A Thanksgiving Proclamation


Thanksgiving Proclamation

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington

May God bless you and yours abundantly today. Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at COBA.

Jessup Pope College Football Rankings November 24, 2015 by Don Pope

Now that week 12 is in the record books, the College Football Playoff (CFP) selection committee will meet today and update their rankings which are a big deal because, when the smoke clears at the end of the college season, the top 4 ranked teams will play in the playoff bowl games to determine the overall number one team.  Teams 5,6,… are left to play in such memorable bowl games as the Tidy Bowl.
So, I am sitting here by the phone, waiting for the CFP committee to call for advice. You see, over the last 3 weekends, the Jessup Pope (JP) ranking system has predicted 75% correctly for games involving top 25 teams, while predictions based on the weekly CFP rankings only got 66% correct.
Just in case you are wondering, our top 4 are now Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Alabama, and Michigan State.  Clemson and Arkansas are the next 2 teams “on the bubble” of making it in.  Our JP rankings continue to be less impressed with our regional favorites TCU, Baylor, and Okie State.
Surely the phone will ring any minute now….

Dining With Dr. Coco: Also Known As “Mind Your Manners”

Every year, Dr. Malcolm Coco holds a business and dining etiquette dinner for students in his MGMT 373: Employee Planning, Recruitment & Selection class. This year, he held the dinner on Tuesday, Nov. 17th.

Throughout the course, students are taught the importance during the recruitment, interviewing, and selection process for filling jobs, and that personal appearance, non-verbal communication, and dining and business etiquette are very important to employers. Any one of these can disqualify you as a job candidate or make you a winner. After class instruction on all of these subjects along with a research assignment, the students have the opportunity to actually practice what they have learned with their classmates during a formal dinner and simulated meeting environment.

The dinner is the culmination of Dr. Coco’s planning, recruitment, and selection class. Students receive formal invitations and must RSVP to attend the dinner.  Jennifer Ellison, ACU’s Director of University Events, partners with Dr. Coco in classroom instruction and constructive criticism during the event to give feedback and instruction to the students.  A very elegant, five course meal is served and the students practice their dining manners and protocol.  This has always been a highlight of the course.  Unfortunately, in society today, proper manners and dining etiquette has become a lost art, but not so with hiring managers.  Good manners and dining decorum can be the tie breaker during the interview process and cinch the job you really want.


Tears on my Slide Rule, or, What Happened to Dear Old Texas A&M? By Dr. Don Pope

I am enjoying my research with Dr. Ryan Jessup about the applications of Google’s page rank algorithm to other uses, including ranking sports teams. Believe it or not, this stuff actually relates to the courses that I teach at ACU. This data crunching and analysis of college football results involves statistics, mathematical optimization and model fitting, and cause-effect analysis, all of which relate to the 3 courses that I am teaching this semester: Statistics, Management Science, and Quality Management.

Now, about the title of this blog post. I am a proud Aggie Industrial Engineer, and it hurt my pride enormously when my Aggies dropped from our carefully calculated rank of 32 to 52 after the Saturday November 14th weekend. You see, our algorithm does not accept game results when a big school like Texas A&M plays “Roast Beef Tech” (with apologies to Western Carolina fans). So, A&M dropped in our rankings below such traditional football powers as Bowling Green and those unworthy academic establishments in Austin and Lubbock, Texas. Wow. That hurts.

google diagram


COBA Student Hayley Griffin Receives HR Southwest Conference Scholarship

Senior management major, Hayley Griffin, was honored at the HR Southwest Conference (HRSWC) on October 26th, as she was one of four students who received The Excellence in Education Student Scholarship. Recipients of this scholarship are chosen based upon their academic standing, involvement in their community and campus, and by recommendations of their professors, advisors and/or employers.

Hayley Griffin

Hayley Griffin

Dr. Malcolm Coco, professor and SHRM Student Chapter Advisor, nominated Hayley for the scholarship. Dr. Coco said that Hayley has proven to be an outstanding employee, currently working in the ACU HR department and as a student assistant to the COBA marketing and recruiting manager. He touted Hayley’s intelligence, personable demeanor, abilities, accomplishments and work ethic. As the current president of the SHRM student chapter, he said that Hayley has shown initiative and leadership as she attends professional chapter meetings and has supported the chapter’s request for student chapter involvement in joint activities and research. Hayley is also treasurer of the women’s social club Sigma Theta Chi, a member of Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society and is on the Dean’s Honor Roll.

Dr. Coco went on to say that, “Whether she is performing volunteer work for Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity or volunteer tutoring for an elementary school, she is always totally engaged. The bottom line is that Hayley continues to excel in every aspect of her life and has demonstrated superb initiative and leadership. She is the epitome of an all-around outstanding person. Whether it is academics, service to the community, involvement in campus activities, she is always leading the way. She is a top drawer person.”

Hayley receiving The Excellence in Education Scholarship

Hayley receiving The Excellence in Education Scholarship

The HRSWC is a regional human resources conference held in Fort Worth every October. The conference is a 3 day event filled with educational sessions, keynote speakers, and networking opportunities. The educational sessions focus on 8 different areas in HR ranging from benefits to HR development to recruiting the best talent. This year the keynote speakers were David Pogue, the founder of Yahoo Tech, and Soledad O’Brien, the founder of Starfish Media Group.

As a student attending HRSWC, Hayley said, “There are so many outstanding networking opportunities to grow your professional network. There is a market place in the convention center that over 200 companies set up booths to tell people about their company and solutions, so it’s almost like networking heaven! There are some educational sessions geared towards students and how to go about the internship/job search, how to network, and how to get the most out of the conference. This year my favorite session was titled ‘Essential Global Recognition and Engagement Insights’. The speaker presented research that was conducted on different companies across the global market and the differences in how incentive pay and culture are linked. For example, in Brazil, employees expect to be recognized differently than here in the US, in India, or in the UK. It was interesting to hear about cultural differences like this and I am looking forward to being able to use what I learned not only from this session, but the entire conference, into my future career.”

The Society for Human Resource Management student chapter is sponsored by the local professional human resources chapter. There are 27 professional and student chapters in the state of Texas. The Big Country SHRM is ACU’s sponsoring chapter and provides all types of support for the student chapter. Student officers are part of the professional chapter’s executive committee and regularly attend monthly meetings. The student chapter members are also invited to attend each month’s chapter meeting to hear the presentation for that month. The Big Country SHRM also supports the students by offering scholarships for attending the state SHRM annual conference and the student leadership conference. The student chapter provides support for the professional chapter by conducting surveys to gather information from its members and provides support for professional chapter activities.

The student chapter is one of 27 in the state of Texas and over 400 nationally. Over 10,000 students belong to SHRM student chapters. Each student must be chartered and sponsored by a professional chapter. ACU’s chapter is sponsored by the Big Country SHRM professional chapter. The Society of Human Resource Management is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. The society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 225,000 members in over 125 countries, and more than 575 affiliated chapters. Visit shrm.org

Jessup Pope (JP) College Football Rankings: Week Beginning November 15, 2015


Here are the JP College Football Rankings after the 11th week of the season. (See our first post for a brief explanation of our methodology and find last week’s post here.) After two consecutive weeks of Notre Dame and Clemson at the top we have a new #1 this week, Alabama, after consecutive impressive wins over strong teams: LSU (#19) and Ole Miss (#18). Notre Dame fell one spot to 2nd and Oklahoma moved up to 3rd, bumping Clemson into 4th place. Four loss Tennessee remains in our top 10, largely due to their impressive away performances against Alabama and Florida (#6) a few weeks back. Similarly, Texas is 23rd, almost entirely due to their victory against Oklahoma several weeks ago. Undefeated Ohio State finally broke into our top 10 at 9th place, one position ahead of Arkansas who continue to play well against top teams. Ohio State will play #8 Michigan State in Ohio this weekend. Our model would expect a very narrow home win (4 points or less). The other undefeated teams are Oklahoma State falling one spot to #16, Iowa falling 6 to #41, and Houston rising two to #47. Baylor rose 5 spots to #55 as they apparently performed slightly better in their home loss against Oklahoma than our system expected. The top 50 teams are listed below.


1 Alabama
2 Notre Dame
3 Oklahoma
4 Clemson
5 Tennessee
6 Florida
8 Michigan State
9 Ohio State
10 Arkansas
11 Utah
12 Stanford
13 Florida State
14 Memphis
15 Michigan
16 Oklahoma State
17 Bowling Green
18 Ole Miss
19 LSU
20 Nebraska
21 Navy
22 Oregon
23 Texas
24 Georgia Tech
25 Texas Tech
26 Pittsburgh
27 Washington
28 Mississippi State
29 California
30 South Florida
31 TCU
32 Louisville
33 Wisconsin
34 South Carolina
36 North Carolina
37 West Virginia
38 Temple
39 Minnesota
40 Penn State
41 Iowa
42 Central Michigan
43 NIU
44 BYU
45 Cincinnati
46 Washington State
47 Houston
48 Virginia
49 Virginia Tech
50 Toledo

Jessup Pope (JP) College Football Rankings: Week Beginning November 8, 2015

Here are the JP College Football Rankings after the 10th week of the season. (See our first post for a brief explanation of our methodology.)

Our top two teams, Notre Dame and Clemson, remain unchanged and Alabama’s big win over LSU moved them from 6th to 3rd place. Notice that ours and the College Football Playoff (CFP) rankings agree on 3 out of the 4 top. Yet here is one way we can see a dramatic difference between our ranking system and the more traditional polls and rankings.

In our rankings last week, Michigan State and Michigan were 9 and 10, respectively. This week, Michigan State, who lost, moved up 2 positions and Michigan, who won, moved down 4 places. This is because the former narrowly lost on the road to a decent Nebraska team (#19) whereas the latter won at home against a very weak Rutgers side (#104). Similar movements occurred all throughout our rankings. Another major difference between ours and more traditional ranking systems is that ours is forward-looking, meaning it is meant to predict future outcomes whereas more traditional systems are primarily designed to reward past performance. This is why a 3 loss USC is ranked 4th in our system (#3 last week) yet they are outside the top 25 of the AP poll. Baylor remains unchanged from last week at #60. A good performance against a very strong OU team (#5) this Saturday will probably see them rise, even with a loss. The top 50 teams are listed at the end of this blog post.
Relationship with courses we teach
One might reasonably ask what this has to do with the courses we teach. It turns out, quite a lot! For example, one of the courses I teach, data mining, initially involves separating data into two datasets or partitions. We then run our algorithm on the first partition to teach it. Next, we examine how well it forecasts the results in the second partition. This is exactly how we came up with these rankings. The benefit of this partitioning process is that when we say that we can beat the Vegas line 56% of the time, it means we are beating it on new data, not merely data that our algorithm used to learn. It is actually very easy to “predict” results that you are using to learn; what is hard is predicting or rather forecasting results that are new. In a later post we’ll discuss some of these ideas and their relationship with what we teach in greater detail. We will also examine other research applications of this ranking system.

1 Notre Dame
2 Clemson
3 Alabama
5 Oklahoma
6 Tennessee
7 Michigan State
8 Stanford
9 Utah
10 Florida
11 LSU
12 Ohio State
13 Florida State
14 Michigan
15 Oklahoma State
16 Mississippi State
17 Wisconsin
18 Ole Miss
19 Nebraska
20 Penn State
21 Washington
22 Texas
23 TCU
24 Louisville
25 California
26 Georgia Tech
27 Navy
28 Temple
29 Arkansas
30 BYU
31 Texas A&M
32 Pittsburgh
33 Cincinnati
34 Texas Tech
35 Iowa
37 South Carolina
38 Bowling Green
39 Memphis
40 East Carolina
41 Central Michigan
42 North Carolina
43 Auburn
44 Oregon
45 West Virginia
46 Virginia
47 NIU
48 Western Kentucky
49 Houston
50 Northwestern



COBA Professors Develop New FBS Ranking

Dr. Ryan Jessup and Dr. Don Pope have teamed up to create the Jessup Pope NCAA Division I FBS rankings. Jessup, Assistant Professor of Marketing, teaches marketing research and data mining and Pope, Associate Professor of Management, teaches statistics and intro to management. These two great statistical minds decided to put their knowledge and experience to practical use in devising a new method of ranking college football teams. The blog today is written by Dr. Jessup as our COBA Blog guest writer.

I present to you the inaugural Jessup Pope NCAA Division I FBS rankings. This is a ranking of all 128 college football teams in the bowl subdivision based on the performances this season to date.

Dr. Ryan Jessup and Dr. Don Pope

Dr. Ryan Jessup and Dr. Don Pope

A brief history

A few years ago, after the wildly improbable success of our faculty/staff intramural soccer team, the Sunflowers of Death (which is a topic for another time, but suffice it to say that we have finished 2nd place in 4 out of the 7 seasons we have played), we wanted to come up with a better way to rank sports teams.

The Sunflowers of Death

The Sunflowers of Death

With the help of our then-student worker, Amy Morris, we collected the data from multiple seasons of a variety of sports. Don Pope and I then took the Google PageRank algorithm, the algorithm that jump-started the search engine giant – and still underlies their current approach today – and made several modifications to it to allow it to rank teams, instead of webpages. We also enabled it to account for home field advantage and temporal decay of performances (this is where games early in the season weigh less in the rankings than more recent games), among other things. We then forecasted bowl games at the end of three seasons, finding that our algorithm correctly predicted the winner (1) more than 60% of the time, (2) better than the BCS (or its replacement, the College Football Playoff), and (3) even out-predicted the Las Vegas betting line 56% of the time. We presented this work at the Christian Scholars Conference in Abilene this past summer. More recently, with the help of several faculty in the SITC, most prominently Dr. Ray Pettit, I wrote a screen-scraper in python (a programming language) to scrape off all the information for each college football game so that we can begin looking at our rankings on a weekly basis.

The rankings

The effectiveness of the ranking system lies in the fact that it not only takes into account your team’s performance against other teams but also the other teams’ performance against other teams.   So let’s take a quick look at these initial rankings. Some of these rankings accord with our expectations and others outrageously violate them. On one hand, quite reasonably, Notre Dame and Clemson are 1 and 2, and Alabama, Stanford, Michigan State, and Florida are all in the top 10. On the other hand, USC is No. 3, Texas is No. 16, whereas Ohio State and Baylor are No.’s 11 and 60, respectively, all apparently crazy! Given that they were just punished by Iowa State, I don’t believe that Texas is the 16th best team in the nation, but that aberrant win over Oklahoma at a neutral site is currently making Texas look very good. And what’s the deal with Baylor and Ohio State? Well, part of the issue is that Baylor and Ohio State are both in power conferences and began the season ranked in the top 5. Yet our system cares neither about which conference your team is in nor is it biased by preseason rankings: it only takes into account your team’s performances and the quality of the opponent (as judged by their performances against their opponents). So, apparently they have not played very strong opponents thus far.

I think as the weeks continue our rankings will begin to accord a bit more with our expectations but I won’t be terribly surprised if at the end of the season there are still some outrageous-looking rankings. You don’t beat the Vegas line 56% of the time by just heeding the status quo!

Here are our rankings at this time:

Rank After Week 9
1 Notre Dame
2 Clemson
4 Florida
5 Tennessee
6 Alabama
7 Oklahoma
8 Stanford
9 Michigan State
10 Michigan
11 Ohio State
12 Utah
13 Ole Miss
14 LSU
15 Georgia Tech
16 Texas
17 Washington
18 TCU
19 Mississippi State
20 Wisconsin
21 Florida State
22 Virginia Tech
23 Penn State
24 Nebraska
25 California
26 Louisville
27 Memphis
28 Texas A&M
29 Texas Tech
30 Central Michigan
31 Bowling Green
32 East Carolina
33 BYU
34 Temple
35 Oklahoma State
36 Iowa
37 Arkansas
38 Pittsburgh
39 Boise State
41 Iowa State
42 West Virginia
43 Miami (FL)
44 Northwestern
45 Cincinnati
46 Utah State
47 Western Kentucky
48 Oregon
49 Tulsa
50 Washington State
51 Minnesota
52 Boston College
53 Louisiana Tech
54 San Diego State
55 South Carolina
56 Auburn
57 Virginia
58 Houston
59 South Florida
60 Baylor
61 Navy
62 North Carolina
63 NIU
64 Kansas State
65 Duke
66 Georgia
67 Purdue
68 Connecticut
69 Maryland
70 Appalachian State
71 Western Michigan
72 Toledo
73 Arizona State
74 Vanderbilt
75 NC State
76 Syracuse
77 Indiana
78 Wake Forest
79 Missouri
80 Southern Miss
81 Marshall
82 Ball State
83 Kentucky
84 Georgia Southern
85 Illinois
86 Massachusetts
87 SMU
88 Air Force
89 Arizona
90 Buffalo
91 Troy
92 Oregon State
93 Colorado
94 Wyoming
95 Colorado State
96 Akron
97 FIU
98 Arkansas State
99 Rutgers
100 Ohio
101 UTSA
102 UNLV
103 Middle Tennessee
104 Hawaii
105 Florida Atlantic
106 UCF
107 Eastern Michigan
108 Miami (OH)
109 Nevada
110 San Jose State
111 Tulane
112 Rice
113 Kent State
114 Idaho
115 Louisiana Monroe
116 South Alabama
117 Texas State
118 Army
119 Fresno State
120 Kansas
121 Louisiana Lafayette
122 New Mexico
123 New Mexico State
124 North Texas
125 Georgia State
126 UTEP
127 Old Dominion
128 Charlotte

Spotlight on Laura Phillips

What is your educational background?

BS Chemistry from ACU (1988), MS Industrial Administration from Purdue (1989), and PhD Organization and Management from Capella (2005).

Laura Phillips

Dr. Laura Phillips

What is your work background?

I worked as a Financial analyst at Eli Lilly and Company (1989-1993) and then with the Franklin Church of Christ, part-time (1997-2001).

What do you teach at ACU?

Business Statistics and Social Entrepreneurship.

What committees/other duties do you have at ACU aside from teaching?

I serve as the NCAA Faculty Athletic Rep for ACU and Mark and I are the Faculty-in-residence at McDonald Hall.

What drew you to teaching? Why did you want to work with students?

I didn’t originally know that’s what I wanted to do. My plan when I went to get my PhD was to do nonprofit consulting when I graduated. A faculty position opened up, somewhat suddenly, in COBA about the time I was finishing up my degree, and I decided to try teaching. I started teaching one week after I defended my dissertation.

What’s the best part of working with students?

I enjoy watching the students work through the college process: learning to balance work/school/fun, trying to decide what to do after college, learning new things in the classroom, engaging in new experiences, taking on leadership roles, etc.

Outside of teaching, what passions and hobbies do you have?

Traveling, cycling, hiking, kayaking, trying new things, cooking, working out, being outside, collecting hobbies.

What is a good, early story about your teaching?

I started teaching one week after finishing my PhD. I had three sections, two different preps, and I had never taught before. I was exactly one week ahead of the students in the book. Each week, I would read the chapter (for each class) to see what we were supposed to cover the next week. I had inherited a Tuesday/Thursday teaching schedule so my classes were an hour and twenty minutes long. There was NO WAY I could teach for that long all at once (I have no problem with that now!), so we had an intermission every day in the middle of class. Sometimes I had other faculty come in. I remember Jonathan Stewart coming in and playing a Bon Jovi song on his guitar.

Do you do any charity or non-profit work?

Not in the way you are probably asking, but I work with a number of nonprofit organizations through the social entrepreneurship class as well as through the global entrepreneurship class we’ll be teaching in Central America this summer. Also, much of my research is related to nonprofit work, so I interact with and support organizations through that.

Who is your role model, and why?

Maybe Pat Cranfill because I so admire the way she’s invested herself in the work with refugees who have been placed in Abilene. She is a regular person who is making an extraordinary difference right where she lives.

Who was your most inspirational professor and why?

Probably Eric Hardegree (Physical Chemistry). It was one of the hardest classes I had. He expected a lot in both the class and the lab (which met on Friday afternoons from 1-5pm for an entire year!), but he was also reasonable and willing to help us understand the topic.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

Superfast grading because that would free up so much time for more engaging activities. (Insert smiley face here.)

What is something that students might be surprised to find out about you?

I don’t know. I feel like I’m pretty transparent. Perhaps that I’m really clumsy or that I’m a pretty extreme introvert.

mark and laura 4

Mark and Laura Phillips enjoying breakfast after one of their many bike rides.

What would you really want students and alums to know about you?

That I teach just because I want to. I wouldn’t do it for free (because it’s VERY time consuming), but I feel that I am lucky to have a job that’s basically a paid hobby.