Inside Hull February 2021

newletter logo

Greetings Hull Alumni and Friends!

We hope you enjoyed our first (January 2021) issue of Inside Hull, and welcome you to our latest edition with more insights on what is happening at the James M. Hull College of Business. As I promised at the start of our first issue, our goal is to bring you closer to the people who make Hull great, and our February edition will not let you down.

We bring stories of our students, including undergraduates like Leilah Harshbarger, a freshman financial services student, and mother and son MBA students, Laurena and Kurt Wiggins, who decided to make the Hull Experience a family activity. We also show that beer and college go together as a great learning experience where Economics Professor Simon Medcalfe took his students for a tour of the Savannah Brewing Company in downtown Augusta. As part of his Firm and Industries Studies class, Dr. Medcalfe’s students learned about industry-specific challenges faced by craft brewers.

Additionally, we will take you inside the visit of our new AU Provost to the Hull College, where he was impressed by our outstanding faculty and staff, and let you know about our latest honor from U.S. News & World Report.

Great things are happening! Read about them in Inside Hull, and Go Jags!

Richard (Rick) M. Franza, Ph.D.


Mother and Son Pursue MBA Together

 From Jagwire

Like mother, like son.

Kurtis Wiggins, like many young professionals, is working on his Master of Business Administration. It just so happens that his mother is as well.

Laurena Wiggins, a project design engineering manager for GIW Industries in Grovetown, recently graduated from Augusta University’s James M. Hull College of Business with a Bachelor of Business Administration as a non-traditional student.

Kurtis works with his mother at GIW as a buyer and is responsible for purchasing parts and materials for projects.

“I’m a little later in my career, but I got a bachelor’s degree because I felt I needed something more,” said Laurena. “The master’s program was easy to roll right into.”

Having received her business degree and now working on her MBA, Laurena believes she will be better aligned for her role in project management at GIW.

For Kurtis, getting an MBA was a logical next step in his education, and his mother convinced him to pursue it with her. However, going back to school may not be as easy, since he’s been out of the classroom for six years.

“It’s time to further my education and make myself more valuable for the company,” he said.

Starting the Hull MBA program together has allowed them to be in the same cohort with the same class schedule, giving a new meaning to “the family business.”

“We get our homework, and then talk through it together,” Kurtis said.

Learn more about the Hull MBA.

Hull College Students Tour Brewery

Eight students from the Firm and Industry Studies class toured Savannah River Brewing Company.

In early February, eight students from the Firm and Industry Studies class taught by Simon Medcalfe, finance and economics professor, got an inside look at a local, family-owned, craft brewery.

Upon entering the 16,000-square-foot Savannah River Brewing Company on 5th Street in downtown Augusta, the students were surrounded by floor to ceiling vats, containing the ingredients to brew the local craft beer.

During the class, students apply economic principles to various industries and firms and look at industry-specific challenges that may be experienced.

The craft beer industry has its challenges, from government regulations, to competing for shelf space to sell the product, said Head Brewer Adam Fulmer.

Government regulations in the craft brewing industry limit a firm’s locations, pricing of their product, distribution system, and marketing strategy, to name a few challenges the small business faces.

Throughout the private tour, students learned the history of the brewery which opened its doors in early 2017 by brothers Steve and Dave Ellison; the brewing and bottling processes; and received advice about pursuing a career in something that inspires them.

“Often, we talk about interdisciplinary education, but sometimes think that is just within business disciplines. Students probably didn’t think they would need to remember chemistry class, but brewing is very scientific, and students could make those interdisciplinary connections,” Medcalfe said.

In addition to this experience, students in the class will also study the unique features of sports and entertainment, manufacturing, healthcare, technology, primary products and energy.

Student Spotlight: Leilah Harshbarger

Leilah Harshbarger, a freshman financial services student, at Augusta University.

Recently, Leilah Harshbarger, a freshman financial services student, was asked by Admissions about the experiences she’s had so far at Augusta University. Below is what she had to say about AU and the Hull College of Business. 

“One of my favorite things about Augusta University is the diversity of activities, majors, and opportunities throughout each college. You can be involved in business, government affairs, the arts, and more. Health Sciences is definitely the soul of the university, but there are tons of faculty and staff wanting to help with the path you choose. The professors that I have interacted with really want you to learn the material and interact with you, as an equal, and it is easy to reach out to them. Also, there is no limitation on what you can do within your school year. As a freshman, I have been able to interview for internships, earn scholarships, and join multiple organizations. One thing I looked for was the opportunity for growth in a university and that is what I have found at Augusta University. 

As a senior in high school, the stress is definitely on when looking to the future. Augusta University's application process is extremely fast and easy. There are lots of advisors waiting to help if you need assistance, and once you get accepted you can do so much to get ready for your first college semester! You can apply for scholarships, the honors program, living-learning communities, and look at all of the clubs available. If you are transferring credits, I had no trouble with the process of transferring dual enrollment and AP credits to Augusta. 

One of my favorite people I have met at Augusta University is Jennifer Mansell from the Hull College of Business. She is extremely helpful and always drops whatever she’s doing to help a student. She has emailed me multiple opportunities and directed me on what I need to do when I needed some assistance. She has helped me land interviews, scholarships, and internships. You never know who you are going to meet when you are on campus, but all staff is there to help and ensure you end up where you want for your future success.” 

Hull College Part-Time MBA Program Ranked by
U.S. News & World Report

From Jagwire

For the second straight year, Augusta University is in the Top 200 in the U.S. News & World Report ranking of the Best Part-Time MBA Programs. Augusta University also ranked seventh of the 10 ranked schools in the University System of Georgia.

“Only 272 part-time MBA programs were ranked, putting us in very good company,” said Richard Franza, Ph.D., dean of the Hull College of Business.

U.S. News and World Report bases their ranking on a number of factors, including peer assessment scores, average undergraduate GPA of the MBA students, average standardized test scores, work experience of part-time MBA students and total full-time and part-time MBA enrollment.

For a complete list of the nation’s top MBA programs, visit the U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 best part-time MBA rankings.

Hull College Staff and Faculty Meet New Provost

Susan Murray speaks with Neil MacKinnon, Augusta University's new Provost, during his tour of Allgood Hall.

Augusta University’s new provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, Neil MacKinnon, Ph.D., spent the day at the Hull College of Business on Feb. 8.

MacKinnon, who started his new role Jan. 19, met faculty and staff at the business college as well as discuss strategy with administration.

“He is very positive about the role of a business school in a comprehensive university. He is an advocate for us and will help us to grow,” said Richard Franza, Ph.D., dean of the Hull College.

MacKinnon learned about the business community by having lunch with two of the College’s friends and supporters, David Brendza, Division Vice President/General Manager of OneADP Augusta, and Alan Griffin, President and CEO of Medical Computer Business Services in Augusta.

MacKinnon is the former dean of the James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy at the University of Cincinnati and former director of the Center for Rural Health at the University of Arizona.

Business Showcase Series Features the FBI

The first to be featured in the Business Showcase Series for the spring semester put the Hull College of Business in the spotlight of multiple colleges at Augusta University.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) drew the attention of business, cyber, language and criminal justice majors.

Hull College Dean Richard Franza said the showcase series often has private companies presenting and recruiting business students each month. “It is exciting to have one of the great government agencies of our country” become a showcase, he said.

Eight members of the FBI, stationed in Augusta and Atlanta, discussed internship and job opportunities with the bureau, as well as their own experiences in pursuing a career there.

Many of the presenters earned a business degree prior to joining the FBI.

Chuck McKee, a Special Agent in Augusta, said he worked as an accountant for 10 years, also earning his Certified Public Accountant certification, prior to applying to the FBI.

“I did the things I thought the FBI wanted to see as an applicant,” McKee said.

Steve Evans, an Army veteran, had to be persistent to join FBI and said his MBA was one of the things that qualified him to be a special agent. He is now a cyber agent based in Augusta.

Megan Poelking, a Forensic Accountant in Atlanta, told the students to get three to five years’ experience after graduation because forensic accountants for the FBI are not hired right out of school.

“Following the money is your job,” Poelking said. “You will need good organizational skills because you’ll be working multiple cases at all times.”

Students had questions about choosing a field office to work and qualifying to join the FBI. Some of the attendees were linguists asking what jobs fit their qualifications.

ADP will be the second showcase of the semester on Wednesday, March 24, while Club Car will present on Wednesday, April 14, as the final showcase of the semester.

Students Tapped for Beta Gamma Sigma Honors

Dean Rick Franza presents an invitation to junior Jasmyn Smith to join Beta Gamma Sigma.

Congratulations to the Hull College of Business students being inducted into the academic business honor society Beta Gamma Sigma.

Tapping the inductees in their classes occurred for a couple of weeks in February.

Beta Gamma Sigma inductees will be honored in a mid-April ceremony.

There are 9 graduate and 21 undergraduate students who will be honored this year.

The organization has more than 800,000 members, selected from 600 collegiate chapters in business schools accredited by AACSB International.

Augusta University Presents Economic Forecast Virtually

Simon Medcalfe, Ph.D., presents his annual economic forecast for Augusta University.

Augusta University’s Annual Economic Forecast looked different this academic year.

Economics Professor and Cree-Walker Chair Simon Medcalfe, Ph.D., shared his analysis of Augusta’s economic status and predictions for the coming year through four videos released on the university’s YouTube channel and social media.

“We have been doing an economic forecast breakfast since 2008. Usually, it is an in-person event on the Summerville campus, but this year will have to be different because of COVID-19,” Medcalfe said.

Medcalfe is the author of the Augusta Leading Economic Index (Augusta LEI), a monthly composite index that combines several national, regional, and local indicators into a single variable. He has also published several academic articles on sports economics, health economics, and the economics of religion as well as economic and financial literacy.

The four video segments will cover unemployment, industries, Georgia, and the Augusta forecast.

“2019 saw historically high economic numbers, and in my presentation last year, I predicted more record numbers for 2020. We certainly saw some, and they weren’t all bad,” Medcalfe said.

The metropolitan area lost almost half of its jobs in leisure and hospitality because of the pandemic. Paradoxically, the region also lost 4,500 jobs in the health sector during the health crisis.

On the flip side, Medcalfe said, the region had increased jobs in transportation, manufacturing, and construction last year.

As for 2021, he said his leading economic indicators index suggested that there will be a recovery to pre-pandemic levels in the Augusta area during the year.

“Growth depends on getting people back to work,” he said.

Franza Talks Online MBA

Dean Richard Franza appeared again on AugustaCEO to speak about the Hull College of Business.

Richard Franza, dean of the Hull College of Business, was recently featured in AugustaCEO as a weekly video.

Franza spoke about the new Hull Online MBA, which is part of the Georgia WebMBA and started in the fall of 2020. The online MBA is tailored for working professionals.

Augusta CEO is the leading publication focusing exclusively on business issues in Augusta and is part of the Georgia CEO Network which includes newswires, newsletters, databases and local web sites across Georgia.

Scholarship Highlight: Earle J. Maddocks Scholarship
in Accounting

In 2010, Abram Serotta started a scholarship endowment in the name of his longtime business partner, Earle “EJ” Maddocks.

“The scholarship for EJ Maddocks was created to honor one of the first graduates of Augusta College, a CPA who contributed to his community and profession,” Serotta said.

Serotta, Maddocks and Evans is an Augusta-based CPA firm now known as SME CPA.

“EJ with support from his clients and friends desired to help others with their education [through] financial support. Students at the Hull College can realize the business community supports them with employment opportunities and mentoring,” Serotta said.

This scholarship is available to juniors and seniors majoring in accounting who have a minimum 3.5 cumulative GPA. Applicants who have completed a minimum of three upper-level accounting courses and indicate a desire to enter public accounting and sit for the CPA exam are given preference in recipient selection. Eligible recipients also must have exhausted their HOPE Scholarship award. 

To donate to the EJ Maddocks Scholarship benefitting Hull College of Business accounting students, please click here

If you would like to learn about how you can support the Hull College of Business, please contact Wes Zamzow, Director of Philanthropy, at 706-721-2699 or via email

Faculty/Staff News

ChongWoo Park, Ph.D, associate professor of management information systems, was awarded tenure. Congratulations, ChongWoo!

Melissa Furman, DBA, lecturer in leadership and organizational behavior, will be a featured speaker in March at the “Beyond The Box” virtual conference of the Georgia Hospital Association and the Georgia Society of Volunteer and Retail Professionals.