From the Dean


One hundred years ago this month, some very exciting things were happening at Tulane University. In August 1914, the Board of Tulane had voted to establish a college of business administration if, and only if, the business community could guarantee the college’s initial operating expenses. That resolution set off a flurry of activity in the community as individuals and companies stepped up to donate to the cause. At its next monthly meeting — Sept. 14, 1914 — Tulane’s board acknowledged the receipt of $15,450, enough to fund the college’s first three years of operation. Less than a month later, the new college offered its very first class, Commercial Law. Tulane University’s College of Commerce was open for business.

In the last year, it’s been my honor to preside as we celebrate this major milestone, the centennial of the A. B. Freeman School of Business. We kicked off the festivities last fall with a party on campus for students, and we celebrated throughout the year with centennial themed activities and a special website dedicated to Freeman School history. On May 2, more than 650 alumni attended our centerpiece event, the Freeman Centennial Celebration in City Park. I had the pleasure of speaking with many alumni that evening, and I was again overwhelmed by their stories of how the Freeman School influenced and impacted their lives. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons our Centennial Scholarship Initiative was such a resounding success. Centennial Co-Chairs Frank B. Stewart Jr. (BBA ’57) and Jay Lapeyre (MBA/JD ’78) helped raise more than $500,000 to fund scholarships and ensure that outstanding students are able to attend the Freeman School regardless of financial constraint.

This fall, as we approach our 100th birthday on Oct. 19, we plan to release a special commemorative book chronicling the history of the business school. A Century of Business Education: The A. B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University will feature articles, faculty and alumni profiles, and rare photos from the Tulane University Archives. This issue of Freeman magazine, in fact, features an excerpt. In the coming weeks, we hope to announce details on how you can obtain a copy of this fascinating and entertaining book.

It’s been a busy summer here at the Freeman School. In July, we hosted 160 students from China, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and several other countries who were here to complete coursework for various programs, and we sent another 250 students to Europe, China, Latin America and India in conjunction with other programs. You might have seen that the Freeman School was recently ranked No. 5 in the nation for studying business abroad by Business Research Guide, which ranked schools on commitment to excellence in international business education, variety of study abroad options for full and part-time students, and focus on global exchange with educational institutions across the globe. Based on all our activity this summer, it’s easy to see why the Freeman School is beginning to earn national accolades for our international business expertise.

In July, we also welcomed 10 new faculty members to the Freeman School, including eight tenured/tenure-track professors, the latest recruits in our ongoing faculty enhancement initiative. Since we began this important effort three years ago, we’ve grown our researchactive faculty by more than 25 percent, and we’re not done yet. We hope to add five additional tenured/tenure-track professors in the next two years.

In closing, I wish to pay tribute to a Freeman School legend who recently passed away. Beauregard J. “Beau” Parent served as an accounting instructor for more than 35 years, teaching thousands of students in that time and launching countless careers in accounting. While I only knew Beau for three years, I feel as though I’ve known him much longer, in part because he’s one of a handful of professors that alumni always seem to ask me about. One only has to look at the profusion of memorial comments on Facebook and LinkedIn to see the impact Beau had on so many lives. He will be missed. My heartfelt condolences go out to Beau’s wife Elizabeth, his daughters Christine, Collette and Lisa, and all of his family and friends.

Freeman School earns AACSB re-accreditation


The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the leading accrediting body for university business education, has approved the re-accreditation of all degree programs at the A. B. Freeman School of Business.

The re-accreditation culminates a yearlong process in which a team of deans from peer institutions conducted an in-depth review of nearly all facets of school operations. In addition to studying data submitted by the school, the re-accreditation team visited the Freeman campus to meet with constituents and collect additional information.

“Our last re-accreditation took place in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, so it really wasn’t a full and comprehensive AACSB review,” said Ira Solomon, dean of the Freeman School. “In a sense, this is the first rigorous review we’ve undergone in a decade, so it’s very gratifying to learn that our peer review team shares the belief that we’re moving in the right direction and accomplishing the goals we set out to achieve.”

While accredited institutions are required to demonstrate that they meet certain specific standards of excellence, Associate Dean Clifton E. Brown said the process is less about compliance and more about ensuring that schools remain committed to continuous improvement.

“A main focus is whether we have processes in place that will successfully achieve our strategy and goals, particularly our learning and research goals, and whether we have processes that allow us to employ continuous improvement,” said Brown, who coordinated the re-accreditation process. “So its focus is on improvement, basically.”

In notifying Dean Solomon of its decision to extend accreditation, Robert
Sullivan, chair of AACSB’s Board of Directors, commended the Freeman School for six specific strengths and effective practices.
• Development of a strategic plan
• Commitment to experiential learning
• Implementation of the MBA Global Leadership Module
• Ongoing programs with international partner schools
• Extraordinary efforts on the part of faculty and staff in the wake of Hurricane Katrina
• Integration of nodes of excellence and comparative advantages across all programs
The extension of accreditation is for five additional years. The Freeman School’s next Continuous Improvement Review will take place in 2018-2019.

Founded in 1916, AACSB International is the longest-serving global accrediting body for collegiate schools of business. The A. B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University is one of the 16 founding members of the association. Today, nearly 100 years later, AACSB accreditation has become the internationally recognized hallmark of excellence in business education, with fewer than 5 percent of the world’s business programs earning the prestigious certification.

PMBA earns top prize at PitchNOLA

As a Tulane freshman in 2006, Teddy Nathan saw firsthand the power of public service. Now, as a young entrepreneur, he’s hoping to tap into that spirit of service to address some of the city’s biggest needs.

Teddy Nathan, second from left, won PitchNOLA with his pitch for Crescent City Connections. Also pictured are Propeller's Rebecca Conwell, third from left, and Nathan's teammates Annie Daskovsky and Zach Cheney.
Teddy Nathan, second from left, won PitchNOLA with his pitch for Crescent City Connections. Also pictured are Propeller’s Rebecca Conwell, third from left, and Nathan’s teammates Annie Daskovsky and Zach Cheney.

Nathan (LA ’10, MBA ’16), senior program coordinator at the Tulane Center for Public Service, was the big winner at the fifth annual PitchNOLA competition. The elevator pitch contest for local social entrepreneurship ventures took place on Nov. 19, 2013, in front of a packed audience in Freeman Auditorium.

Nathan, a current PMBA student, and colleagues Zach Cheney and Melissa Garber earned the $5,000 grand prize with their pitch for Crescent City Connections, which works with local nonprofits to create customized volunteer experiences for tourist groups. The organization then channels fees collected from the volunteers back to the sponsoring nonprofit.

In awarding this year’s top prize, judges praised Crescent City Connections for its efforts to turn the growing demand for volunteer opportunities into sustainable income for nonprofits. Competition judge John Frazee said judges liked the idea of a venture that would benefit both volunteers and worthy organizations in the community.

“They seemed to have the potential for having impact on a lot of people,” said Frazee, senior vice president with CBS News. Nathan said he plans to use the prize money to host a pilot event for members of the business, hospitality and nonprofit communities to help those partners better understand what the organization hopes to provide for tourist groups.

“It’s so they can actually have the volunteer experience we’ve been talking about, so that it’s no longer just a concept,” Nathan explains. “They can then be our goodwill ambassadors.”

PitchNOLA was a joint presentation of the A. B. Freeman School of Business, Social Innovation & Social Entrepreneurship Initiatives at Tulane, and Propeller, a nonprofit that supports social innovation in New Orleans.

Tulane team wins Business Model Competition

Tympanogen, a biomedical startup founded by Tulane biomedical engineering doctoral students Elaine Horn- Ranney (SE ’14) and Parastoo Khoshakhlagh (SE ’17), took home the grand prize of $25,000 at the 2014 Tulane Business Model Competition.

Parastoo Khoshakhlagh, a doctoral studnet in the Tulane biomedical engineering program, makes the winning presentation for Tympanogen.
Parastoo Khoshakhlagh, a doctoral studnet in the Tulane biomedical engineering program, makes the winning presentation for Tympanogen.

The competition took place on April 11 in the Woldenberg Art Center’s Freeman Auditorium on Tulane’s uptown campus. In winning this year’s competition, Tympanogen edged out fellow Tulane finalist InVision Biomedical, which earned a second-place prize of $10,000 with its pitch for a device to aid doctors treating tracheostomy patients, and Million Dollar Scholar, an online platform designed to help high school students learn how to win scholarships and avoid student debt.

Tympanogen won the top prize with its plan for Perf-Fix, a gel patch for repair of chronic perforations in the tympanic membrane of the ear. Currently the only treatment for tympanic membrane tears is surgery, which can cost up to $18,000 and has just a 40 percent success rate. Tympanogen’s gel patch, on the other hand, costs just $1,800 and promises a success rate of up to 95 percent.

Competition judge Chris Papamichael (BSM ’96), principal and co-founder of the Domain Cos., said Tympanogen impressed the judges with both its product and its solid financials.

“The product was very viable, they had strong margins and there was a lack of competition, whereas some of the other competitors had some stiff competition,” Papamichael said. “Tympanogen just seemed to be the most viable.”

In addition to winning the cash prize, Tympanogen also earned a trip to the International Business Model Competition in Provo, Utah, where it finished second overall and earned a $10,000 prize.

Alum brings social dining venture to Freeman

Francisco "Paco" Robert (MBA '11) brought his modern supper club Dinner Lab to the Freeman School for a live case study.
Francisco “Paco” Robert (MBA ’11) brought his modern supper club Dinner Lab to the Freeman School for a live case study.

As Al Green croons in the background, a chef assembles small plates of sous vide pork belly with shiso and corn espuma at a workstation in the front of the room. Francisco “Paco” Robert, the evening’s host and server, distributes those plates to a collection of young diners seated at two long, candlelit tables.

The scene may sound like something out of a trendy restaurant, but the dining room is actually an MBA classroom.

Robert (MBA ’11) brought his fast-growing startup Dinner Lab to the Freeman School last fall for a live case study on the innovative supper club.

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Robert co-founded Dinner Lab to create one-of-kind experiences for adventurous eaters. For an annual fee of $100 to $175, members are invited to special communal dining events (costing $60 to $85 per person all inclusive) presided over by up-and-coming chefs and hosted in extraordinary locations. One dinner took place on the 21st floor of a building undergoing renovation. Another was held in an abandoned church off Magazine Street.

While the diners get a fun, unique fine-dining experience, the chefs get unbiased feedback on new dishes that may end up on restaurant menus in the near future.

The case study was part of New Product Development in the Hospitality Industry, an MBA elective that focuses on innovation in the hospitality sector.

“The course was created to focus students on the consumer experience in hospitality-related ventures,” says Ralph Maurer, professor of practice and instructor in the course. “From that perspective, it was great to be able to bring in Paco to talk with students about the business and what he’s done to create this very successful, very innovative product.”

Since its launch in New Orleans in 2012, Dinner Lab has branched out into 19 cities across the country, and it recently raised $2.1 million in seed capital to help fund its expansion. Despite the rapid growth, however, Robert says the focus of the concept remains the same as when he started.

“It’s all about the food, the people and the experience,” Robert says.

18th Annual Finance Case Competition is test for judges

This year's Finance Case Competition, above, proved to be a difficult one for the judges.
This year’s Finance Case Competition, above, proved to be a difficult one for the judges.

Christopher Conoscenti (MBA/JD ’01) has served as a judge for the Rolanette and Berdon Lawrence Finance Case Competition for the past five years, but he says the 2014 contest, which took place at the Freeman School on March 28, was without a doubt the toughest yet.

“This was the hardest year to judge out of any of the years that I’ve judged it,” said Conoscenti, managing director of Energy Investment Banking at JP Morgan Securities. “It was shades of gray in terms of differences between who we picked for number one versus two, three, four and five. It was just really tight.”

In the end, Conoscenti and his fellow judges — Joe Agular (A&S ’81, MBA ’88), investment manager at Johnson Rice & Co.; Claire Liu, assistant treasurer at LyondellBasell Industries; and Chuck Tilis (A&S ’77, MBA ’78), partner, Assurance Leadership Team, at PricewaterhouseCoopers — decided that a team of MBAs from Vanderbilt University had edged out the competition enough to win first place and this year’s grand prize of $7,000.

A team from the University of North Carolina earned second-place honors and a prize of $5,000, while a team from the University of Texas at Dallas took home the third-place prize of $3,000.

Christopher Conoscenti, Chuck Tilis, Claire Liu and Joe Agular, left to right, served as this year's judges.
Christopher Conoscenti, Chuck Tilis, Claire Liu and Joe Agular, left to right, served as this year’s judges.

“I’ve done this six, seven times at least, and it’s a real privilege to do it,” Agular (A&S ’81, MBA ’88) told the student teams. “I really thank you for having me again because I enjoy finance, first of all, but I also enjoy seeing how bright the future is for all of you, because you’re very talented. You all had great presentations, and it was tough to judge.”

In addition to the top three finishers, this year’s competition also featured teams from Rice University, Washington University, University of South Carolina and Tulane University. The Finance Case Competition began in 1997 and has been sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence since 1998. Berdon Lawrence (BBA ’64, MBA ’65) is the founder of Hollywood Marine and former chairman of Kirby Corp., an operator of inland tank barges headquartered in Houston. Kirby purchased Hollywood Marine in 1999. Lawrence is also a former member of the Business School Council and a former member of the Board of Tulane.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been 18 years, but it’s been fun for me,” Lawrence said before announcing this year’s winners. “My MBA from Tulane was really helpful in my being able to build a company, so this is a nice way for me to tell Tulane that I appreciate what they did for me with my education.”

NASDAQ sends Freeman a seven-story salute


To commemorate the Freeman School’s 100th anniversary, NASDAQ sent out a special congratulatory message via its famed MarketSite Tower in Times Square.

For more than 20 years, NASDAQ has been a dedicated corporate partner of the Freeman School. The company has sponsored the Burkenroad Reports program since its founding and is also a sponsor of the annual Burkenroad Reports Investment Conference. In 2006, NASDAQ donated $50,000 to help restart Burkenroad Reports in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The company has also hosted numerous tours and site visits for students, including a September 2013 site visit as part of Freeman Days New York.

“NASDAQ is proud to be a partner supporting the program and all the great things Peter [Ricchiuti] has accomplished over the years,” wrote Tuan Le, director of NASDAQ OMX.

Investors find business deals at Burkenroad conference

A Texas-based convenience store chain was sold just three days after its executives presented at the 18th annual Burkenroad Reports Investment Conference. Susser Holdings Corp., parent company of Stripes Convenience Stores, was acquired for $1.8 billion by Energy Transfer Partners. Susser Holdings also controls Susser Petroleum Partners, one of the largest wholesale fuel distributors in Texas.

E. V. "Chip" Bonner, executive vice president of Susser Holdings, speaks at the 2014 Burkenroad Reports Investment Conference, which took place on April 25 at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans.
E. V. “Chip” Bonner, executive vice president of Susser Holdings, speaks at the 2014 Burkenroad Reports Investment Conference, which took place on April 25 at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans.

The Burkenroad Reports Conference, which took place April 25 at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, is an annual event that highlights companies covered by Burkenroad Reports, the Freeman School’s acclaimed equities analysis program. Since its founding in 1993, 29 companies covered by the program have been bought out, with Susser being the fifth in the last 10 months.

Thirty-four companies delivered presentations at this year’s conference to a record attendance of 750 people. According to Peter Ricchiuti, William B. Burkenroad Jr. Professor of Practice at the Freeman School and founder of Burkenroad Reports, about half of those in attendance were professional investors, but the rest were individuals looking for investment ideas on their own. Ricchiuti says Burkenroad Reports stocks and the Hancock Horizon Burkenroad Fund, a mutual fund that invests in many of the companies covered by the program, can often help investors round out their portfolios.

“Most investors own mutual funds that tend to own the same large-cap stocks,” says Ricchiuti. “These kinds of companies are not only interesting but provide some diversification.”

Book shares lessons of Burkenroad Reports

As director of the Burkenroad Reports program, Peter Ricchiuti has spent more than 20 years highlighting the small, profitable companies that often fly under the radar of Wall Street. Now, Ricchiuti has collected some of the lessons he’s learned over the years in a book.

NEWS-Stocks-Under-Rocks-covStocks Under Rocks: How to Uncover Overlooked, Profitable Market Opportunities (FT Press), co-written with New Orleans Advocate features editor Annette Sisco, is a funny, informative guide to investing based on Riccchiuti’s experiences running the acclaimed student equities research program.

“It’s all the stories I tell in class and all the stories we get from visiting with the companies, but integrated into the funny stories is what we found that makes those companies a smart investment,” says Ricchiuti. “Every company represents a few anecdotes and a few funny stories but also one investment lesson learned.”

Ricchiuti says the biggest lesson of all when it comes to regional small-cap stocks is that individual investors really can gain an advantage over Wall Street.

“The conventional wisdom, particularly in academia, is that every stock is already efficiently priced, but when you get down low enough and small enough, there’s often times no other coverage,” Ricchiuti says. “If you’re willing to do the research, you really can know more than anyone else, and for an investor, that’s a great place to be.”

Stocks Under Rocks: How to Uncover Overlooked, Profitable Market Opportunities is available on Amazon and other book retailers.

Goldring brings the world to Freeman this summer

John Trapani directs the Goldring Institute of International Business.
John Trapani says the Freeman School currently has more than 500 students from around the world enrolled in various graduate programs.

As John Trapani listened to the names of graduates at this year’s Freeman School diploma ceremony, a thought struck him: Nearly half of the 700-plus degree recipients were from outside the U.S.

“I leaned over to one of our faculty members and said, ‘What you’re witnessing is the export of educational services,’” laughs Trapani, the Martin F. Schmidt Chair of International Business. “We’re exporting our services to China and Latin America and elsewhere, and that’s a good thing for the United States.”

As executive director of the Goldring Institute of International Business, Trapani has been exporting Freeman School educational programs for 25 years, but in the last several years, Trapani says, the number of students enrolled in those programs has reached an all-time high.

“We don’t always get the recognition for it, but we have more than 500 students from around the world pursuing our master’s degrees right now,” Trapani says. “That’s a huge number for a school our size.”

The size and scope of the Freeman School’s international initiatives surprised even Dean Ira Solomon.

“When I was a candidate for the dean’s position, nobody really told me the extent to which the school has such a heritage of global engagement,” Solomon says. “There are other schools around the country that really beat their chests about these things, but we’ve been relatively quiet about it. That’s something I’d like to change, because there aren’t many other schools with the breadth and depth of experience in global business that we have.”
Summer is traditionally the time when many students in the Freeman School’s international programs travel to New Orleans to take classes in fulfillment of their campus residency requirements. This summer, the Goldring Institute welcomed more than 150 international students to campus for classes in conjunction with a variety of programs.

Those programs included the CENTRUM-Tulane Global EMBA program, a 48-hour dual degree program for executive students in Lima, Peru; the ICESI-Tulane Global MBA program, a 36-hour dual degree Master of Management program for MBA students in Cali, Colombia; the UFM-Tulane Master of Management program, a 36-hour dual degree master’s program for students in Guatemala City, Guatemala; and the Latin American Faculty Development PhD Program, a business doctoral program for faculty members at leading universities throughout Latin America. While there was a lot of activity on campus this summer, it was just one small part of the Freeman School’s summer programs. In addition to the students who spent time in New Orleans this summer, the Goldring Institute and the Stewart Center for Executive Education sent more than 250 students to Europe, China, Latin America and India for coursework in conjunction with various programs.

This year alone, career and education website Business Research Guide rated the Freeman School as the fifth best school in the country for studying business abroad, and students ranked Freeman No. 5 in the world for international business in a Financial Times survey. While those rankings might surprise people who associate international business with high-profile schools like Wharton, Trapani says it doesn’t surprise him one bit.

“I think what it tells us is our students like what we’re doing and think we really know what we’re doing,” Trapani says. “We may not be the biggest, but if our customers think we’re doing a good job, that’s a very good thing.”