UCA MBA Program Named to Princeton Review’s Best Business Schools List

The University of Central Arkansas’ Master in Business Administration program was named to The Princeton Review’s Best Business Schools list of Best On-Campus MBA programs.

The list recognized the top 244 on-campus MBA programs around the country and was based on survey data from more than 17,800 students and school administrators.

“What makes our Best Business Schools list unique is that we factor in data from our surveys of students attending the schools about their campus and classroom experiences,” said Rob Franek, editor-in-chief of ­The Princeton Review.

Student respondents identified cost, diversity, high academic standards, job prospects upon graduation and accessible, knowledgeable faculty as attributes that separated the UCA MBA program from others.

“It has been our goal over the last few years to grow our program and provide a high-quality, affordable and flexible graduate program that our students could use to advance their careers,” said Mark McMurtrey, Ph.D., director of the UCA MBA program. “Our continued inclusion in this ranking of top MBA programs in the country shows our students find value in our program and the concentrations we now offer.”

The UCA MBA program has more than 150 students — up from 89 in 2016 — and offers concentrations in finance, health care administration and information management, as well as an option to embed a graduate certificate in data analytics. It is accredited through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

UCA Information Management MBA Ranked Among Top Programs

The Information Management MBA at UCA was ranked among the top programs in the country by Best Value Schools.

The program was ranked No. 8 among MBA programs in information technology, management and systems.

“The program is designed to help students prepare for upper management positions in the corporate world,” said Best Value Schools of the UCA program. “It focuses on project-based instruction, case studies, computer technology, research, problem solving, communications and teamwork.”

The Information Management MBA is one of four concentrations offered at UCA, in addition to a general MBA program. The Information Management MBA includes 21 hours of core courses and 9 hours of electives that include courses in quantitative analytical methods, project management, principles of information security and business intelligence.

Learn more about the Information Management MBA here.

In October, Best Value Schools named the UCA MBA program among the most affordable online programs in the country. It was the highest-rated Arkansas school and second-highest Southland Conference school named to the list.

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.”

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.

Three Alumni Make 20 In Their 20s List

Three UCA College of Business alumni were recently named to Arkansas Business’ 20 In Their 20s List. Corey Parks (BBA ’16, MBA ’18), Christopher Diaz (BBA ’14), and William Jones (BBA ’12).

Each year, the list recognizes young, talented leaders in Arkansas’ business and nonprofit community.

Parks earned his bachelor’s in Insurance & Risk Management in 2016, and his master’s in Business Administration in 2018. He serves as vice president of economic development for the Conway Chamber of Commerce & Conway Development Corp.

CLICK HERE: Corey Parks Profile

Christopher Diaz earned his bachelor’s in Business Administration with an emphasis in Innovation & Entrepreneurship in 2014. He serves as a commercial loan officer at First Security Bank in Benton.

William Jones earned his bachelor’s in Finance in 2012. He is vice president of operations at Sissy’s Log Cabin in Pine Bluff.

College of Business Gets $100k Gift from Acxiom

Acxiom Gives $120,000 to UCA

Acxiom’s most recent gift to the College of Business and College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics pushes the company’s total support provided to UCA past $1 million.

The University of Central Arkansas College of Business has received a $100,000 gift from Acxiom to support several initiatives.

The gift is part of a larger $120,000 gift from Acxiom to UCA to support the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and College of Business. The gift takes Acxiom’s support of UCA to $1.1 million across a 30-year partnership.

In the College of Business, Acxiom’s gift will support the Acxiom IT Careers Camp, a yearly, two-day camp held on UCA’s campus for high school students interested in careers in information technology. The camp began in 2007 and has welcomed more than 400 students to UCA.

The gift will also support the Acxiom Scholarship, open to qualifying juniors and seniors majoring in Management Information Systems, and the Acxiom Information Systems Student Award, given each year to the top Information Systems major.

“Acxiom has played a vital role to our college, especially in our Department of Management Information Systems, where IT and analytics education is the primary focus,” said UCA College of Business Dean Michael Hargis. “Acxiom has provided more internships for MIS and other business students than any other company, more full-time positions for our MIS graduates than any other company, and has been crucial to curriculum enhancements we have made to keep our courses relevant and current.”

“Central Arkansas is home for Acxiom, and we’re delighted to continue to support our community,” said Acxiom’s Chief Customer Officer Drew May, who also serves on the UCA College of Business Advisory Board. “Investment in education and in future talent is so important, both in good and in challenging times, as it ultimately benefits everyone.”

For more information on the impact Acxiom’s gift will have on the entire UCA campus, click here.

UCA College of Business Hires 2 Accounting Faculty

The University of Central Arkansas College of Business has hired two faculty members in its Department of Accounting.

Mengyu Ma, Ph.D., and Qifeng Wu, Ph.D., were both hired as assistant professors of accounting.

Ma was an instructor of accounting at Florida International University. Her research interests include financial reporting quality, information environment, equity markets, debt contracting and financial analysts. She earned a bachelor’s and master’s in accounting from the Max M. Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University and a doctorate in business administration from Florida International University.

Wu was previously an assistant instructor at the University of Texas at El Paso. He conducts research on financial reporting quality, corporate governance and auditing. He earned a bachelor’s in computer information systems from Idaho State University, his master’s in accounting from the University of Idaho and a doctorate in accounting from the University of Texas at El Paso.

The UCA College of Business has more than 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students. It offers 14 baccalaureate degrees, two master’s, 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.

Mark McMurtrey Wins SWDSI Outstanding Educator Award

MBA Director Mark McMurtrey, Ph.D.

Mark McMurtrey, Ph.D., professor of management information systems and Master of Business Administration program director, has been awarded the Southwest Decision Sciences Institute Outstanding Educator Award.

The SWDSI is a division of the Decision Sciences Institute, a professional organization made up of those interested in sharing research on the study of decision processes and the application of quantitative and behavioral methods to the problems of society. The Outstanding Educator Award is one of the most prestigious honors presented by the Federation of Business Disciplines and SWDSI.

“Knowing that my name will be forever linked with these other winners is absolutely humbling and quite an honor. I know my family is proud of me, and my late parents as well,” McMurtrey said.

McMurtrey has served as program chair for the SWDSI’s 2017 conference and served as the organization’s president from 2019-20. He is in his 19th year as professor at UCA and fifth year as MBA director.

Read more here.

Putting the GDP Numbers in Context: What You Need to Know

By Jeremy Horpedahl, Ph.D.

Jeremy Horpedahl, Ph.D.

We all know that we are going through one of the worst economic downturns in US history. But how bad exactly is the downturn? The recently released Gross Domestic Product data for the second quarter of 2020 paint a very grim picture, with the headline number suggesting that the economy contracted by -32.9%.

GDP is a measure of all economic activity that takes place in a quarter or a year. Was there really one-third less activity in the second quarter compared with the first quarter? No there was not. The actual number is about a 7% decline. I’ll explain more how I came up with that number, but let me stress this is still a very bad number. It’s the worst we have on record, possibly the worst in US history, probably even worse than any one quarter of the Great Depression (if we had directly comparable data). Still, a number like -32.9% is not a very helpful number in the current context.

Interpreting economic data is challenging during the current economic crisis. My intent is not to downplay the harm, but to give it proper context. For example, I have previously written that the unemployment rate understates how much pain there is in the labor market right now. In contrast, the recently released GDP data overstate the economic pain.

Read more at Texas CEO Magazine.

Horpedahl also recently appeared on The Cato Institute’s Daily Podcast to give a quick rundown of the numbers. Listen here or anywhere you get podcasts.