael Halpern, an associate professor in the College of Public Health, reached out to us as they were looking for a research assistant with strong statistical skills and Jonathan was a perfect fit,” says Chitturi, who presented Huynh with this opportunity. “Dr. Halpern was so impressed by the quality of his work that he later hired another student from the SSDA major.”
Huynh largely attributes his early success to the well-designed and differentiated curriculum at the Fox School. “I’ve seen how beneficial it is to have technical skills backed by an understanding of business for courses in data science,” Huynh says. “It allows you to be at the intersection of knowing how to comfortably work with data to drive business decisions–a skill that recruiters highly value.”
Huynh plans on pursuing a master’s degree in the near future and is looking at specialized fields of data science such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. When asked if a doctorate in data science is in the cards, Huynh says he believes education is a matter of continuous learning. “Even if I don’t pursue formal education [like a PhD], I will always be self-learning… and keeping up-to-date with the latest technologies,” says Huynh.
Huynh‘s ultimate goal is to run a startup that uses data science to solve important problems that have the potential to improve the world. “I have always had entrepreneurial aspirations,” says Huynh. “The connections that I have made at Fox and the experiential learning opportunities I’ve had here have really shaped my perspectives and prepared me to achieve these goals.” He has already started on this journey, having participated in 2019 Be Your Own Boss Bowl ® pitch competition and winning the “Crowd Favorite” award.
As of now, Huynh is all set to begin his foray into the corporate world as a Business Technology Analyst at Deloitte in the Government and Public Sector practice. Huynh says, “The thing I am most excited about is to be able to make a real impact in the everyday lives of people, as I will be working on projects with government agencies to make the lives of people easier.”
Learn more about programs in the Department of Statistical Science.
Graduating from college is a time of excitement, anticipation and anxiety for many. Completing a degree is an achievement to celebrate, and the Class of 2019 will do just that at commencement on May 9 in the Liacouras Center. They will be surrounded by their friends, family, classmates and professors that helped make success a possibility for each of them.
Hundreds of undergraduate students will be receiving BBA’s from the Fox School. To get in the spirit of the season, we caught up with a few graduating seniors to discuss their experiences at the Fox School and what’s next.
Major: Marketing and Supply Chain Management
SPO: Temple University’s Supply Chain Management Association (TU-SCA)
New job: Associate Business Consultant for JDA Software in Dallas, TX
What’s next for Brooke: After graduation, Brooke will be traveling a bit before starting her new job. In June, she will visit Portland with her family. Then, Brooke plans to take a road trip down to her new home in Dallas, exploring the U.S. on her way.
In her position as an associate business consultant, she is part of a one and a half year program where she will work on a variety of projects across diverse industries. After that, if she decides that consulting is right for her, her options for relocation are nearly limitless with JDA Software. If not, Brooke will utilize her network and connections to find the right industry for her. Mainly, Brooke plans to continuously learn and grow as a business professional.
Advice for future Fox students: “Get involved early on. Find what you love to do, and always express a passion about it,” she says. “During interviews and networking opportunities, being able to express and articulate passion sets you apart from the rest.”
Major: Management Information Systems
SPO: Association for Information Systems (AIS)
New job: Risk Advisory Staff at Ernst & Young
Andrea’s experiences at the Fox School and plans for her future: As a junior, Andrea joined the Events Committee for AIS, where she helped plan a host of social and community service events. She also participated in the Data Analytics Competition and the AIS National Case Competition and was selected as a finalist for both awards.
She later presented her case study at the AIS Student Chapter Leadership Conference at the University of Texas, Dallas and won third place for the competition. This year, Temple is hosting the conference, and she was a member of the committee that planned and selected proposals for workshops and panels at the conference.
After graduation, Andrea accepted a full-time position as a Risk Advisory Staff at Ernst & Young.
“The Center for Student Professional Development (CSPD) has helped me greatly in my professional journey,” she says. “I attended everything I could: Professional workshops, career fairs, leadership panels and coffee chats, to network and learn more about specific careers that were calling to me until I decided I wanted to do consulting.”
Major: Actuarial Science
Volunteer organization: Big Brother Big Sisters of America
New job: Actuarial Associate at Prudential Financial
Georges’s life at the Fox School and the role of social responsibility: The highlight of Georges’s time at Temple University was being a Big Brother through the Big Brother Big Sisters of America program. With his mentee, George explored his aspirations and fears, discovered what he wanted for his future and learned the importance of social responsibility. As George embarks on the next stage of his career as an actuarial associate at Prudential Financial, his Little Brother is in high school working toward his goal of being a writer.
“At the start of my journey at Fox, a degree in Actuarial Science seemed like a bold move because, until then, I had nothing but the Internet and my love for mathematics to guide me through a future in this obscure field,” he says. “At that time, success seemed improbable. Yet, in a few weeks, I will start my career as an actuarial associate in a Fortune 100 company.”
SPO: American Marketing Association (AMA)
New job: Marketing Associate at SRS Distribution
Experience Getting CSPD’d: The first in his family to attend college, Cesar was treading new territory as a freshman at the Fox School. He received support from the Fox community and utilized the services provided at CSPD to help with professional development. As a member of AMA, Cesar was able to attend various workshops and guest speaker events that enhanced his knowledge of business.
What’s next for Cesar: By attending Fall Connection, an event hosted by CSPD that links Fox students with business professionals, he was able to meet with his future employer. After graduation, Cesar will start his career at SRS Distribution and is excited to join the ranks of the thriving community of Temple University alumni.
We wish these students and the entire Class of 2019 good luck as they embark on the next phase of their careers or education!
Change doesn’t happen overnight, especially in education.
For years, academics and business executives alike have questioned whether the insights from business school research conducted are getting into the hands of those who need it. The debate about “rigor versus relevance” is age-old. While the answer may seem simple, the process of getting there is complex.
The Fox School of Business is committed to pushing this conversation forward. On Friday, March 29, the Fox School’s Translational Research Center (TRC) hosted the 2019 Impact Summit, bringing together deans, faculty and students from across disciplines and parts of the world to determine how schools can move the needle of impact in tangible ways.
The attendees sought to answer the question: How can business school leadership change the way research is conceived, produced and implemented to prioritize impact?
These are five lessons business school leaders can apply:
1. Start at the top. “It takes time to re-engineer a school at a systems level,” said Tarun Khanna, a professor at the Harvard Business School. However, a top-down perspective is key to encouraging institutional change.
Jerry Davis, associate dean at the Ross School of Business, highlighted the University of Michigan’s experiments with the promotion process. By making research impact a more significant part of an associate professor’s evaluation, he advised, deans can use promotion structures to affect change in the way their faculty conduct research. Getting top business schools across the country to agree on a new evaluation structure would be even more influential.
2. Instill impact’s importance early. The attendees also discussed tackling the issue of impact from the opposite side—starting with junior faculty and doctoral students. Elizabeth Cowley, deputy dean of the University of Syndey, said that in Australia, “faculty are encouraged to build a narrative of the long-term impact [they] have had on some sector of society.” Attendees agreed, remarking on the importance of letting junior faculty members define for themselves how they would want to make an impact and develop a strategy based on that objective. With doctoral students, the starting point should be their research questions—advisors should ask if it is grounded in a real-life phenomenon and has relevance in the business world.
3. Systematically engage with business. “Business leaders tend to look at our schools primarily as labor markets for sourcing the MBAs and business graduates,” said Joanne Li, dean of the business school at Florida International University. “We need to help them recognize us as knowledge markets as well. We are able to produce expert knowledge vital for their business growth and survival.”
Brent Beardsley, the chief strategy officer at Vanguard, talked about the value of an advisory board made up of executives, entrepreneurs and academics. “That mix is really rich,” he said. “This is a lab outside of the walls of Vanguard’s large institution that can get out in front of market trends and themes.”
Participants championed the creation of a brokerage platform between companies and universities that could connect those who have real problems to those working on practical solutions. Simple activities like business sabbaticals for faculty, corporate engagement in research projects and programs like Fox Management Consulting can help faculty to better define their research questions.
4. Use teaching as a tool. One speaker suggests a change in vocabulary to underscore the importance of teaching. “We shouldn’t be referring to a ‘teaching load,’ said Gautam Ahuja of SC Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. “It’s not a load, it’s a tool.” Academic leadership can encourage faculty to step into the shoes of learners, focus on practical insights in the classrooms and foster intellectual questions with relevance. Stronger connections to industry, through practitioner conferences, relationships with practice faculty and co-teaching with executives can also benefit classroom outcomes.
5. Be a community hub. Business schools will also benefit from a stronger community connection. “We should be known by the community where they can come to get ideas,” said Will Mitchell, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Attendees brainstormed ways to make research more accessible but noted that faculty will need different reward structures and training to bring that to fruition. Ideas like three-minute presentations or one-page summaries of academic papers can help get ideas out of academia and into the real world.
Ronald Anderson, interim dean of the Fox School, remarked at the end of the day that a lot was learned. “Disruption is going to have to be part of the process,” he said. “Technology and innovation are changing higher education, and research is going to have to address that.”
The event, a follow-up to the 2018 Editors’ Summit, is part of a series of initiatives by the TRC to change how both academics and practitioners view business research. Other activities have included the TRC’s Seminar Series, which invites executives to share their viewpoints on faculty research presentations, and case writing workshops, which encourage faculty members to learn and perfect their skills in writing and submitting teaching cases for publication.
Learn more about the Fox School’s Translational Research Center.
The Center Creates a Financial Services Concentration for Students at the Fox School of Business
PHILADELPHIA—Temple University’s Fox School of Business is adding a new academic program for students interested in banking that will create scholarship opportunities, a case study competition and new research opportunities following an endowment by John Shain, BBA ’73, chair of the school’s board of visitors.
The Fischer-Shain Center for Financial Services opened Monday, April 29 in Alter Hall at the University’s Main Campus with a formal ribbon-cutting involving members of the finance department, Shain and his wife, Melanie, and Janice Fischer, widow of Gerald Fischer, a long-time finance professor at the business school. Alyson Fischer Amsterdam, Janice and Gerald Fischer’s daughter, and other family members were also in attendance at the event.
The Center will fund a concentration on financial services for finance majors, engage speakers and conference participants from the industry and establish a regional and national network in the financial service market. About half of all Fox School undergraduate students majoring in finance work in the financial services industry. The Center will empower them to enter the market with class work, programs and events centered on the financial services sector.
“My hope is that we can create academic programming across the whole Philadelphia region for the banking industry,” says John Shain. “This will get our students prepared so they can start their careers with certification, training and with experienced skills to enter the financial services marketplace.”
“The Center will benefit our students as they look to further their careers in financial services, but it will do much more than that,” says Jonathan Scott, chair of the Fox School’s Department of Finance. “The center will provide an opportunity for faculty at the Fox School to conduct innovative, thoughtful research that will inform the financial services industry and the business world.”
In addition to research, the endowment funds a financial services advisory board to serve as an interface between industry professionals and students and alumni, and help to evolve the curriculum to match the changes in the industry. The program will also partner with the Conference of State Banking Supervisors to create a community banking case study that gives students an experiential learning component and a networking opportunity.
“Gerald Fischer was really important to me as both a teacher and mentor,” says Shain. “He taught me about banking and introduced me to computers and financial analysis and put me in a position to imagine what might be possible with new technology continuously changing industry.”
Shain was a research assistant for Gerald Fischer, a long-time finance professor at the Fox School in the 1970s as Fischer examined the possibilities for computer use in the financial sector. Fischer passed away in 2006.
“Professor Fischer was an important person in the history of our finance program,” says Ronald Anderson, interim dean of the Fox School of Business and the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management. “He was involved in one of the earliest incarnations of advanced computer research at the school. John Shain and Gerald Fischer were at the forefront of what is now a global industry, and now their names are the foundation for the next generation of students entering the financial services market.”
About the Fox School of Business
Temple University’s Fox School of Business is the largest, most comprehensive business school in the Philadelphia region and among the largest in the world, with more than 9,000 students, 220 full-time faculty and 60,000 alumni around the globe. The Fox School has a proud tradition of delivering innovative, entrepreneurial programs for the past 100 years. With facilities that provide access to market-leading technologies, the school fosters a collaborative and creative learning environment. Coupled with its leading student services, the Fox School ensures that its graduates are fully prepared to enter the real-world job market.
Another semester has just about ticked over since the last chair’s message from December. As May begins, there is a great deal of excitement in the air. Seniors are getting ready to graduate, faculty are getting final projects and exams graded (and getting ready for the summer!)—and it is an opportune time to pause and look back over the past academic year, as well as to look ahead at what’s in store for next year.
Foremost in my mind is the incredible achievement by our AMA Student Chapter, which just recently was selected as the number one overall student chapter (out of 390) at the 2019 AMA International Collegiate Conference in New Orleans. Our Chapter won seven awards altogether and was the talk of the conference. Congratulations to everyone in our fabulous AMA Chapter! Also, congratulations and many thanks to Dr. Craig Atwater, our AMA Faculty Advisor, as well as faculty co-advisors Drew Allmond and Jim Thompson.
As many of you are aware, 2019 is a pivotal year for the Fox School. Interim Dean Ronald Anderson has convened a Strategic Planning Task Force to set our priorities and chart our direction for the future of the school. Concordant with that, Dean Anderson has asked me to conduct a similar exercise for our Marketing and Supply Chain Management Department. This effort comes on the heels of an external review that was conducted by faculty and deans from Rutgers, the University of Delaware and the University of Washington. We look forward to receiving the report from the review team and to begin to implement some of their suggestions to strengthen our programs and our impact.
This spring we are in the process of completing a successful hiring campaign: We expect to welcome two new faculty members for Fall 2019, one in operations and supply chain management and one in quantitative marketing. These faculty members will provide a serious boost to those two important areas.
Finally, every year we have arrivals, departures and congratulatory news as well. This month we will host a goodbye reception for former department chair and long-time professor Dr. Michael Smith. We will miss you Mike! We are also sorry to say goodbye to Dr. Angelika Dimoka, who will be joining the University of Houston this summer. On a different note, I would like to congratulate Professor Katie Gerst on her appointment to be the Fox School’s next director of our Honors Program.
I’d like to wish everyone a great summer in whatever you do: Relaxing, traveling, getting sand in your shoes or even getting in some teaching, learning or research. Whatever you get done, let’s look forward to hitting the Fall with some recharged batteries!