The end of the academic year brings about the season of awards, recognition, and change whether it occurs in elementary school, high school, or college. While we celebrate our graduates and the next chapter of their lives, the College of Business Administration is not immune to transition, either. We are saying farewell to three inspirational professors: Dr. Rob Byrd (Associate Professor of IT and Computing), Dr. Malcolm Coco (Professor of Human Resource Management), and Dr. Terry Pope (Professor of Finance) as they retire. Students, colleagues, friends and family joined to honor them at receptions on May 6th where tributes and well wishes were shared with each of the retiring professors.
Rob Byrd with SITC students Paula Berggren and Lauren Walker
Rob Byrd came to ACU in 2009 and was known for not only helping students dive deep into the world of Information Technology and Security, but also helping them develop a deeper faith and spiritual walk. Recent SITC graduate, Lauren Walker (’19) described Byrd as a passionate teacher who wanted to maximize students’ learning and push them to be their best selves. She said, “He never missed an opportunity to show us how the knowledge and skills we were gaining can transcend all areas of life. He never settled on just letting us ‘get by’ with our education. He constantly challenged us and pushed for excellence and innovation. As a mentor, he was a person who saw the best in his students. He wasn’t afraid to say the hard things, and encouraged us to go after the things in life we never thought we could achieve. ” Dr. Byrd baptized Lauren last October and she recounted that Byrd was “just simply himself”, never afraid to be transparent, witty, cynical, and show a genuine interest in his students. She said, “If anyone of us needed help with something school related, or even personal, it wasn’t a doubt that he was just one phone call or text away.”
While some students might have been intimidated by a professor like Byrd, Walker said, “The last thing I guess I want to say is that like all of the SITC professors, Dr. Byrd is so special. Dr. Byrd is such a softy, but of course he would never say it. He has such a servant heart, and has touched so many students’ lives over the years, and of course I just happen to be one of them. He’s one of those professors I will end up telling my children stories about!”
Byrd is transitioning into a new career as Staff Technical Project Engineer with Collins Aerospace at their headquarters location in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He said, “This position will be a challenging adventure for me-just what I was hoping for. Working at this level will allow me to be involved and responsible for both the design/development and the budgetary/systems aspects of the assigned projects and programs. The nature of the work will be classified, but will be in support of national defense and will draw from my education, experience and certifications. I thank my colleagues for their support.”
Coco with students Grace Smith and Dayle Hayes
Malcolm Coco arrived at ACU in 1989. Coco was well known for helping students find jobs through his internship class, mentoring students through Human Resource classes and the Student Chapter of the Human Resource Management organization, his love for the outdoors, and playing the Beach Boys loudly during office hours.
Coco said that when he came to ACU, he only intended to teach for 2 or 3 years and then planned to pursue a career as a pilot for an airlines. Thirty years later, he says, “I’m still teaching and enjoying every minute. Associating with great Christian faculty and staff and having the opportunity to shape young lives has been a blessing to me. I’m wondering where the 30 years went to!”
Dr. Coco with his family
When asked what the best advice he would offer to students would be, he encouraged students to be the best you that you can be. Always strive to be your bosses “go to” person, meaning when there is an important project with a short turn around and it needs to be done correctly, you want your boss to always think of you as the person he or she trusts to get the job done. He said, “Winners make it happen and losers let it happen.”
To his colleagues, Coco said, “It has been a blessing to me to have the fortune of knowing so many God fearing, Christian faculty. Your example and support for me and my family for these past 30 years has been tremendous. Thanks for the memories.”
Retirement for Coco will be a mixed bag. He will continue to teach as an adjunct faculty member and will continue to manage the COBA internship program. Coco has no plans to slow down. He said, “My children and grandchildren all live in Abilene, so I’m planning for some serious grandchild time. Hobbies of hunting and fishing will continue. I have already joined several civic organizations and intend to do volunteer work for several non-profits.”
Pope with daughter Abby Pimentel and wife Gayla
When he wasn’t teaching a finance class like STAR (Student Trading and Research), you could find Terry Pope on the golf course, working on his new baseball podcast with Tim Johnston, or in his shop working on his next furniture project.
Terry Pope answered the call by Jack Griggs to come and teach at ACU in 1992. Pope said that teaching at ACU has been a great experience, “When I came to Abilene, having already worked for twenty-three years in industry and academics, I was thinking that I would teach for about fifteen years. However, teaching at ACU was so rewarding that I just kept showing up, year after year. ACU is a special place to our family, since Gayla and I, all three of our children, and three of our grandchildren have attended. Our other six grandchildren will likely follow in these steps.” Pope went on to say that it’s been great to be a part of the ACU community. He said, “I felt that everyone on campus strove for excellence in what they did and sought to be pleasing to God. Being a part of that environment made me a better person.”
Terry, Gayla, Beth, and Don Pope
When asked if there was anything he’d like students to know, he said, without question that the favorite part of teaching at ACU was getting to know so many students. Pope estimates that he has taught about four thousand students and tried to get to know each one of them saying, “I have many great friendships today with former students. Every student was different – different backgrounds, different interests, and different personalities. That diversity made our community better. I hope that I communicated to my students that being a Jesus follower comes before all else. While I taught Finance, I said ‘the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing’. Brilliance in Finance is not the main thing, but only a compliment to following Jesus.”
Pope said that his colleagues at ACU were great and continue to be his close friends. He recounted, “I remember telling someone early in my career at ACU that I had underestimated the joy of being able to work daily in a Christian environment. I felt a closeness and shared purpose with colleagues all over campus, even though we might not have been well acquainted. To all of these colleagues, I say ‘keep it going’. Investment managers must communicate to their clients that ‘Past performance is no guarantee of future results.’ Every day is a new day that requires our best efforts and a continuing renewal of our minds.”
Pope plans on staying in Abilene and continuing to be closely connected to ACU while spending time playing more golf and tennis, doing more woodworking, taking piano, traveling, studying, and volunteering. “There are many more things that I will want to do that time will allow.”
Combined, the three educators have almost 75 years of experience teaching ACU students. Their dedication to students and peers as well as their example of excellence in the classroom and in their faith walks will truly be missed. The words “thank you” seem inadequate for what they have meant to the lives of thousands of students.
Click on the highlighted links below to view pictures and video messages in tribute to each of the retiring professors.
Pics from the retirement reception
Rob Byrd video
Malcolm Coco video
Terry Pope video
The end of the school year brings about the season of awards, recognition and many changes, whether it occurs in elementary school, high school, or college. We’d love to share a recap of our celebrations over the last month as we honored our graduates and their transition into the next chapter of their lives.
MAcc Class of 2019
The Master of Accountancy program holds an annual luncheon honoring their graduates and recognizing an outstanding student. This year’s luncheon, sponsored by Ernst & Young, featured an inspiring speech from 2008 MAcc alum, Dustin Marshall who works as a Senior Assurance Manager with EY in Fort Worth, Texas. He encouraged the graduates not to make working their sole priority but to get involved with a church and develop a support system there, noting that the support of your spiritual family is invaluable in helping you navigate the difficulties that life will inevitably bring to each of us. Lexi Koon, from Arvada, CO, received the Outstanding MAcc Graduate Award for 2019 for her excellent grades, character, and integrity. Of her time at ACU, Lexi said, “The professors, the faculty, and the students have shown me what it is to look at those who are different from me and want to learn from them, to learn how to love them, and to be surrounded by a circle of people who have your back 100%. As I leave ACU, I feel completely supported and surrounded by an extraordinary amount of love and I am thankful.”
You can view and download or order pics of the MAcc luncheon by clicking here.
Business Graduates from the Class of 2019
The COBA Senior Dinner was held on May 10th, giving faculty, staff, grads and their families time to reflect on their years in the College of Business and to recognize outstanding faculty and staff. It’s COBA tradition to have students speak on behalf of their class and to have a parent speak on behalf of the families of the graduates. This year’s speakers expressed their gratitude for their experience in COBA and challenged their peers to integrate their faith into their vocation and personal life.
Dr. Kathy Crockett
Parent speaker, Dr. Kathy Crockett, mom to Calley (’19) an accounting major and Maddy, a sophomore marketing major, said she was, “Grateful for faculty and staff who strive for excellence and also love the Lord. That my daughter is taught by excellent professors living out their faith is incredibly important to us. My husband, Steve, and I are so confident in the curriculum of what Calley learned. She did well in her internship and was offered a full time position, which is another marker of the excellence of the program. We are grateful for the ways the faculty and staff also served Calley. They knew her name, said hello even off campus, assisted with resume and career advice, and also life advice at times when things may have been hard. We hope the faculty and staff will always remember the good you do – in and out of the classroom. We certainly will.”
Student speakers Hanna Roberts (’19), management/marketing major from Corpus Christi, Texas, and Kevin Pantoja (’19), finance/management/accounting major from Roscoe, Texas spoke on behalf of graduating COBA students. Hanna said, “We are grateful for the leadership and examples of character that have been set for us by professors and faculty who became mentors and friends. Most of all, we are grateful for the presence of Christ on this campus and in the Mabee Business Building that fills those within it. We are forever changed for the faith and life that has been poured into us during our time here.”
Kevin added, “It’s important to be thinking of the path you are currently on and asking yourself if it will truly make you happy. In other words, asking, ‘Am I happy with where I am right now?’ and understanding that you can always keep learning and keep pushing yourself to higher standards even after college. I am so thankful to everyone at COBA for helping me to believe in myself and helping me find new opportunities that I would enjoy after graduation. COBA is definitely blessed to have some of the best professors in the business and their compassion has reached every student in more than one way.”
Dr. Jonathan Stewart, Accounting and Finance Teacher of the Year
Dr. Dennis Marquardt, Management Sciences Teacher of the Year
At the end of the academic year, students have the opportunity to show their appreciation for their professors by voting for the COBA Teacher of the Year for Management Sciences and for Accounting and Finance. This year’s winners were Dr. Dennis Marquardt (Assistant Professor of Management) and Dr. Jonathan Stewart (Professor of Finance). Dr. Marquardt said, “Every graduation is special and this one was especially so since several of this year’s graduates started at ACU the same time I did in August 2015. Many students at the senior dinner were in my Introduction to Business courses that very first semester and it has been such a unique privilege to walk alongside them each year until now. These graduates not only worked hard learning skills and abilities worthy of a resume, but it was inspiring to also see them grow in virtues worthy of eternity. Thank you for your hard work and for the ways you challenged and inspired me. As you go from here may you seek God and His ways with all of your being, you will not regret it!”
Tim Johnston, Outstanding COBA Staff Person of the Year
Dean Brad Crisp gave the Staff Person of the Year Award for COBA to Assistant Dean, Tim Johnston. Dr. Crisp said, “Tim offers great mentorship to our students, both professionally and personally. His fingerprints can also be seen in our efforts at professional development and external connections.” Johnston added that, “Each year it is a privilege to meet and thank the parents of our graduating seniors.”
Dr. Katie Wick
The Weathers Fellowship for Outstanding Junior Faculty recognizes an untenured faculty member who shows outstanding potential for the classroom and for research. This year’s recipient was Dr. Katie Wick, who Crisp said, “Has in a very short period of time, re-established a strong stream of research and become a valued colleague.”
Dr. Monty Lynn
The Dean’s Award for Research was awarded to Dr. Monty Lynn, who has recent publications in outlets as diverse as the Journal of Business Education, Journal of Biblical Integration in Business, and Journal of Development Studies in his distinguished research career.
Dr. Andy Little
The Dean’s Award for Service and Leadership was given to Dr. Andy Little for leading the charge of COBA’s accreditation efforts as we successfully navigated another re-accreditation process with AACSB International.
Dr. Brad Crisp
Dr. Terry Pope
Dr. Terry Pope gave a blessing to the students through scripture, encouraging them to stay close to the Lord and lean on Him as they go through life. Dr. Crisp concluded the evening saying, “Students, as you prepare for graduation, know that your relationship with ACU and COBA does not end. We want to continue to be a part of your life, and we want you to be a part of ours. We want to hear from you about your experiences, to encourage you in exploring additional learning opportunities, to provide opportunities for you to financially invest in COBA, to invite you to mentor current students, and most importantly, we want to support you as you discover the places where your faith and business converge.”
Congratulations to the Class of 2019. Go change the world, Wildcats!
Click here to view pics from the dinner.
The 2019 Leadership Summit group.
In January, over seventy students traveled to the top of a mountain in Colorado and spent a week learning about leadership from thirteen speaker sessions and a team of faculty and staff from ACU. Through the dynamic speakers, practical application of what is taught, and spiritual insight, students are equipped for leadership in the family, in their community, in the church, and in the marketplace. This short course is one of the most transformational experiential learning opportunities COBA offers and is always a favorite for students that attend.
Wendy Davidson and Elise Mitchell speak to students.
A unique aspect of Leadership Summit is an opportunity for students to hear from CEO’s, inspiring speakers, and ACU faculty and staff and get to know these individuals on a personal level. “One of the speakers shared a really impactful story about facing significant troubles in the workplace as a direct result of sharing his faith,” said Lincoln Jones, a senior accounting and IS major. “His testimony encouraged me to not fear the backlash from bringing faith into the workplace.” Some of the speakers from this year include Brad Gautney, founder and president of Global Health Innovations, Rick Atchley, preaching minister at The Hills, Wendy Davidson, president of U.S. Specialty Channels Kellogg Company, Tim Goeglein, senior advisor to the president and vice president for External Relations at Focus on the Family and deputy director of the White House Office of Public Liaison from 2001-2008 for President George W. Bush, Carlos Sepulveda, chairman of Triumph Bancorp, Inc. and former president and CEO of Interstate Batteries, Mike Willoughby, CEO of PFSweb, Inc., Elise Mitchell, founder and chair of Mitchell Communications and CEO of Dentsu Aegis PR Network, and Pete and Austin Ochs, founder/chairman and CEO, respectively, of Capital III.
Students have the chance to ask speakers questions at the end of each session.
In addition to lecture sessions, students are able to spend time talking with speakers one-on-one and share meals with them. Some of the speakers serve as mentors for a ‘River Crossing’ project, a project that challenges students to make a plan to use their given leadership positions to make a difference in the world. Taylor Gould, a junior marketing major, said that her favorite part of the experience “was simply being in Colorado and feeling connected with my professors, classmates, and the speakers. It was amazing to be able to experience all of it with people who you would never meet otherwise and people you see every day. The lessons from the week were very applicable and made me feel so inspired.” A community connection is at the core of Leadership Summit and happens at many different levels between every person – speaker or student – in attendance.
Zach Smith, Hill Holloway, and Hayden Hood swing off the side of the mountain on ‘The Screamer.’
While the week offers many moments for educational, spiritual, and community-centric transformation, the location also allows students to have a lot of fun. The class is currently held at Frontier Ranch, a YoungLife camp outside of Buena Vista, Colorado and YoungLife staff serve the Summit attendees throughout the week. Students can hike up to the crosses at the top of a mountain peak, swing off the side of a mountain on the Screamer, play archery tag, and spend time building community and fellowship in the game room. These experiences give students the chance to spend time with each other and grow in deeper connection (and also face their fears, especially if they have a fear of heights).
Students spend time in community with each other throughout the week.
Every year, students return to Abilene refreshed and challenged to make a difference in their communities and this year was no different. Mariel Delgado, a senior architecture and interior design major, shared that Summit “is not like any other business class you will ever take and the lessons you learn and friendships you make are unlike any other. Hearing everyone’s life stories from such a raw perspective but also just the fact that so many people took the time to come speak to us and pour into our lives for that week.” We look forward to watching how Mariel and all of the other students take what they have learned from the mountaintop and incorporate it into their lives to bring about change that lasts.
In the coming weeks, we will be sharing photos from the trip on our Facebook page as well as some of the speaker sessions for you to revisit and enjoy on our YouTube channel. Keep an eye out for these posts and future ones concerning the incredible and unique opportunity that is Leadership Summit.
Students hike up to the crosses at the edge of one of the ridges of Mt. Princeton.
It’s graduation day for our December graduates and we wanted to take one more opportunity to celebrate this milestone in their lives. Last week, on December the 4th, COBA hosted a luncheon in their honor celebrating them and all of the hard work that has helped them reach this day. Faculty, staff and students enjoyed fellow-shipping with each other, learning more about students’ favorite experiences at ACU and what advice those that were a little older would give them as they go out into the world.
It’s our tradition for a faculty member to give a blessing over the graduates as we say goodbye to them. Dr. David Perkins, Professor of Accounting, did this in an unusual way this year. Known for his guitar ballads in class, he chose to sing the blessing over them with a David Perkins original song.
We hope you’ll enjoy hearing his message to the students as well as seeing some pictures from the event. To the class of 2018 we say thank you for choosing ACU, for investing of yourself in the process, and for making us all better people during your time here. May God bless you and give you wisdom and direction knowing that He has designed you for His purpose and good works, which he has planned and prepared in advance for you to do.
To view the video, click here.
To view all of the pictures from the luncheon, click here.
Last week, COBA partnered with the Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership to host our annual Distinguished Speaker Series. We were honored to have Horst Schulze as our guest this year. Schulze was born in a small German village and knew he wanted to work in hotels at age 11. He left home at 14 to be a busboy and the rest, as they say, is history. Schulze spent nine years with Hyatt Hotels Corporation before becoming a founding member and president of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. After resigning from The Ritz-Carlton, Schulze is now the chairman and CEO of Capella Hotel Group, an ultra-luxury hotel chain.
Schulze spent his time in Abilene connecting with students, faculty and staff, and community and university leaders conversing about exceptional customer service and what it means to be a leader striving for excellence. He shared stories from his years in the hotel industry and the absolute importance of having a vision and a purpose. Schulze advised that the steps to success are vision, commitment, and initiation. You must have a dream, a vision, to guide what you do and define what you are working toward. The dream becomes more than just a dream when you commit to it and decide to carry it out. Carrying it out entails taking the first step, initiating, and persevering to make the dream and vision a reality. Especially as a leader, the vision is very important and gives meaning and information to everything you do. According to Schulze, being a leader implies that you have something in your mind that you are bringing people to. People respond not to rules and orders, but to objectives and motives. Schulze shared that he thought it was immoral to hire people to fulfill functions; you hire people to join the vision and become a part of the dream.
Schulze also spoke about a seeming contradiction: what it means to be the best in the world but to live a life as Christian where we are called to not be of the world. In scripture, we are consistently reminded that our citizenship is in heaven, how we should not conform to the world, and how it is likely that the world will hate us because we are not of it. This leaves many questioning how can we be in the world, but not of the world. Schulze shared how he struggled with working in the luxury hotel business and wanting to create the very best hotel in the world, but not being sure how that connected with his calling as a Christian. He then realized that this was an opportunity to be an example and show the kingdom to the world. It all connects back to Schulze’s personal vision for his life: to be excellent in every role he fills. Excellence in how he treats and grows his employees, excellence in serving customers and shareholders, excellence in every aspect of his hotels points back to Christ. Creating the best hotel in the world sets his hotels apart and creates an example for others. Schulze believes that if we are not living with a mission to be excellent and not using our God-given gifts and abilities, then we are not fully living in every way we can for Christ. Being an example of excellence while living for Christ allows others to see Him through you and points people back to Him. Scripture also reminds us that being holy implies being different and unique. By being excellent, you are set apart like we are called to be.
Schulze’s messages were eloquent, inspiring, and convicting. Below are some of the testimonies that students shared after listening to him:
“This was the best part of my entire semester. I heard him in the morning and at the luncheon and wish I could have had him in all of my classes. I have a renewed commitment to living out my calling with Christ.”
“Horst made me grateful to be at ACU. I never realized how special this place was until I heard this accomplished man come to us and tell us that we bring him hope by what we do and how we aren’t ashamed of Christ.”
“The way he stayed consistent with his vision over his entire career is so impactful – I just want to live better after hearing him.”
“How often do you hear about someone who worked their way up from washing dishes and busing tables to running the #1 hotel brand in the world? This means we have to start being our best right now, where we are.”
It was our pleasure to have hosted Horst Schulze this year. To view pictures from the DSS luncheon, click here
COBA professors and students were world travelers this summer, as we have covered in parts 1 and 2 of our blog series on our study abroad trips. This July, professors Laura and Mark Phillips took students to Central America where they received course credit in MGMT 419 (Global Entrepreneurship) and MGMT 340 (Fundamentals of Life Design). We asked Dr. Laura Phillips to tell us about their experience. We hope you enjoy the third installment of our four part blog series on the 2018 travels of the COBA Study Abroad program.
What made Central America a unique place to study?
Central America is a unique place to study Global Entrepreneurship because while the culture, laws, and economic environment are different from the United States, Central America is a place with lots of start-up businesses. Also, the people are very hospitable which makes visiting start-ups easier. In addition, Central America is small geographically but the different countries are unique. Some of the challenges of starting a business in Costa Rica are different from the challenges of starting a business in Honduras. Finally, we were able to see first hand how the government can drastically alter the business environment; the recent unrest in Nicaragua is an unfortunate example of the instability inherent in emerging economies.
What businesses were you able to visit?
I’m not even sure where to start here. I guess I’ll just make a list.
San Jose, Costa Rica
- Yuxta Energy–solar energy
- e.e.d.–legal services for social ventures
- VivaIdea–a think tank for increasing the impact of entrepreneurship in Latin America
- Vida Adventura–adventure camp
- Hotel Las Tortugas–small private hotel in Playa Grande
- Taco Star–taco shop on the beach
- Chilamate Rainforest Eco Retreat
- CATIE University and the Sustainability House
- butterfly farm
- dairy/cheese making business
- beneficial plants business (medicinal, herbs, etc.)
- pueblo tourism business
- Mission Lazarus–here we also
- made organic fertilizer
- conducted a half day training session for the students and teachers at the vocational schools on basic business topics
- hardware store
- trash collector/recycler
- restaurant owner
- coffee farm/barber shop/tienda owner
For the most part we visited with the entrepreneur (or an employee for the larger organizations) to learn about what they do, what the biggest challenges are, how/if they plan to grow, etc.
Did you take the students on any sight seeing tours?
- Walking tour of San Jose
- Ziplining at Vida Adventura
- Horseback riding at Vida Adventura
- Surfing lessons at Playa Grande or
- Canoeing on the estuary at Playa Grande
- Birdfinding nature walk
- Hike to waterfall and swimming
- Cultural scavenger hunt (milking cows, Latin dancing, making tortillas, etc.
- Archaeological tour
The students enjoyed the sightseeing activities. They were a lot of fun.
What is it like to be able to spend so much time with students in another country? How does it differ than being in a classroom setting in Abilene?
This particular study abroad is different from going to Oxford or Leipzig because we really are all together most of the time. There were even a couple of places where we stayed in one big house. It’s very different because in Abilene you are with your students in class and then they do their own thing the rest of the time. On this study abroad we usually eat together, we travel together, we spend much of our free time together, plus we have class together. You really get to know each other and, as the students said, you become more like family.
What were your favorite moments/experiences of the trip?
Well, I love the fact that we are outside so much and that even when you are “inside” you are usually outside. In many ways life is harder but in many ways it’s simpler. The pace of life is slower and the people put more emphasis on relationships than on to-do lists. Most of our students found the Latin pace therapeutic. There were many great experiences but one of my favorites was going in the butterfly house. The house was full of flowers and the butterflies seemed like flying flowers. It was beautiful.
I also loved watching our students conduct the business training for the people at Mission Lazarus. That activity was a real challenge and stretch for our students, especially since we were having to work through a translator. They students rose to the challenge and did a fantastic job!
If students could only learn one thing, what do you hope they learned?
I would want our students to learn that people are people everywhere; we are more similar than we are different. I would want them to learn that there are business opportunities everywhere but that to be successful you MUST know the culture and context of the place in which you are operating. I would want them to know that the fast-paced, individualistic, climb to the top American business style is not the only way to live. I would want them to know that being happy and being successful are not directly tied to a salary amount or prestige. (So…that’s four things, but they are kind of related.)