Archive for May, 2013

Freeman awards more than 700 diplomas at graduation ceremonies

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Now that’s what you call an opening act.

To accommodate its growing size, the A. B. Freeman School of Business moved its diploma ceremony to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this year, where it immediately followed the university’s spectacular unified commencement ceremony. For business graduates and their guests, the move enabled them to witness what was surely one of the most memorable graduation ceremonies in Tulane history. The Dalai Lama delivered Tulane’s commencement address this year to a rapturous response, and the ceremony also featured special musical performances from honorary degree recipients Dr. John and Allen Toussaint. Natasha Trethewey, Pulitzer Prize winner and 19th U.S. Poet Laureate, was also on hand to receive an honorary degree.

Elizabeth A. Freudmann was one of 108 MBA degree recipients who received their diplomas on Saturday at the Superdome. Photo by Cheryl Gerber.

With that exhilarating introduction, the Freeman School took to the stage and got down to business, with Dean Ira Solomon awarding 717 diplomas to new graduates of the A. B. Freeman School of Business. That number includes 82 Master of Accounting degrees, 108 Master of Business Administration degrees, 137 Master of Finance degrees, 14 Master of Global Management degrees, 39 Master of Management degrees, 29 Master of Management in Energy degrees, and one Doctor of Philosophy degree. The number also includes 307 Bachelor of Science in Management degrees conferred as part of the Tulane-Newcomb College undergraduate diploma ceremony.

Aaron P. Coulon (BSM ’13) received the BSM Scholastic Achievement Award, which recognizes the undergraduate student with the highest cumulative GPA, and Clifford T. Harlan (MBA ’13) received the Marta and Peter Bordeaux Scholastic Achievement Award, which recognizes the MBA graduate with the highest cumulative GPA. In addition, business graduates Nicole M. Munsey (MBA ’13), Lauren A. Nelson (MBA ’13) and Albin J. Soares (MBA ’13) received the Tulane 34 Award, which recognizes students from across the university for their academic achievements, student leadership and community service.

David A. Wilson, president and CEO of the Graduate Management Admission Council, spoke to graduates at the Freeman School’s diploma ceremony. Photo by Cheryl Gerber.

David A. Wilson, president and CEO of the Graduate Management Admission Council, delivered the charge to graduates for the Freeman School. Wilson, a member of the Business School Council, encouraged graduates to use their earnings to make the world a better place, to maintain their sense of humor and to value the unique contributions of everyone they come in contact with. He closed with a reference to the oath young Athenians were asked to take more than 2,500 years ago – “We will transmit this city not only not less, but greater, better and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”

“Your Tulane degree will open doors that you did not even know where there for you,” Wilson said. “Take the talent, the education and the opportunity that you have been given and make this world greater, better and more beautiful than it is today.”

To see more photos from this year’s graduate diploma ceremony, visit the Freeman School’s Flickr page.


Houston PMBA project about more than marketing

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

For almost 30 years, the Periwinkle Foundation has offered children with cancer one of the most powerful healing therapies in existence: Fun.

Periwinkle Foundation

The Periwinkle Foundation hosts a summer camp and other programs for children with cancer. Last semester, a Houston-based class of PMBA students partnered with the foundation to develop strategies to improve marketing, development and community engagement.

The Houston-based foundation hosts an annual summer camp for children undergoing cancer treatment that enables the pint-sized patients to enjoy a week filled with all the traditional camp activities, from horseback riding and archery to fishing, swimming and even ziplining. Periwinkle also hosts weekend camps for teens and families and monthly programs at Texas Children’s Cancer Center and Hematology Center, all dedicated to meeting the social and emotional needs of children living with cancer.

On an annual basis, the foundation touches the lives of more 4,000 children, teens and family members, but like a lot of nonprofits, Periwinkle doesn’t always have the time or resources to devote to strategic marketing.

That’s where a Houston-based class of Freeman School PMBA students comes in.

Last fall, Yiorgos Bakamitsos, professor of practice and assistant dean for executive education, reached out to Periwinkle and offered the consulting services of students in his Topics in Marketing class. Over the course of the six-week module, the students met with representatives from Periwinkle and developed a host of recommendations to meet the organization’s wide-ranging needs.

“They wanted to, for example, grow their donor base,” says Giovanni Edwards (MBA ’13), one of the students in the class. “They wanted to make better use of technology. They wanted to improve their direct mail campaign. They wanted to increase volunteer support and turnout. It was a really nice consulting project.”

Bakamitsos has put his students to work on experiential learning projects with nonprofits for more than a decade, but he says the Periwinkle project stands out both for the commitment of the students to the organization’s mission and the quality of their recommendations.

“The recommendations were really excellent,” Bakamitsos says. “One of Periwinkle’s board members who came to see the presentations does marketing for HP, and her comment to me was that their work was very professional and that she sometimes wished she would get that kind of work from the people who work for her, which was a very nice compliment for the students.”

Working in teams of five, the students came up with ideas that ranged from simple and straightforward to surprisingly sophisticated given the project’s short timeline.

In addition to its annual summer camp, above, the Periwinkle Foundation also hosts weekend camps for teens and families and monthly programs at Texas Children’s Cancer Center.

One team highlighted the importance of color branding, and encouraged the foundation to be more consistent in its use of periwinkle blue—the foundation’s official color—in its logos and marketing materials. Another team used census data to generate a heat map showing areas in Houston with high concentrations of charitable donors. The team then showed the foundation how to use that information improve its direct mail campaigns.

One of the best received ideas was Edwards’ proposal for the creation of  Periwinkle Fellows, a new program to expand and enhance volunteer support. The fellows program would enable young professionals in Houston to gain experience and build their resumes by leading volunteer projects for the foundation. Periwinkle in turn would receive valuable professional services while at the same time building name recognition in the local business community.

Doug Suggitt, executive director of the foundation, says the fellows program was just one of many ideas suggested by the class that Periwinkle hopes to implement in the near future.

“We were tremendously satisfied with the project,” Suggitt says. “I would say the vast majority of the recommendations that came from the students will be utilized by the foundation. We’re truly a more dynamic organization thanks to Tulane University.”

While the students say they enjoyed the chance to put their skills to work for a real-world client, the fact that the client was an organization like Periwinkle made this project that much more special.

“We would have worked just as hard if the client had been Exxon or Apple, but I think our connection to the organization and our satisfaction from the impact was very different,” Edwards says. “It felt better because it meant something.”

“There are definitely projects within the MBA program that are kind of draining and exhausting, but this was one that I wish we could have had more time to work on,” adds Kelli Stilley (MBA ’13). “We felt like we actually made a difference in the organization, so it was a lot of fun.”

Research Notes: Prof. Geoffrey Parker

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Geoffrey Parker’s research is featured in the May 2013 issue of International Innovation, a publication dedicated to the dissemination of science and technology research. The article, titled The Power of Platforms, discusses the research conducted by Parker and Marshall Van Alstyne, associate professor at Boston University, on platform-driven markets, a topic the two colleagues have studied for over 15 years. The magazine also features a Q&A with Parker and Van Alstyne. Parker is a professor of management science at Tulane University’s A. B. Freeman School of Business.


Freeman School unveils Strategic Plan

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Over the past school year, a team of 52 members of the Freeman School community has been engaged in an intensive strategic planning effort. The purpose of this process has been to discover and refine the Freeman School’s mission, core values, capabilities and goals. The result is a comprehensive plan that builds on the Freeman School’s unique strengths to chart an ambitious course for the future.

The Strategic Planning Leadership Team consisted of faculty, staff and students as well as Tulane administrators and members of the Business School Council. Beyond these individuals, ideas and comments were solicited from the entire Freeman community, including alumni and partner organizations. All of these contributions were essential to shaping the strategic planning document.

“This effort was the most rigorous, comprehensive strategic planning process in school history,” said Dean Ira Solomon. “We hope that all of our community members will share our enthusiasm for the plan and join us as we work to implement its goals.”

The final plan is available in PDF format on the Freeman website.


Burkenroad Conference enjoys record attendance

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

This year’s Burkenroad Reports Investment Conference attracted a record crowd of 750 people, but event organizer Peter Ricchiuti says he didn’t need to see an attendance roster to realize they’d broken a record.

This year’s Burkenroad Reports Investment Conference attracted a record attendance.

“We knew it was bigger than we expected because we ran out of cookies,” laughs Ricchiuti, professor of practice at Tulane University’s A. B. Freeman School of Business and research director of the acclaimed equities analysis program.

Now in its 17th year, the conference, which took place on Friday (April 26) at the Westin New Orleans Canal Place Hotel, features presentations from senior management at many of the small- and mid-cap companies covered by the program’s student analysts. This year, more than 30 companies led information sessions.

Ricchiuti says one of this year’s hottest sessions was by Evolution Petroleum Corp. The Houston-based energy company specializes in tertiary recovery, a process in which carbon dioxide is used to extract oil from previously drilled fields. The company’s Delhi Field in northeastern Louisiana was thought to be drilled out, but since purchasing the property eight years ago, Evolution has turned it into a monster field.

“The Delhi Field has now produced to a level where the royalties that are going to come back to Evolution are going to go up significantly between now and the end of the year,” Ricchiuti says. “The stock currently sells for about $9.50 a share and when you look at what they think they have under the ground, it ends up being closer to $18. So that was a session that people loved.”

Peter Ricchiuti, center, talks with conference attendees Arvind Sanger (MBA ’87), managing partner of GeoSphere Capital Management, and Ron Mills (MBA ’95), equity analyst at Johnson Rice.

According to Ricchiuti, the big turnout this year was partly a reflection of the overall stock market — the S&P 500 is up 12 percent in the last year — and partly a reflection of the performance of Burkenroad Reports’ “stocks under rocks.” Hancock Bank’s Burkenroad Small Cap Fund, which uses Burkenroad Reports as a primary sources of research and invests in many of the companies followed by the program, is up an impressive 17 percent in the last year.

“The Burkenroad Mutual Fund has outperformed 99 percent of the nation’s mutual funds since its inception,” Ricchiuti says. “The returns have been just amazing.”


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