5 Fox students and alumni redefining leadership

Associated image with three Fox School alumni
Jannatul Naima, Ryan Rist and Tomi Jones

Modern leadership manifests in seeing opportunity where others cannot. Today’s leaders choose to zig while others zag. They empower others, lifting as they climb. They are agile and creative, adept at solving problems.

They’re also scarce. According to a 2016 report, more than 56 percent of U.S. executives say leadership required to address their companies’ most pressing needs was absent. And only 7 percent of those surveyed say their companies had established fast-track leadership programs catered to the next generation of leaders.

The Fox School is stemming that trend. This year, the school launched the Fox Leadership Development Program (FLDP) to strengthen the competencies in graduating seniors that are most sought after by leading companies. FLDP aims to enhance those skills through a yearlong programming schedule required of all Fox students.

“Our goal through this program,” says assistant dean Charles Allen, “is to enhance our students’ overall experiences at Fox and, as we have for 100 years, better prepare them for the eventual transition from leaders in the classroom to leaders in the workforce.”

Sometimes, they don’t have to wait even that long. Here are five Fox School students and recent graduates proving there’s no cookie-cutter for leadership. 

They Make An Impact

Last summer, one week separated the landfalls of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico. The hurricanes claimed more than 100 lives and created $100 billion in damages. Ivan Cardona, a current student pursuing an executive doctorate in business administration (DBA), witnessed the devastation generated by the hurricanes, including the loss of his marketing business. But the tragedy didn’t break his resolve.

Immediately, he sought support for his country— freshwater, food, healthcare, and access to physicians, among other resources. He tapped his network, including others enrolled in the Fox Executive Doctorate in Business Administration program, to make that possible.

Cardona led philanthropic efforts to bring resources to Puerto Rico. He collected and distributed food to 2,300 families on Thanksgiving, using his trips to the U.S. for bi-monthly Executive DBA residencies, as well as chances to create contacts with folks who could lend assistance. He repeated his efforts in December, helping to hand out presents to more than 2,700 children at Christmas. His mission work focused on some of the island’s most affected municipalities, those that still lack access to freshwater and electricity.

Recently, Cardona and others distributed more than 2,000 solar lamps, as well as hand-cranked washing machines, to residents who are still without water and electricity.

“I’m not a hero,” Cardona says. “But when you see that, you start thinking, ‘If I leave, where are these people going to find water? Where are these people going to find food or how are they going to take care of their babies?’”

The work is not over, for Cardona and his home country.

They Give Back 

Jannatul Naima, BBA ’18, is a first-generation college student, which means her experience doesn’t necessarily look like everyone else’s. She pursued her undergraduate degree, managed family responsibilities at home, led two student organizations and held down a position in the Fox School’s Office of the Dean.

“My parents, like most immigrants, place value on education,” says Naima. “My mother and my father each work 60 to 70 hours a week. They have always said they will struggle so that my siblings and I won’t have to know struggle. To them, you work hard to get where you need to be in life.”

Her strong work ethic is paying off. In May, Naima earned an International Business degree with a concentration in Finance. She accepted entry into a two-year leadership development program at JPMorgan Chase, where she will rotate between roles in project management, process improvement, risk and control, and analytics. This presents an exciting future for Naima—at JPMorgan Chase and beyond.

Thanks to her success, Naima wants to give back. She found volunteer opportunities through Feed Philly and held positions in two student organizations: The Muslimah Project, a women’s empowerment organization that combats Islamophobia and provides a safe space for women of all cultures; and Temple’s chapter of United Muslim Relief, through which she raised thousands of dollars to aid Philadelphia-based refugees and build a maternity ward in Nigeria.

“Even as a young girl, I set high expectations,” Naima says. “It’s normal for me to be as involved with my school, my community, and my family. It’s all part of my goal to give back to my family and give back to the community in more ways than one.”

They Adapt 

Self-starter. Creative content consultant. Haircare influencer. These terms all apply to Tomi Jones, BBA ’18. So does this one: Gig worker, someone who secures gig or contract work.

Jones’ gig work is her life’s work. She monetized her YouTube channel, earning enough to offset a few educational expenses and develop a following of more than 90,000 subscribers along the way. She also works as a creative content consultant who helps firms and brands develop, create, and produce digital stories.

Jones first accepted contract work in her elementary school days when she signed up for table reads of scripts as a child TV production assistant.

She continued her passion for film and TV in 2015 for the movie “Creed.” Not only did she score on-camera time, but she also worked in stylist and production assistant roles on the set. Later that year, Jones interned by day for a Delaware-based bank. By night, she shuttled to New York to serve as a production assistant for the Netflix series “The Get Down” and complete YouTube certification courses. Not making much money, she often ate free meals on set, crashed on the couch of her aunt’s Harlem home, and jumped the turnstiles at subway stops.

“I’m not proud of that last one,” she says, “but I am proud of how you can open doors for yourself with daunting, sometimes-unpaid jobs. No one in this line of work has a resume that says, ‘One year here, two years there.’ Fox is ahead of the curve, and more universities need to be encouraging students that you can find satisfaction and your life’s work outside of a 9-to-5.”

They Create Connections

A study-abroad trip to Spain exposed Kyshon Johnson, BBA ’18, to plenty she’d never before seen: Culture, food, language… and the role of a father in the home.

The International Business major witnessed her host father doting on his wife, Johnson’s host mother. He would bring her flowers and play games with their daughter. He would hug them both tightly. 

Johnson grew up in a single-parent household in Philadelphia. Her mother, Johnson’s inspiration, raised three children while attaining three college degrees. Her father, incarcerated, is not a factor in her life.

“Because it was normalized in my community, I didn’t know it was an issue,” she says. “So, I conducted research, and I wanted to share what I have learned and see if I could learn more.”

In 2017, Johnson launched 100 Other Halves. The independent project applied her education, as Johnson met with 100 women of diverse backgrounds. Johnson invited the women, whether in person or in webcam meet-ups, to tell stories about their fathers—good, bad, or nonexistent.

“The women shared one trait: They contacted me to participate. Otherwise, they were all uniquely different,” Johnson says.

Johnson cataloged 100 Other Halves through posts to social media and her blog. She reserved the 100th interviewee for someone special—her mother, Kenya Barrett.

“My mom came into it with an open heart and open mind because she was raised through foster care,” Johnson says. “She was only two when her mother passed away from cancer, and she never knew her father. I watched her lay the foundation for who I am today and I never really asked her about her upbringing. It was enlightening for both of us.”

Upon graduation, Johnson began a business leadership program at San Francisco-based LinkedIn. She hopes to convert 100 Other Halves into a film or TV project.

“It’s important that women have opportunities to share their stories,” she says. “This started as a social experiment, and it’s become a platform for healing that I’m incredibly proud of.”

They Stay Busy 

Ryan Rist, BBA ’18, meets weekly with his Little Brother, a 10-year-old student at Philadelphia’s Independence Charter School, through the Southeastern Pennsylvania chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters. They often bond over lunch, conversation, or a game of soccer.

“I’m an only child,” Rist says, “so, in many ways, it feels like he’s my little brother. It’s rewarding to see him every week, get to know him, and make a difference in his life.”

But his leadership in his school and community extends beyond Big Brothers Big Sisters. Rist, who graduated in May with a Finance degree and a minor in Entrepreneurship, will also begin a three-year stint in the finance leadership development program at Prudential, where he held two prior internships. The rotational program allows Rist to build upon earlier experiences within Prudential’s tax investment and business planning and analysis teams.

“I like to stay busy,” Rist says, smiling. His professional, personal, and scholastic experience prove it.

He served three years as a resident assistant in one of Temple’s housing facilities. He also climbed the ladder in the Financial Management Association at the Fox School, for which he served a nine-month term as president—organizing activities, speaker series, and on-site visits to corporate headquarters for the 170-member student organization.

Outside of the classroom, Rist is resurrecting an entrepreneurial passion project he launched in 2014 as a high school senior. Rist Custom Coasters, behind a strong Kickstarter campaign, manufactured drink coasters with rubberized circular bottoms and felt inserts to absorb run-off. Personalized with images of logos or family photos, the coasters earned more than 150 crowdfunding backers. Rist brought his business to 2018 Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, an annual business plan competition at Temple.

When asked if he viewed himself as a leader, due to his many personal interests and professional responsibilities, Rist says, “I think everyone is a leader, to some degree. Everyone has the ability to lead. It’s just that leaders don’t always look or lead the same way.”

This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.

Scholarship photograph

5 Fox School students and alumni share how scholarships changed their lives

Margaret (Meg) McGoldrick

BBA ’74, MBA ’77, President, Abington-Jefferson Health & Member, Fox School Dean’s Council

“I had the opportunity (in April) to meet with a dozen Fox students and they are so impressive,” says McGoldrick on a recent meeting of the Fox School Dean’s Council. “They are articulate and clear communicators. They show enthusiasm, politeness, and creativity. They attend Fox with a purpose, many of them to start their own businesses once they graduate. You can see that drive within them. Whenever I meet Fox students, I come away with a stronger understanding of why I invest in the school’s future.”

Charles Atangana

Class of 2019, Finance major

“The scholarship I received was valuable and significant to me because it off set the amount I needed to borrow to finance my education and pursue a BBA in my desired field. Once I graduate, I plan to use my finance degree to pursue a career in the music entertainment industry, and this wouldn’t be possible without the aid of the Johnson family and their scholarship.”

Kevin Johnson

BBA ’80, Vice President of Finance Transformation, Coca-Cola (retired) & Member, Fox School Dean’s Council

“Between contributions from my parents and my work-study program, I funded part of my education—but I still came out of the Fox School with debt. Today, I have a duty to give back to a place that gave me a foundation for a successful business career. Most people tend to think they need to write a seven-figure check to make a difference. That’s certainly not the case. Others need to know that we’re all capable of making a difference for the future generation with whatever we are able to contribute.”

Kristina Abi-Daher

Class of 2019, Accounting major

“Access to scholarships made the Fox School more attractive to me. I worked a job throughout high school, and that made my life more difficult than it needed to be. I didn’t have any flexibility in my schedule, or the ability to focus solely on my education. Now, my schedule isn’t nearly as complicated and I can dedicate myself to my education.”

Johanna Walters

BBA ’00, Senior Vice President, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management

“I’m from a blue-collar Midwestern town, and my husband Brian (Sweeney, MBA ’01) and I both came from humble beginnings. We identify with the struggle of having to finance education, as well as the associated cost of not working in order to pursue a degree. It can be a heavy cost to the student. We firmly believe that education is one of best returns on investment. We established a scholarship at the Fox School to make students’ paths through college a little easier.”

This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.

Associated athlete picture

If you thought it was tough being a business student, imagine being a business student and an athlete. It’s a unique, life-changing challenge learning how to balance academics and sports, and learning how to be a leader in the classroom and on the playing field. Many Fox students have welcomed this challenge, pursuing both educational and athletic excellence. Some are record breakers. Some witnessed how gender equality shook up collegiate sports. And one went on to compete in the Olympics. Below, six Fox alumni share their memories of playing sports during their time at Temple University.

1. Rafael DeLeon, BBA ’10

Major: Marketing

Sport: Basketball (2006-2010)

Current job: TV/Film actor

Fact: DeLeon starred in the Netflix series reboot of Spike Lee’s film “She’s Gotta Have It.”

Best Temple sports memory: “Winning the A-10 college basketball tournament three consecutive years in a row, granting us an automatic bid to the March Madness tournament. We were the first team to win three straight conference titles since UMass in the mid-1990’s.”

2. Steven Flaks, BBA ’88

Major: Accounting

Sport: Gymnastics (1985-1987)

Current job: Director of finance, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP

Best Temple sports memory: “Winning the Eastern Division Gymnastics Championship as part of the ’85-’86 team and placing second on pommel horse in individual finals. Also sharing in the excitement of Temple basketball reaching No. 1 in the nation in ’88.”

3. Teresa Gozik-Tyson, BS ’85

Major: Accounting

Sport: Volleyball (1981-1985)

Current job: Vice president, credit analyst, Wells Fargo

Fact: Teresa met her husband, an STHM alum, at Temple University. (They have season tickets to Temple football and basketball games.) Also, their daughter earned a BBA from the Fox School and a master’s from STHM, and their son earned a bachelor’s from STHM.

Best Temple sports memory: “The last year female athletes were under the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) was 1981, and in 1982 we became part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and this was a result of Title IX, of course. So it was a very exciting time for female athletes at the collegiate level. My best memory of the move to the NCAA was that female athletes got textbooks each semester—we didn’t have to buy them! The university supplied them, and we had to return them at the end of the semester, but we were permitted to keep one book each semester. Also, by my junior year we were traveling further distances (via plane) and competing against larger schools. Life was awesome!”

4. Jennifer Harding, BS ’07

Major: Sport and Recreation Management (STHM)

Sport: Crew (2004-2005)

Current job: Major gifts officer, Villanova University

Fact: Harding is the director-at-large of the Fox School of Business Alumni Association (FSBAA) and co-chair of the events committee. 

Best Temple sports memory: “Working for the United States Olympic Committee at the headquarters in Colorado Springs before the 2008 Olympics. Being able to work with the athletes and to see the level of dedication it takes to perform at that level still inspires me today.”

5. Michael J. Moore, BBA ’93

Major: Marketing

Sport: Crew (1989-1991, 1993)

Current job: Partner and chief commercial officer at WillowTree Inc.

Fact: Moore competed in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

Best Temple sports memory: “I have incredible memories from my time at Temple, both on campus and on the river. Winning the Dad Vail four times when the crowds were in the 100,000’s on the banks of the Schuylkill is at the top. Representing Temple at the Royal Henley Regatta in England is right up there, too!”

6. Jim Williams, BS ’66

Major: Business Administration

Sport: Basketball (1963-1966)

Fact: Williams led the Owls in scoring and rebounding from 1963 to 1966, and he was the first player to record over 1,000 career rebounds and 1,000 career points. In 1976, he was drafted by the Chicago Bulls and won a gold medal in the Pan American Games. He went on to play in the Italian League, where his team won the Italian Basketball Cup.

From court to classroom: “Everything was beneficial. You have to learn to discipline yourself, whether it’s on the field of competition or court, or in the classroom. Without discipline and regular hours of practice, you won’t succeed. I never failed a test I was prepared to take.”

This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.

Fox Veterans associated image

The Fox School and Temple University is a thriving community of veterans, both current students and alumni. Between 2013 and 2017, 249 veterans earned degrees at the Fox School. And there are currently more than 400 veterans and veterans dependents enrolled. Since its founding 100 years ago, thousands of veterans have chosen to study business at the Fox School. To celebrate these business leaders’ commitments to their country, learn more about these accomplished Fox vets.

1. Edna Tuttleman, BS ’42

Back when Edna Tuttleman (1921-2013) was at Temple, the Fox School was called the School of Commerce. Tuttleman, who claimed her time here was “the most exciting period of my life,” became the university’s first female class president in 1939. Upon completion of her business degree, during World War II, Tuttleman joined the Navy’s Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service program. She eventually earned the rank of Lieutenant (junior grade). Professionally, she went on to run design operations at a clothing firm owned by her husband, Stanley Tuttleman.

Temple Lover: A longtime donor and trustee, the Tuttleman Learning Center is named after her and was made possible by gifts from the Tuttleman Family Foundation.

Art Lover: Edna and Stanley Tuttleman were collectors of art, and their name adorns the Tuttleman Gallery at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Their collection included works by Roy Lichtenstein, Fernando Botero, and Alexander Calder.

2. Dorothy S. Washburn, SMC ’31, MBA ’50

Dorothy Washburn (1909-1985), West Philadelphia born and raised, earned a BS from what is now the Klein College of Media and Communication, and an MBA from the Fox School. Her government career began during World War II when she worked as a clerk at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. She held several positions in the military and won outstanding service awards from the Army and the Air Force, for which she served as a Reserve Lieutenant Colonel. She also worked in Washington, D.C., for the Office of the Secretary of the Navy.

Fact: The Washburn Chair in Marketing, named after Dorothy S. Washburn, is presently held by Dr. Masaaki Kotabe.

Active Life: Washburn served on the board of the Philadelphia League of Women Voters and was a member of both Temple University’s Board of Managers and Temple’s Board of the General Alumni Association.

3. Mark J. Fung, MBA ’11

Rear Admiral Mark Fung joined the Navy in 1988 and he was deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm and the War on Terrorism. He currently works for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command as deputy chief of civil engineers and deputy commander. For his service, Fung has earned the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal. In his civilian life, Fung works as a project manager for AmerisourceBergen. 

Wise Words: “Life is too short to do something you don’t enjoy. I enjoyed my time at Temple, and at Fox, and I enjoy my work with the Navy. That’s the secret. What drives me, especially at this level of the Navy, where the stakes are high, is that there’s no room for second place. Even in the business world, you make decisions that affect the outcome of those who work for you and with you. It’s this responsibility to my team that makes me strive to perform at a higher level.”

4. Anthony McIntyre, BBA ’80

Following Anthony McIntyre’s time at the Fox School and Temple University—where he also played football and track and field—he was commissioned as a U.S. Army Reserve Officer and then spent several years as Company Commander of a floating craft company. Professionally, he worked for several years at the Graham Company and Xerox Corporation, before founding the McIntyre Group, an insurance brokerage firm, in 2002.

Temple Family: McIntyre’s wife, Christine, is an STHM graduate. His brother, Michael, earned his MBA from the Fox School.

Wise Words: “Nothing takes the place of persistence, hard work, and integrity. If you get knocked down, get back up. And take risks—with no risk, comes no reward.”

5. Paul Abrams, MBA ’16

Army Staff Sergeant Paul Abrams is the founder of RTB Limited, a soft skills training, and business consultancy. “We help fill the gap in startups to medium-sized businesses who don’t have the budget for a full training department,” says Abrams, who earned his MBA at the Fox School in 2016. 

Best Fox Memory: “I loved exposing my cohort members to professional rugby while visiting South Africa for my Executive MBA cohort’s Global Immersion trip. Rugby is a sport I am extremely passionate about; I played and coached for 15 years in the Army and for high-level clubs here in the U.S. Now that a league is starting here, I’d love to start a professional rugby team.”

Wise Words: “My discipline and attention to detail help me be a better leader in both business and the military. I also carry over the Army mantra ‘Be, Know, and Do.’ This creates a line of succession and constant training and communication in any business.

6. Joseph Petro, BS ’66

After earning his degree at the Fox School in 1966, Joseph Petro served as an officer in the U.S. Navy River Patrol Forces until 1970, including one year in Vietnam with River Division 512. He was discharged from the Navy as a Lieutenant. He has since worked as a special agent and senior executive in the U.S. Secret Service—Petro recounted these experiences, including his years alongside President Ronald Reagan, in his book, Standing Next to History: An Agent’s Life Inside the Secret Service—and a managing director at Citigroup. He is currently a senior vice president at Time Warner, Inc.

Wise Words: “Don’t be afraid to take chances—have confidence in yourself and work harder than everyone else.”

This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.

Moving the Needle illustration
Illustration by Jon Krause

There is a future with no drinkable water. There is a future in which the Amazon is populated with the skeletons of extinct animals and fossils of long-dead plants. There is a future in which humans will struggle to breathe.

It may sound like a distant future in a science fiction novel, but it is an imminent reality. Climate change impacts us in every facet of our lives. Everything we do, everything we eat, how we commute, how much we buy and how we discard it, has an impact on our planet.

Reversing climate change is about changing societal behaviors. As a behavioral scientist, I believe that my field of research—which is focused on understanding human behaviors and decision making—can help positively impact the globe.

To that extent, the Fox School of Business is proud to launch the Sustainability and Social Impact Strategic Initiative. This initiative, which is focused on researching, understanding and designing ways to nudge consumers into adopting sustainable consumption behaviors, is one way we’re moving the needle on climate change.

Focus on Long-Term Benefits

Resistance toward adopting sustainable behaviors often comes from our tendency to focus on short-term benefits, while devaluing long-term, more significant rewards. By understanding how and when consumers focus on future benefits, we can nudge them to change their behaviors around sustainable consumption.

For example, my research has found that when people are reminded of how busy they are, they tend to feel that they are valuable. This leads people to make decisions that are better from a long-term perspective–for example, being more likely to save money for the future than spending money on indulgences today.

Attaching Emotions

Another reason why people don’t adopt sustainable behaviors is that many feel a decreased sense of emotional attachment with nature and have begun to treat it as a separate entity. Building a more emotional relationship with nature might motivate people to place a greater focus on sustainable behaviors.

In my research, I am working on simple interventions that encourage the public to build positive memories with nature, such as inviting them to take pictures of their favorite outdoor spots in their neighborhood. This simple activity can make people feel more connected to nature, thus motivating them to adopt behaviors that are good for the environment in general.

Behavioral Science for Policy Change

Behavioral science does not only help design compelling interventions aimed at encouraging sustainable consumption. It can also help increase the effectiveness of government programs.

Take sustainable advertising, for example. Through my research, I found that people can imagine a danger more vividly when the message communicates a single risk as opposed to multiple risks. This insight can help policymakers, who spend a significant amount of money on sustainable advertising. Ensuring that these messages only communicate a single risk can result in an increased likelihood that readers will adopt the desired behaviors.

At the Fox School, we understand our responsibility as global citizens to create a positive impact on the world. The Sustainability and Social Impact Initiative is committed to acting on that sense of responsibility by focusing on research aimed at encouraging sustainable consumption and working with communities to implement these behavioral interventions.

Cleaner Actions for a Cleaner World: 8 Simple Ways to Live Greener At Home

  1. Switch one (or more!) appliance to an energy efficient model  
  2. Visit your local farmers market for groceries and produce
  3. Cancel your paper statements
  4. Unplug chargers and appliances when not in use
  5. Repurpose glass jars as leftover containers
  6. Reuse scrap paper
  7. When driving, combine all your errands for the week in one trip
  8. Donate your old clothes and furniture to thrift stores instead of throwing them away

This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.

Stay up-to-date on Fox School research at fox.temple.edu/idea-marketplace.

At any academic institution, one of the most highly valued outcomes is knowledge. In business schools across the country, faculty, staff and students produce insights that can change how business is done, inspire evidence-based management and shape the face of industries.

Part of being a global citizen, however, is ensuring that these discoveries are shared. Research without dissemination does not solve real-world problems. Bringing knowledge to the hands of practitioners is critical for the translation of insights into action.

At the Fox School, we are committed to bridging the gap between academia and industry—that’s why, in 2014, we launched the Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program to teach the tools of applied theory and research to senior executives. In this three-year, part-time program, industry leaders come together to learn a new way of thinking to solve tomorrow’s business problems.

Why the DBA Matters

In business, many organizations encourage their employees to innovate. However, the Fox DBA allows executives the freedom to experiment with evidence. By introducing students to new tools for understanding organizational systems and preparing them to address challenges with facts and data, the program offers senior managers the opportunity to become thought leaders.

“I was in the military for over 20 years. I was looking for growth and new challenges,” says Dennis Martin, DBA ’18. “I wanted a more practitioner-focused doctorate rather than just a theory-based program.”

The structured program unites academically rigorous research with practice-focused business questions. Then Fox DBA alumni like Dennis bring their insights—both the knowledge generated from the program and the tools for new ways of thinking—back to work.

Leading the Charge

“The Fox School is proud to be a leader in the DBA space,” says Steve Casper, managing director of the DBA program and professor of finance at the Fox School. “Our research focus, combined with the faculty mentors, really make our program stand out.”

Our DBA scholarly practitioners were on display at the Engaged Management Scholarship (EMS) Conference, which the Fox School hosted last September. The annual international conference, which is for doctoral students, alumni, faculty and managers involved in applied research and evidence-based management on a global scale, brought over 200 people from 100 organizations to discuss the importance of bringing research into the real world.

Presented by the Executive Doctorate in Business Administration Council (EDBAC), an organization representing more than 50 member schools in ten countries, EMS unites the academic and the practical into one three-day conference.  

“By hosting EMS, we demonstrated to the business community that the Fox School cares about bringing research to the real world,” says Casper. “We were very proud to host EMS and show off our university, as well as the city of Philadelphia.”

Applying Research to Business

At EMS, the Fox School strengthened its community of thoughtful and knowledgeable practitioners. Faculty engaged in networking across countries, programs and disciplinary fields. Students stretched the applications of their research beyond their own ideas and sought feedback from their peers. Program managers learned from each other and identified best practices for running DBA programs around the world.

“One of the more prominent questions during the conference was, ‘How do we come up with interesting problems that are researchable but also have applied business value?’” says David Schuff, professor of management information systems at the Fox School.

One example of these practical questions: How do female members of a company’s board of directors perform differently than companies with all-male boards? Ofra Bazel-Shoham, a graduate of the Fox DBA program in 2017 and assistant professor of finance at the Fox School, received the 2018 Best Paper Award in Applied Business Research, sponsored by Business Horizons, an academic journal from Indiana University, for her research that answers that question. Bazel-Shoham found that, while there was a negative correlation between the number of women on boards and the number of investments in R&D, women were more likely to focus on monitoring performance, which ends up incentivizing risky, but data-driven decisions. “As female leaders put more emphasis on monitoring,” says Bazel-Shoham, “gender-diverse boards were able to quantify and measure their decisions better than all-male boards.”

As the Fox School recommits to its position as a leader in changing global business, the DBA program can energize the bridge between research and industry. “At EMS, we built up energy and excitement of impactful and applied research,” says Susan Mudambi, academic director of the Fox DBA program and associate professor of marketing and supply chain management. “It shows how the Fox DBA is an important part of education in today’s world.”

This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.

Social consciousness, or the idea that people should be aware of problems both locally and far beyond their own experiences, has existed for much longer than companies led by Fox School of Business alumni like when honeygrow founder and CEO Justin Rosenberg, MBA ‘09, decided to use locally-sourced vegetables or United By Blue started hauling waste out of East Coast waterways. Social enterprise, a modern twist on this socially conscious concept, arrived at the forefront of 21st-century business.

At the Fox School, entrepreneurs are baking in the social enterprise section of their business plan well before they leave campus. And because the Fox School has so many innovative, socially-conscious students and alumni, here are a few across various industries that deserve the spotlight.

Performance Adejayan, Founder & CEO of Perade

Performance Adejayan
Photo by Performance Adejayan

Performance Adejayan, a current International Business Administration major, is passionate about helping her fellow Nigerian-Americans retain their culture and pride. She has channeled that passion into creating a clothing line called Perade. The idea for Perade was born from a simple question Adejayan asked herself: “Why not turn my passion into a business?”

She felt starting a clothing line that reflected her personal identity would be the perfect solution. Unlike the appropriated “tribal print” that can be found at many mainstream retailers, the brand mixes “African prints with western silhouettes” to transport Nigerian culture into wearable pieces for all. By going straight to the source and receiving products from Nigeria, she is giving back to her home and supporting the global economy.

At this stage in her entrepreneurial journey, Adejayan is currently working on spreading the word about Perade. She is building a team of brand ambassadors and influencers to post about and wear her products.

Anthony Copeman, Founder of Financial Lituation & $hares

Anthony Copeman
Photo by Joe V. Labolito

At the heart of every one of Anthony Copeman’s ventures is a desire to provide his generation with the tools they need to succeed financially. Since he was a student studying accounting, Copeman, BBA ’14, has founded a nonprofit (Backyard Business) and a financial coaching program (Financial Lituation), began working for the City of Philadelphia and launched an animated financial literacy YouTube series called $hares.

Both Financial Lituation and $hares help users build toward financial freedom through advice and education on financial literacy in an accessible way, especially for minorities and other disenfranchised groups.

Looking to the future, Copeman is committed to scaling the impact of his various projects,  measuring the results, and trying new things. “I am constantly inspired by innovation and creativity. I’m always asking myself, ‘how can I leverage my passion and put my own creative spin on it?’”

Thierno Diallo, Founder & CEO of Sontefa Energy

According to the International Energy Agency, in Sub-Saharan Africa, over 600 million

Thierno Diallo
Photo by Joe V. Labolito

people have never had access to electricity. In Guinea, the home country of Thierno Diallo, BBA ’17, only 53% of urban areas and 11% of rural areas had access to electricity, leaving 8.7 million people without it. With Sontefa Energy, Diallo wants to change those statistics.

“I believe that providing electricity to the people of Guinea, as well as to Africa as a whole, will be the greatest thing that I can ever accomplish,” Diallo says. “The myriad of cultures that are found in my country have always emphasized the importance of helping others.”

The company, whose mission is to empower the future of Africa with green energy, is currently focused on raising capital and is in the process of developing partnerships with solar panel suppliers in the U.S. and overseas. Diallo has developed an engineering team for installment and services, as well as a sales team.

David Ettorre, Founder & CEO of Osprey Drone Services

David Ettorre
Photo by David Ettorre

After graduating from the Strategic Management Entrepreneurship program in 2015, David Ettorre looked to combine the skills he knew he had in order to make an impact on the business world and the environment. He had business acumen, loved working outside and decided to mine the potential of drone technology to shape his career.

“With Osprey Drone Services, me and my team do not just show up with and play with drones. We use technology to solve industry problems,” Ettorre says. Leveraging the accessibility and data collection properties of drones, they offer customers a combination of preventive and predictive maintenance with industrial asset inspection.

Whether that means sending a drone 400 feet in the air to find out if an endangered species of bird has built a nest at the top of a tree or assessing the lifecycle of a wind turbine, the company helps wildlife conservation and their client’s bottom line.

Jen Singley, Keller Williams Philadelphia

Jeniffer Singley
Photo by Joe V. Labolito

Jen Singley, BBA ’13, has been interested in environmentalism since she was a child. For her, it was natural to marry real estate and sustainability. Singley is a real estate agent with Keller Williams and helps first-time home buyers navigate what can feel like an intimidating process. To offer this support, in addition to her day job, Singley hosts first-time buyer workshops in different neighborhoods around the city.

Singley also works with Women for a Sustainable Philadelphia, a forum for encouraging women to connect around a passion for positively impacting the current and future environmental, social and economic resilience of the Greater Philadelphia region.

In an effort to infuse elements of sustainability into her career, Singley offers free recycling bins for clients and organize cleanups in client neighborhoods. “No matter what I am doing for work, I always want to link it to helping Philadelphia and making it a more sustainable, greener place to live,” Singley says.

All of these “extracurriculars” support Singley’s mission to educate herself and teach others about real estate, sustainability and giving back to the City of Brotherly Love.                        

This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.

Doctor holding clipboard

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.

Professors and student standing together
Daniel Isaacs, legal studies professor, Avner Ronen, civil and environmental engineering assistant professor and Vidya Sabbella, a current MBA student
By Joseph V. Labolito

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.

Professors and student in the lab
By Joseph V. Labolito

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.

mosquito in high definitionVictor 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
Photo by Joseph V. Labolito

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
Photo by Joseph V. Labolito

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
Photo by Joseph V. Labolito

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.

For more stories and news, follow the Fox School on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Student In Class on Laptop

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.

John Milligan
Photo by Joseph V. Labolito

 

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 more stories and news, follow the Fox School on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Kuang-Yao Lee, assistant professor of statistical science at the Fox School

More than 15 million adults struggle with alcohol addiction. In fact, according to the CDC, one in ten deaths of working-age adults in America is linked to alcohol. That’s one reason data on alcohol use has been chosen by researchers for study from the enormous data set from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ ambitious Million Veteran Program (MVP). The VA intends as the project’s name states, to gather data on an astonishing one million service members.

Kuang-Yao Lee, assistant professor of statistical science at the Fox School, sees a world of potential new knowledge in this vast cache of data. This is particularly true of alcohol use because the data from the MVP is longitudinal, which means the same measurements are tracked over time. Alongside the support from the VA, Lee’s project received funding through from Office for the Vice President of Research at Temple University.

Volunteers in the MVP each submit blood samples as well as health surveys, amassing a dataset that comprises both genetic data and behavioral patterns. Beginning in 2016 when he was a researcher at Yale University, Lee and his colleagues have been using this information-rich resource to search for the specific combination of genes that correspond to alcohol and other substance use.

“Previous studies have suggested [these genes exist], but mostly were only limited to small scales or restricted conditions,” says Lee. “We want to use statistical models to find out if this is really a valid assumption. Our results so far suggest a very strong association.”

While ample electronic health records and genetic data have long been available to researchers, only recently has the efficient computing power become available to slice and dice the information into accurate, usable new insights and discoveries. More sophisticated algorithms combined with larger-than-ever computer storage capacity, as well as parallel computation techniques, allow today’s researchers to make meaning from a huge amount of complex data.

How huge? “Depending on the facility, the whole genome sequencing [for one person] can produce hundreds of millions of variants,” says Lee. Questionnaires allow researchers to gather large amounts of information about each subject every time they are administered. Multiply that by one million veterans. “We’re talking about not just billions, but millions of millions of points of data,” he says.

Data with this level of complexity can lead to findings that are more nuanced and reliable than in the past. Previously statistics sometimes led to oversimplified and other not-quite-right conclusions. We’ve all heard the old axiom, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” But as so-called big data increases in scope and complexity and the tools used to analyze this data become more sophisticated, statistics are becoming more honest than ever before. From projects such as the Million Veteran Program and other similarly vast datasets, new genetic truths may ultimately emerge.

There are many possible real-world applications for this research. For one thing, determining which specific genes are linked with alcohol and other substance abuse could lead to new and better medicines and treatments for the very veterans who have volunteered their most sensitive personal information for this work. A dialed-in genetic profile that indicates a vulnerability for substance abuse could be used to screen kids and even adults while there is still time for effective early interventions that can keep them on a healthy path. Given the current public health crisis around opioids, alcohol, and other substance use, a breakthrough of this kind could have far-reaching benefits.

Lee says that the knowledge gleaned from the Million Veteran Program about substance abuse may lead to similar projects that could help solve other vexing behavioral, health, and genetic puzzles. He also notes that the innovative statistical models and tools he’s used in this research could be applied in myriad ways to other complex datasets.

For example, online shopping platforms can easily observe huge amounts of individual consumers and, at the same time, collect data across large numbers of variables. “One of the core problems in business analytics is to use statistical models to study the inter-dependency between observed variables, for example, the dependency between decision making and consumer behavior,” Lee says.

“There are a surprising number of similarities between genomics and online shopping.”

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.

A Class To Look Forward To

April 23, 2019 //
Photo by Ashley Smith of Wide Eyed Studios

The bell rings each day at 3:10 p.m. and Cameron Johnson leaves school for the class she looks forward to the most.

Over the course of her day at the Freire Charter School on Chestnut Street in Center City, the 17-year-old high school junior goes to math, biology, English, Spanish and civics classes. They are good classes. But she leaves school for one more class each day.

“This class is about teaching us to think needfully and to try to make things different on a daily basis,” Cameron says. “It’s about trying to create new ideas instead of thinking, ‘I can’t do this.’”

She takes the trolley to 15th Street, hops on the Broad Street Line, rides the train to the Cecil B. Moore station and walks to the Fox School. It is a 25 to 40 minute journey that ends when she sits down with a handful of other students in the Creativity and Innovation class taught by Michelle Histand, assistant director of strategic management and experiential learning at the Fox School.

Twice a week, she and 14 students from Freire and TECH Freire Charter School, on the 2200 block of North Broad Street, join a dozen students from Temple, where they are tasked with identifying a problem, creating a solution and planning how to implement that solution. The class is a joint venture put together by the Fox School and the Freire Foundation, which runs several charter schools in the Philadelphia region.

The idea for the class started with a conversation between Debbie Campbell, senior vice dean at the Fox School, and Hilda Bacon, director of community partnerships and engagement at Build the Future Education Collaborative. The collaborative is a nonprofit organization aimed at building partnerships to enhance education opportunities at the Freire schools. Campbell and Bacon wanted to create a class that would give the Freire students the tools and confidence to succeed in college, and train the Temple students to be mentors and leaders.

Photo by Ashley Smith of Wide Eyed Studios

“It is an opportunity at a local, well-known university,” Bacon says. “It is a comfortable situation and Temple is potentially accessible for most kids—a chance to give them the experience of what it is to be in school, to be in a college.”

Histand’s classes are hands-on and very team oriented. “This class is a chance for Temple students to put themselves in a leadership position, share their experience and guide and give feedback to their mentees,” Histand says. For the Freire students, it is a chance to get started in higher education. “When you put someone in that next level up, they have to perform at that next level up.”

The students are divided into pairs of mentors and mentees. Each team is working on a project together. One team is attempting to find a solution for the dearth of affordable, healthy food choices in North Philadelphia. Another team is designing an app that serves as an impartial local elections guide.

“If I had a class like this before I came to Temple, I would have been a lot more informed and not so unsure at the beginning,” Temple junior Jack Oatts, BBA ’20, says.

To get into the class, the Temple students had to write a letter to Histand, explaining why they wanted to be a mentor. The Freire students wrote an application and went through an interview process before being admitted to the program.

To enhance the course further, Campbell and Bacon are looking at adding several events, including a trip to a Philadelphia Phillies game and possibly visiting the rail park or a corporate partner. In April, Temple alumni and noted entrepreneur Adam Lyons, BBA ’09, was the first of what has evolved into a series of engaging guest speakers.

Campbell and Bacon envision growing the program. For Campbell, that means making the class, and possibly other general education classes, available to more high schools and more students. Bacon would also like to see similar programs across other schools in Philadelphia.

“This is about doing something for the community, for the city, for these kids,” Campbell says. “It is like Russell Conwell said, you have acres of diamonds in your backyard, you just have to find them. And we have all these schools in our backyard like Freire.”

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