Personal Finance Has Never Made More Sense

by   |  05.02.18  |  Academics, COBA Faculty, College Decisions, Current Students, Faith Infusion, Uncategorized

Personal Financial Planning (FIN 416) is an introduction to the methodology and discipline of personal financial planning. The class focuses on the comprehensive and ongoing planning process that seeks to quantify personal financial objectives. Dr. Kyle Tippens has taught Personal Financial Planning for several years. Tippens was personally motivated to teach this class because it covers a topic that he has always been interested in and researched. He had spent a lot of time talking with his colleagues about real-world financial matters that affected them and is always trying to figure out how to save for the future in the best way possible.

Dr. Kyle Tippens, Professor

In Personal Financial Planning, Tippens begins with what the Bible has to say about money. “We talk a lot about stewardship, giving, and what those mean for those who live a life called to Christ and practical ways to put those in practice,” said Tippens. Students learn how to plan for themselves and about all of the seemingly-daunting financial decisions they will soon start to make. They learn about savings and checking accounts, budgeting, what insurance to buy or not buy, how to save for retirement, estate planning, and much more. Tippens wants students to understand that finances do not have to be overwhelming. Breaking it down into pieces helps to demystify finances and students often realize that it is not as complicated as people make it seem. “Students often describe this class as the learning-how-to-be-an-adult class,” said Tippens. “At the bottom line, it is about how to be out in the real world and not be overwhelmed by all of the choices that will be available to you.”

Many students who have taken Personal Financial Planning have contacted Tippens after graduation and tell him how they have used materials from the class just weeks after graduating and feel more ready and prepared than most of their peers. Aric Wilson, a sophomore management major from The Woodlands, is currently taking Personal Financial Planning. “I was amazed by how many everyday things that I will definitely need to know after graduation that I had no clue about,” noted Wilson. “This class is about life and how to succeed in the future and I feel much more prepared for taking it.” Wilson also appreciated how Tippens teaches the class using personal examples from his life and believes that the reason he gets so much out of the class is the way Tippens works hard to teach it in relatable ways. Even though there are so many practical topics that are thoroughly covered and explained in Personal Financial Planning, Tippens hopes that a student’s biggest takeaway from the class is the importance of generosity, saving, and living beneath their means.

Another unique aspect of Personal Financial Planning that it has no prerequisites, which is very unusual for a 400-level finance class. “Regardless of your major,” explained Tippens. “If you focus on the class you will do well. There are no incredible math skills necessary.” For this reason, Personal Financial Planning is a popular elective all around campus. Students of all majors have registered for the class to learn more about preparing for their future. Olivia Dahl, a senior biology major from Round Rock, took Personal Financial Planning because she wanted to be prepared to succeed financially, especially as she enters medical school soon. Dahl believes that this class is the most practical one she has taken during her time at ACU and would encourage others to take this class because it is an easy way to be exposed to important information. “Dr. Tippens made it easy and painless to learn,” Dahl said. “It was obvious that he wanted to give us this information so that we could be prepared for the future. I would tell every student that has room in their degree plan to take this course.”

Personal Financial Planning is offered in both the fall and the spring. There are no class prerequisites but, to enroll, a student must have already completed 72 earned hours. The practical nature of the class and the dedicated, Christ-centered instruction from Dr. Tippens make Personal Financial Planning an invaluable class to students from every major at ACU.

Ruth Allen Griggs Scholarship Luncheon Promotes Giving Back

by   |  04.04.18  |  Academics, COBA Events, Current Students, Faith Infusion, Student Spotlights, Uncategorized

COBA donors, scholarship recipients, Dean’s Council, and faculty and staff gathered on Thursday, March 22nd, at the annual Ruth Allen Griggs Scholarship Luncheon. The luncheon, inspired by the memory of the hospitable Ruth Allen Griggs, seeks to honor the spirit of generosity and to encourage others to give back. Each table was buzzing with discussion as students, donors, and faculty members conversed about their experiences at ACU and why giving is so important.

Ann Griggs, Ann Berger Griggs, and Jack Griggs

Students Anna Hornell, junior management major from Fort Worth, TX, and Darius Bell, senior computer science major from Frisco, TX, represented students who have received COBA scholarships, speaking to the audience about what receiving those scholarships has meant to them and the impact that it has had on their education and experiences at ACU.

Anna Hornell, junior management major from Fort Worth, TX

Anna said, “The Ruth Allen Griggs Luncheon was such an amazing opportunity for students and donors to meet! It was a time for students to express gratitude to those who allowed them enriching and even life- changing opportunities and to be inspired to generosity both now and in the future. I am hopeful that donors enjoyed connecting with students and hearing about the experiences that they have blessed them with.”

Darius Bell, senior computer science major from Frisco, TX

Darius said, “Giving back creates a thread that binds us all together. Although it is not always easy or convenient, it gives birth to community, community gives birth to a culture, and a culture gives birth to a lasting hope. Receiving this scholarship from the College of Business Administration revealed to me that ACU’s mission and vision extends past the plaques the name is written on and actually lives within the hearts and lives of the donors.”

Gary Skidmore, guest speaker, talks about the importance of giving

Gary Skidmore, Chairman of Aberdeen, member of the COBA Dean’s Council, and former ACU Board Trustee spoke to the crowd, relaying a story Dr. Condoleezza Rice tells about her grandfather. “She said that when her grandfather went to college, he paid for his first year in cotton. His sophomore year, he was asked how he would pay for school and he said, ‘I am out of cotton,’ so they said, ‘You are out of luck.’ He asked how the other boys were going to pay. They said, ‘They have what is called a scholarship and if you wanted to be a Presbyterian minister, you could have a scholarship, too.’ My grandfather said, ‘That is exactly what I had in mind.’ Dr. Rice stated that ‘My family has been Presbyterian and college educated ever since. That access to education changed everything. Not just for him, but for generations to come.” Skidmore noted that because of her family’s legacy of education, Condoleezza Rice has gone on to become both a Professor and Provost at Stanford University, National Security Advisor, and Secretary of State. He went on to say, “We’ve all likely received some sort of scholarship” citing statistics that 75% of all college students receive some sort of financial aid and that scholarships are one way we model what Jesus taught us as Christians – to help others. He stated, “We don’t know what will happen if someone is enabled to attend ACU…how their life will be changed. I know I don’t want to learn someday, if only someone had given, cancer would have been cured. In giving, both the giver and the receiver benefit.”

Dean Brad Crisp summed the event up by saying, “The Griggs Luncheon is a favorite event of mine because of the way it reflects and underscores our values. As COBA updates our guiding statements to describe our deeply held values, we are emphasizing how our Christian faith leads us to gratitude and generosity. This event allows our students to express their gratitude for the generosity of our donors.”

Dr. Brad Crisp

Spring Break in Honduras

by   |  04.02.18  |  Academics, Entrepreneurship, Faith Infusion, Griggs Center, Marketing, Poverty and Development, Student Spotlights, Student Spotlights, Uncategorized

Caleb Casas, junior management and marketing major from Houston, TX.

Over spring break, the Griggs Center and Halbert Institute partnered to send a group of students led by Dodd Roberts with Dr. Sarah Easter to Honduras. The group collaborated with Mission Lazarus to work within the communities on a service trip. Caleb Casas, a junior marketing and management major from Houston, was one of the students who went and served. Part of the trip entailed meeting with small business owners to help them with current endeavors and to develop new business ideas. Led by Dr. Sarah Easter and Erika Teilmann, a junior management major from Houston, the group of students met for several weeks before their departure to learn about the business climate of the communities they would be working amidst in Honduras. They researched the businesses, resource availability, education levels, income levels, and more. The group kept it a priority to remember that they were not the experts and that they need to trust the people that actually live and work with people in those communities, the people that understand the everyday circumstances, to determine the feasibility of an idea. The students were challenged to read Philippians 2:1-8 before going into the communities to prepare a servant heart within themselves and to learn of and how to imitate Christ’s humility.

Caleb and the other students met with locals in Namasigue and Cedeño, villages in Honduras, to help build existing businesses and develop new ideas. The people talked about how they would use their businesses to help out the community: to make it possible for everyone to have a little money to buy from one another, to send kids to school, to give to the church, to employ others, and more. In the Namasigue village, all of the businesses are tied together. If only a few people operate a business, then the rest of the village would be unable to purchase from them and would force business owners to sell to ‘coyotes,’ people from bigger cities who come to purchase products in the villages at an extremely low price. It seemed to Caleb that the people had an excellent grasp of how to operate a business in the village but desired feedback on their ideas. They taught the villagers basic accounting so that they could better run their businesses by keeping accurate records, financial statements, and balancing the cost of the business. Both the students and the villagers were able to learn a lot from each other. For example, they met with a woman who planned to sell pigs and wanted to start off with ten. The group encouraged her to start off with three and to buy three pigs every few months so that she had a cycle of product and a steady stream of income instead of trying to sell all of her pigs at the same time. The group suggested that she purchase a male and female to begin breeding so that she wouldn’t have to buy pigs to resell but the women explained that the time and money it takes to breed with the resources available to her was too great for her to ever make a profit.

The students also built latrines in the villages as a part of Mission Lazarus’ public health campaigns that aim to engage the community through health promotion and prevention and share essential health teachings with families and communities. The latrines were a tremendous step in both sanitation and privacy for families in the communities. Caleb was struck by how something as small as a latch on a bathroom door gave people basic human dignity. “In America, we don’t have to ever worry about finding a private bathroom to use no matter where we go,” said Caleb. “But the simple act of installing a two-dollar latch allowed these people to go about their business in private and gave them dignity. There was a man who had gone over eighty years without a private bathroom and I was struck by how often I take something like a toilet for granted.” Caleb was also moved by the Hondurans’ gratitude and willingness to work. “They didn’t want us to do the work for them but wanted to work alongside us,” he noted. For the families to even receive a latrine, they had to dig the hole themselves before people would come install the physical latrine. For some people, this meant digging a twelve-foot hole with nothing but a shovel and a chisel. One man chiseled through two feet of solid rock alone. Even though they had done all of this back-breaking work to lay the foundation for the latrines, when the students came to install them, the villagers worked alongside them, helping mix and lay concrete, drilling, and installing the roof. After they had finished installing one of the latrines, a man came and gave them mangoes, which was all he had to give. Caleb was amazed that the people were so grateful that they were willing to give up all that they had to say thank you to the students.

In Honduras, Caleb experienced and was impacted by was God’s purpose and design in bringing us to a specific time and place. Caleb’s grandfather was a pastor in Mexico but came to the US to start a Spanish-speaking congregation within Bammel Church in Houston. Caleb remembered hearing stories about his grandma growing up in Saltillo – no running water, an outhouse that was a mile away, playing soccer with rocks – and realized that, if it had not been for his grandfather saying “yes” to the Lord and leaving his work in Mexico,  Caleb could have been in a similar situation to the people he was serving in Honduras. “I was serving what could have been my grandpa,” Caleb realized. “Maybe in three generations, like my family, those people could be in America or helping grow Honduras. You never know what impact you or God will have on people and their life trajectory.”

Another surreal moment that Caleb experienced in Honduras was meeting Luis, the preacher of the Honduran church the group was working with. Luis was born in Honduras but moved to the US and actually attended Caleb’s Bammel. Bammel Church sponsored Luis to attend the Baxter Institute, a seminary school in Guatemala. Caleb’s grandfather also taught classes at Baxter during Luis’ time there. Once Luis graduated, he had twenty-three churches where he could have served but felt a calling to go to Namasigue. Caleb was amazed at how God brought them together and connected them at this specific time and place where they were both serving together. “There were so many points in our lives where things could have happened differently,” Caleb said. “Nonetheless, God intersected our lives and that made an impact on me.”

Caleb was absolutely impacted during his time in Honduras. The opportunity to serve and work alongside the people in Namasigue and Cedeño showed him how God works in incredible and mind-blowing ways and His plan is always good. Caleb looks forward to the potential to return to Honduras soon and is even talking about going back this summer.

Young Alumni Spotlight: Allison Phillips

by   |  03.02.18  |  Alumni Spotlight, COBA Alumni, Data Analytics, Outcomes, Uncategorized

Allison (left) in Norway with her college roommate.

Allison Phillips graduated from the College of Business in 2015 with a marketing degree. She is currently working for Deloitte Consulting as a Data Scientist for clients and lives in Denver, Colorado. She is also passionate about traveling and her job allows her to pursue that.

 

Q: How have your foundations at ACU and in COBA helped you in life post-graduation?

A: During my time in COBA, I had the chance to lead student organizations, conduct research with faculty, and launch a student-run analytics consultancy through Wildcat Ventures. These experiences gave me the chance to gain experience as a researcher and consultant really early in life, which made my transition from school to work much easier. Professional skills aside, COBA gave me a lengthy list of mentors who guided and supported me as I tried to figure out the career direction I wanted to pursue. Having adults in my life who listened and gave me honest opinions about the decisions I was making has had a huge impact on the way I make decisions in my personal and professional life.

 

Q: Can you describe your work in data analytics and the experiences you’ve had with your company?

A: I’m currently a Data Scientist in Deloitte’s Consulting practice, which allows me to work with different clients to understand what has happened, predict what will happen in the future, and make more effective decisions with that information. I’ve gotten to work with companies as well as federal agencies, and I enjoy the challenge of learning about new industries and continuing to develop my technical skills while solving a wide variety of business challenges. In a given week, I work with teammates from all across the country to write code, conduct statistical analysis, design experiments, build slides, and brief clients. I’ve met some really incredible people at Deloitte, and it’s been fun to work with teammates whose backgrounds are very different than mine.

 

Allison with friends hiking Machu Picchu in Peru.

Q: What should students who are interested in data analytics be doing while they are in school to prepare for that after graduation?

A: Students interested in analytics should take data mining and programming classes to understand if they enjoy the kind of work they would be doing as a data scientist. Outside of class, students should look for relevant internships, opportunities to conduct research with faculty or job openings at ARG (the analytics piece of Wildcat Ventures). A lot of different paths lead to analytics careers so I would recommend learning some basic technical skills and looking for opportunities to apply those in ways that interest you.

 

Q: Would you share some of your favorite memories or experiences of traveling? How do you balance that with work?

A: I love traveling and definitely take advantage of all my time off! One of my goals is to visit all 59 National Parks, so I spend a lot of weekends hiking and camping with friends. Last year I also hiked to Machu Picchu with a big group of friends, road tripped through Norway with my college roommate (where we tried to break into a house that turned out not to be our AirBnB), and traveled through Southeast Asia with my family, where we ziplined to the tallest treehouses in the world. Learning about different cultures and experiencing ways of life that are different than mine is really important to me, and I’ve been lucky to have colleagues who are supportive of that. Plus it’s super fun!

Dr. Sarah Easter Wins Best Paper

by   |  02.23.18  |  Academics, COBA Faculty, Poverty and Development, Research, Social Entrepreneurship, Uncategorized

 

Dr. Sarah Easter is a professor in the College of Business Administration and teaches classes like Strategic Management, Business and Sustainability, and International Business.

Over the summer, Dr. Sarah Easter attended the Academy of Management (AOM) Annual Meeting: a professional association for over 10,000 management and organization scholars whose mission is to build a vibrant and supportive community of scholars by markedly expanding opportunities to connect and explore ideas. The theme of this year’s AOM Annual Meeting was ‘Improving Lives’ and specifically focused on how organizations can contribute to the betterment of society through elevating the health and well-being of those who live in it. In her dissertation research, Dr. Easter conducted a sixteen-month ethnographic study of a coalition to end homelessness in Western Canada. The coalition involved over forty different governmental, business and nonprofit players and she examined how they worked together toward common goals while considering many different perspectives. Dr. Easter presented a paper over one of the key findings of this research and received the Best Paper Award based on a Dissertation from the Managerial and Organizational Cognition Division of the Academy of Management.

 

Dr. Sarah Easter was presented with the Best Paper Award for processes of negotiating identity in a cross-sector partnership.

Dr. Easter’s dissertation research centered on the challenge of the coalition: developing a cohesive and unified identity (i.e., its focal purpose and goals) in the face of a variety of different perspectives. Those involved in the coalition had many different viewpoints on what the central issue they were working to address entailed, which was homelessness. Even though all participants talked about the notion that the overall vision to end homelessness was well understood by all involved, the result was that the partnership was often pulled in multiple directions simultaneously. The findings speak to the importance of such collaborative partnerships as being very explicit in terms of the vision they are working to achieve. This involves having ongoing discussions and check-in points to ensure that all players are able to clearly articulate the direction of the partnership, including underlying meanings of terms utilized, particularly as participants are continually cycling in and out. Dr. Easter was fascinated in learning how a diverse body of organizations and individuals from public, private and nonprofit sectors come together to address a significant societal issue over time and was able to develop a deep understanding as to how the coalition evolved over time in the presence of many and very different ways of working.

Dr. Easter took special notice of the pull between both opportunities and challenges that organizations face in carrying out their work while conducting her research. This is something she emphasizes while teaching classes like Strategic Management, Business and Sustainability, and International Business. “I believe strongly that it is important to consider both dimensions in order to develop a more holistic perspective of a given organization’s current situation,” Dr. Easter emphasized. “I bring up this example in my courses: an organization that has incredible potential to make an impact in addressing homelessness in the local region (opportunity). At the same time, though, there are incredible challenges associated with this complex structure.” Dr. Easter continues a passion for studying how people work across cultural and socioeconomic structures especially through addressing major societal challenges and looks for ways to connect with people and organizations as well as share this passion with her students in the classroom.

Dr. Jonathan Stewart Goes FAR

by   |  11.27.17  |  Academics, Athletics, COBA Faculty

If you go to any ACU home game, you are sure to see Dr. Jonathan Stewart, finance professor, sitting in the stands or standing on the sidelines, cheering on the Wildcats. This year, Dr. Stewart is ACU’s Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR). FARs are chosen to help create a caring and supportive campus environment to grow and advocate for student-athletes. The FAR is involved in helping make sure that student-athletes have the appropriate systems and environments in place so that they can succeed in academics and as a person.

Dr. Jonathan Stewart

Dr. Stewart has taught Financial Management, a required class for all business majors, for the last fifteen years and in doing so, has felt privileged to meet so many students. Being the FAR allows him to get to know students in other majors with whom he would not normally interact and build relationships and friendships with them. Dr. Stewart is in charge of overseeing a committee that checks student-athlete eligibility and making sure they are meeting NCAA and ACU requirements. ACU only allows student-athletes to miss a certain amount of classes, so Dr. Stewart approves travel schedules. A large part of his job is just being available to student-athletes so that they can feel comfortable talking to him about difficulties or just to chat. Dr. Stewart tries to go by practices and travels with each team at least once so they can see his face and become familiar with him. His favorite part of the job is coordinating the guest coaching program. Student-athletes nominate their favorite faculty and staff to be honored as guest coaches. Guest coaches can go to practices, watch film, attend pregame meals, and see what the student-athletes do day-to-day beyond the classroom. Dr. Stewart loves to see how it blesses the faculty and staff that get nominated and meeting those individuals who have such a strong positive influence on ACU’s student-athletes. “I get to meet the faculty and staff that the students love,” said Dr. Stewart. “It is also good for them to see how much time, dedication, and love the student-athletes put into what they do.”

Working as ACU’s FAR certainly aligns with Dr. Stewart’s calling to mentor and teach. It allows him to know and interact with a much bigger group of students, all with different concerns, majors, and backgrounds. “I am still learning and trying to find my way,” said Dr. Stewart. “It is fun to say hi to people while I am walking around campus or checking up on how things are with students in the Bean or in chapel.” Dr. Stewart tries to practice mindful prayer for the student-athletes. For example, there always injuries and physical struggles in athletics, so when Dr. Stewart sees someone in a brace or on crutches, he says that he prays for their healing and peace. “It can be stressful for an injured athlete to not compete and be with the team. I try to be really intentional about praying for them and following up on that,” says Dr. Stewart. Student-athletes also have to be exceptional time managers to succeed in the long run. Dr. Stewart prays for their ability to be well-organized and uncommonly focused and makes sure to be available to help students achieve those goals.

Like the rest of us, Dr. Stewart was very excited about having ACU football back on campus in the brand-new Anthony Stadium. In particular, Dr. Stewart has really enjoyed the opportunities that the stadium has provided for communities at ACU and in Abilene. He enjoys walking through tailgates and seeing students setting up their tents and alumni catching up with each other. In Dr. Stewart’s eyes, the stadium has brought about a great improvement and positive effect upon ACU culture, especially when it comes to athletics. “I hope that the excitement that having a home stadium has created will bleed over into other athletic events,” said Dr. Stewart. “We can use this as a way to support and encourage each other no matter if we are a professor, student, athlete, or alumni and focus on building relationships and improving our community.”

Be sure to come say hi to Dr. Stewart at all of our home games and cheer on our student-athletes. Go Wildcats!

 

Dr. Monty Lynn Receives Teaching Award

by   |  11.06.17  |  Academics, CCCU, COBA Faculty, Uncategorized

When you walk into Dr. Monty Lynn’s office, you are struck with a sense of peace and quiet and are greeted with a warm handshake and an even warmer smile. Talking with him, you get the sense that you are heard and paid attention to, that everything said in that room is important to him. Recently, Dr. Lynn was honored with the Christian Business Faculty Association’s Teaching Award. Once a year, business faculties in a network of 110 faith-based schools meet to share ideas about teaching and research and to honor outstanding members in the CBFA. The CBFA Teaching Award was established by the Christian Business Faculty Association to perpetuate Christ-like teaching and to recognize Christian business faculty members who emulate the character, engagement, and calling of Christ to the work and ministry of transformational education. These are all certainly descriptors of Monty Lynn and we could not think of a more fitting person to receive this award.

Dr. Lynn is held in very high esteem by his peers and students. Mark Phillips, Professor and Management Sciences Department Chair, describes Dr. Lynn as the ‘face’ of COBA to many generations of new business students, as they begin their academic career in Dr. Lynn’s Intro to Business course. Phillips recalls students describing Dr. Lynn as incredibly, unbelievably nice, which made it all the more shocking when they learned that he gives such hard exams. “Everything he does is accomplished with excellence and grace,” says Phillips. “Monty exemplifies the type of faculty member we try to hire and retain.” Dr. Lynn treats everyone with the utmost respect; you are always given his undivided attention and he is very intentional in the curriculums that he teaches and the advice that he gives. He teaches business in a context that reflects how one can use their skills to benefit others and to be a selfless person in the world. Dr. Lynn invests in his students. He is gifted in his ability to leave a lasting impression on those who encounter his words of wisdom. While teaching students the fundamentals of business, he is also instilling in future generations how to combat the challenges of this world with an empathetic heart and a servant’s mentality. Elisabeth Danelski, a junior finance major, and Dr. Lynn’s student worker, said that Dr. Lynn is one of the biggest blessings she has received in her time here at ACU. “Now he is not only my mentor but someone who I share my daily stories with. I come to him when I’m at my wits end seeking advice and most importantly, someone who I hope to have in my life long after I graduate,” she said. “I am so excited the humblest person I know is receiving recognition for the dedication and passion he brings to his field in such a Christ-like manner.”

It is clear how others see Dr. Lynn – gracious, intentional, and Christ-like. Dr. Lynn says that he always imagines himself as a student when he teaches a class and asks himself what he would want to learn, what he would be curious about, and what he would need to know. Dr. Lynn said that no class of his is ever the same. “I always tweak my classes every semester,” he said. “You have to change because things change in business constantly; there are always new examples, insights, and experiences.” Dr. Lynn’s engagement with his students is evident in this way; he makes every semester better and more relevant to that specific group of students so that they can learn and grow in the specific ways they need. His intentionality with students makes him beloved. Dr. Lynn’s commitment to lifelong learning also contributes to his status as an excellent teacher. It says something when a teacher is more eager to learn than they are to teach and his love for learning shows in the way he carries himself in the classroom. He treats every day as an opportunity to gain a new perspective and to allow the experiences of others to change the way he sees this world. We could not be more proud to call Dr. Lynn one of our own and are excited to see how he continues to teach and impact every student that walks into his classroom.

Wildcat Software

by   |  11.01.17  |  Uncategorized

In 2014, Wildcat Software was started as part of the Griggs Center’s Wildcat Ventures, a program where students create and run their own small business. Wildcat Software provides software development to clients. Employees of Wildcat Software are generally technology students – students with majors such as Computer Science, Information Technology, Digital Entertainment Technology, and Management Information Systems – and are given access to cutting edge technology to produce high quality work at a reasonable rate. Student developers take the requirements they receive from clients and build out the software to meet their demands. They break down tasks step by step and are in charge of meeting with the client throughout the process to ensure that the software is what the client wants. The overall goal of Wildcat Software is to provide custom software solutions to a wide range of clients, which include small local business as well as larger corporations and banks across the nation.

One of Wildcat Software’s most recent projects was developing an app for ACU Theatre. The ACU Theatre Department contacted Wildcat Software through the library’s Innovation Foundry, wanting a mobile platform that would help audiences look for shows as well as allow for mobile ticket sales. They also wanted users to be able to view showtimes for the current season and purchase tickets not just for a single show, but for the entire season. Colin Blanchard and Holly Buff, two senior developers at the company, and  Gideon Luck, project manager, were the Wildcat Software employees assigned to this project. The WS team met with the client to get an idea of what they wanted and then began to build mock-ups, outlining the basic form of the app with wireframes so that the client could get a feel for what it would look like. After approval by ACU Theatre, the actual development began. The development team used PhoneGap with cross-platform HTML and Java, which allowed the app to work on both iPhones and Androids. In PhoneGap, developers tested the app, deployed it to a device, wrote the native code, and built the app into devices which were then brought to the client. The app was published to the App Store and Google Play in August. The ACU Theatre app was tested and ready in time to make ACU Theatre’s Homecoming production of Cats easy and accessible for students, alumni, and theatre lovers. You can download ACU Theatre in the App Store or Google Play for free today! (App Store:https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/acu-theatre/id1270835292?mt=8, Google Play:https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.acutheatre.app&hl=en)  

Working for Wildcat Software gives student employees the skills and experience necessary for their future careers. Additionally, student employees get to see beyond the technical aspects of their job and learn how a business operates. Colin Blanchard, Senior Developer, said “it is very interesting working for a company run by my peers. I get to be more involved in the client and business side.” Blanchard noted that his favorite project with the company was building their own website. “It was fun because it was for us and by us, we got to make it what we wanted.” Virginia Pettit, Senior Developer, has also enjoyed her time as a student employee of Wildcat Software. She explained that the command structure is much more laidback because of the student-run aspect of the company, but thinks that there is a bigger sense of pride and accomplishment when they achieve things since they are students and it feels more like a team than a corporate environment. Pettit says she loves learning new things in her job and being able to teach them to others. “When we worked on making our own website, I got to mentor junior developers and teach them a lot about the job and working with web technologies,” she said. “I have input on big decisions and I know my opinion matters.”

Wildcat Software is constantly growing in numbers of  employees and clients. Soon the company will be moving into their own office down the hall from the Griggs Center, which will help to establish the company and give them even more tools they need to continue doing excellent work. If you would like to learn more about Wildcat Software, you can visit their website at http://wildcatsoftware.net. At the moment, they are looking for someone to replace their current CEO, Nik Grau, who will graduate soon.  If you are interested, apply today under the ‘Join Our Team’ tab on their website and email a resume and cover letter to Nik Grau at nrg13a@acu.edu. This position is a non-technical position and no technical experience is required. If you have any questions, email Brandon DeLano at bcd13a@acu.edu or stop by his office MBB 256.

COBA Students Attend HRSouthwest Conference

by   |  10.23.17  |  Academics, Current Students, Human Resource Management, Uncategorized

Last week, eleven COBA students attended the HRSouthwest Conference (HRSWC) in Fort Worth, TX. The HRSWC is the largest regional educational and networking event for human resource professionals. HRSWC is organized by DallasHR, the Dallas-based SHRM Affiliate Chapter. More than 2,500 HR professionals attended the conference and had the opportunity to hear from keynote speakers Laura Bush and John O’Leary, attend educational sessions, and connect with other professionals as well as experience new ideas and technology in the HRSWC Marketplace.

Dr. Malcom Coco, Dr. Phil Vardiman, and students at the HRSWC.

Society of Human Resource Management Sponsor Dr. Malcom Coco said the conference “was an awesome opportunity for the eleven attending students to meet and network with the conference attendees”. This conference provided an opportunity for the students to learn more about their discipline. It also helped them to determine if they wanted to go into the HR field, what part of the field interested them, and gave them an opportunity to meet hundreds of HR professionals to expand their individual network for possible future jobs.
Tom Harris, a senior management major and full-time manager at The Men’s Wearhouse, was encouraged by Dr. Phil Vardiman to attend the conference so that he could connect with HR professionals. Harris said that his conversation with Linda Swindling was the standout of his conference experience. Swindling is a Certified Speaking Professional, “Recovering Attorney,” the past-president of the National Speaker Association, the current President of Journey On!, her own speaking and consulting company, and the author of more than 20 books. Harris talked with her at length before Swindling’s presentation about her history and experiences and was even called on stage during her presentation to share a few words. Harris said that the most helpful thing he learned at the conference was the importance of being intentional. Their full schedules during the conference required some creativity on his part so that he could connect with people. “If someone I wanted to talk to was in a hurry to get to a speaking session, I would try my best to be in a hurry with them,” he said. “Have your main course at one table, meet everyone that is sitting near you, shake their hands, and go get your dessert and do the same thing at a different table.” Harris believes that it is important to take advantage of every possible networking opportunity and felt that the HRSWC allowed him to do this and to practice his networking skills.

The Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership Development

by   |  10.04.17  |  Academics, COBA Events, City of Abilene, Distinguished Speakers Series, Faith Infusion, Leadership, Leadership Summit, Lytle Center, Special Speakers

The Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership Development is an emerging organization within COBA. The mission of the Lytle Center is to challenge individuals to wholeheartedly follow Christ, equipping them to be leaders of integrity at home, work and in their community. The Lytle Center holds weekly chapel for students, with guest speakers from a variety of backgrounds who come speak to students about the ways in which they enact their faith in their leadership roles and how students can do the same. This semester, Lytle Center Chapel has had the pleasure of welcoming guests like Anthony Williams, the mayor of Abilene, who encouraged students to have the courage to get out of their comfort zones and face the issues before them in order to lead well.

Students have enjoyed learning from community leaders and being able to participate in the founding and forming of the Lytle Center. A student-run Advisory Board meets once a month to talk about the progress of the Lytle Center, to brainstorm new ideas, and to strategize how goals for the Center can be reached. We think that the student involvement is key; their help in structuring the center is essential to establishing the value and utility students will receive by involvement. The Lytle Center wants students of all majors – not just business – to become involved. A significant part of the foundation and forming of the Lytle Center has focused on how leadership extends beyond the business world. The Lytle Center believes that all students, regardless of major or career path, need to have the tools to lead in an effective, Christ-like manner. We look forward to seeing increased participation with students all over ACU’s campus.

The Lytle Center has become the point organization for many of COBA’s pre-existing leadership programs, uniting them under one body. Now in its 20th year, Leadership Summit is being planned within the Lytle Center, with guests like 2014 Time Person of the Year, Kent Brantley and President of Kellogg U.S. Specialty Channels, Wendy Davidson, scheduled to speak at the January short-course held in Colorado. Additionally, the Lytle Center is home to the Distinguished Speaker Series, which brings in Fortune 500 executives from around the country to speak to students about Christian business leadership perspectives they have learned through trial and error in their own careers.

The Lytle Center is working to form small groups for students who are interested in being mentored by older peers and ACU faculty and staff. The center is also working with churches around the city of Abilene to get students more involved in college ministries. The Lytle Center is in the early stages of exploring and planning a week-long service project for Spring Break to South Texas to help relief efforts for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. The service trip will be open for all students to participate.

We are excited to see what the Lytle Center will become and where it will take our students. We envision a new generation of leaders coming forth from involvement with the Lytle Center who rely on their faith to be effective in their communities. Keep up to date with the Lytle Center as it grows and develops by liking the Facebook page and watch for events like Leadership Summit and Distinguished Speaker Series for a chance to get involved. You can learn more by going to their blog: http://blogs.acu.edu/lytlecenter/

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

Colossians 3:23