Thursday, December 19, 2013

COBI professor brings international, engineering experiences to business classroom

December marks the end of Dr. Marcelo Alvarado-Vargas’ first semester teaching at The University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation department of management, but if he has his way, it was only the start of what he hopes will be a career at COBI. That’s the focused goal of a man who knows universities, having obtained four degrees from three universities on three continents.

“I was born in Bolivia, a lower-middle income country. I was strongly influenced by my father who sees education as an investment for personal development. Education has expanded my view of the world,” he said.

Dr. Marcelo Alvarado-Vargas
Alvarado-Vargas obtained his bachelor’s degree at Bolivian Private University (Universidad PrivadaBoliviana), where he studied production engineering.

“The university exposed me to various companies and business people. I am still in contact with them, and with authorities of the university.”
Later, he obtained a master’[s degree in international business at Florida International University in Miami.  “I returned to Bolivia in 2004, a young engineer with a master’s degree, but it was very difficult to find jobs…I was overqualified,” Alvarado-Vargas said.  “I was hired by Bata, a shoe manufacturer, and worked there for five months. I was happy there, but they did not use my full potential, and I didn’t see any challenges there.”

“I saw an opportunity to study abroad, in Belgium, so I obtained a scholarship from the Belgian government and went to Ghent University (Universiteit Gent) for a master degree in operations and technology management. They speak Dutch there; I already spoke English, Spanish and French, but I don’t like to feel lost, so I learned Dutch in the evenings.  I think to be functional in society you have to be motivated to be part of that society.”
“While in Belgium I was a graduate assistant to a professor who exposed me to different kinds of research, and pushed me to keep going,” Alvarado-Vargas said, reflecting on his own passionate interest in research.

“Then I received a stipend from Florida International University, arriving in Miami in 2007 to pursue my Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering, but I transferred to business administration….which was the best decision of my life. This is what I really like, and with my engineering background, I was unique. Strategic management, innovation, and technology management are my areas of research, and I was able to bring different angles and viewpoints to it. Some look only at business, and some look at engineering, but I was able to bridge the gap, which I think also enhances the classroom experience for my students. I graduated in the summer of 2013 with a Ph.D. in business administration.”
Alvarado-Vargas said he loves teaching, and recalled that his first instructional experience was as a private tutor as a senior in high school, charging a minimal fee to earn extra money. His first formal teaching on the university level was in 2008 at FIU, teaching Engineering Economic Analysis, a textbook which still maintains a prominent position on the shelf above his office desk in Stranahan Hall South. Later, he taught strategic management, international business, managing innovation, operations management, and organizational management at FIU.

In his search for a full-time teaching position, he accepted an invitation to visit The University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation.
“I was very happy and surprised the first time I came to The University of Toledo; I knew I belonged here. When something is right for you, you feel that energy. Comparing it to other institutions I had the chance to know from inside, I think UT is equally competitive in resources for research, and, since it was founded in 1872, this school has a history.”

Alvarado-Vargas’ commitment to research even extended to his process for selecting a football team to cheer for, using strategy “to pick my NFL team forever.” He spent a year analyzing the 32 teams, their strengths and weaknesses, and finally determined that his winning team would be the Pittsburgh Steelers.  “Having an engineering background, I could relate to steel…besides, who has a dolphin for a mascot?”
Since settling in Toledo this past summer, he’s been to the museum, the zoo and some area restaurants, but admits he is still exploring the city. He added that he does not miss the traffic or weather of Miami, and that, “I think winter clothing is more elegant.” In addition to helping his students succeed, he enjoys a variety of live music, playing the guitar, travel, movies (Braveheart, A Beautiful Mind and Amadeus are his favorites), and admits to being into motocross sports, especially when he was younger.

“As a teenager, I was really determined about my future. If I wanted something, I found a way to get it,” he said.
Currently, his focus and determination remain intense and intact. “Everything is possible if you really put in the effort.”


Friday, December 13, 2013

COBI again receives international recognition as Excellent Business School

The University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation is again internationally ranked by Eduniversal in their recently released 6th edition of their annual worldwide business school ranking, The Best 1,000 Business Schools in 154 Countries, 2013.

This year Eduniversal recognizes only 145 schools in North America in rankings of Excellent, Top and Universal.
UT COBI, rated Excellent, is the only ranked business school in Northwest Ohio.  Headquartered in Paris, the international higher education ranking agency Eduniversal endeavors to provide information for students that enables them to make the right decision regarding the choice of their future studies anywhere in the world.

Eduniversal defines a business school’s international reputation “as its capacity to enhance the prestige of a student – and therefore improve his employment prospects – in his country of study and abroad.”
“By providing a serious and reliable reference that reflects the international dimension of the 1,000 Best Business Schools in the world, Eduniversal serves as an essential tool for students, human resource professionals and deans and directors from all corners of the world,” noted Martial Guiette, CEO and founder of Eduniversal.

Classification by Eduniversal as an Excellent school is based on two essential elements: the internationalization criteria - - which includes accreditations, such as by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB); rankings by publications such as Business Week and the Wall Street Journal; membership in international academic associations; and university studies - - and the vote by 1,000 business school deans around the world. Every dean’s vote was transformed into a recommendation rate that students and others in the academic field can use to evaluate and compare the academic institutions.

“We are very excited by this prestigious ranking, which validates the high quality of our faculty and students, as well as the significance of our curriculum at all levels,” noted COBI Interim Dean Thomas Sharkey. “Not only has UT COBI again been recognized by this international organization, but we are honored to again be recognized as an Excellent school.”

“Furthermore we completely agree with Eduniversal’s emphasis on the importance of a business school improving a student’s employment prospects. This is a primary focus at COBI, and an area in which we perform extremely well, with an 85+% job placement rate for our graduating students, even during recent challenging economic conditions.”

“The fact that many well-known companies come to UT COBI to find the talent they need reflects very positively on our outstanding quality, and demonstrates the extremely dynamic and mutually beneficial relationship enjoyed by COBI and the business community,” Sharkey said.
COBI is also a member of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, a recognition earned by only 5% of all business schools in the world, and is consistently acknowledged as one of America’s Best Business Schools by The Princeton Review.

COBI sponsors fourth annual business innovation competition for UT community

If you have a great business idea, you may be part of a team that wins up to $10,000 to help make your idea a reality in the fourth annual business innovation competition sponsored by The University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation (COBI).

The competition is open to all UT students, faculty and staff, while alumni can participate as a member of a team involving current students, faculty or staff.

“The first three years of the business competition were a remarkable success as we received dozens of entries from across the UT campuses,” said Dr. Sonny Ariss, Chair of the COBI management department.  “We are expecting another tremendous array of entries this year and trust the contest will continue to advance a creative culture of growth in all areas of the University” 

“The spirit of entrepreneurship is critically important to the ongoing success of every university and every community,” noted interim COBI Dean Thomas Sharkey. “That is why the College of Business and Innovation has stepped forward to be the sole sponsor of this event, providing all of the prize money.”
“We strive to live up to our name, which incorporates both business and innovation,” Dr. Sharkey added. “COBI is increasingly recognized on both national and international levels for providing a premier business education and for helping our students obtain internships while here and jobs upon graduation. This business competition truly reflects our emphasis on supporting innovation, fostering creative thinking and nurturing the entrepreneurial environment which is so essential for the life and growth of this region.”

Dr. Ariss added that “Entrepreneurship within the corporate business structure, known as intrapreneurship, is also important today because corporate America is looking for innovative thinking from their employees.”
Dr. Ariss explained that competition entries must be submitted using Lean Launch Pad concepts which enables people to develop their business model upon nine basic building blocks: customer segments, value propositions, channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, key resources, key activities, key partnerships and cost structure.

“COBI is ready to offer guidance to help these teams effectively implement their plans, emerge beyond the University, create jobs and enhance area economic growth,” Dr. Ariss added.
There is no cost to enter the competition. Registration must be completed online. Winners must prove that they have formed an LLC or S Corp in order to receive the financial award.

The College of Business and Innovation at The University of Toledo is providing the following prize money:
• First place: $10,000
• Second place: $5,000
• Third place: $2,000
• Honorable Mention: $500

The timeline for the 2014 competition is:
         Those planning to enter the competition need to attend a mandatory workshop sessions which will be offered on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the PNC Entrepreneurship Lab, Room 3100, Savage & Associates Complex for Business Learning and Engagement
         Entries must be submitted by February 21, 2014
         Finalists will be announced on March 21, 2014
         Finalists will make an oral presentation about their business using the business model canvas       on April 8, 2014 between noon and 5:30 p.m. in the PNC Entrepreneurship Lab, Room 3100,
Savage & Associates Business Complex
         Winners will be announced April 15, 2014

To register or for more information, go to



COBI’s Beta Alpha Psi Chapter again recognized as Superior

The University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation Gamma Epsilon Chapter of Beta Alpha Psi achieved Superior status for their successful efforts during the 2012-2013 academic year.

“Recognition as Superior Chapter is a significant accomplishment,” noted Jan Taylor Morris, President, Beta Alpha Psi, the international honor organization for financial information professionals. “Under the leadership of Dr. Diana Franz, the Gamma Epsilon Chapter has far exceeded the baseline requirements of Beta Alpha Psi and has excelled in the areas of academics, professionalism and leadership. As faculty advisor for the chapter, Dr. Franz has provided an invaluable service to your academic institution.”
“This validates a lot of work, effort and attention to detail,” noted Dr. Franz, Accounting Professor in the UT College of Business and Innovation.  “There is a lot of record keeping and recording of service hours between the Chapter and the national office. The students had the vision that they would go for the Superior status, so they identified what had to be done and all pitched in to make it happen.”

“Because Beta Alpha Psi is a service organization, we did a lot of events on weekends assisting a number of charitable organizations,” she explained, “participating in a wide array of events which mirrored the students’ interests and availability.
“The link between the College of Business and Innovation and the business professionals in our community is very strong,” Dr. Franz added. “It is amazing to observe benefits that arise from this connection. COBI alumni often come back to the college to speak at Gamma Epsilon meetings, even though they are held late on weekday evenings. There is tremendous networking, which is certainly beneficial for our students. And the message to the business community is, ‘If you are in Beta, you are a leader.’”