Three COBA Students Receive Accounting Scholarships

by   |  02.04.15  |  Academics, Accounting, Careers In..., Current Students, Placement stories, Uncategorized


COBA is proud to announce that three of our Accounting students, including David Legler, Amy Morris, and Courtney Richardson, received scholarships from the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants (TSCPA). The Accounting Education Foundation of TSCPA has established a program to provide scholarship assistance to accounting students who plan to become Texas Certified Public Accountants and enter the accounting profession. In order to be considered for these scholarships, students must attend a university which participates in Accounting Education Foundation programs and be nominated by the chairperson of the accounting department, have completed 110 semester credit hours of college-level courses by August 31, have a GPA of 3.6 or higher, and have completed 21 semester credit hours with a B or higher in accounting courses required for accounting majors.

The scholarship recipients are currently in the MAcc program, and each student has accepted job positions with one of the “Big 4″ public accounting firms and will start after graduation in May. David Legler is originally from Austin, TX and will start with KPMG in Fort Worth. Amy Morris is from Richmond, TX and will work with PwC  in Oklahoma. Courtney Richardson will complete her MAcc degree in May and then will go on to work with EY in Fort Worth, TX. Dr. John Neill is extremely proud of these students, stating that they have consistently practiced excellence inside and out of the classroom. Congratulations to David, Amy, and Courtney on their well-deserved scholarships.  COBA wishes you the best with your future career paths!


Courtney Richardson


David Legler


Amy Morris


Dr. Mark Phillips Earns Promotion to Professor

by   |  01.28.15  |  Academics, COBA Faculty, Uncategorized


 “COBA has played a major rule in my teaching development. With their supportive environment, I am incredibly grateful to be surrounded by such amazing students and colleagues.”

COBA congratulates Dr. Mark Phillips on his promotion from Associate Professor to full Professor. In the tenure process, teachers apply for promotion to obtain a new title representing a different rank of academic hierarchy. Faculty must meet specific criteria that the university  and their department sets forth in order to receive a promotion.  Because of his fit to the university and teaching excellence, ACU recognizes him as a senior faculty member.

After graduating from ACU, Dr. Phillips went on to gain his masters from Purdue University, worked for two years in industry, worked in full time church ministry for 10 years, and then spent three years earning his PhD from Oklahoma State University before returning to work for ACU’s College of Business. Phillips has been a COBA faculty member for 11 years.

Dr Phillips has been a key part of COBA’s academic success and progression, positively impacting the lives of students through his teaching, mentoring, and preaching over the last decade. Dr. Phillips was appointed as the new Department Chair of Management Sciences at the beginning of June, 2014. Phillips has done an excellent job managing this position while continuing to pursue his own teaching and research agenda. Dr. Lytle praises Dr. Phillips, saying that “his wit, his keen analytical ability, and his steadfast work ethic has accomplished much towards the mission of COBA”. Congratulations Dr. Phillips on your well-deserved promotion! COBA is blessed to have such a strong role model, professor, and mentor in our department.

Social Entrepreneurship Studies at City Square

by   |  01.22.15  |  Academics, COBA Alumni, Current Students, Entrepreneurship, Griggs Center, Social Entrepreneurship, Uncategorized


Sixteen ACU students had the opportunity to study Social Entrepreneurship at City Square in Dallas during a January short course. The class was taught by COBA professor, Dr. Laura Phillips. In the short one-week time period, the class covered a wide range of topics related to starting and running a social enterprise (nonprofit or for-profit that has a social mission at its core). Speakers who currently run these types of enterprises, as well as those who consult and advise these organizations, came to share with the class about their own unique experiences. In addition, the class included student presentations on various topics and case study discussions. Students were also taken on a tour of City Square, hearing about how the business operates and ways they are trying to expand.


Many of the speakers were ACU alums, including Robyn Wise, Scott Orr, and Don Crisp. Scott Orr, an ACU and COBA grad, has served in many roles for nonprofit organizations as well as for-profit companies. He is currently the Vice President of Public Affairs for Fidelity Investments.


Scott’s Mantra: Using strengths to accomplish greatness.


Jerita’s Mantra: Bloom where you are planted.

Jerita Howard, an Abilene resident, also came to speak to the class. Jerita is the owner of One Smart Cookie, an online gourmet cookie and brownie gift package company. Like Scott, Jerita has also served in various roles throughout her professional career. Both of these entrepreneurs provided valuable insights on business operations and social enterprises.

DSC_6993Dr. Laura Phillips loved the broad mix of majors that were represented in the class this year. She says, “The class succeeds because of the knowledge, experience, and honesty of the 14 guest speakers. While not all of the students who took the class plan to start a social enterprise, I think all of the students benefited from the class.” After taking the class, she hopes students feel equipped to work with social ventures in the way that fits their life and career goals.


Emily Adkins, a sophomore Pre-Physical Therapy major from Irving, TX, enjoyed taking the class at City Square. She feels like she has learned the basics of social enterprises and that she could comfortably work in this type of environment now. “This class really pushed me outside of my comfort zone in a good way! I love social enterprises and I can see myself working for one some day. Listening to these speakers opened my eyes to how these organizations help people in an effective way.”


Startup Week and Elevator Pitch Welcomes Entrepreneurs!

by   |  12.09.14  |  Academics, COBA Alumni, COBA Events, Entrepreneurship, Griggs Center, Springboard


In November, the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy hosted the first annual Startup Week. The CEO student organization along with the Griggs Center were busy with several activities during the week, including an Alumni Entrepreneurship dinner on November 18, a CEO chapel on the 19th with guest speaker Toby Thomas, and ending with the final Elevator Pitch competition after the chapel. The goal of the Springboard Elevator Pitch competition was to get students to create and present their idea, giving them the opportunity to gain real experience working with entrepreneurs. Three weeks prior to Startup Week, participants presented their Elevator Pitch ideas in front of a group of local entrepreneurs and ACU faculty members and learned how they would be judged as well as the deadlines for the competition. At the dinner on November 18, the 10 finalists were announced. The next day, the pitches were heard and the winner received $1,500 cash for the idea.

The winner of the Elevator Pitch was COBA major, Colby Hatchett, a junior marketing major from Fort Worth. His idea was The Mullet, a restaurant concept where parents could enjoy a nice meal at the front of the restaurant while their children would be fully taken care of in the back of the restaurant. After the pitch, Colby said he was incredibly grateful to meet entrepreneurs working in the marketplace and gain real experience from the competition.


Rudy Garza, President of CEO, was excited that students were able to meet and connect with ACU alums and other entrepreneurs. At the dinner, students were seated at tables with the entrepreneurs and were able to hear their stories and advice for those considering entrepreneurship as well as making valuable connections for potential career opportunities. When asked the effect of COBA with the Elevator Pitch, Rudy said, “Because the classes are smaller and the quality of the faculty is excellent, COBA students always excel in the Springboard Challenge competitions. The presenters are stronger and seem comfortable speaking in front of the crowd. Through the interactions between professors and students, students gain major insight into what entrepreneurship looks like, which is incredibly beneficial for them in this case.”

Overall, the competition was a great success. Some unique ideas were presented during the pitch and it was great to have so many ACU and COBA alumni back on campus. COBA is proud to see such amazing business and Christian leadership in the marketplace. Again, congratulations to COBA student, Colby Hatchett, on winning the competition!


“The Springboard Challenge is a great enhancement to COBA’s culture of ideation, creativity, and innovation. This competition pushes our students and culture in a good way!” says Dr. Rick Lytle, Dean of the College of Business.

Professor Spotlight: Dr. John Neill

by   |  12.04.14  |  Academics, Accounting, COBA Faculty


“The student professor relationship in COBA is unique and unlike any other university at which I have taught. The faculty and staff are outstanding Christian people that I enjoy working with every single day,” says Accounting professor, Dr. John Neill.

This year marks the 15th year Accounting professor Dr. John Neill has been with COBA. Dr. Neill grew up in Abilene, graduating from Cooper High School before coming to ACU. He graduated from ACU earning both a bachelor’s and master’s degree and then went on to the University of Florida, where he earned his Ph.D.  Before coming back to ACU to teach, Dr. Neill taught at Florida State University and Chapman in Orange County, California.

Dr. Neill says that one of his favorite memories in COBA is the senior blessing retreat held a couple of years ago. At the blessing, he enjoyed all of the faculty and staff gathering together to send off the seniors. He feels incredibly blessed to be part of such an encouraging community, knowing he has made a difference in students’ lives. Dr. Neill describes COBA as cooperative, student-focused, and professional, seeking to serve God and meet students’ needs above all else. Compared to other state universities, he feels that students feel comfortable  in COBA, striving to learn and gain insight from experienced professors.

John Neill

Dr. Neill’s favorite Bible verse is Romans 8:37-39, which says, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Dr. Neill’s life is a clear reflection of how he lives this verse out every day, serving those around him and pushing students to reach their potential and live out their God-given talents. COBA has been extremely blessed to have Dr. Neill in our community. Thank you Dr. Neill for your Christian example and servant leadership over the past 15 years!

EY Takes Tim Savage to Disney World!

by   |  11.06.14  |  Academics, Accounting, COBA Faculty, Careers In..., Current Students, Internships, Placement stories


COBA Interns at the EY Orlando Conference


COBA encourages and assists students in providing opportunities to pursue internships to gain real-world experience and learn hands-on applications from some of the most prestigious companies in the world. Tim Savage, a student in COBA’s Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program, interned with EY this past summer. Tim worked in the tax division and prepared multiple Texas franchise tax forms for large asset management companies. A large, global firm like EY offers many possibilities, allowing interns to tailor their career path based on their best interests.

EY also provided an all-expense paid trip to attend a firm conference in Orlando with about 3,000 other interns. At the conference, interns participated in workshops and team-building exercises, listening to executive speakers and learning from the top firm leaders. The interns were also given opportunities to have some fun! They went on excursions in Orlando and were able to spend some time at Disney World.

Throughout the internship, Tim learned how important it is to have a positive outlook and open mindset. By approaching his work with optimism, he believes he was able to build character and work diligently to be successful. After he graduates in May, Tim plans to take his CPA exams and  start working full time with EY in July or August. He is thankful for COBA and the mindset it instills into their students, preparing them for Christian leadership and development in the marketplace.

132109_10151251124561834_1923619158_o“COBA’s accounting department is top quality. Not only are the professors well-qualified and excellent at teaching, they invest in their students and help them grow them into being top-performers in the workplace. I feel like the specialized knowledge taught by the experienced faculty equipped me well to take on the challenging aspects of my internship,” says Tim Savage, a MAcc student.

Seattle Welcomes ACU AMA!

by   |  10.30.14  |  Academics, COBA Faculty, Careers In..., Current Students, Study Abroad


The student chapter of ACU’s AMA (American Marketing Association) spent the Fall Break in Seattle, WA visiting some of the most renowned companies in the world. Marketing Professor, Jennifer Golden, Career Development Advisor, Samantha Matta, and Management Sciences Department Chair, Dr. Mark Phillips led the group of 19 students, learning about the behind the scenes operations and unique cultures of these successful companies. The companies the group visited included Starbucks, World Vision, Costco, Microsoft, Amazon, and the Seattle Mariners.


Judith Barajas, a junior Marketing major with a minor in International Studies, enjoyed touring the Starbucks headquarters. Starbucks highly values their employees, calling them “partners” and creating an environment where everyone feels significant and important. When looking for a future employer, Judith learned how important it is to find a company where you can be motivated and excel. She also realized the importance of teamwork in the marketplace and working together to achieve common goals. In the future, Judith is interested in working in product development and customer needs.

10551594_10152715370104462_7849071749196847024_o“God’s plan for us is what rules the course of our life, and we cannot plan for everything he has in store for us. So many of the people we talked to were doing things now they never planned for when they were our age but because they were able to follow God, they now are doing things they never thought possible,” says Judith Barajas.

cheyenee at safeco field

Cheyenne Rawlings, a senior Marketing major from Houston, was impressed by the Microsoft corporate office. Because ACU students tend to be more familiar with Apple products, Cheyenne enjoyed learning about Microsoft’s culture and company goals. She says, “It was neat to experience big corporations because I have not had a lot of experience with companies at the corporate level. It is a much different environment!”


All of the companies presented different goals and various ways to run operations, but all companies had one thing in common: building a positive foundational culture for employees to feel motivated and succeed, reaching beyond the standard process to achieve lofty goals. This trip was an excellent opportunity for students to learn firsthand how teamwork and culture are the key ingredients for any company to succeed.


The Griggs Center and SITC Visit the Silicon Valley

by   |  10.27.14  |  Academics, COBA Alumni, Careers In..., Current Students, Entrepreneurship, Griggs Center, School of Information Technology and Computing


Over the fall break, students from the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy and the School of Information Technology and Computing traveled west to Silicon Valley. Dr. Jim Litton and Dr. Brad Crisp led the group of 16 students to visit and explore several tech companies varying in size and function, from start-ups to some of the most recognized companies in the world. Some of these included Google, LinkedIn, Circa, the Silicon Valley Bank, Livingly, Yahoo! and Square. Students were able to learn about the fundamental principles of technological companies as well as having the opportunity to network with alumni and potential employers.

COBA and SITC students tour Yahoo!

COBA and SITC students tour Yahoo!

Connor Osborn, a junior Accounting and Finance major from Southlake, enjoyed visiting Silicon Valley Bank. SVB’s mission is to “increase innovative companies’ probability of success worldwide” and is the premier bank for all venture capital firms. The group learned about the services the bank offers as well as the complex system by which the capital is distributed, put to work, and then returned.

Students were toured around LinkedIn by ACU alum, Asa Kusuma.

Students were toured around LinkedIn by ACU alum, Asa Kusuma.


Spencer Woolfolk, a junior from San Antonio, found the trip to be highly valuable, learning what it looks like to work in Silicon Valley and the purpose and vision of the companies’ brands. The experience of personally visiting such well-known companies is unlike anything one can learn inside the classroom. Spencer is excited to use this knowledge going forward, integrating his passion for marketing with entrepreneurship and technology.


Spencer Woolfolk

“I am very grateful to the faculty that put the trip together. It was invaluable to be able to learn more about Silicon Valley and the technology field,” says Woolfolk.

COBA Celebrates 35 Years with Professor Jozell Brister!

by   |  10.03.14  |  COBA Alumni, COBA Faculty

brister_jozell-1“It has been my joy and great good fortune to work with COBA’s faculty and staff.  They are great at what they do!  I am always proud of them.  I have always enjoyed their fellowship, their good advice, and their love for me and my family,” says Jozell Brister, COBA professor.

2014 marks the 35th year that Professor Jozell Brister has served the College of Business at ACU. She has truly been a blessing to the faculty, staff, and students in COBA. It is because of professors like Ms. Brister that COBA continues to provide students with a positive and encouraging learning environment.

Professor Brister moved to Abilene when she was in junior high school and has resided here since. She graduated from ACU with both a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s in Education. She then went on to the University of North Texas where she gained her MS degree. Brister has taught several classes at ACU, including Principles of Macroeconomics, Principles of Microeconomics, Money and Banking, and Labor Economics.

Professor Brister has enjoyed working with the staff and faculty in COBA and building relationships with her students. Their love and support for her throughout the years has encouraged her in great ways. One of her favorite memories in the College of Business was when COBA celebrated the opening of the Mabee Business Building. She is proud to be a part of such an innovative community, seeing how COBA has grown and thrived throughout years, transforming the lives of students and faculty every day.

jozell breaking ground-1

Professor Brister breaking ground on construction of the Mabee Business Building.

Brister was the first ACU faculty member that Dr. Monty Lynn came to know well. He remembers working with her on a research project on labor union recruiting years ago while he was in graduate school. Since then, he and Jozell have been close friends and colleagues. Dr. Lynn describes her as compassionate and precise, deeply caring about her students and teaching them to see the fundamental principles of economics. Dr. Lynn says, “She cares for her students and their learning, she loves her family, and she is passionate about justice in society.”

COBA’s Dean, Dr. Rick Lytle, also praises Brister for her relentless and meticulous pursuit of excellence in all things. He discusses Professor Brister’s contributing role in COBA’s AACSB Accreditation. She diligently worked alongside COBA’s team as they pursued their goal to become accredited with AACSB. Her knowledge, attention to detail, writing ability, and organizational skills all were significant factors leading up to this great honor for the College of Business.

Professor Jozell Brister is the perfect example of a Godly woman working to serve and lead others. Her passion to see students succeed in the marketplace is clearly evident by her teaching and loyalty to students. COBA’s community would not be the same without Professor Brister. We are grateful for her 35 years of service and the amazing blessing that she has been in our lives. Thank you, Professor Brister!

Student and Professor Spotlight: Rudy Garza with Dr. Andy Little and Dr. Jim Litton

by   |  09.30.14  |  COBA Faculty, Current Students, Faith Infusion, Study Abroad

“I hope students realize that I am learning from them and developing my own faith in the process.  Students bless me more than I could ever hope to bless them,” says Dr. Andy Little.

Rudy Garza values the relationships he built with Dr. Jim Litton and Dr. Andy Little this summer while studying abroad in Central America.

Studying abroad is beneficial for students for a variety of reasons. They are given the opportunity to learn and expand their worldview by getting to know another culture. It is also a chance for students and faculty to have concentrated time in a new setting to build relationships with each other founded on unique learning experiences.

Dr. Andy Little believes in the positive impact that COBA has with its students. He believes that the culture COBA provides is one where the faculty deeply and genuinely cares about the students and their Christian development in life and in their career paths. He loves being around students and walking alongside them as they learn and develop as Christian people.

Rudy Garza, a junior marketing major, values the experiential learning that COBA offers. Professors aim for students to learn through experience, providing unique opportunities and tasking students with real work that will equip them for success in the marketplace. He says that he will always treasure studying abroad in Honduras with two of his favorite professors, remembering all of the impactful experiences they were able to share.

With innovative, intelligent, and experienced professors, COBA students are given access to wisdom from a Christian and business perspective. Our community empowers students to strive to reach their potential. The combination of study abroad trips, student organizations, and opportunities to build strong and lasting relationships with professors and fellow students allows students to get involved and excel. In COBA, we believe that everything starts with a relationship.