Students Bo Cunningham & Ally Loter Win Governor’s Cup, Team Led by I&E Prof. Duggins

Yesterday, business students Bo Cunningham and Ally Loter, led by faculty sponsor Dr. Ron Duggins, claimed first place in the Small Business Competition at the Arkansas Governor’s Cup in Little Rock. As part of their win, they earned a ten thousand dollar prize. The team represents only the third all-UCA finalists in the competition’s nearly 25-year history.

pictured: I&E Professor Dr. Ron Duggins, Ally Loter, Bo Cunningham, and Dr. Tracy Suter, UCA Chair of Marketing & Management

“The Arkansas Governor’s Cup was a phenomenal way to speak with other likeminded, entrepreneurial spirited people while being able to take a deep dive into my business by developing both a 10+ page business plan and a pitch. We also were able to receive great feedback from a wonderful panel of judges,” Cunningham stated. “It was so encouraging to see this many people come together, in the name of entrepreneurship, in our great state of Arkansas!”

Loter echoed that she enjoyed seeing so many other entrepreneurial students from Arkansas and surrounding states. She added, “it was empowering to see how devoted many major Arkansas businesses and business leaders are to providing both financially and physically to helping make this event happen.”

The small business that Cunningham and Loter presented at the competition involves Arkansas REM (Arkansas Real Estate Media, LLC), which performs real estate photography, videography, and drone work in both Central and Northwest Arkansas.

Proud of his students’ win, Duggins said, “this competition brings together in a real world event all of the thinking and doing skills that are taught in UCA’s Entrepreneurship major and minor. Beginning with creative thinking and ending with a real business plan and professional pitch, Ally and Bo have exemplified how our students are equipped to move into a startup of their own or take their entrepreneurship skills into an existing business.” In addition to sponsoring this team, Dr. Duggins is an Associate Professor of Innovation & Entrepreneurship (I&E) in the UCA College of Business and teaches New Venture Creation and Small Business Management, among other courses.

Arkansas Capital launched the Governor’s Cup over two decades ago to encourage college students to be innovative and think like entrepreneurs. As part of the rigorous competition, students are immersed into what it takes to launch a startup from the ground up, and they get feedback from judges who are successful entrepreneurs, small business owners, and current or former large corporation executives.

Dr. Tracy Suter, Chair of the UCA Marketing and Management Department and Marketing Professor, was also present to celebrate the team’s award. “The Arkansas Governor’s Cup, like entrepreneurial endeavors themselves, changed and evolved this year.  Student teams from border states were welcomed with both Oklahoma and Mississippi teams present.  Student teams from two-year institutions were also welcomed so the competition was tougher than ever,” said Suter. “Even so, Bo and Ally represented Arkansas REM and UCA very well as evidenced by winning the small business category.  We are happy for these risk-takers and change-makers.  We know that their fellow UCA Innovation and Entrepreneurship students were fully behind them.”

Keep a lookout for these movers and shakers who are making an impact in our state even before graduation. We can’t wait to see what they do next.

2024 Spencer Risk Manager on Campus Program Brings Robin Roeder to UCA College of Business

Robin S. Roeder

Each year, an Insurance and Risk Management (IRM) professional is brought to the UCA College of Business for visits with students, faculty, and other industry and community professionals. Early this week, we were thrilled to welcome Robin S. Roeder, senior vice president of risk management for Sedgwick, to share her experience with us. The program is supported by the Spencer Educational Foundation.

Roeder visited campus for two days. At the luncheon on Monday, April 15, we were joined by many students, faculty, and insurance professionals, including Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Alan McClain, who spoke a few words to highlight the significance of the IRM industry in Arkansas.

(Pictured from L to R: UCA Insurance Center Director Mr. Ivan Hudson, Ms. Robin Roeder, Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Mr. Alan McClain, and Mr. Kelley Erstine, UCA Board of Trustees Member and CEO of the Independent Insurance Agents of Arkansas.)

During her presentation, Roeder shared a compelling presentation called “Katrina: The Catastrophe, the Cost, the Claim.” She shared photos of the impact Hurricane Katrina had on Louisiana, but shifted to focus on the experience from the purview of Memorial Medical, a local hospital that had been known to weather many storms in the past. After the hurricane hit and levees broke, thousands of medically fragile patients and visitors were left stranded in the hospital; as the disaster unfolded over the course of days, hospital officials were forced to make heartbreaking decisions about who to evacuate, when, and how.

Many Memorial Medical patients died in this unprecedented catastrophe, and decisions made by Memorial Medical officials during that time were later analyzed as incorrect decisions. Roeder asked those in attendance what decisions they would have made if they were in charge at Memorial Medical during Katrina; still so many years later, the audience struggled with how to correctly respond, now knowing the devastation, limited communications, and scarce resources officials, individuals, and families faced during and after Katrina.

Despite the difficult question, Roeder stressed the need to make a plan for catastrophes such as Katrina and how risk and loss are addressed. In closing, Roeder shared lessons learned, and impacts that survivors — and the risk management profession itself — faced in the years since the disaster, including laws passed because of Hurricane Katrina.

See more photos from the luncheon.

Later in the evening several students and faculty were invited to dinner with Ms. Roeder and her fiancé. This is a valuable time for students to network and ask questions with the Risk Manager on Campus.

On Tuesday, April 16, Ms. Roeder visited the student risk management organization Gamma Iota Sigma to speak about how soft skills can enhance their careers. With this group of students and faculty, Roeder held an interactive forum for groups to answer practical questions and complete exercises that occur as part of job interviews.

Ms. Roeder brought a wealth of experience to UCA. She earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Memphis and later earned a master’s degree in risk management and insurance from Florida State University. She is a RIMS Fellow and holds the Certified Risk Manager, Associate in Risk Management – ERM, Certified Environmental Strategist and Associate in Captive Insurance designations. She served as the senior manager for risk management and treasury at Wright Medical Technology for nearly 11 years before joining Sedgwick in 2011. There Roeder developed the strategic risk management vision and framework for the company’s program. Today, she leads operational risk management activities and oversees the management of claims, safety and loss control, physical security and travel risk management. Roeder is also responsible for risk management planning and response related to business interruption, crisis management, and business resiliency. Aside from her busy career, Roeder is highly involved in service to the IRM industry and education sector. Read more about Ms. Roeder.

The 2024 Risk Manager on Campus gave students, faculty, and community members a valuable opportunity to network with Ms. Roeder, an experienced Risk Manager who they may not have otherwise met. Her presentations were enlightening and thought-provoking. Many thanks to Ms. Roeder for traveling to UCA’s campus and to the Spencer Educational Foundation for the grant funds that brought Ms. Roeder to UCA.

To bring the Risk Manager to campus this year, the University of Central Arkansas Insurance and Risk Management program was awarded a grant from the Spencer Educational Foundation, supporting a key experiential learning opportunity for students. The Spencer Foundation has supported the Risk Manager on Campus program for years, bringing Bailey Pipkin in 2023 and Lance Ewing in 2022.

Business & STEM Students Participate in Eclipse Celebrations Led by CISA Prof. Susan Shaw

Monday was a beautiful day for Total Eclipse fun at UCA, and CISA Prof. Susan Shaw was out on the UCA Stripes with STEM students. The group included 17 “Girls Who Code” members, 11 College of Business students taking CISA classes, 3 Beta Alpha Psi Members, and 3 UCA sorority members.

At the Girls Who Code booth led by President Abby Bounds, the members taught about the significance of how rubber ducks help programmers when they get stuck writing their code. They let children decorate a duck at a table and created bracelets that spelled BEARS written in binary code. The Girls Who Code booth was a huge success, and we had over 700 visitors from 30 states visit the table.

Also Abby Bray completed her final independent study Data Science project. She presented her project at the event and even created an app where visitors could learn more about UCA and Conway and go on a scavenger hunt.

April 8 was quite a memorable day!


UCA College of Business Announces Outstanding Students of 2023-2024 Academic Year

At its annual Outstanding Student Awards Banquet, the UCA College of Business recently announced and celebrated the Outstanding Students selected for the 2023-2024 academic year. The awards given celebrate students who stood out this year in our academic programs and registered student organizations. The following selected students were selected because they have optimized their education by combining exemplary academic performance with internships, volunteerism, professional development, experiential education, and participation in clubs and other important experiences.

Outstanding Students of the Year


General Business
Miranda Ivy

“I feel like business fits me because I have lots of interest in many different areas that this major helps to fulfill. After graduation, I intend to explore options in the career field and gain experience for future endeavors.”

Miranda pictured with Dr. Watson who presented the award

Fully Online Undergraduate
Samantha Ashley

“As a non-traditional student, I have experience in a few different fields of business. At any given profession I have had, I always excelled in my computer skills. When I decided to go back to college to pursue my Bachelor’s degree, I chose a major in Computer Information Systems with a concentration in Business Analysis to hone my existing skills and become an expert in a field that entails tasks that I enjoy. After graduation, I am hoping to be able to secure a remote position as a Data Analyst.”

Sam pictured with Dr. Casey who presented the award

Carson Griffin

Carson chose to major in accounting with a minor in financial services. He says, “I chose accounting because of the career opportunities available and the flexibility that it provides. I love working with numbers and the world of business, so accounting is where I fit it. After graduation, I will pursuing a MAcc here at UCA. After that, I plan to work in public accounting at FORVIS.”

Carson pictured with Dr. Watson who presented the award

Computer Information Systems
Grant McKnight

“I have always loved working with computers, starting first with playing video games, then creating documents, and now writing codes in languages such as SQL. I chose to major in Computer Information Systems because of this interest, the opportunity to get a great job, and to have a career that I know I will enjoy. I am looking for an internship or full-time position in Arkansas.”

Grant pictured with Dr. Downey who presented the award

Computer Information Systems – Business Analysis
Aiden Mendolia

(not pictured)

Information Systems
Hayden Weaver

(not pictured)

Natalie Quisenberry

“I chose economics because of its omnipresence in the business world. I found myself applying economic principles in almost all of my lower division business core classes, which was very intriguing to me. This ultimately led to the changing of my major and I have enjoyed it ever since. After graduating, I hope to obtain a position in business strategy while simultaneously pursuing a masters degree. After some time in the corporate world, I would like to pursue my PhD and return to higher education as a professor.”

Natalie pictured with Dr. Hodges who presented the award

Linda Galeano Midence

Linda chose to major in finance and minor in data analytics. She says she chose it because there is more math involved in this subject. She also hopes to get a job in the United States after graduation, but if not, she envisions herself back in Honduras working at a bank.

Linda pictured with Dr. Snyder who presented the award

Insurance & Risk Management
Sophia Fulgham

“I am a third generation insurance agent so I’ve grown up around the industry. I feel like I’ve gotten a front row seat to seeing the good insurance can do. My dad always says with insurance you’re selling people a piece of paper and a promise that you’ll be there for them when they need you most. I feel really excited to go into an industry where I can help people in this way. After graduation, I have been accepted into the MBA program here at UCA and will start taking classes toward my MBA this summer as I study abroad in Amsterdam! I am open to pursuing any job within the industry after I graduate this May. I hope that I will eventually be able to come back and help my dad run his independent agency, Integrity Insurance.”

Sophia pictured with Dr. Yao who presented the award

Abbie Flake

“I am very math-brained but also love to be creative. Marketing was the perfect choice where I could do both! I am fascinated by the world of business and can express my creativity while also being analytical as a marketing major. I hope to attend graduate school at the University of Arkansas in the full-time Walton MBA Program.”

Abbie pictured with Dr. Garner who presented the award

Bresner Austin

“I run a small business on the side, and I’ve always had some interest in the way that these businesses run that I work for. It’s also a great backup plan for the firefighting career I’m going to pursue; especially because with that schedule I could continue to run my business among other things. Knowledge of the economy and how many things operate in a country like America is valuable to me. After graduation, I plan to enter the Little Rock Firefighting Rookie School program.”

Bresner pictured with Dr. Chen who presented the award

Human Resource Management
Abby McMillin

(not pictured)

Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Connor Tuttle

“I believed this major would give me the best overall learning experience for what it takes to run a business. I saw that it included courses from all departments in the College of Business and that is what stood out most. I wanted to leave college feeling as though I had experience in multiple different areas of business. In addition, I felt as though this major would encourage me to take a leap of faith and start my own venture. After I graduate, I intend to pursue a full-time job at my current workplace, The Studio Downtown. I also am looking at other employment options within the marketing department of companies like Howler Brothers, Turtlebox Audio, Yeti, or other outdoor lifestyle brands.”

Connor pictured with Dr. Suter who presented the award

Logistics & Supply Chain Management
Elizabeth “Liz” Ennis

“Inventory analysis is something that just makes sense to me. I worked at a local grocery store in high school and the idea of supply and demand at a larger scale piqued my interest. After studying abroad in Austria this past summer, my drive for international inventory and shipping has only been solidified. After I graduate, I plan to work on my Master’s in Supply Chain Management while working in a company within my degree path.”

Liz pictured with Dr. Voss who presented the award

Master of Accountancy
Jacqueline Berntsen

“I knew I wanted to be a business major because many of my family members had their own businesses. When I took principles of accounting, I really liked the class. I interviewed a family member that was a CPA at about the same time and found the interview really interesting. So I picked it and stuck with it. After graduation, I intend to start working at HCJ CPA’s & Advisors and start studying for the CPA exam.”

Jacqueline pictured with Dr. Oxner who presented the award

Master of Science in Applied Data Analytics
Julian Haessner

Julian says he chose applied data analytics because of research opportunities, to develop of analytical skills, and to prepare for doctoral studies.

Julian pictured with Dr. Ellis who presented the award

Master of Business Administration
Joao Rodrigues

“I pursued a major in Applied Data Analytics because it complements my MBA, equipping me with advanced analytical skills to leverage data in strategic decision-making and enhance my expertise in the business field. After I graduate, I will be working as a Financial Analyst in a commercial real estate firm in Central Arkansas.”

Joao pictured with Dr. McMurtrey who presented the award

College of Business Overall Outstanding Student
Carson Griffin

Carson pictured with Dean Hargis who presented the award


Mahayla Edwards

Mahayla says, “I would love to own my own business and run it from the ground up! I may move to NWA open a store front for my boutique then move to Dallas a few years later and open another store and a coffee shop!”

Mahayla pictured with Dr. Moseley who presented the award

Accounting Club
Izzy Saettele

Izzy is very active at UCA and was convinced to choose her major in accounting because her supplemental instructor inspired her to choose it. She says after graduation, “I plan to stay at UCA for my MAcc and sit for the CPA exam. I want to go into public accounting, specifically in tax and stay somewhere in the central Arkansas area.”

Izzy pictured with Dr. Phillips who presented the award

Beta Alpha Psi
Carson Griffin

Carson pictured with Dr. Phillips who presented the award

Bears for Advancing Supply Chain & Operations Management (BASCOM)
Claire Coon

“My initial attraction to the business world was and still is the direct, real world applications of the field. From my first two classes in business, microeconomics and the global environment of business, I was able to take things out of class and straight away use them to better understand everyday events in my life. Starting in January 2024 after my graduation in December, I began working full time as a real estate agent for Homeward Realty here in Conway. This new year I look forward to serving Conway and the greater Central Arkansas region as a real estate agent by applying skills and knowledge I’ve acquired during my time at the UCA College of Business (COB).”

Claire pictured with Dr. Voss who presented the award

Gamma Iota Sigma
Cole Vangsnes

Cole says he chose Insurance and Risk Management because it is a “very interesting career field with people that make it ten times better.”

Cole pictured with Prof. Hudson who presented the award

Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Collegiate
Kaddie Bailey & Malie Phimmachack

Malie: “I choose this major because I wanted to be able to help people. My interest in business-related activities began in High School, so I wanted to be able to pursue it in the future. Additionally, I enjoyed being able to assist others when they needed it, so I decided to major in management so that I could learn all the ins and outs of a business. After graduation I intend to go for my masters and start working.”

Kaddie chose to focus on Accounting and Religious Studies. She says, “I chose both of them because I love helping people. Accounting can be used in so many ways for the betterment of others like being a Volunteer Income Tax Assistant to helping corporations run their everyday operations. I get to work with those around me for the betterment of others. Religious studies helps me get to know the world more and allows me to help others across the street, across the states, and across the world. I get to be a light in communities full of darkness. After graduation, I intend to do a two year Journeymen program through the North American Missions Board and possibly short-term missionary work before coming back to earn my Master’s Degree in Accounting and possibly sit for the CPA exam. Life is an open book so I may end up doing something completely different, but this is what I think I am going to do.”

Kaddie and Malie pictured with Dr. Suter who presented the award

COB Student Ambassador
Abbie Flake

Abbie pictured with Dean Hargis who presented the award

UCA Marketing Professor Publishes Business Research & Releases Nature Conservation Documentary

Dr. Benjamin Garner, Associate Professor in the UCA Department of Marketing & Management, has been busy this year as a professor, researcher, and a feature filmmaker. Find out more about his advice for students, his research published last fall, and his nature conservation documentary to be released in April 2024.

Why did you choose the subject you teach?
I enjoy marketing and sharing my passion for this area with students. I love doing research and film projects that allow me to meet people in the community and help solve real-world challenges.

What tips or advice would you give to new, current, or prospective business students?
One of the best pieces of advice I can give students is to be curious and learn as much as possible about different career fields to find the best fit for you. This includes job shadowing, interviewing potential employers, and doing internships.

Share about your research.
Recently I published a paper in the Journal of Business Research with Dr. Candice Hollenbeck at UGA on how the concepts of authenticity and scarcity work at a local farmers’ market. Our goal was to develop a theoretical understanding of how factors like natural scarcity influences consumers’ behavioral shopping patterns and attitudes. I have done research on farmers’ markets and consumer behavior for many years, and I also find the concept of authenticity very interesting.

What have you learned from doing this research?
We found that when people go shopping in a place like a farmers’ market, consumers tend to trust vendors when they talk about products being scarce. This is because fruits, vegetables, and agricultural products are influenced by the weather and growing conditions. In other words, the products may be limited that year because of a drought. This is different from, say, Gucci handbags or limited edition Pokemon cards that are artificially limited because the company wants to increase the value of each product.

What do you hope others will learn or gain from your research?
We hope through this project, businesses can understand the relationship between authenticity and scarcity, and then amplify scarcity messages that are true and trustworthy.

Related Article: Garner Leads Marketing Students to Learn & Serve Community During Project for Arkansas PBS

Last fall, Dr. Garner’s class got some hands-on experience with sales cold-calling, a project that also served the community. This spring, Dr. Garner is teaching two web classes on Principles of Marketing and an in-person class on Content Marketing. During the summer he will teach Basic Marketing online and Content Marketing in person. Next fall, he will teach two in-person Principles of Marketing courses and an in-person Advanced Selling course.

In his personal life, Dr. Garner also recently released his documentary “Arkansas Wild: The Story of Trout Tourism on the Little Red,” which will air on Arkansas PBS on April 11. Based on his childhood experiences and using his professional skills, he created a piece that he hopes will inspire others to conserve natural resources like the Little Red River.

COB Dean Hargis selected as new Provost and Executive Vice President at UCA

Michael B. Hargis, Ph.D.

The University of Central Arkansas has announced that Michael Hargis will be the next provost and executive vice president of Academic Affairs.

In this role, Hargis will preside over UCA’s five academic colleges — College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; College of Business, College of Education, College of Health and Behavioral Sciences and College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics — the Schedler Honors College, Graduate School and the broader academic division. He begins on July 1, 2024.

“I am thrilled and deeply honored to be selected to serve as the next provost and executive vice president at UCA. I look forward to the opportunity to collaborate with the dedicated faculty, staff, students, and executive team at UCA to advance our mission. I also want to thank the search committee and everyone who participated in the search process. The energy and excitement on the campus is palpable, and I am excited to get to work,” Hargis said.

Hargis earned a bachelor’s in psychology from Hendrix College. He earned a master’s and Doctor of Philosophy in industrial-organizational psychology from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Prior to joining UCA, Hargis was an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He has been at UCA since 2006 starting as an assistant professor in the College of Business (COB). At the rank of professor, Hargis currently serves as dean of the COB, a role he began in 2014. He also has served as interim dean of the COB and interim provost and executive vice president.

“Dr. Hargis has been a distinguished leader in Arkansas higher education for almost two decades, and under his leadership, UCA will accelerate our momentum and reach new heights,” said UCA President Houston Davis. “He will also guide strategic planning and develop a strategic direction that supports our university’s mission, advocates for student success and builds upon our strengths.”

Hargis is a current member of the Conway Development Corporation and the Arkansas Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors. He previously served as a member of the Arnold Innovation Center Planning Committee, the Conductor Steering Committee and Start-up Conway Steering Committee. Hargis is an active Peer Review Team leader and mentor with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Hargis succeeds Patricia Poulter who retires as provost and executive vice president in June.

Business Students & Alumni Share Why Day of Giving Matters

Current business students and alumni share how UCA’s Day of Giving contributes to scholarships and experiences that help them achieve goals.

Amaya Whitmore

Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Accounting in 2023, current Master of Accountancy student
“Scholarships are so important and can play a huge role in helping someone reach their educational goals. I was blessed to receive scholarships that allowed me to worry less about the financial burden of college and focus more on my studies.”


Emma Daughtrey

Insurance Risk Management major, class of 2025
“Growing up, I witnessed the devastating impact of risk firsthand. Now, thanks to scholarships, I can turn my passion for risk mitigation into a career dedicated to protecting others. Each scholarship signifies a strong belief in my abilities and potential. I’m determined to make them proud by becoming a future leader in the insurance and risk management industry.”

When you give, we grow.

Giving to funds like the CISA fund means that students will get to experience more:

  • visit more businesses to see technology in action;

  • network with more professionals in their classes and in student organizations;

  • practice with the most up-to-date technology at their fingertips.

Takari Glover

BBA in Marketing in 2023
“Scholarships played a huge role in my undergraduate college career. I was given more flexibility to study, continue to serve on campus and volunteer in the community. I didn’t have to stress or worry about how I was going to pay for tuition or books, and that was the most rewarding and satisfying part about college – being able to enjoy every moment stress free.”

Michael Isaac

Accounting major who hopes to someday earn a law degree, class of 2025
“I love accounting, and thanks to the relentless generosity and support of our donors, I get to do what I love!”

By giving to the UCA College of Business, you can help students reach their educational goals and impact their lives for the better.

AR Blue Cross Blue Shield Partners with UCA College of Business for Take Over Day

On Monday, March 4, 2024, business experts from Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield visited the College of Business for a “Take Over” Day! They spoke to students in every area of business to share their expertise and career opportunities available to students. In fact, Arkansas BCBS was recently named for the third consecutive year by Forbes magazine among America’s Best Employers for mid-sized organizations, which makes COB eve more thrilled to welcome this company to “Take Over” our college.

Several BCBS experts shared with our students about a wide range of business fields including accounting, marketing, human resources, finance, information systems, and more.

  • Mr. David Martin, VP of Infrastructure & Operations, spoke to Introduction to a Computer Architecture and Programming class.
  • Ms. Emily Shadell, Staff Accountant, spoke to three classes: Accounting Information Systems, Cost Accounting, and Auditing.
  • Mr. Jason Carter, Manager of Talent Acquisition, spoke to Strategic Human Resource Management and to a large class of freshmen in “Introduction to Business.”
  • Talent Acquisition Partner Ms. Maria Silva brought donuts and cookies to engage students passing through the COB Lobby and tell them about BCBS careers.
  • Teaming up to speak to an Advertising class: Mr. Trey Hankins, Director Customer & Digital Experience & Design, and Mr. Ben McVay, Manager Group Marketing/Member Engagement & Digital Strategy.
  • Mr. Henry (Buddy) Vogler, Director Treasury and Financial Operations, shared his experience with two Personal Finance classes.
  • Social Media Strategist Colton Faull joined behind the scenes and shared his experience with students.

At our drop-in lunch from 11am-1pm, students engaged with COB faculty and BCBS professionals, while some faculty spoke with fellow specialists about current events in their fields of expertise.

Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield partners with our college year-round by sponsoring our Imagine Lab. This is a special room designed for classes and collaboration. The room has tools to help students innovate and think creatively.

Thank you, Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield! We want to thank the BCBS team who took time from their offices to spend a day with us here in the College of Business. They shared valuable experience that gave our students the opportunity to build networking and leadership skills as well as practical experience. Thank you for partnering with us for BCBS “Take Over” Day.

Emily Shadell, Jason Carter, David Martin, Trey Hankins, Ben McVay, Maria Silva, Colton Faull; not pictured: Henry (Buddy) Vogler

Insurance Industry Leader Turned Faculty Member Brings Experience to Classroom, Leads UCA Center for Insurance & Risk Management

Ivan Hudson, Director of the UCA Center for Insurance & Risk Management and Lecturer, joined the College of Business faculty in fall 2023. In this interview, he shares his insights about his first semester, his advice for students, and his vision for what’s ahead in 2024.

Give us some highlights of your experience in the business environment from before you joined the UCA College of Business Faculty.

I got my career start with the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. In November of 2008 I went to work for the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation as Program Associate. At this time in 2008, two-thirds of Arkansas voted to pass the Lottery legislation. Fast Forward to October of 2009 when I joined the start-up management team at the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery. Over the three and a half year period that I was there, I served in a number of capacities, including Procurement Director and Internal Operations Director. I’ll completed my MBA while there, and when I finished my MBA program at UALR December 2012, I launched the Ivan Hudson Agency as my entry into the insurance industry. In March 2014, I secured my Series 6 and Series 63 designations to help set me apart in the industry.

Networking has always been important to me. My personal and professional mantra is “You can network or not work, but you can’t do both.” That really speaks to my core value of building relationships. Solid meaningful relationships, will take you places that even education and other resources can’t.

Career Facts about Director Hudson:

  • December 2012- Received MBA from UALR
  • December 2012 – Launched the Ivan Hudson Agency
  • 2017-2018 – President of Rotary Club of West Little Rock
  • President, National African-American Insurance Association – Arkansas Chapter
  • Independent Insurance Agents of Arkansas, Education Foundation, Board of Directors
  • Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, National Diversity Council
  • NAREB National Insurance Committee (NNIC) Member

How did you hear about this position at UCA and what led you to focus your time in the classroom?
Although the insurance industry is robust and dynamic, it also is relatively small. When networking and getting involved in industry associations, I made meaningful connections that landed me at events on UCA’s campus. After learning more about the Insurance & Risk Management program, I connected with UCA’s EFIRM department and maintained ongoing communication. Once I learned that my predecessor had re-entered the industry and the Director role was vacant, I actually put on my thinking cap to see if I could help identify a strong candidate for the search committee to consider. The more I looked at the qualifications, I realized that I had the skillset and experiences that would provide unique perspective in the classroom. I was at a cross-section in my career where I decided the best use of my time was to leverage my experiences to invest in students.

Why did you choose the Insurance field as your subject of work?
The subject actually chose me. After working in economic development, private philanthropy government administration, I made a career transition December of 2012. I was fascinated by insurance and financial services after identifying there were huge gaps with consumer access and education around very basic principles. I launched an insurance agency and became an active professional in the industry by getting involved with various industry organizations. Insurance is a lot more technical than people realize, so I would spend a lot of time educating my clients. It’s the same energy and commitment to education that I bring when teaching in the classroom.

What about your job now teaching brings you the most joy?
I am thrilled about engaging with my fellow faculty members to bring real-time experiences to students that they would not get from lectures or just reading a text book. Part of my role requires me to serve as the Faculty Advisor for the the student organization dedicated to students pursing insurance and risk management, actuarial science and related degrees – Gamma Iota Sigma. Pouring into students and seeing their level of interest and understanding evolve is very rewarding.

Fall was your first semester here. What was your favorite part or memory from the semester?
My favorite part of the fall semester was hearing and seeing the students perspective evolve regarding various insurance topics and applications. Having a front row seat to students have “light bulb” moments and witnessing their level of understanding and interest grow was absolutely fascinating. There were even a few students that changed their major to Insurance & Risk Management.

What tips or advice would you give to new, current, or prospective business students?
I would encourage students to keep an open mind to the myriad of careers that await them by obtaining a degree from UCA COB. The business climate can be very fast-paced and dynamic and simultaneously, very rewarding!

I’m a huge advocate for our Insurance & Risk Management program, because it is the only one of its kind in the state of Arkansas. If a student decides not to pursue Insurance & Risk Management as a major, it is still available as a consideration for a minor. Our institution and the College of Business specifically, is a primary source for local, regional and even national employers looking for top talent, no matter the major/minor. Business students have access to internship and real-time experiences that could lead to fascinating job and career paths.

After moving to the classroom, how do you envision 2024 being different for you ? What new goals and perspectives do you have going into this new year?
For 2024 and beyond, I believe it is important to continue highlighting the value of UCA’s Insurance program as the only one of its kind in Arkansas. There are lots of real-time changes in the insurance and financial services marketplaces that dictate future job and career opportunities that await our students. To that end, I would like to facilitate additional opportunities for industry leaders and professionals to engage with and inspire students in our program, and especially students that actively participate in Gamma Iota Sigma. The Alpha Psi Chapter housed here at UCA is the campus RSO geared towards networking and leadership development opportunities for students in insurance and risk-related fields. Personally, I plan to learn more about the UCA campus community and the at-large Conway community.

Aside from his duties as the Director of Center for Insurance & Risk Management at UCA, Hudson can be found this semester teaching in the classroom: one “Introduction to Insurance” course, one “Risk and Insurance” course, and two Insurance Practicum courses as well as an online “Risk and Insurance” course. He also is the sponsor for the Gamma Iota Sigma registered student organization on campus.

December ’23 Grad Claire Coon Reflects on Time at UCA, Looks Forward to Launching Full-Time Career in 2024

Claire Gunter Coon

Major: Logistics & Supply Chain Management, Minor: Economics
Graduated December 2023

• COB Student Ambassador, 2 years
• President of BASCOM – Bears Advancing Supply Chain & Operations Management
• Peer Notetaker with the Disability Resource Center
• Rising Star Faculty-Student Mentor Program
• ACRE reading group for 2 semesters
• ACRE Undergraduate Research Fellow 2023
• 8 month operations internship

Why did you choose your major?
My initial attraction to the business world was and still is the direct, real world applications of the field. From my first two classes in business, microeconomics and the global environment of business, I was able to take things out of class and straight away use them to better understand everyday events in my life.

After doing some research, I decided that within business, logistics and supply chain management sounded like a good fit for me as I’ve always been a person concerned with the execution and rationale behind operations, large or small. After taking my two core economics classes, I decided economics was something I couldn’t leave behind, so I added it as a minor. I believe it is a great pairing for my major and regardless, it is a beneficial subject for any person to have a working knowledge of in order to be a better citizen.

What are you doing in 2024 after your graduation from UCA?
Starting in January I will be working full time as a real estate agent for Homeward Realty here in Conway. This new year I look forward to serving Conway and the greater Central Arkansas region as a real estate agent by applying skills and knowledge I’ve acquired during my time at the UCA College of Business (COB).

What are some things you will remember most about your time at UCA?
The UCA COB, its faculty, and supporters have done so much for me, and I know the impact they have had on me will not soon be forgotten after I graduate. They have supported me while I found a field that genuinely piqued my interest, helped me learn about and get started in that field, and I trust they will always be there for me even as I represent them as a UCA COB alumna. I strongly desire for other students, no matter their background, to receive the support I feel. This kind of support is empowering, and when someone is empowered by such a positive force, good is created not only in their life, but also in the communities around them.

It was exciting to walk across the stage at graduation & super sweet to reflect back on all the memories made over the last three and a half years. I’m thankful for the support of my family, friends, & professors who helped me reach this point.

See some of Claire’s last work published in the Log Cabin Democrat, written in Dr. McGarrity’s Modern Political Economy class.