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UCA Expands Computer Information Systems & Analytics Degree Options to Address Changing Business Environment

The University of Central Arkansas (UCA) is offering new degree and certificate options through its Computer Information Systems and Analytics (CISA) department, expanding opportunities for CISA students and current business professionals to gain top in-demand business and technical skills.

Beginning this fall three new Applied Data Analytics programs will be available: a Bachelor of Science, a Master of Science, and a technical certificate. These new programs follow the successful addition of both an undergraduate minor and a graduate-level technical certificate in data analytics two years ago.

“I chose to get this graduate certificate because I believe data analytics is the future. As technology is evolving, businesses are using analytics to make informed decisions, solve problems, help reduce risks, and increase return on their investments,” said Joyti Lal who is working to earn a Master of Business Administration concurrent with a Data Analytics graduate certificate.

The Department of Computer Information Systems and Analytics (CISA), located within the UCA College of Business, combines highly desired technical skills with sound business principles. The department’s name was changed in July 2021 from “Management Information Systems” to better reflect what the department now offers. [Read more…]

COB Student Intern Earns AR BCBS Scholarship

UCA College of Business student, Daisy Martinez Carranza, is this year’s $5,000 academic scholarship winner for the Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) 2021 Summer Internship Program. Carranza served as a Group Marketing and Member Engagement intern, and over the course of ten weeks, she gained real-world experience by working closely with their managers and teams, attending department meetings, participating in special projects, and sharing her questions and ideas.

Crediting knowledge gained in classes and valuable experience during her internship, Carranza said, “this is as much a win for me as it is for my advisors and mentors here at UCA.”

To earn the award, Carranza not only did exceptional work during her internship but also presented a final project to top BCBS executives. She was chosen as a finalist and then the winner of the $5000 scholarship for her senior year at UCA. Please join us in congratulating Daisy Martinez Carranza on this significant achievement.

Three UCA College of Business Alumni Named to Arkansas Business “20 in Their 20s” List

Arkansas Business has announced its 2021 class of “20 In Their 20s”, including three alumni from UCA’s College of Business. Ericka Gutierrez, Grace Rains, and Joyti Lal were named as rising business and community leaders.  [Read more…]

UCA Economist, Dr. Jeremy Horpedahl, Receives Award for COVID-19 Work

(Conway, AR) – Dr. Jeremy Horpedahl, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) College of Business, has been recognized for his work to provide accurate coronavirus information and dispel misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The award comes from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, which announced on Sunday its ten most recent winners across North America.

Dr. Horpedahl won the prize for his policy and data analysis on pandemic-related economic topics such as coronavirus precautions, tolls and trends, vaccination development and distribution, unemployment, as well as local, national, and worldwide financial impacts.

“Part of what motivated me was simply to understand the pandemic better myself, and I was glad to help others navigate the same questions that I had about the state of the world,” said Dr. Horpedahl.

Horpedahl was also a co-recipient of another award from the Mercatus Center for the blog EconomistWritingEveryDay.com, where he is a weekly contributor.

“Dr. Horpedahl’s efforts to communicate complex topics in a more approachable way has helped inform and educate others about economic policy. This is important work during an already confusing and stressful time, and we are proud of his effort and impact,” added Dr. Michael Hargis, Dean of the UCA College of Business. [Read more…]

UCA College of Business Names 2020-2021 Outstanding Students

On April 8, 2021, the UCA College of Business held its annual Student Honors Banquet to celebrate the academic achievements of the College’s students and recognize the outstanding students for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Outstanding students are those who take advantage of educational opportunities and show exemplary academic performance through internships, professional development and experiential education, volunteerism, and participation in clubs and activities.

The following students were awarded an outstanding status, chosen from over 1600 undergraduate and graduate students: [Read more…]

How to Engage College Students in Online Learning

The switch to online learning has left professors at universities and colleges across the country scrambling for ways to effectively bring traditional, classroom teaching models to students who now attend classes from their homes, apartments and dorms by way of a computer screen.

Anthony McMullen, J.D., assistant professor of business law

Anthony McMullen, J.D., associate professor of business law in the UCA College of Business, was part of a team of seven professors at the Academy of Legal Studies in Business to create a summary of effective strategies for professors to use for online learning in higher education.

The researchers found the best way to have success teaching college courses online was to quickly orient students, humanize the online environment and maintain engaging course material.

“Many professors need guidance on this, so our purpose was to compile these tips in hopes those who are new to online teaching could gain ideas and have time to carefully plan and prepare for their courses,” McMullen said.

Welcome Module

The first step identified was having a welcome module with a host of content that introduces students to the instructor and the course. The goal is to give students “low-stakes opportunities” to get engaged and learn how to find course material and complete assignments throughout the semester.

This can include a welcome email or video, an instructor bio, student introductions, the course syllabus, a how-to video on navigating course content and assignments and introductory assignments such as a syllabus quiz.

“This helps support and guide students through the online environment, especially if they are new to online courses,” the report states.

Humanizing the Course

Professors must also have a strong emphasis on the connection between faculty and students, as well as between students, the researchers found.

“You have to find a way to humanize the course and content,” the report states. “Professors need to facilitate multiple interactions with students without creating a barrier between technology and student engagement with the material. Previous research has found students from at-risk demographic groups had lower performance in online courses.”

One important factor to this is the use of online discussion boards.

“These can help instructors bridge the pedagogical gap between face-to-face and online learning by encouraging active student engagement,” the report said.

While discussion boards are often used, getting students to participate can be challenging, so it is important for professors to layout instructions and expectations from the beginning.

“This will encourage participation and create an environment of accountability and mutual respect,” the researchers said. “One tip is to have students not only post their own threads, but be required to comment on other student posts as well.”

Presenting On-Screen

Professors should use both synchronous and asynchronous material that effectively present the content of the course, complement one another and improve student motivation.

Synchronous instruction can include video conferencing to provide feedback on assignments, techniques and exam review.

“One recent technique that has found student satisfaction is presenting the professor’s screen,” the report states. “This allows professors to show PowerPoint slides normally shown during class. Professors can write and draw on the whiteboard and students can see that happening, just like a normal class.”

Voice-over PowerPoint presentations is an effective way to implement asynchronous learning, as well as assigning students to view short videos — preferably 6 minutes or less — on single topics discussed in the material.

“These ideas and others discussed in our article will be effective for teaching online, even when students return to physical classrooms,” the report said. “These strategies will help instructors reach and educate students wherever they may be.”

Doug Voss Named to American Transportation Research Institute’s Research Advisory Committee

Doug Voss, Ph.D., professor of logistics and supply chain management

Doug Voss, Ph.D., professor of logistics and supply chain management, has been appointed to the American Transportation Research Institute’s Research Advisory Committee.

As part of the committee, Voss will help the institute identify top research priorities for the trucking industry. The appointment runs through 2022.

“Our members serve a critical role in identifying and prioritizing the trucking industry’s top research needs,” said Rebecca Brewster, president and COO of the American Transportation Research Institute. “We congratulate all those appointed by the ATRI Board to serve in this important role and look forward to working with them.”

The American Transportation Research Institute, founded in 1954, conducts transportation research that focuses on the industry’s role in a safe, efficient and viable transportation system. In the past, this has included research on congestion, economic analysis, safety, security, technology, environment and infrastructure.

Its research committee is composed of professionals from across the trucking industry, including sectors like motor carriers, industry suppliers, drivers, shippers, academia and government.

Voss is the director of the UCA College of Business’ Center for Logistics Education, Advancement and Research, and was named the Scott E. Bennett Arkansas Highway Commission Endowed Chair of Motor Carrier Management in 2015. He has been at UCA since 2007.

Voss is the first person from UCA to serve on the American Transportation Research Institute’s Research Advisory Committee.

“Dr. Voss has been vital to the growth of our logistics program since its inception in 2017,” said Michael Hargis, dean of the College of Business. “This latest recognition shows our program continues to gain respect among industry professionals across the region and nation, thanks to Dr. Voss’ efforts.”

Voss also serves on the Arkansas Trucking Association Board of Directors and has since 2015. He was a member of the inaugural class of the Arkansas Trucking Association’s 40 Under 40 Council in 2010 and served on the council through 2016.

He earned his bachelor’s and master’s in transportation and logistics at the University of Arkansas. He earned his doctorate in logistics at Michigan State University.

Marketing Professor Susan Myers Wins Award for Paper on Instagram Engagement During Pandemic

Susan Myers, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing

Susan Myers, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing, won Best Paper: Digital & Social Media from the Society for Marketing Advances for her work regarding increased Instagram use during this year’s pandemic.

Myers received the award Nov. 6 during SMA’s virtual 2020 conference.

Her paper looked at how COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing guidelines impacted consumer use of Instagram by looking at engagement rates with the top brands on the platform. The study compared engagement rates in the two months prior to the first regulations put in place for COVID-19 and the two months following it.

“The research indicated the engagement rate per post was higher during the pandemic than before despite the fact there was not a significant difference in the quantity of posts made by the brands,” Myers said.

Myers also found that consumers were generally looking for content unrelated to the pandemic as posts with COVID-related hashtags did not have a higher rate of engagement.

While some of these changes in social media use may be temporary, Myers said corporations will likely continue to invest more as consumers develop new routines in the pandemic.

“It seems doubtful that consumers will return completely to the old ways of operating as customer expectations for digital alternatives have grown,” Myers said. “Customer reliance on digital consumption continues to grow as will their expectations for brands’ digital experiences.”

The Restaurant Recession

Jeremy Horpedahl, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics

One of the most visible signs of the COVID-19 recession has been the massive harm to restaurants and bars. We see it as we drive around town: Restaurants are closed, doing curbside service only, or have radically altered their layout to make their spaces safer.

We can also see the harm to restaurants in the economic data. Back in the depths of the shutdowns and labor market contraction in April, fully one-third of all job losses in Texas were centered on the “food services and drinking places” industry, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls these establishments. Pre-pandemic, this industry accounted for 8.7 percent of all nonfarm jobs in Texas.

In total, over 450,000 restaurant and bar workers were out of work, out of about 1.1 million before the pandemic. Relative to the size of the restaurant and bar industry, workers at these businesses were hit four times as hard as the average worker. While everything is bigger in Texas, these figures are closely comparable to national data, where restaurants and bars accounted for 7.9 percent of employment before the pandemic, and about 28 percent of job losses through April.

Within the restaurant and bar industry, bars and restaurants that depend primarily on dining room service were hit much harder. Fast food restaurants, for example, were already well-equipped to provide drive-thru service.

Read more at Texas CEO Magazine.

Centennial Bank Gives $25,000 to UCA College of Business Enhancement Fund, Names Student Commons Area

Centennial Bank has given $25,000 to the University of Central Arkansas College of Business’ Enhancement Fund.

The enhancement fund supports student programming, enhanced learning opportunities, as well as professional development opportunities for students, faculty, and staff in the College of Business. As part of the gift, Centennial Bank has also named the Student Commons area on the second floor of the College of Business building as the Centennial Bank Student Commons.

“Centennial Bank is one of our college’s most involved partners and supporters,” said Michael Hargis, dean of the UCA College of Business. “Their consistent support and partnership enables our college to provide important learning opportunities for our faculty, staff and students.”

More than 40 UCA alumni and current students are employed by Centennial Bank, making it one of the university’s largest corporate partners.

The bank is the wholly owned subsidiary of Home BancShares, co-founded by Johnny Allison and Robert H. “Bunny” Adcock, member of the University of Central Arkansas Board of Trustees. It has locations in Arkansas, Florida, Alabama and New York.

In 2019, Centennial Bank became the first bank to establish an endowed scholarship in the college.

In 2006, the bank established the Johnny Allison Entrepreneurship Speaker Series, which has brought more than 20 speakers to the college to talk with students. Past speakers include Bunny Adcock, Marshall Stewart, Karen Garrett, Rush Harding, Rick Massey, Steve Strange, and former Govs. Mike Beebe and Mike Huckabee.

Additionally, the bank created the John. W. Allison Entrepreneur Endowed Professorship Fund which supports faculty within the Innovation & Entrepreneurship program. The program began in 2012 with a cohort of 40 students which has nearly doubled since.

The UCA College of Business has more than 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students. It offers 14 baccalaureate degrees, two master’s and one graduate certificate and one technical certificate across four academic departments and houses the state’s only insurance and risk management program. The UCA College of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Visit uca.edu/business for more.