Students earn national recognition at business competition

May 14th, 2014

Three Freeman School students recently earned top honors at the 2014 Collegiate DECA International Career Development Conference.


Freeman School students Daniel Goldbaum, Benjamin Ginsburg and Melissa Benenson, left to right, each earned medals at Collegiate DECA’s International Career Development Conference.

The conference, which took place in Washington D.C. in April from April 23–26, was sponsored by DECA, an international organization that prepares students for careers with events designed to enable participants to apply classroom learning to real-world experiences. More than 1,300 students took part in wide range of competitions and other business activities at the conference.

Freeman School sophomore Benjamin Ginsburg (BSM ’16), president of the Tulane chapter of DECA, was a big winner, earning a prize of $1,000 for being named International Champion in the Banking Financial Services event.

Also earning medals at the conference were Daniel Goldbaum (BSM ’16), a finalist in the Corporate Finance event, and Melissa Benenson (BSM ’16), a finalist in the Travel and Tourism event.

In addition to their competitions, Ginsburg and Goldbaum also participated in DECA’s Finance and Accounting Professional Development Academy and Benenson, the Louisiana Collegiate DECA State President, participated in the Hospitality and Tourism Academy and the Entrepreneurship Challenge.

This year marked Tulane University’s first time participating in the conference. Other schools that took part in this year’s event included George Washington University, the University of Notre Dame, Michigan State University and Rutgers University.

Hoang selected as recipient of FSG Teaching Award

May 13th, 2014

Assistant Professor of Accounting Kris Hoang has been named the 2014 recipient of the Freeman Student Government (FSG) Teaching Award. The award, which was previously known as the Howard W. Wissner Award for Undergraduate Teaching, is presented annually by the FSG Executive Board in recognition of professors in the Bachelor of Science in Management program who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to the education of students.


Kris Hoang

All faculty members who taught a for-credit course in the preceding academic year are eligible to be nominated for the award. From those nominations, three professors are chosen by a vote of the undergraduate student body. The FSG Executive Board then selects the winner from those finalists.

Hoang was recognized for her teaching in Managerial Accounting, which emphasizes the role of accounting information in management decision-making and strategy.

“I really treat the whole course as language acquisition,” Hoang says. “This is the language of business and until you have some mastery of that language, it’s really hard to have a conversation at the board room table about the big strategic decisions that need to be made. That’s how I try to appeal to students who may not be pursuing further studies in accounting but who are definitely going to be using these concepts to navigate the professional world, whether they’re executives, lawyers or politicians.”

Hoang joined the Freeman School in 2012 after completing her PhD at the University Of Alberta’s School Of Business. Her research examines the judgment and decision making behavior of managers, directors and auditors in corporate governance settings. She studies how auditor-client relationships impact financial reporting. Prior to beginning her academic career, she provided auditing services and developed corporate governance resources for clients at Deloitte in Toronto.

Hundreds turn out to celebrate Freeman Centennial

May 6th, 2014


It was advertised as the “Party of the Century,” and for the more than 650 alumni, faculty and staff members, and guests who turned out, the Freeman School’s Centennial Celebration just might have lived up to that billing.

After more than a year of planning, the long-awaited celebration took place on Friday (May 2) at the Pavilion of the Two Sisters in New Orleans’ City Park. Festive spirits, a gorgeous setting and spectacular spring weather combined for a very special evening honoring the Freeman School’s 100 years of business education.

In attendance were alumni from across the U.S. as well as Great Britain, Mexico and Colombia. Classes represented at the party, which also honored alumni celebrating milestone graduation anniversaries, spanned 1956 to 2013.

A 100th anniversary only comes around once in most people’s lives, so nothing was spared to make the celebration a memorable event. The evening featured an incredible menu of New Orleans classics — including oysters en brochette, crab cakes, turtle soup, crawfish pasta, mini roast beef debris po-boys, sno balls and more — as well as an open bar serving beer, wine, cocktails and the Freeman Centini, a custom-crafted cocktail — in Freeman School blue — created especially for the centennial by “Cocktail Chick” Ti Martin (MBA ’84), co-proprietor of the Commander’s Family of Restaurants, which includes Commander’s Palace, Café Adelaide and SoBou in New Orleans and Brennan’s of Houston.

Attendees danced to music from the Boogie Men, a nine-piece band whose repertoire spans six decades, and enjoyed special attractions including a giant outdoor screen showing vintage Freeman School photos, a timeline display highlighting significant events in school history, life-size cardboard cutouts of favorite Freeman professors, and a photo booth for friends and alumni to take souvenir pictures.

During a brief program, Dean Ira Solomon greeted alumni and guests and introduced Centennial Co-chair Jay Lapeyre (MBA/JD ’78), who announced that he and co-chair Frank B. Stewart Jr. (BBA ’57) had helped raise $520,000 for the Freeman Centennial Scholarship Initiative. Next, Jenny Kottler (A&S ’83, MBA ’84), speaking on behalf of this year’s reunion chairs, presented a check for $112,000, representing the collective gifts of this year’s reunion classes, which included the graduate classes of ’09, ’04, ’99, ’94, ’89, ’84, ’79, ’74, ’69 and ’64.

But fundraising wasn’t the focus of this special evening. Before leading guests in a rendition of “Happy Birthday” and cutting the cake, Solomon thanked everyone in attendance and proclaimed that with their support and engagement, the Freeman School’s next 100 years promises to be even more exciting than its first.

To see more photos from the Centennial Celebration, visit the Freeman School’s Flickr page.

Freeman students honored as Scholar-Athletes of the Year

May 1st, 2014

Two A. B. Freeman School of Business students have been honored by Tulane University for combining outstanding athletic success with exceptional performance in the classroom.


Claire Schelske


Brandon Schmidt

Claire Schelske (BSM ’15) was named the Tulane Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award, while Brandon Schmidt (BSM ’15) was named Tulane Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The awards were presented at the Tulane Athletics Banquet, which took place on April 27 in the Lavin-Bernick Center.

Schelske is a repeat winner of the Tulane Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award. She also earned the award in 2013. A member of the Green Wave swimming & diving team, she produced top times in seven events and was a key component on five of the Wave’s medley relay teams. In the classroom, Schelske has maintained a 3.981 GPA as a finance and management major and is a three-time member of the Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll and Tulane 3.0 Club. She has also received the Conference USA Academic Medal on three occasions.

A member of the Green Wave football team, Schmidt played in nine games this past season, primarily on special teams, logging three tackles and helping Tulane to a berth in the 2013 New Orleans Bowl. Off the field, he has maintained a 4.0 GPA as a finance major and is a three-time recipient of the Conference USA Academic Medal, the Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll, the Tulane 3.0 Club and Dean’s List.


Investors find business deals at Burkenroad conference

May 1st, 2014

A Texas-based convenience store chain was sold just three days after its executives presented to investors 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 last Friday's Burkenroad Reports Investment Conference. Photo by Stephen Daigle.

E. V. “Chip” Bonner, executive vice president of Susser Holdings, speaks at last Friday’s Burkenroad Reports Investment Conference. Photo by Stephen Daigle.

The Burkenroad Conference, which took place on Friday (April 25) at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, is an annual event that highlights companies covered by Burkenroad Reports, a program of the A. B. Freeman School of Business that publishes investment analysis reports on small-cap companies headquartered in the South. 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.

Program founder and director Peter Ricchiuti says it’s no coincidence.

“These deals don’t happen overnight, so they must’ve been working on it for a while, but Susser still came to the conference to present,” said Ricchiuti, who is the William B. Burkenroad Jr. Professor of Practice at the business school.

Of the five companies bought this year, four of them got extensive exposure through Ricchiuti’s recently released book about the Burkenroad Reports, Stocks Under Rocks.

It was Susser’s business model and financial performance, examined in depth by the Burkenroad students, which attracted Energy Transfer Partners.

“We looked at the Susser business model to capitalize on the strong economy and favorable demographic trends of Texas,” Jamie Welch, chief financial officer of Energy Transfer Equity, told the Wall Street Journal.

Thirty-four companies presented research at the conference to a record attendance of 750 people; about half were professional investors and the rest were individuals looking for investment ideas on their own. The Hancock Horizon Burkenroad Mutual Fund also uses the program’s student-produced research.

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

– Maggy Baccinelli

Research Notes: Lingling Wang

April 30th, 2014

WangLinglingLingling Wang’s paper “Culture and R2,” co-authored with Cheol Eun and Steven Xiao, has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Financial Economics. In the paper, the authors find that stock prices co-move more in culturally tight and collectivistic countries and less in culturally loose and individualistic countries. Their study suggests that culture is an important omitted variable in the literature that investigates cross-country differences in stock price co-movements. Wang is an assistant professor of finance at the A. B. Freeman School of Business.

Tulane team wins top prize at Business Model Competition

April 17th, 2014

Tympanogen, a biomedical startup founded by Tulane University students Elaine Horn-Ranney, who will receive a PhD in biomedical engineering in May, and Parastoo Khoshakhlagh, a student in the biomedical engineering doctoral program, took home the grand prize of $25,000 at the 2014 Tulane Business Model Competition.

Parastoo Khoshakhlagh, a doctoral student in the Tulane biomedical engineering program, makes the winning presentation for Tympanogen. (Photo by Cheryl Gerber)

Parastoo Khoshakhlagh, a doctoral student in the Tulane biomedical engineering program, makes the winning presentation for Tympanogen. (Photo by Cheryl Gerber)

The contest, an annual presentation of the A. B. Freeman School of Business and the Tulane Entrepreneurs Association, took place Friday (April 11) in the Freeman Auditorium on the uptown campus. The awards were announced Friday night at the annual Tulane Council of Entrepreneurs Awards Gala at the Westin Canal Place Hotel.

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 offers just a 40 percent success rate. Tympanogen’s gel patch, on the other hand, will cost approximately $1,800 and has a success rate of up to 95 percent.

According to competition judge Chris Papamichael (BSM ’96), principal and co-founder of the Domain Cos., Tympanogen impressed him and his fellow judges both with its product and with 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 at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, which will take place in May 2014.

18th annual Finance Case Competition is test for judges

March 31st, 2014

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 A. B. Freeman School of Business on Friday (March 28), was without a doubt the toughest yet.

From left to right, Finance Case Competition judges Chris Conoscenti, Chuck Tilis, Claire Liu and Joe Agular.

From left, Finance Case Competition judges Christopher Conoscenti, Chuck Tilis, Claire Liu and Joe Agular. Conoscenti said this year’s competition was the closest in the five years he’s served as a judge.

“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 Ryan Bendinelli, Yifan Xu, Aaron Gaddie and Paul Whitmire, 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 — Joseph Quinn, Michael Baccich, Jimmy Colavita and Newton Sears — earned second-place honors and a prize of $5,000, while a team from the University of Texas at Dallas — Adriana Pizana, Samir Patel, Brit Sundberg and Mohammed Bourji — took home the third-place prize of $3,000.

“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 MBA teams from Rice University, Washington University, University of South Carolina and Tulane University.

Dean Ira Solomon, left, and Rolanette and Berdon Lawrence, center, awarded this year's grand prize of $7,000 to a team from Vanderbilt University.

Dean Ira Solomon, far left, and competition sponsors Berdon and Rolanette Lawrence, center, awarded this year’s grand prize of $7,000 to a team from Vanderbilt 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.”

To see more photos from the competition, including photos of all the winning teams, visit the Freeman School’s Flickr page.


Three finalists announced for 2014 Tulane Business Model Competition

March 27th, 2014

Judges of the Tulane Business Model Competition’s semifinals round emerged from an upstairs room in New Orleans’ historic Gallier Hall on Tuesday (March 25) with three named finalists: Tympanogen offers a new treatment to replace surgery for chronic tympanic membrane perforations or holes in the eardrum; InVision Biomedical offers a device designed to help alleviate common tracheostomy complications; and Million Dollar Scholar hopes to help educate high school students on how to fund their college educations.

 Tulane Business Model Competition finalist Ras Asan, chief operating officer of Million Dollar Scholar, presents to the judging panel at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. (Photo by Maggy Baccinelli)

Tulane Business Model Competition finalist Ras Asan, COO of Million Dollar Scholar, presents to judges at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. (Photo by Maggy Baccinelli)

These businesses were chosen from a diverse group of eight startups, including a latke cart and catering service, a sugar cane juice drink and a volunteer management service, all of which presented at the New Orleans Entrepreneur Week event.

Finalists won an additional $2,000 each and the chance to win $25,000 more at the closing event on April 11.

Of the winners, competition judge and president of Medline Industries Andy Mills said, “There is a great understanding that products that improve health care, either by lowering costs or eliminating pain through a less invasive procedure, will inherently succeed.”

He added, “There is also a great need for Million Dollar Scholar, which was a well established, buttoned-up group. They are selling a book, they’ve won awards, and they have a good web presence.”

Ras Asan, chief operating officer of Million Dollar Scholar, appreciated the judges’ support. “We’ve received a lot of good feedback on the services we provide, but having such an esteemed group of entrepreneurs validate what we are doing was really rewarding,” Asan said.

The judging panel included eight professional entrepreneurs representing a wide range of industries, and all are proud Tulane alumni.

“I really appreciated the opportunity to see what the students are doing,” Mills said. “It made me feel good about the future and all that is happening at Tulane.”

–Maggy Baccinelli

CityBusiness: Tulane energy research calls for downstream focus

March 25th, 2014


From New Orleans CityBusiness, March 25, 2014:

The report, authored by Tulane Energy Institute president Eric Smith and sponsored by Chevron, posits that relying on one technology, industry or energy feedstock such as natural gas is economically risky. Therefore the creation of “downstream value added opportunities” will be the key to extending the energy and manufacturing boom beyond the immediate commodity conversion stage.

To read the article in its entirety, visit

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