Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Steven Klar shares thoughts on leadership during visit to Toledo

On December 4, Steven Klar, patron of the Klar Academy for Leadership Excellence within The University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation, came to Toledo and visited with students now participating in the Academy.

Klar, president of the Klar Organization, a diversified real estate development, building and brokerage firm, was honored as The University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation 2005 Business Pacemaker of the Year. Klar received a bachelor’s of business administration from UT in 1969, then went on to earn a law degree from Brooklyn Law School in 1973.

During his visit, he spoke from the heart to the Academy students, sharing various thoughts about leadership in life:

“I, as a builder deal with crises every day; it’s about how you deal with them.”

“Treat your neighbors kindly, and you’ll be a leader.”

“You have a blank canvas. Be constant. Grow. Take the risks. If you never take the risks, you’ll never have the rewards.”

“That first step gets you a thousand miles.”

“We try to live with the motto, ‘Do it right the first time.’  From a leadership perspective, do it right the first time.”

“Everything you do in your life and for your family is all connected.”

“We’re all going to make mistakes.”

“If something is out of the ordinary, it’s your job to do something.”

“I developed a lot at The University of Toledo, all from my own growth and from the people at The University of Toledo. You never know what turns your life around, such as a great member of the academic community.”

“The Academy is doing some remarkable things. We need you to lead.”

“You’ve got the foundation, it’s what you do with it now.”

The mission of the Klar Academy for Leadership Excellence is to expand and accelerate the development of the leadership acumen and talents of a select cadre of outstanding university undergraduate students so as to increase their career success, ability to impact the world for good and improve the human condition.

The goals of the Klar Academy for Leadership Excellence are to provide Academy participants with a transformational learning experience to build on their COBI education, enabling them to better lead themselves, others, teams, organizations and communities. The focus of this development effort is to provide Klar Academy students  with a hands-on, unique and difference-making educational experience so as to expand and develop core competencies such as the ability to think bigger and create vision; skill at achieving goals and delivering desired results; emotional intelligence, interpersonal and teaming skills; an expanded worldview and community service mindset; ethical decision making; confidence to lead others and demonstrate self-leadership; and a mentoring mindset.

COBI students take 3M funded course on social impact, help human trafficking victims

When you think of someone in professional sales, your inclination is to ask what product or service they represent.

But this fall, several students in the College of Business and Innovation were focused on a cause rather than a product as they took the Sales for the Social Impact course.

The University of Toledo has a Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute to respond to human trafficking and social justice through teaching, research, and engagement.  So the COBI class attacked the serious issue of human trafficking, a topic “relevant to who we are,” noted Lora F. Parent, Lecturer, COBI marketing and sales departments.

The course is offered once a year, was completely funded by a grant from 3M and UT is one of only 11 universities in the country to obtain this grant, which emerged through the relationship the COBI Edward Schmidt School of Professional Sales has with 3M.

Parent said, “The COBI students created a series of How-to videos to help human trafficking victims learn how to assimilate back into society after the traumatic experience of trafficking. They may not have the skills or know how to do so. The videos were a type of ‘Sales 101’ program to help them succeed.”

Furthermore, each student had a goal of raising $200 for a Pathways project. Pathways is a local organization that addresses the broad objective of helping low-income people achieve self-sufficiency through programs that empower, encourage, and provide supportive services, and can help trafficking  victims with issues such as housing, legal, medical care. Asking area companies such as Target and Wal-Mart to donate $10 gift cards for the trafficking victims, the 10 students in the class raised $2,240.

“The other task for the students in this Sales for Social Impact course was to create a sales plan for how trafficking victims could create a business,” Parent said. “The class was divided into three groups to develop plans, having chosen a food delivery subscription service which would hire human trafficking survivors as employees. A milestone for the program participants would be obtaining a driver’s license, something that makes them feel normal.”  

In November, five students  - - Crystal Glambin, Sarah Dreier, Eric DiBell, Patrick Jones and Phillip Coveney - - went to 3M headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota to present their project to executives there.

“They did great, and 3M was impressed,” Parent said.

"The University of Toledo embraced a topic most do not what to touch,” said Debra Asplund, Global Strategic Account Leader, 3M. “They researched and presented a solid plan around human trafficking and the Social Justice Institute.  You could feel the passion the students had for this project.  Well done, Rockets.”

Glambin, a COBI supply chain management and marketing major, said, “The outreach/volunteer opportunities really made the whole class for me. Actually talking to human trafficking survivors and thrivers and learning about their journey and struggles really helped us become invested in the project. And it was really helpful when we were looking for ways to better serve their demographic; it helped us overcome our unconscious biases and really understand their lives better.”

“I am planning to continue volunteering with the Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute and the Lucas County Chapter,” she continued.  “They are planning to implement as many of the sales plans that we developed (we had a total of three different ventures) and all of the programs were designed with the intent of hiring human trafficking survivors.”

Parent said, “What was unusual about this class was bringing a social and an emotional topic into a business setting. This was a different type of selling, and it was hard to develop a plan, but the students succeeded in shedding light on a product to benefit trafficking surviors.”  

Parent explained that the Sales for Social Impact course will next be offered to students in spring, 2017. “The Pathways Project should be implemented by then, and we can analyze where the money went to, did the trafficking survivors see and benefit from the videos. We want to see the long-term impact, and 3M wants to see if this is a sustainable idea.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

COBI’s newest alumni emerge from Executive MBA program

The newest alumni of the UT College of Business and Innovation celebrated their achievement on November 6 at the commencement program for cohort 19 of the Executive MBA program.

 “All of us in the College of Business and Innovation are extremely proud of the members of Cohort 19 for their very hard work and commitment to the program, and to their futures,” noted Dr. Rosalinda Dunlap, Director of the new Graduate Programs office in the College of Business and Innovation. “These `working professionals completed all of their course requirements through our accelerated 12-month program, which is built upon a unique on-campus and distance learning format. The students’ success speaks both to their determination and to the validity of our program structure.”

Other individuals serving the Executive MBA class in the new COBI Graduate Programs office are Darlene Howard, assistant director; Stacy Jenkins, advisor; and Carol Stamm, career placement coordinator.

Members of COBI Executive MBA cohort 19 are: Sy Albakri, Radiometer America; Cristina Alvarado,                 Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center,  The University of Toledo; Ally Anthony, ProMedica Toledo Hospital; Sabina Attavar, Detroit Medical Center (DMC) Hospital; Brandon Forga, Lear Corp.; Marcus L. Goodwin, The House of Emmanuel, Inc.; Matt Hammond, ProMedica; Anthony Hartford, ProMedica; Nicole Marie Woods Henley, Metrex Research; Heather Karns, The University of Toledo College of Law; Kathleen Krueger, ProMedica; Mark Kuhlman, Kuhlman Corp.;  Erin Reis, ProMedica; Marcus Rivard, DTE Energy;  Howard Robinson, M.D.; Thadius Wadsworth, ProMedica.

“I am extremely happy I chose The University of Toledo. As a physician and a mother of two young kids finishing my MBA gave me a huge sense of accomplishment,” Dr. Attavar said. “I would like to send a message out there to all my contemporary physicians that it certainly feels good to come out of your patient care zone and explore fields like business management, administration, technology, finance and negotiation. Armed with an MBA, Physicians can get into the administration side of hospitals as directors, vice presidents, presidents, etc. The potential is unlimited.”

 “The best experience for me was the UT faculty. They are all keepers. They are awesome!” Dr. Attavar said. “I have to admit I was skeptical initially as medical knowledge, biology, biochemistry, genetics, etc. was my main background. That changed completely.”

“Any time I emailed any faculty member I always got a response, plus additional advice and a note saying feel free to contact me if you need further assistance. I truly could not ask for more!”

“To my kids I want to set an example that you can do anything you put your mind into at any point in life,” Dr. Attavar said.

She also had one piece of advice for others considering UT COBI’s Executive MBA program: “Cut short your decision making process and go for it!”

Research activities enhance decade-long relationship between UT COBI and PSG Institutions

The University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation and PSG Institutions in Coimbatore, India have enjoyed a mutually enriching relationship for a decade. PSG MBA students spend a semester or more at UT.  Additionally, COBI faculty members go to India to teach at PSG Institutions.

But a meeting in October marked the beginning of another aspect between the educational organizations as PSG and COBI faculty members and grad students met to discuss joint research projects.

Dr. Paul Hong, Professor of Information Operations and Technology Management in COBI, said that it might be six months to a year to determine exactly what type of research project could be jointly undertaken, and that such research could lead to perhaps partnering with a journal, or hosting an international conference.

“Doctoral students are very motivated, and such a joint project could connect UT doctoral students with international scholars. Without our meeting in October and the visit from these PSG professors, this would take a lot of time.”

Dr. D. Sudharani Ravindran, professor and admission counselor, and Dr. R. Deepa, assistant professor, both of PSG Institute of Management in Coimbatore, India, visited UT COBI in October to work with faculty and students on a project that may help business professionals in both countries.

“Every year a faculty member comes to UT to collaborate on research for one month,” Dr. Ravindran said. “I did my MBA in marketing from PSG in 1979, and we are exploring other opportunities such as research. Furthermore, our marketing students in India and the Schmidt School of Professional Sales students here can have a cross-cultural exposure through video conferencing of sales role plays."

Dr. Deepa said, “I am exploring emotional intelligence with Dr. (Margaret) Hopkins, and looking at the big picture about what kind of research we can do together.”

Dr. Jung, an assistant professor in IOTM at UT COBI, said, “The research project involving supply chain and information technology to be explored by this international group will be transformational and key in the next decade.”

“A lot of my research deals with foreign exchange and international markets,” noted Marc Simpson, Ph.D., the John B. and Lillian E. Neff Endowed Chair in Finance at UT COBI. “It can often be useful to have insights from people in international markets to get the local perspective and to enrich the research project.  Institutions often vary internationally and the emerging markets, such as China and India, have been the focus of intense research in recent years. Our collaboration with PSG in recent years gives us advantages in conducting such research.”

Dr. Hong said “The growth of many businesses has slowed down, so small companies in cities such as Toledo are looking for business opportunities in China, India and emerging economies. Entrepreneurs have an idea to develop money, and investors have money and are looking to facilitate business opportunities. There are growth engine opportunities in emerging countries.”

“Companies here are also employing MBA students from India and China, recognizing that they are their future global business partners.”

Dr. Hong also said there are three criteria for companies considering new or enhanced involvement in working with foreign companies:

“One is that people appreciate this international network on a personal level; they must ask themselves if they value this kind of relationship of an international networking experience. The second is, can they handle the growth beyond their own region; they may want to do more, but do not know how. And finally is the reality that entrepreneurs in the Toledo area are increasingly going global, even small companies. They have to examine what kind of problems they struggle with, and when we talk with them, they talk about issues such as leadership and product development.”

“In Northwest Ohio we have a tremendous Indian community, so we have a lot of connections, which will open the door to great opportunities,” Dr. Hong said. “There are treasures in your own back yard. You just need to look around.”

COBI Marketing major makes princess dreams come true!

It’s likely that many UT College of Business and Innovation students once dreamed of being a princess, later trading in such dreams for the reality of daily life, college and their roles in the future of business.
But Laurel Lovitt embraces her own inner princess - - and the princesses others find within - - and turned it into the successful, growing business of Laurel's Princess Parties.

“As a child I truly loved to use my imagination. I was an only child  - - until my brother was born when I was 12 - - and my mom was a single mom, so growing up the most fun that I had was making memories, and I did this by using my imagination. Playing princess was fantastic, but I also knew that I was a true princess, not just pretending. As a child I was taught that a true princess is genuine, kind, loyal, gives to others and loving. I have always strived to live out all of these aspects of truly being a princess.”

“Laurel's Princess Parties (LPP) started with a dress and a dream to make a difference in the lives of children. One of my friends asked me to come to her daughter’s birthday as Princess Laurel in my blue prom gown, so I did. At the party I fell in love with making that child's dreams come true. Therefore I started Laurel's Princess Parties in May, 2013.”

Laurell  and her brother Joshua

Laurell as one of her princess characters, the Snow Queen

“I spent the first six months of the business teaching children that they could be princesses just like me, Princess Laurel. I held fairy garden workshops and went to birthday parties. Then in November, 2013 the movie Frozen was released. I knew that the children loved these characters, so I did my research and legal work to be able to use our version of these characters and Laurel's Princess Parties blew up! I went from doing six appearances a month to 15 a month within four months. Now we average 30-45 appearances every month,” Laurel said with justifiable pride.

“This business is very profitable and we have grown exponentially! We attend birthdays, special events and workshops. The reason that the business continues to grow is because of our WHY, and that is the children. We specialize in boy and girl parties now, and all of our performers are trained to fully put the kids first. Our packages start at $200. I know that when the children are put first then the appearances will come in. This job is the greatest because I am truly living my dreams,” she said.

“Our packages start at $200, and we market LPP through Social Media: Facebook, Instagram and Pintrest. We also have developed our own website, www.laurelsprincessparties.com. Along with these outlets we are partnered with many organizations who spread the word and host events with LPP characters.”

 “I started the business as just ‘me’ and now we have a full team,” Laurel explained.  “We have three male performers and five female performers, along with a bookkeeper, CPA, and three referral partners. We are a team and this business would not be what it is today without each team member.”

“Laurel's Princess Parties mission is to inspire children to use their imaginations to believe in their dreams. I see Laurel's Princess Parties branching off into two new territories in the next 3 years. This is a company that will continue to grow and thrive for years to come.”

Laurel said she chose UT to study business “because they have one of the top rated business schools in the country. I am studying marketing because I am truly passionate about spreading the word of companies through advertising and word of mouth. I did not have LPP underway when I made this decision. At the time I was an independent distributor for Herbalie, but I knew that one day I would be able to start my own company from the ground up.”

And perhaps in an instance of fantasy becoming reality, Laurel bears the title of what some may consider to be another type of royalty. “People would be surprised to know that I have just received the title of Miss Sylvania International and will be competing for Miss Ohio International in the Spring,” she said.

But title or not, Laurel is living her dream.

“Is it difficult? YES!” Laurel admits.  “I am a full time student, run all of the back end of the business as well as perform. I make many sacrifices to make this business truly successful. But I knew what I was getting into, and I wouldn't change it for the world.”

Travis Tygart discussed use of performance enhancement drugs with COBI Sales School students.

As CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, or USADA, Travis T. Tygart was involved in one of the most high-profile cases when he and his agency took on seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

On November 4, the day he spoke at UT at the Edwin Dodd Distinguished Lecture Series in Business Ethics in a lecture co-hosted by the College of Business and Innovation and the College of Law, and sponsored by Dana Holding Corp. and Owens-Illinois Inc., Tygart also met with students in the sales program in the UT College of Business and Innovation.

“The case is interesting and well-known,” said Dr. Gary S. Insch, dean of the College of Business and Innovation. “It crosses the boundaries of both areas; there is the obvious legal aspect to this, but Lance Armstrong used his name to create a business. Certainly there are business ethics questions associated with this.”

Tygart was chosen to speak at this lecture not only because of this particular case, but because of the background he has that bridges the gap between business and law. Though he received his JD from Southern Methodist University in 1999, he pursued a different path than most lawyers.

“From our perspective, it’s great to have speakers on campus who went to law school and then ended up doing something different with their lives,” said Geoffrey Rapp, UT associate dean for academic affairs in the College of law and the Harold A. Anderson Professor of Law and Values. “He has legal education but branched into a direction that a lot of people might not think is available if you go to get a JD. It’s nice for our students to get to see the diverse things someone can do after they go to law school.”

Under Tygart’s leadership, USADA’s efforts to protect clean athletes have included cooperating with federal authorities on numerous investigations such as the international steroid bust, Operation Raw deal, and the international doping conspiracy involving the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative in San Francisco.

Tygart also has been recognized by Sports Illustrated as one of the 50 most powerful people in sports; named to Time magazine’s 100 list of most influential people in the world for 2013; named one of the top 12 world sports personalities of the year by Sport Intern; selected as one of the world’s most influential sports personalities by Inside Sport; and was one of the Colorado lawyers of the year named by Colorado Law Weekly.

“I think he’s got some really valuable perspectives for our students, particularly people who might be thinking about law or business school, on how you conduct an internal investigation,” Rapp said, “which is different than how you would defend a criminal in a lawsuit.”

“It’s a great opportunity to generate a conversation and talk about ideas like ethics,” Insch said. “That’s the whole point of a university, and that sometimes gets lost in the daily grind of just trying to get a degree.”

COBI MBA students from PSG Institutions in India experienced an American Thanksgiving celebration

COBI hosts 20 area high schools for JA Challenge

On November 13 The University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation welcomed 60 high school students from 20 area high schools as they participated in the JA Business Challenge.

Using the JA Titan business simulation program, the teams had a series of decisions to make as CEOs of the competitive, technologically advanced industry of the Holo-Generator, all with the goal of winning scholarships.

Participating high schools were Anthony Wayne, Archbold, Bryan, Central Catholic, Defiance, Margaretta, Maumee Valley Country Day, Northview, Notre Dame Academy, Oak Harbor, Penta Career Center, Perkins, Perrysburg, St. Francis de Sales, Start, Swanton, Southview, Tinora, Toledo Technology Academy, and Vermillion.

Several area businesses provided mentors to the teams, including O-I, Owens Corning, First Solar, Eaton, Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, Toledo Molding and Die, EY, KeyBank and The Andersons.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Longenecker one of five professors featured on the first Business Skills DVD from The Great Courses

Dr. Clint Longenecker, Stranahan Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Center for Leadership and Organizational Excellence in the UT College of Business and Innovation, is one of five business professors from top US business schools  featured in the recently released  Critical Business Skills for Success Lecture Series published by The Great Courses.

For 25 years, The Great Courses has been publishing audios, videos, CDs and DVD’s featuring the world’s best professors on topics in the fields of science, mathematics, history, fine arts, music, religion, philosophy, literature, finance and more. Ryan Davis, a recruiter from the Great Courses stated, “The Great Courses selects only the top 1% of professor in the world to share their knowledge with our world-wide customer base of adult learners.”
Dr. Clint Longenecker
“Everyone wants to know: What does it take to reach success in business, the kind of success that lasts? It all comes down to a solid grasp of the fundamentals of business—the same kind that are taught to MBA students in many of the world's most prestigious business schools, including our own,” Longenecker said.

The comprehensive Great Courses five-part, 60-lecture course, Critical Business Skills for Success, is designed to give people this kind of integrated, accessible introduction. Each of the Critical Business Skills for Success course's five parts is a detailed look at a particular skill: strategy, operations, finance and accounting, organizational behavior, and marketing     Longenecker’s sections are focuses on Organizational Behavior and High Performance Leadership.

“The Great Courses Series has an exceptional   following among life-long learners  as they draw talent from the best schools from around the world,” Longenecker said. “Their lecture series are developed with amazing professors from universities such as Harvard, Michigan, Yale, Duke, Ohio State, UCLA, Emory and others. To have The University of Toledo included in these circles in a series with worldwide distribution is a wonderful thing.”

“I also think that the ideas shared in Great Courses programs are more powerful  than ideas being included in a book, primarily because of the reach and the powerful learning associated with great and dynamic lectures and with these topics being available on DVDs, CDs, streaming,” Longenecker said. The lectures were recorded late last year and the Critical Business Skills Series was released world-wide in the spring of 2015.

“This kind of well-rounded business education is useful to anyone who works in a company of any size,” said Longenecker, who was named by The Economist as one of the top 15 business professors in the world.”

The CD and DVD versions include, 60 lectures, a 496-page printed course guidebook, and a downloadable PDF of the course guidebook. The program is available at TheGreatCourses.com.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

College of Business and Innovation featured in The Princeton Review’s Best 295 Business Schools: 2016 Edition

The University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation (COBI) is one of the nation's best business schools, according to the education services company, The Princeton Review (www.princetonreview.com), which features the school in the new 2016 edition of its new guide, The Best 295 Business Schools.

The Princeton Review surveyed 22,000 students attending the 295 business schools. The 80-question survey asked students to rate their schools on several topics and report on their experiences at them. Some ranking list tallies also factored in school-reported data.

Their report states, “One of the best in the Midwest, the MBA program at The University of Toledo features affordability and flexibility that help you expand your skills and opportunities without interrupting your career. The college’s history of excellence in practical, relevant education based on cutting-edge research and business engagement will take your career to the next level. The UT MBA curriculum is designed to equip future leaders with relevant, real-world knowledge about the workings of every level of the enterprise: employees, customers, the firm itself, and all levels of the economy.”

“The schools we selected for these guides all offer academically outstanding degrees: we recommend them highly,” said Robert Franek, Publisher, The Princeton Review. “Their program offerings vary considerably, and we salute and highlight those distinctions in our profiles. Our purpose is not to rank schools hierarchically or crown any school as "best" overall. Our goal is to provide school profiles combined with multiple rating scores and ranking lists to help applicants choose the best b-school for them. ”

“All of us in the College of Business and Innovation are very excited at this continuing recognition by The Princeton Review of the quality and relevance of our programs,” noted Dr. Gary Insch, COBI Dean. “This recognition by The Princeton Review further validates the quality of our faculty, the significance of our curriculum and the excellence of our students.”

The Princeton Review's ranking list tallies factor in data from its surveys of business school students completed during the 2014-15, 2013-14, and 2012-13 school years. The survey asked students about their school's academics, student body and campus life, and their career plans. All institutional data reported in these editions was collected in 2014-15.

Orion Jones see his talent, focus and hard work pay off in the COBI classroom and on the football field

College of Business and Innovation senior Orion Jones is an impressive defensive lineman on the Toledo Rockets football team who had three sacks when the undefeated Rockets bested Arkansas State in the Glass Bowl in September.

In addition to admitting “I just like to hit the quarterback and tackle people,” Orion credits much of his success on the football field to his grandfather…who taught him how to wrestle.

Orion Jones
“My grandfather was a wrestler. He taught me everything about wrestling, about competing in championships. I’ve been wrestling since I was five, and I’m really good at it.”

Orion claims that he started playing football “late, in the fourth grade,” but that “wrestling really helped me with football, teaching me body control and leverage.”

“I’ve always been a defensive lineman, and I’ve been good at that position ever since Jenks High School in (his home state of) Oklahoma,” where he was ranked number two and received all conference and all state recognition.

“I had schools like Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas reaching out to me.  When the coaches from Toledo came and visited me and my family, I had never heard of it. The coaches were honest with me and my family, so I just prayed about it and I committed to Toledo.”

“The culture of the team is changing, and the energy is an amazing thing. The biggest surprise is when I play, I really feel like I’m not doing anything. It’s mystical to be a player in college.  I feel something I never felt before. I just kept believing in God, and I speak to the source of everything every morning.   I literally ask him, ‘Let me get a sack,’ then I get a sack on the next play. I am so thankful about what he is doing for me.”

“The first thing that jumped out to me about UT was the business school.  A lot of my family members have their own business.”

“The best thing about UT is opportunity. COBI prepares students through interviews, career fairs, networking and taking care of their students. Darlene Stevens in COBI is my mother away from home, and I am so grateful to her for all she has done for me.”

“My major is professional sales, and last year I did an internship with Owens-Corning. I really loved it; the atmosphere was one of a community, and if I needed help, I could ask anyone.”

“Also, in 2013 I did an internship with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, putting on a camp for about 150 student athletes, where about 40 of them gave their lives to Christ.  I am grateful to be a part of it.”

“I love playing football in Toledo, and I think we are going to be undefeated. But now there is more pressure. Our ultimate goal is a MAC championship, and every game counts, ” he said.

“My plan is to play pro football, and I’m pretty sure that I will be a draft prospect. I would love to be a defensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys!”

“I basically live for the business school and football and spending time with the team, otherwise I just relax and chill with my teammates and friends. For fun, I like to go out and eat lots, especially shrimp”

With his playing skills, an eye to a professional future, his business classes/internships and his laser focus on his goals, Orion reveals his inner motivations when he says, “I don’t want to let my grandfather, my family or my team down.”

Whether it’s in pro football, business or everyday life, there seems little chance that will ever happen.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Two-time COBI grad focused on giving back

Rob Bleile is a two-time grad of the UT College of Business and Innovation, having obtained both his bachelor's and Executive MBA there.

He's a past president of the COBI Alumni Affiliate, currently a board member of the UT Alumni Association, and it's probably no surprise that he has season tickets to all UT's games.

He is more than an alum of the college; he is committed to it.

"I wanted to stay involved, to stay connected," Bleile said. "I like involvement, and I have a connection with the University now that is so much more than the networking. It makes me proud to be on campus."

The Norwalk, Ohio native originally came to UT as a student in the College of Engineering, but after a year transferred to the business college.

"It's hard to describe, but the College of Business, the entire University grounds really sold me. You could see the whole campus, and it felt warm and embracing."

"When I started in the College of Business, I fully embraced it," Bleile said.  "In my first semester in the business college I rushed Alpha Kappa Psi, The Professional Business Fraternity. Everything I have today I can trace back to Alpha Kappa Psi, including having met my beautiful wife, Ala, and my future business partner there."

Ala and Rob Bleile
While in college he worked for the COBI computing department under the late Joe Kiel. Upon graduation, Bleile and his partner established Shopmetrics, a data collection software platform for the mystery shopping industry, launching it in 2004.

"I grew up among entrepreneurs. My father and grandfather both started businesses.   I knew my friend Emil Tsankov (UT MBA ‘02) and I could start a business in the IT field. Emil being from Bulgaria, gave us the advantage of being an international business from day one. We have clients in nearly 40 countries, about half in North and South America, and the other half throughout the rest of the world. Now I am an entrepreneur."

But perhaps one business is not enough for an entrepreneur who likes to be involved, so four years ago Bleile took over as President of American Timber and Steel in Norwalk with his brother Adam, the company his father started in 1983 and in which he began to work while still in high school.

"I like the diversity. Shopmetrics, the software company, is a service business, while the lumber company has manufacturing, sales and different challenges.  Every day is different, yet somehow what I learn in one business I can apply in the other.  I'm having fun in the lumber business now, making it our company. I can't say that I enjoy everything, but I don't know if I could leave it."

In 2009 Bleile returned to UT COBI and obtained his Executive MBA.  "I really liked what I saw in the EMBA program," he said. "For me it was great; I was able to work in my business for five years, then was able to come back to school to learn how to take the next steps."

"I enjoy what I do," Bleile continued. "I enjoy waking up and coming to work, being with my family, coming to the university and seeing new things on campus. I need to thank my wife, Ala, because my success is due to her support; she deserves a lot of the credit, allowing me to do the things I am doing today.  She was an accounting and international business student in COBI, and now she focuses her talents and energy on raising our three amazing children."

"Everything I do needs to provide value to someone, yet it's hard to determine what is value," Bleile reflected.  "Value can be a financial return, or just doing the right thing."

"I like giving, be it my time or resources," Bleile said. "It was a big thing instilled in us by my parents and grandparents, who taught me to give back. This is what brings the most satisfaction in my life; it drives and motivates me. Giving back is my personal mission."

Jump Start program helps COBI 2015 Jumpstudents transition from high school to college

During the week before fall, 2015 classes started at The University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation, dozens of incoming freshmen jump started their college life through an innovative, free program designed to provide incoming business majors with a variety of activities focused on enhancing their chances for success.

Targeting academic and social skills, the primary goal is to help new students through the transition from high school to college. Jump Start began in 1997 and was made possible because of a gift from John & Lillian Neff.

2015 Jump Start activities included a tour of The Image Group 
"Participants are able to meet other first year students while experiencing a wide range of programming presented by UT faculty, staff, alumni and students, in addition to members of the greater Toledo community," explained program coordinator Darlene Stevens.

Some of the program activities included: touring Fortune 500 companies, attending a Mud Hens baseball game, participating in a campus scavenger hunt, meeting alumni and networking.

In addition to all expenses paid for the above activities, students receive gift cards for partial textbook fees for the fall and spring semesters.

"Students with high school grade point averages ranging from 2.4 to 3.0 and ACT composite scores from 18 to 23 are ideally suited for the program however all applicants are considered," Stevens said.

Freshman Nick Climer said, "Overall, my experience with Jump Start was amazing. Through Jump Start, I have formed friendships and bonds that I know will last a life time. Not only did I get to experience all the wonderful things that the Toledo community has to offer, I also got to have some fun as well! Jump Start has truly impacted my career here at The University of Toledo in an extremely positive way."

"Jump Start was a great opportunity for all of us coming into the University of Toledo's COBI," said Amanda Martin. "It was especially great for students who aren't from around this area. Those students not only got to experience the Toledo lifestyle through some of our tourist spots such as the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium and an awesome Toledo Mud Hens game, but they also got to learn about some of our major businesses such as Fifth Third Bank and Healthcare Reit."

Andrew Brownlee said, "We did so many different activities at Jump Start that it made it very easy to make great friends. The friends I met in Jump Start are on my dorm floor and we get closer every day. I honestly loved Jump Start and everything it has done for me to start of my college career the best way possible. And Darlene Stevens was the best instructor I could ask for! She knows everything and gives great advice."

New COBI sales faculty member knows UT is the place to be

If someone's existence was displayed like Facebook, the newest faculty member in the UT COBI Edward H. Schmidt School of Professional Sales' would have checked many episodes in her life with "Likes."

Dr. Catherine Johnson, Assistant Professor in the Marketing and International Business Department, likes teaching, students, her previous career in banking, her new coworkers in COBI, travel, writing, reading mysteries and uncharted experiences with people around the world.

Dr. Catherine Johnson
"I've seen the Eiffel Tower, the Coliseum, Australia, but I would love to go to Istanbul, New Zealand, the Falkland Islands," Dr. Johnson said. "The coolest places I've been are less traveled, less scripted. I really enjoy unscripted interaction with locals."

"I like students, they are fun to hang around," she added. "Because teaching sales is very interactive, with role plays and more, people need to engage. If you're going to teach sales, this is where you want to do it. But it's not enough to have a good program; it is also important that the faculty is warm and welcoming."

"Southerners are known for being friendly, and southern hospitality is true, but I found the people here to also be nice, supporting and friendly, as well as fun. UT seems to be really exciting right now. This is a great place to be."

"Plus," she said, "I'm kind of a Midwesterner."

Being born in Minnesota qualifies her as a Midwesterner, but she grew up in Louisville and attended the University of Kentucky, where she majored in German and history, spending a year in Germany through an exchange program.

She returned to Minnesota to obtain her master's degree, after which she worked in banking.

"I was the branch manager. It was a lot of fun and great for a sales experience. The financial service industry is interesting. At smaller banks, you have to do everything: you have to care about your customers.  You are the interface between the bank and the customer, and you have to cross-sell, upsell, and more."

Dr. Johnson obtained her Ph.D, at the University of Alabama, where she studied sales and consumer behavior and also taught for two years.

Her research revolves around emotional intelligence in sales outcomes, sales strategy and consumer behavior. In 2014 she received the best paper award at the American Marketing Association Winter Marketing Education Conference, and also received an award from the Sheth Foundation Doctoral Consortium.  She recently had a paper about corporate social responsibility accepted by the Journal of Business Research. "It will be my first paper which will reflect my position at The University of Toledo."

Dr. Johnson said she went into teaching because "I've always liked working with students; plus the academic life appealed to me because it involves both reading and writing about what you want. Furthermore, both my father and grandfather were professors, so I've always lived in a college town, such as East Lansing and Tuscaloosa. "

"The best part of teaching is getting students excited about what you are excited about, to transfer your enthusiasm to others, especially in entry level classes," she explained.  "When they 'get it' and students make that connection, that's neat.   I also like it when I've made a lasting impact with students, when a student comes back to see you, or asks for advice, or when students feel that I am approachable and will actually come up and introduce you to their parents."

"It's about making a difference in a student's life, making an impact.  You are there to help them; it is not just about one class."

"The field of sales is really great, and the proof that the program is working is when students come out prepared to sell. That shows that we place the focus on the students and learning outcomes," Dr. Johnson said.   "Here at UT the sales school places students in front of recruiters all the time, and they can tell that our students are now professionals."

And that is something that all students, and the companies which hire them, "Like."

COBI Golf Outing 2015

The 16th Annual University of Toledo Business vs. Engineering Scholarship Golf Outing, presented by Hylant, took place on Saturday August 22, 2015 at the Stone Oak Country Club. All proceeds from this fun, philanthropic event go toward student scholarships.

Thank you to all the golfers and sponsors who made this a wonderful event.

Monday, September 21, 2015

COBI establishes the Klar Academy for Leadership Excellence

The University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation believe that students are capable of doing much more than landing a job.  Many students can - - and should - - be leaders in their chosen fields.  These leaders will enrich their own lives, as well as those of their coworkers. They will make the places where they work not only more profitable and successful, but also better corporate citizens. Subsequently, they will make their communities better, and the quality of life will rise for thousands, even tens of thousands of people.

COBI has established the KLAR Academy for Leadership Excellence (launched Fall, 2015) to help  undergraduate students from across campus be able to enhance their leadership skills.

The mission of the Klar Academy for Leadership Excellence - - established thanks to the generous contribution of Steven Klar, a UT alum and president of the real estate development company, the Klar Organization.- -  is to expand and accelerate the development of the leadership acumen and talents of a select cadre of outstanding College of Business and Innovation undergraduate students so as to increase their career success, ability to impact the world for good and improve the human condition.

The goals of the Klar Academy for Leadership Excellence are to provide Academy participants with a transformational learning experience to build on their COBI education, enabling them to better lead themselves, others, teams, organizations and communities. The focus of this development effort is to provide Klar Academy students  with a hands-on, unique and difference-making educational experience so as to expand and develop core competencies such as the ability to think bigger and create vision; skill at achieving goals and delivering desired results; emotional intelligence, interpersonal and teaming skills; an expanded worldview and community service mindset; ethical decision making; confidence to lead others and demonstrate self-leadership; and a mentoring mindset.

The Klar Academy will use a variety of learning experiences and methodologies throughout fall and spring semesters to provide Academy members with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rapidly develop their leadership talents.

Following a pilot program for 50 College of Business and Innovation students, the Klar Academy expects to accommodate nearly 200 students per year with students from all colleges at The University of Toledo.

Steven Klar, president of the Klar Organization, a diversified real estate development, building and brokerage firm, was honored as The University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation 2005 Business Pacemaker of the Year. Klar received a bachelor’s of business administration from UT in 1969, then went on to earn a law degree from Brooklyn Law School in 1973.

The Klar Academy for Leadership Excellence is a new, innovative and inclusive component of the developing Center for Leadership and Organizational Excellence. It directly serves undergraduate students and is representative of the important goals and scope of the emerging Center.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

UT alumna directs COBI's new Graduate Programs office

In addition to 2,500 undergraduates working on their bachelor's degree in The University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation, there are also some 500 students working on their graduate degrees who have just acquired a new mentor and advocate with the arrival of Dr.  Rosalinda Dunlap as Director of the new Graduate Programs office in the College of Business and Innovation.

"We have a wonderful program, and we have great opportunities," Dr. Dunlap said. "My mission is to grow enrollment, retain - - and graduate - - students. I intend to build on the strong foundation COBI already has and lead the college to new levels of Graduate Programs growth."

Dr. Rosalinda Dunlap
"I myself am a UT alumna, having earned my Ph.D. in higher education administration from UT, and also my Master's degree from UT in educational technology with an emphasis on human resource administration" she said. "I had such a wonderful experience at UT that I want to take that and share it with current and future graduate students to take them to the next level of their educational experience.”

"When I came back to this campus and saw some of the same classrooms I sat in, I just felt this warmth; it was emotional. I know what graduate students go through, and I know that I can help enhance their experience to make their educational journey at UT a positive and memorable one.”

"COBI currently offers various concentrations within the MBA program, including finance, human resource management, information systems, international business, leadership, marketing and operations management," she explained.  "I've taught and developed curriculum in healthcare administration at the graduate level, and I would like to add that to our other current concentrations so prospective students can advance their career in healthcare administration if they choose to.  I feel several of our current and future healthcare professionals would benefit from earning an MBA with a healthcare concentration if they chose to further their careers into administration.”

Dr. Dunlap said she would also focus on working with other UT colleges, such as engineering, pharmacy and law, for a dual degree program, and how we can help them get that degree.

"I also want to utilize our alumni to be a part of our classes, to have them meet regularly and to celebrate their successes," she said.

As a professor, Dr. Dunlap received various awards, including the Top 3 Faculty Recognition Award, the Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, and the Webbie Award for outstanding teaching, dedication and service to students. She explained that her more than 20 years of experience in higher education administration, as an MBA professor, human resource administrator and corporate trainer have prepared her well for the exciting opportunity at COBI.

"I have extensive knowledge in curriculum development and online education at the graduate level of instruction, and my experience is closely aligned with both COBI's and UT's goals of UT increasing enrollment and graduation rates while building advanced graduate programs. Furthermore, as an academic dean, I was responsible for programs in 18 disciplines, managed a substantial budget, supervised faculty, program directors, chairs and staff."

Dr. Dunlap has been a member of the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education, the Society of Human Resource Management, the Northwest Ohio Human Resource Association and the Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce, as well as several other professional organizations. She has also published a book on career professionalism and published her dissertation on "The relationship between policies, practices and institutional trends in the awarding of doctoral degrees to Hispanic students."

Other individuals serving students in the new COBI Graduate Programs office are Darlene Howard, assistant director; Stacy Jenkins, advisor; and Carol Stamm, career placement coordinator.

"I am particularly excited about working on COBI's accelerated Executive MBA program, which enables working professionals to complete their EMBA in just 12 months," Dr. Dunlap said.  "It also provides executive coaching by experienced professionals to further ensure students' success. That is both innovative and fantastic!"

Enrollment is now underway for the next Executive MBA cohort, which will begin in October.

When speaking with graduated MBA and EMBA students, Dr. Dunlap said she frequently hears, "'Without my Executive MBA, I would not have gotten the job I wanted.' This is a true testament to the wonderful graduate programs offered in COBI."

Born and raised in Perrysburg, Ohio, Dr. Dunlap said, "Fun time is family time," including time spent with her children and grandchildren, and that she also enjoys activities such as whale watching and swimming with the dolphins.

"I am excited and looking forward to be working with the staff in our newly developed Graduate Programs office, the COBI faculty and staff, and the entire UT community," Dr. Dunlap said. "I will strive to provide solid leadership and direction to the Graduate Programs office as we continue to educate the next generation of business graduate students."

COBI professor assessing financial damage from water crisis

The memories of last year's water crisis in and around Toledo are still fresh in the minds of most residents, and the anxiety about a repeat event in 2015 is high.

But a University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation professor is hard at work at one of the critical issues surrounding last year's 3-day event: namely, what was the economic impact of the 2014 Toledo water crisis on the local economy.

Furthermore, if you have information that could contribute to the report, he would love to hear from you.

Dr. Andrew Solocha, Professor in the Department of Finance in the UT College of Business and Innovation, along with Dr. Neil Reid, Director of The University of Toledo Jack Ford Urban Affairs Center, are currently researching that very issue, funded by a grant from the Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago. They began their research in May, and will have an initial impact report by the end of August.

Dr. Andrew Solocha
"Lake Erie is an enormously important resource," Dr. Solocha said.  "I didn't know anything about the science behind this, but I was really concerned about what happened here last year, and so I volunteered my time for this research. We envision a series of reports, the first one in August about the three days from last year, and then other reports over time."

"My training is in economics, data and model building, and for this research and report it is essential to have someone with experience in both business and economics, because we have to interpret this data, find out what the data is saying to us; sometimes it doesn't say anything at all.  We have to go and interview people, and people can be confused or have misinformation.  This is a work in progress, and we don't yet know where all the answers are to make this complete."

"We need to be able to assess what the damages - - all the damages - - are.  We know several sectors that were impacted by the 2014 water crisis, including hospitals, the food processing industry, restaurants, tourism and consumers, plus we will probably see an impact on housing," Dr. Solocha said.

"But there may be impacts that we can't see, and there could be a long-term impact. For example, people who typically go to Lake Erie beaches who have decided that now they can't go there in the future because of the negative publicity for the region."

"Of course, there was also good news, such as the charities who came out, mobilized and helped," he observed. "For example, the American Red Cross brought in water for people, and the National Guard distributed water and food."

"The University of Toledo has been fantastic in helping us with this project, as have other organizations such as the United Way of Greater Toledo.  It is absolutely critical that people know we are working on this report and that they help us." Dr. Solocha said.

If you have information you would like to share about the economic impact of the 2014 water crisis, you are encouraged to contact Dr. Solocha at Andrew.Solocha@utoledo.edu.

Peter Davis becomes new president of COBI Alumni Affiliate

Peter Davis is a man on a mission.  In fact, several missions, including helping COBI students and alumni, expanding his own business, and making a meaningful impact on the world. 

Talking with him leaves little doubt that he will accomplish all of them, and much more.

Davis is the new president of The University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation Alumni Affiliate, having served as vice president of the Affiliate since 2013. He succeeds his friend Blaine Stout, who just completed his term as president. 

"I met Blaine when we were both in the COBI Executive MBA program, and he asked me to come to a meeting of the group," Davis said. "I was not too familiar with the alumni board or its outreach to the community, but I liked its purpose and agreed to serve as vice president."

Davis said his term as vice president was a learning experience about what the Alumni Association does as he sets his personal goals for the next two years. "We're trying to engage the alumni of the college and raise money for the students' education and careers. We want to do more outreach, add more value to alumni, and, following UT President Dr. Sharon Gaber's lead, we want to conduct larger events that will draw in more members of the business community."

He said that he wants to align the Board with the mission statement and establish "project based" committees which will focus on action items and best use everybody's time.  He added that he also wants to bring a nationally recognized business speaker for a college event next spring.

"It's all about getting the COBI Alumni Affiliate active in the community," Davis said.

"The value of being active in the Alumni Association is that it provides proximity to business leaders. It's the power of networking. My whole career is all about relationships, plus it’s a good cause, helping younger people stay in college so that they can one day give back. The benefits are not short-lived. It could lead to a job opportunity, career advancement…you don't know where it will go.  Students and recent grads are educated, but they need opportunity."

"Students and graduates might be friends with hundreds of people on Facebook," Davis said, "so they have quantity of contacts, but it's the quality that counts. You have to have human touch, and you have to grow that connection. The disadvantage of social media is that it does not advance their social skills."

Originally from Temperance, Michigan, Davis came to UT while selecting a college and "fell in love with it." He is equally proud that he obtained his bachelor's degree from COBI with a major in finance and also became a certified die maker. "My father and uncle were die makers, and I've always liked the trade. In 2004 my brother/business partner and I bought our father's business, Dundee Manufacturing Company, but I figured I had to get the business and finance knowledge to best run the business, and that has become a staple of my success."

"When the recession hit, we did what we had to do to survive, but in 2009 I decided I had to recreate myself and obtain my EMBA degree from the University of Toledo, to advance the companies growth.

The business not only survived but thrived, and construction will soon start on a new facility in Temperance, Michigan, which should be operational next year….a move which also brings with it his commitment to create more jobs.

But Davis is also working on more than attracting people to be involved with the COBI Alumni Affiliate and expanding his business.

"I'm a cancer survivor. In my heart of hearts I feel that God gave me a second chance, and that there must be a purpose in what you're doing. "

He has participated in mission trips to Haiti, including a recent trip to assist in an eye care clinic.

"These trips have made me realize the need for safe drinking water there. This is such a basic need, but they can't get it.  So I just started a non-profit organization called Hope2O to help make this happen," Davis said. "I originally was trying to develop the technology to bring safe water to where it is needed, but I've learned that the technology already exists, so through my non-profit I want to raise the money to get this done."

"You have to do something."