Dr. Nagraj "Raju" Balakrishnan Named Dean
Dean of University of Michigan-Dearborn Business School Brings Extensive Experience as Institutional Leader
Dr. Raju Balakrishnan

Dr. Nagraj "Raju" Balakrishnan, a veteran university educator and administrator and currently the dean of the University of Michigan-Dearborn College of Business, has been named dean of the Merrick School of Business at The University of Baltimore. Balakrishnan, who was identified during a national search led by a University committee in tandem with the Witt Kieffer search firm, will begin in his new role on July 1. Merrick Dean Murray Dalziel is retiring at the end of the current fiscal year.  

Dr. Nagraj "Raju" Balakrishnan, a veteran university educator and administrator and currently the dean of the University of Michigan-Dearborn College of Business, has been named dean of the Merrick School of Business at The University of Baltimore. Balakrishnan, who was identified during a national search led by a University committee in tandem with the Witt Kieffer search firm, will begin in his new role on July 1. Merrick Dean Murray Dalziel is retiring at the end of the current fiscal year.


Balakrishnan has extensive experience in both college-level teaching, research, and university administration. He has served as UM-Dearborn’s business dean and full professor since 2013. That institution’s College of Business enrolls nearly 1,100 undergraduate students across nine business majors, and another 500 graduate students in its MBA program and six master’s level programs. 


“We are excited to welcome Dr. Balakrishnan to UBalt at a time when the way business is taught is undergoing a major transformation,” says University of Baltimore President Kurt L. Schmoke. “He brings the right skills, both as an administrator and an educator, to lead the Merrick School of Business through this era of new thinking. Raju will help us deliver on the promise of a school that best fits the needs of tomorrow's business professional, while maintaining all the things that we're well known for—accounting, management, entrepreneurship, real estate development, nonprofits, the MBA, and more. The University is pleased to have him on our team.”


Balakrishnan says his initial goals for UBalt’s Merrick School of Business are a reaffirmation of its core values of educational access and attainment, equity, and community engagement, coupled with its strong track record of research and scholarship.


“The University of Baltimore's mission, location, student demographics, and diversity are all strong selling points for the institution. They align well with my values and experiences, which is why I am excited to lead the Merrick School of Business,” he says. “UBalt serves as a pathway of opportunity for many deserving students. And, while the Merrick School expresses its steadfast commitment to good student experiences and outcomes, it also supports excellence in academic research and community engagement opportunities. I believe the school is well positioned to meet the changing demands of business, and I am looking forward to stepping into the role of dean.” 


Prior to joining the University of Michigan-Dearborn as dean and professor, Dr. Balakrishnan served as senior associate dean at Clemson University’s College of Business and Behavioral Science from 2010-13, and as associate dean (2007-10). He was acting chair of that institution’s Department of Finance in 2008-09, and chair of its Department of Management in 2006-07. Throughout his time at Clemson, starting in 1994, Dr. Balakrishnan served in various capacities as a tenured professor, director of graduate programs, associate professor, and assistant professor. 


Before joining Clemson, Balakrishnan served as assistant professor at Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business (1987-94). 


Throughout his career, Balakrishnan has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals, including the International Journal of Production Research, IIE Transactions, the International Journal of Production Economics, the European Journal of Operational Research, Networks, Production and Operations Management, and a number of others. He has received several accolades for leadership, in areas such as fundraising, academic accreditation, enrollment, and institutional development.


Dr. Balakrishnan earned a Ph.D. in management from the Krannert Graduate School of Management at Purdue University in 1987. He received a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Kentucky in 1983, and a Bachelor of Engineering degree with honors in mechanical engineering from the National Institute of Technology at the University of Madras in India in 1981. 




Sisters-turned-professors strengthen ties through joint research
by Kristi Moore, MBA '22
Dr. Bento and Dr. White

Whenever Regina Bento and Lourdes Whitetalk, whether about their work or families, the conversation is filled with joy and eagerness. These sisters can finish each other’s sentences, fuel each other’s passions and will take any chance they can to compliment the other.


What makes them unique from most siblings, however, is that their bond isn’t limited to family, but rather it’s deeply rooted in their academic passions and pursuits that stem from a childhood where education was held in the highest regard and led to distinguished careers as professors in The University of Baltimore’s Merrick School of Business.  

Whenever Regina Bento and Lourdes White talk, whether about their work or families, the conversation is filled with joy and eagerness. These sisters can finish each other’s sentences, fuel each other’s passions and will take any chance they can to compliment the other.


What makes them unique from most siblings, however, is that their bond isn’t limited to family, but rather it’s deeply rooted in their academic passions and pursuits that stem from a childhood where education was held in the highest regard and led to distinguished careers as professors in The University of Baltimore’s Merrick School of Business.  


“Nobody has known me as long as she has, and vice versa, in this world,” Dr. Bento said. “We share the same frame of reference, and we share the same stories.” 


They also share authorship on a vast list of research papers and studies, a tangible example of their ever-growing and exceptional bond.  


Together from the beginning 

Bento and Dr. White were born in Rio de Janeiro, six years apart. Both came to the United States to pursue their doctoral degrees and even chose the same city for the task. Bento earned a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and White received a Doctorate of Business (D.B.A.) from Harvard University. 


They kept following each other over time. From Cambridge, White followed Bento’s lead again to California where Bento took a faculty position at the University of California. White would take a position at the University of Southern California. A few years later, in 1990, Bento joined the Merrick School of Business and White followed in 1992.  


“Regina saw the opportunity for me to join the accounting faculty at UBalt, and that would be not just an opportunity to be in the same city, but to be in the same school and work together,” White said. 


The sisters worked in different departments in the business school—Bento had joined the Department of Management and International Business—but quickly started working together on research efforts that intersected their respective fields. Their first joint research venture, published in the Harvard Business School Press, examined how incentive plans influence managers’ decision making. 


How they approach their research closely resembles how they live: Bento takes the first step, usually identifying a potential topic—"She can smell an interesting topic from a distance,” White says with a laugh—and White folds in her expertise. 


Throughout the process from blank page to concluding thoughts, they share ideas and build from each other’s research and work. The result is such a collaborative work that neither can really tell who wrote which part. That’s part of spending a lifetime together—a lifetime where education is a core value.  


'We are our curiosities' 

Their shared love of learning comes from their parents.  


“Our parents weren't able to finish high school,” Bento said. “They were both extremely smart. They were among the smartest people I’ve ever met in my life, and completely dedicated to education, but they just didn’t have the money.” 


Their mother was a teacher, professionally for a time, and to her girls always. When they had a test in school, she would handcraft her own review booklet to help them prepare.  


Even when they were older, their parents would always ask them to share about their days, Bento said, “in that kind of ‘What wonderful things you were exposed to today,’ or ‘What attracted your curiosity today?” 


Today, both women approach their research topics with similar enthusiasm and curiosity.  


“We are not just our areas, we are our curiosities,” Bento said. “Life is very short. I think another thing that has been true for us is not writing about something because others are writing about it, or there is a market for it, we write for what interests us, what makes us curious.” 


They also hope their findings can have an impact, White said.


Murray Dalziel, dean of the Merrick School of Business, knows that goal has been met many times over.  


“Drs. Bento and White are scholars whose research is relevant and impactful,” he said. “The relevance of their research is so important, especially their work on ethical decision-making. Their expertise goes beyond publishing great research. They bring their perspectives to the classroom and offer our students a better sense of what to expect from responsible leaders.” 


Bento, too, has also won the University System of Maryland Board of Regents’ Faculty Award, the system’s highest honor.  


White said finding topics they could explore together was easy. Her area of behavioral accounting involves examining how accounting information influences management behavior, especially decision making, and smoothly correlates with Bento’s interest and expertise in organizational behavior and management.  


A common thread 

They have continuously built from their previous works, going from incentive plans to performance measures, and from there to the Balanced Scorecard, a work that explored the tension between shareholder value maximization and corporate social responsibility.


“It’s the issue of, you can't just use financial measures of performance, you also have to use non-financial measures, because financial measures just say what happened with the company. Non-financial measures, like customer satisfaction or delivery on time, help you predict performance, they drive future performance,” White explained.


She deemed the subject her favorite of all their research efforts, and their colleagues appreciated it, too, naming it the best research paper in the business school in 2017, published in the prestigious Journal of Business Ethics (JBE), which has been named by the Financial Times one of the most influential in the business community.


Studying social responsibility steered them toward research on sustainability and later risk management, biases in performance evaluation, and, more recently, fraud and ethics. The step into ethics was influenced, in part, by White’s husband, Alfred Leo White, who taught in UBalt’s Division of Legal, Ethical and Historical Studies. They also did extensive joint research with Bento’s husband, Alberto, now an emeritus professor, who taught in the business school’s Department of Information Systems and Decision Science.


“The common thread hasn't changed in all those years—it's all about being human,” Bento said. 


How people appear may seem logical and rational, she explained, but underneath, everyone is human, and those psychological, sociological, anthropological, and other nuances affect behavior.  

“That's why I think it’s so important that we keep asking ourselves when things are presented to us in 2023, as rational, logical, of course, that we then step back and we question those assumptions.” 


Being at UBalt has given Bento and White more freedom to delve into any topic, even ones outside their immediate departments. They haven’t had that at other universities where they have taught. UBalt offers a community they haven’t experienced elsewhere, they agreed. That’s largely why they’ve stayed over the decades, collectively seeing hundreds of students earn their MBAs. 


“The kind of student we have is a student who knows why they are here,” Bento said. “Regardless of their socioeconomic background, there was a reason why they picked this school. They take it seriously. They often are balancing a career, family, school, and they know what it costs them, that kind of education."


“This is the kind of school that our parents, if they had gone to college, they would have come to, and they would have valued it so much.” 


M.S. in Business-Finance Program Now Designated a "STEM" Degree
abstract image of financial technology

The University of Baltimore, Merrick School of Business, stands proudly at the forefront of educational innovation once again, as it announces the launch of its much-anticipated STEM-designated Master of Science in Business-Finance degree. This innovative program promises to equip aspiring finance professionals with the specialized skills and knowledge necessary to excel in today's rapidly evolving business landscape. 


The University of Baltimore, Merrick School of Business, stands proudly at the forefront of educational innovation once again, as it announces the launch of its much-anticipated STEM-designated Master of Science in Business-Finance degree. This innovative program promises to equip aspiring finance professionals with the specialized skills and knowledge necessary to excel in today's rapidly evolving business landscape. 


"With the growing intersection of technology and finance, the demand for individuals with ability in both areas has never been higher," said Mikhail Pevzner, professor of accounting and director of graduate business programs.  "Recognizing this emerging trend in FinTech, the faculty have developed a forward-thinking curriculum that seamlessly integrates the principles of finance with a strong emphasis on technology. This innovative approach provides students with a unique competitive advantage in the job market and positions them as leaders in the finance industry." 


The STEM-designated program offers a comprehensive and interdisciplinary education, combining the core foundations of finance with specialized courses in data analysis, quantitative modeling, risk management, and financial technology. Students will gain hands-on experience using financial software and analytical tools, allowing them to analyze complex financial data, make informed decisions, and drive strategic initiatives. 


Upon completion of the program, graduates will be equipped with the skills necessary to navigate the complexities of the financial world and solve real-world business challenges. The STEM designation of this degree also opens up a wider range of career prospects for graduates, as many employers prioritize candidates with STEM backgrounds for positions that require a deep understanding of financial analysis, investment strategies, and risk assessment. 


The Merrick School of Business, takes pride in its commitment to producing highly skilled and versatile professionals who can thrive in the ever-evolving global marketplace. By offering the STEM-designated M.S. in Business-Finance degree, the school reaffirms its dedication to innovation, excellence, and staying ahead of the curve. This program is a testament to the school's unwavering pursuit to prepare students for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. 


Amanda Phillips de Lucas Named Director of Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance
Amanda Phillips de Lucas

Amanda Phillips de Lucas, formerly with the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, has been named director of the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance, part of The University of Baltimore's Jacob France Institute (JFI). As part of JFI—the sponsored research institute of the Merrick School of Business—the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA-JFI) has been at the forefront of the development, analysis and dissemination of Baltimore City neighborhood indicators for more than 20 years.

Amanda Phillips de Lucas, formerly with the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, has been named director of the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance, part of The University of Baltimore's Jacob France Institute (JFI). As part of JFI—the sponsored research institute of the Merrick School of Business—the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA-JFI) has been at the forefront of the development, analysis and dissemination of Baltimore City neighborhood indicators for more than 20 years.


While at the Cary Institute, Dr. Phillips de Lucas served a postdoctoral fellowship studying perceptions and governance of urban greening projects in Baltimore and cities across the United States. For that organization, she developed Governing Green, a toolkit to enhance the equitable governance of urban green infrastructure. Through this work, she built relationships with organizations, agencies, and individuals advancing environmental justice in Baltimore.


"We are excited to have Dr. Phillips de Lucas on board as the new director of the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance," says JFI Director Richard Clinch. "Not only will she continue BNIA-JFI's cutting edge work in analyzing key economic, housing, and social conditions in Baltimore City and its diverse communities, she will be expanding the alliance's efforts into new areas related to environmental and environmental justice issues for an even more complete look at the city."


BNIA-JFI is part of an Urban Institute-led national group of 30 similar organizations. Phillips de Lucas brings to her position substantial expertise in community data informatics, with a recent focus on environmental indicators. She also has professional experience in foundation relations, grant writing, project management, and nonprofit administration. 


"When I arrived in Baltimore almost six years ago, the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance was one of the first organizations I worked with in my capacity as a researcher," Phillips de Lucas says. "I soon learned that not only did BNIA-JFI house a wealth of data, but the organization was also a force for positive change in Baltimore City. My top priority as the incoming director is to advance our organizational mission of ensuring access to accurate, reliable, and actionable community-based data. I want to build on our community engagement and develop public-facing tools to enhance how neighborhoods, communities, and individuals interact with our resources." 


Dr. Phillips de Lucas wrote her dissertation on the issue of transportation planning and data use in Baltimore, an issue of critical importance to the city. In 2018, she received a Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies from Virginia Tech. She also has master's degrees from Virginia Tech and NYU Gallatin, and a B.A. from Bennington College. Her doctoral dissertation examined how activists and community groups in Baltimore used technical data to protest urban interstate construction in the late 1960s and '70s. This research was published as a chapter in Justice and the Interstates: The Racist Truth about Urban Highways, co-edited by Dr. Phillips de Lucas. 

Dean's Message From Dr. Murray M. Dalziel

I am writing to you today as I am days away from retiring as the dean of the Merrick School of Business, and this will be my last Merrick Exchange “Dean's Message.”  I am grateful for the contributions of the faculty, students, alumni, and business partners who have shaped my experience as dean, and the last nine years at the helm have been remarkable. Here are my parting thoughts:  



I am in awe of our faculty. One thing I do every year is to read the student-generated comments about the teaching of our full professors. Those insights provide a platform to discuss yearly successes and ways to continuously improve what we deliver to our students. I have come away from those meetings with a deep appreciation of how they care about their approach to teaching and students' learning.  



I also appreciate the work that they do to create knowledge. This is why we are a university and not a training company. We teach, and we generate knowledge, and for most of our faculty, they bring what they learn in their research to the classroom. But as a school of business, we create knowledge not just for the sake of knowledge but to make a difference in the practice of management, teaching business, or developing policy. So, this summer, for example, we are funding seven projects that give you an idea of the range of interests we have:  

  • How can we make ethics “count” in accounting education so that students understand concrete ways of making ethical decisions and getting them to be implemented?  
  • How demographic changes affect trading patterns and supply chain dynamics.  
  • What can we learn from COVID-19 pandemic disruptions about creating resilient supply chains?  
  • How encouraging entrepreneurial orientation and some related attributes in service workers contributes to customer growth.  
  • A new way of looking at the factors that contribute to new venture success.  
  • Are there increasing differences in where remote and on-site workers choose to live, and what are the implications for different industries?  
  • Does national office experience in large accounting firms affect partners’ careers, client assignments, audit quality, pricing, and efficiency?  
  • Can meeting effectiveness be improved - the relationship between meeting start time, lateness, and meeting effectiveness? 
  • How to defeat an oligarch! 

These are just a sample of the knowledge our faculty are creating. In addition, we have active projects in various other areas, such as how users make decisions after consulting ChatGPT, how healthcare organizations use customer satisfaction data, and how managers integrate Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) risk into financial projections.  



Of course, we want to influence our students most. In May, we held our last graduation ceremony of the academic year. I do not know every student personally, but I do know that for many of our students to graduate, it takes enormous grit and resilience. I know that most of our students (undergraduate and graduate) work. They also have diverse experiences before they come to UBalt. Many are breadwinners for their families. Unlike many full-time students on conventional campuses, our students typically balance academics with real-life priorities. We recognize they want to be engaged with the university and their fellow students, so we develop programming to accommodate them. Our students show grit and resilience like no other campus I know of, and their diversity in terms of life and work experience, race, gender, and national origin, make them especially valuable to employers. I love getting emails from business leaders telling me how they hired one of our graduates and how well they were prepared from day one.  


Business Partners  

I also very much appreciate working with and learning from our business partners. As well as my Deans' Council of Business Advisors, we have dedicated boards for essential industry and professional groups such as Real Estate, Insurance, Cybersecurity, and Accounting. These are vital groups to influence what we teach and help obtain internships and positions for our students. Our volunteers have made such a difference over the years.  



An exceptional group that I particularly appreciate is our funders. They are tremendously generous. Through them, we have developed several seed funding options for the research I mentioned earlier that have supported our faculty in their endeavors. This is important to attract quality talent to instruct our students. In addition, these funders also have enabled us to offer scholarships for our students and small grants that our students need to overcome some educational cost barriers like technological like Internet routers or conventional items like textbooks.  


Impact on Baltimore  

I am particularly proud of the Merrick School's impact on Baltimore. Many of our entrepreneurship students take their businesses out into the community. Some of them become employers. Others help start-ups grow and contribute to the community. Our Real Estate Fellows program, which will enter its fourth year next Fall, impacts turning around specific neighborhoods in Baltimore. The Baltimore Neighborhoods Indicators Alliance, which the school supports, is a crucial data source for many community organizations and banks. UBalt President Kurt Schmoke often reminds us that we are not only the University of Baltimore but the University for Baltimore. That is a pillar of excellence that I know my colleagues at the Merrick School of Business are pleased to support and tout.  


I appreciate your support for me. And one final word—the Merrick School has a fine and successful future ahead—please stay in touch with the school. We need your support.  


Murray M. Dalziel, Ph.D.

Dean, Merrick School of Business  



A preview of what's next for Dr. Dalziel. Spending time his wife and grandchildren, and continue to be involved in his various enterprises.


Anonymous Gift Broadens UBalt's Reach for Entrepreneurial Students
UBalt emblem with the letter "b" and the founding year of 1925

An anonymous donor has provided a landmark gift that will enhance The University of Baltimore's support of its entrepreneurial students—including students who are enrolled in the University's Second Chance College program for incarcerated men at the state's Jessup Correctional Institution. The three-year award of $887,000 will allow UBalt to enroll more students in entrepreneurial courses, support more who want to start their own businesses while still studying for their degrees, and strengthen ties between the University's entrepreneurial community and local businesses. Students from the Real Estate and Economic Development (REED) program in the Merrick School of Business will be selected for scholarships to support their work in creating more affordable housing in Baltimore. 

An anonymous donor has provided a landmark gift that will enhance The University of Baltimore's support of its entrepreneurial students—including students who are enrolled in the University's Second Chance College program for incarcerated men at the state's Jessup Correctional Institution. The three-year award of $887,000 will allow UBalt to enroll more students in entrepreneurial courses, support more who want to start their own businesses while still studying for their degrees, and strengthen ties between the University's entrepreneurial community and local businesses. Students from the Real Estate and Economic Development (REED) program in the Merrick School of Business will be selected for scholarships to support their work in creating more affordable housing in Baltimore. 


"Through the generosity of this anonymous donor, we are capitalizing on the gains we’ve made over the past several years in entrepreneurship, small business, real estate development, and Second Chance," says University of Baltimore President Kurt L. Schmoke. "This is a significant step for us, and a signal to our students that we are in full support of their goals of being successful as business practitioners—founders, owners, employers and leaders. The real strength of our city is in plain sight through this effort. It’s a lot of the best of what we do, for and with the community." 


Many UBalt students in the Merrick School are pursuing entrepreneurship, but the appeal of that area of study also reaches into UBalt's School of Law (solo practitioners), the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences (freelance writers and designers) and the College of Public Affairs (non-profit experts and public-policy specialists). These students make frequent use of the University's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI), a hub for activities such as business pitch competitions, guest lectures, resource sharing and more. In the REED and Entrepreneurship Fellows programs, students interact with established professionals to learn key principles of development and map out their career plans, much of it in a mentor/mentee setting. Some, for example, want to find new ways to make local housing more affordable, or create new businesses in their neighborhoods. 


"The common thread here is betterment," Schmoke says. "We have a lot of entrepreneurial students who have incredible ideas, things that could change the world. But what they share is a determination to improve conditions on the ground. We’ve always been about that at UBalt, and now we’re reaching up to the next step for our students." 

Nowhere at UBalt is this more in evidence than in the Second Chance program, based in the College of Public Affairs and operating out of the Jessup facility. Currently, Second Chance students, taught by professors who visit the prison, are working toward a bachelor's degree in Human Services Administration. The goal is to graduate, then use their degree as a foundation for a successful life after prison. This year, eight students are expected to finish the program, and others are closing in on completing their credits. 


These three areas of the University, each highly active and with potential for growth, will be lifted up by the anonymous gift. It will be deployed in support of new educational offerings that are designed to broaden the appeal and impact of the entrepreneurship programs at UBalt, and create new scholarship and living stipend opportunities for graduate, Second Chance (who have been released), and REED students. In addition, it will provide Second Chance students who are still incarcerated with the opportunity to minor in entrepreneurship, which will better prepare them for career success upon release and/or graduation. At the center of this initiative, CEI will support student entrepreneurs who are dedicated to small business development, social enterprise, and affordable housing.


Notable among the opportunities supported by the gift is a new entrepreneur development fund, designed to help students interested in entrepreneurship cover the costs of venture-related needs. UBalt entrepreneurs will have access to working capital to pay for necessary but often expensive business needs, such as legal fees for entity development, website creation, and prototype development. CEI will be enabled to devote additional funds to its growing pool of working capital resources for student entrepreneurs, including the University System of Maryland's Baltimore Fund and the new Tagler Growth Fund. These resources are available to University of Baltimore students without restriction and are designed to help them finance the development and growth of their business ideas and enterprises. 


Be Part of Baltimore’s Real Estate Story
Start your 10-week journey to developing a property in the city.

Have you always wanted to become a developer? Do you already have experience rehabilitating buildings in Baltimore? Are you interested in growing that experience into a real estate development team?


An open call to apply. All interested current UBalt students and UBalt alumni to apply to participate in The University of Baltimore Real Estate Fellows program.  


Aspiring UBalt student and alumni entrepreneurs who are interested in addressing critical development needs within Baltimore’s middle-market neighborhoods will go through a 10-week mentoring program with Baltimore-area seasoned professionals. 


Participants will identity a Baltimore City neighborhood, create a project, complete a development plan and prepare an application for financing. The winning proposal will get $10,000 in equity to secure the property for their proposal and the necessary financing up to $1 million in a Guidance Line of Credit from Baltimore Community Lending (BCL) to proceed with the project. 


We are accepting applications for the next cohort of Real Estate Fellows through Friday, August 18, 2023. Visit the webpage to apply and learn more about this opportunity to win a line-of-credit for your project valued up to million dollars.


Listen the stories of past Real Estate Fellows.


An open call to apply for interested students and alumni to apply to participate in The University of Baltimore Real Estate Fellows program. To be considered for this program, you must enter an applications by 3 p.m. on Friday, August 18, 2023.

  • Any UBalt student or UBalt alumnus
  • All applicants should have completed at least two courses in the real estate and economic development program or have equivalent professional real estate qualifications.
  • Students must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher.


Point of Contact

Henry Mortimer, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at hmortimer@ubalt.edu. 

Save the Date: Lessons From Legends in Real Estate
Stanley S. Fine, partner at Rosenberg Martin Greenberg and his Baltimore-area real estate legacy

Save the Date for The University of Baltimore Lessons From Legends in Real Estate. 


Join us as we celebrate Stanley S. Fine, partner at Rosenberg Martin Greenberg and his Baltimore-area real estate legacy.

  • Date: Oct. 26, 2023
  • Time: 5:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Location: The University of Baltimore Student Center, 5th Floor | 21 W. Mt. Royal Ave., Baltimore, Md. 21201
  • R.S.V.P. on the UBalt Event Calendar
    (Public parking available at the Fitzgerald Garage  | GPS: 80 W. Oliver St.)

About Stanley S. Fine
Visit his profile on the Rosenberg Martin Greenberg website.

Vital Signs 21: A Picture of Post-Pandemic Recovery for Baltimore Neighborhoods

Vital Signs 21, an annual report tracking more than 100 indicators that take the pulse of neighborhood health and vitality across Baltimore, has been released by the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance-Jacob France Institute (BNIA-JFI) at The University of Baltimore.  


Vital Signs 21 presents an emerging picture of what recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic looks like for Baltimore neighborhoods. Not unexpectedly, the pandemic's effects were uneven. In 2021, while housing prices in the city spiked sharply and houses spent fewer days on the market, many residents struggled to afford housing. For youth, chronic absenteeism among elementary, middle, and high school students rose in communities with the highest percentages of children living below the poverty line. 


The report also contains notes of optimism, e.g., between 2020 and 2021, the number of publicly funded murals increased from 382 to 444—a reminder of how public and accessible art provided respite for residents during the pandemic. Additionally, while Part I crime offenses rose slightly from 2020-21, the 2021 rate still shows an overall decrease in crime from 2017.  


Vital Signs 21's dozens of indicators, including data, chapters, visualizations, and maps, are available for review on the BNIA-JFI website. 


Baltimore community groups are invited to find out more about Vital Signs indicators pertaining to their neighborhoods. Send an email to bnia-jfi@ubalt.edu to schedule a virtual or in-person presentation. 


Paper on Terrorism Activities and Financial Forecasts Wins School’s "Outstanding Article" Award 

Have you ever wondered what happens to businesses when there is a terrorist attack? Do they have to close? Do they lose money? A terrorist attack is a violent act that is intended to cause fear and panic. Terrorist attacks can have a significant impact on businesses, both in the short-term and the long-term.  


In a 2022 article published in the Journal of Accounting Public and Policy, Dr. Mikhail Pevzner and his co-authors set out to explore the effects of terrorist attacks in a paper titled “Terrorism activities and long-term annual management forecasts.” This work has been awarded the Merrick School of Business' Outstanding Article of the Year Award." 


The researchers’ empirical analysis relied on data from multiple sources. They obtained data on terrorist activities from the Global Terrorism Database. They excluded all non-U.S. cases and all low-impact cases without human injuries or deaths to focus on important attacks. In addition, to ensure that their results are not contaminated by successive cases, they excluded a terrorist attack if the corresponding metropolitan area has experienced a terrorist attack during the previous 240 days. Consequently, they include 69 terrorist events in the sample for the period of 1997 to 2018.


“Our article highlights the role of emotions in both investor decisions and how managers react to negative emotional events in anticipation of the investors' emotional reactions, said Pevzner.” It emphasizes behavioral aspects of firms' disclosure policies and the potential importance of considering emotions in interpreting managerial disclosures.”  


Prof. Pevzner has been working on disclosure research since graduate school. It is a topic he is quite interested in and has been pursuing rigorously for about ten years. Along with disclosures, his research interests include empirical archival capital markets research, empirical archival auditing, disclosures, and international accounting and finance. His expertise has afforded him special roles at the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). As of this publication date, he is an expert financial economist for the SEC’s Division of Economic and Risk Analysis. Over the years he has also worked as a visiting economist and a visiting academic fellow at the SEC and a visiting academic fellow at FINRA’s Office of Chief Economist. 


Dr. Pevzner is a Porfessor of Accounting, holds the Merrick School of Business’ EY Chair in Accounting and is the Director of Graduate Business Programs. Through the years, Pevzner also has had several appointments at FINRA and the Securities Exchange Commission.


Article citation

Chang, Y., Duru, A., Fan, Y., Pirinsky, C., & Pevzner, M. (2022). Terrorism activities and long-term annual management forecasts. Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, 41(3). 


Dr. Ting Zhang Receives Coveted University System of Maryland Award

The University System of Maryland (USM) Chancellor Jay Perman and Board of Regents Chair Linda Gooden recognized this year’s Board of Regents outstanding faculty as part of board’s April 14, 2023, meeting. Included among the winners was Merrick School of Business Associate Professor of Economics, Dr. Ting Zhang. Dr Zhang was presented with the Faculty Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship, or Creative Activity.


In the nomination letter composed by Dean Murray Daziel, he strongly supported Dr. Zhang for this award and emphasized that her research is relevant to business and policy and provides clear measurable outcomes. 


“Dr. Zhang initiated a stream of research around remote working, some of which has already been published in a peer-reviewed journal. The research has also been disseminated more broadly in blogs and the business press,” said Dalziel. “She has a well-developed knack of being able to extend a research topic by probing for broader societal implications. For example, she is recognized as one of the pioneers in studying older entrepreneurs. Her research’s impact expands into adjacent topics such as the relationship between health, age, and self-employment. As a result, her impact is recognized in both entrepreneurship and gerontology fields.” 


While many academics would have been content to dig deeper into one or two specific areas, Dr. Zhang is willing to use her research skills and expertise to probe a wide number of applied areas in labor economics like the implications of unemployment insurance and welfare policy on achieving broader policy goals. 


“I am immensely grateful for the visionary support provided by my mentors and our esteemed leaders, as their unwavering guidance and encouragement have paved the way for me to receive this prestigious award,” said Dr. Zhang. “I would like to express my deepest appreciation to Dr. Gerlowski, Dr. Stevens, Chair Korb, Dean Dalziel, Provost Caraco, President Schmoke, and the nomination committee at UBalt for placing their trust in me and for their ongoing support throughout this journey. In addition, I am truly thankful for the invaluable external support I have received from Dr. Haynes, Dr. Schintler, Dr. Wassel, Dr. Acs, and the late Dr. Stough. Their continuous guidance, wisdom, and encouragement over the years have played a pivotal role in my personal and professional development and have undoubtedly contributed to the realization of this esteemed award. I am honored to have had the privilege of working with such remarkable professors whose mentorship and support have been instrumental in my success.” 


For Zhang, the steady progression of research grants has afforded her to be recognized as the number one income generator of all faculty in Merrick School of Business since joining the faculty in 2015. Since 2019 she has generated more than $1.1 million in research grants. 


Her research prowess has also been recognized by her scholarly peers. She has won the Labor and Employment Relations Association’s “Best Paper” for the last four consecutive years, and she is often sought out as a keynote speaker.  


In terms of the classroom, she is often recognized as a top teacher and currently holds the Harry Y Wright Chair in Economics and was awarded the school’s “T. Rowe Price Excellence in Teaching” award in a recent ceremony. 


According to the USM, Regent Faculty Awards are the result of institutional faculty nominating committees, who make recommendations to their institutions' presidents. The presidents then review nominations and supporting material and forward recommendations to the USM Chancellor. The Regents Faculty Review Committee makes the final recommendations. 


Each award carries a $2,000 prize provided by the institutions and the University System of Maryland Foundation. 


More about Dr. Zhang.


Prof. Lingelbach: Putin's Use of Uncertainty is the Key to His Undoing

Writing in The Hill, University of Baltimore Merrick School of Business Prof. David Lingelbach and co-author Valentina Rodríguez Guerra assert that Vladimir Putin's continued hold on power in Russia is like that of an oligarch—it's rooted in opportunity, not legislative authority or simple popularity. It's the constant guessing at what Putin might do, the day-to-day uncertainty of his next move, that is the source of his strength. 


"Oligarchs live on uncertainty," Lingelbach and Rodrigeuz Guerra write. "They thrive in emergent, unstructured environments where the rules of the game are unclear. Oligarchs like Putin gain and maintain wealth and power by keeping things up in the air. Keeping opponents off balance and guessing. They're opportunists." 


The authors make the case for untangling this uncertainty by driving wedges between Putin and his power base. Ending the war in Ukraine, for example, would sharply diminish his popularity in Russia. But how that war winds down is a key question. 


"Right now, the U.S. and its allies are playing Putin's game, trying to out-Putin him by introducing new sources of uncertainty in the Ukraine war such as advanced weapons systems and Western special forces operators. The Ukrainian approach from 2014 to 2022 was a better approach. Reduce uncertainty. Return to a normal life. Reestablish prewar patterns of behavior. Have the trains, the buses, even the airlines run on time again. Internationally, stop talking up the war. Talk it down. Ignore Putin. Don't respond to either his words or his actions. Just carry on. 


"When these and other actions reduce uncertainty, then Putin will no longer be able to breathe—and then his power and wealth will fade away." 


Learn more about Prof. Lingelbach.

More to learn:

2022-2023 MSB Faculty Awards 

The Merrick School of Business Faculty Awards were presented in a hybrid event on May 23, 2023. The following awards and achievements were recognized: 


Dr. Mikhail Pevzner received the "Outstanding Article of the Year Award" for his co-authored paper, “Terrorism activities and long-term annual management forecasts” in the Journal of Accounting and Public Policy. 


Professorships and Chairs


Annual Awards

  • Dr. Claire Guo received the Dean Clifford C. James Chair for Distinguished Teaching
  • Dr. Hoang Nguyen received the Yale Gordon Chair of Distinguished Teaching
  • Dr. Ting Zhang received the T. Rowe Price Excellence in Teaching, Finance
  • Dr. Dan Gerlowski received the Turner Medallion
  • Dr. Jan Williams received the Dean Daniel Costello Service Award
  • Amr Kadry received the Adjunct Faculty Award 


Dean’s Appreciation Awards went to Tashi Jelani, administrative assistant, and Dr. Cong Zhang.   


Other Recognition



  • Dr. Murray Dalziel
  • Dr. Joel Morse
  • Dr. Darlene Brannigan Smith
  • Frank van Vliet  
Navy Veteran Finds Lifelong Friendships at UBalt

When Patrick Gengler arrived at The University of Baltimore, a thought familiar to practically any new college student permeated his mind: Will I make any friends here? 


Thanks to UBalt's veteran and military community, it didn't take long for Gengler, a B.S. in Business Administration, Data Analytics student, and U.S. Navy veteran, to find his place. In his first year at UBalt, Gengler became president of the UBalt Student Veterans of America and a veteran ambassador for The Bob Parsons Veterans Center.  


"As a veteran, having a place to go where you know others have a similar background and are going through similar things is invaluable," he said. "The familiarity with even one aspect of someone's life makes that initial connection so much easier." 


The veterans center, located on the third floor of the UBalt Student Center, was established by its namesake donor, alumnus and Marine Corps veteran Bob Parsons, who wanted UBalt to be a national model for serving veteran students. 


He transferred to UBalt from Anne Arundel Community College. Now a father to a 1-year-old girl, Gengler needed a university that could fit his classes in his tight schedule.  


Between the flexibility of classes offered outside the typical 9-to-5 timeline and an easy commute, UBalt became his top choice. More intimate class sizes also appealed to Gengler.  


"The professors here care," he said. "I'm still in contact with some professors from my first semester here." 


Gengler started his college education on a different path than where he found himself. He initially pursued mechanical engineering in community college. After hitting a wall with one of the required courses, he decided to take his interest in math another direction—data analytics


"I like the math side of data, and the fact that you can look at trends and almost see the future," he said. "Data is not that different from meteorology, right? We've been studying what happens with the weather patterns for years and years, and you can do the same thing with a giant set of data. I think it's fascinating." 


Gengler is considering a career in financial services but leaving his options open to see where his final year leads him.  


Meanwhile, he's enjoying all he can get out of college beyond the degree at the end. Mostly for Gengler, that has been the opportunities and friendships he's found at UBalt's veterans center.  


"I've met a lot of people outside of the classroom here, and I think they're going to be lifelong friendships." 

Serial Entrepreneur Wins Top Award at 2023 Academic Achievement Awards

On May 5, 2023, the Merrick School of Business held its annual Academic Achievement Awards ceremony. This event celebrates our top students and honors their hard work. The highlight of the night is always learning who will earn the Dean’s Award. This award is presented to the undergraduate Merrick School of Business student who demonstrates high academic achievement, leadership, and service. This year the winner of that top award was Joanne Jones


Joanne Jones, B.S. ’23 (Ratcliffe Entrepreneurship Fellow) is a lifelong entrepreneur. She fell in love with entrepreneurship at 15 years. She was a self-taught hair braider. She did not know what being an “entrepreneur” meant. But she had a knack for it and enjoyed experimenting with her pricing strategy and she enjoyed her work schedule. She went on to obtain her cosmetologist and barber licenses and became a two-time salon owner. After two car accidents in 2016, she wanted to explore career options that were less taxing on her body. 


Her road to UBalt began while studying at Howard Community College, where she received her associate degree in Dec. 2019. She won the grand prize in the HCC Entrepreneurial Celebration Pitch Competition in the Spring of 2019 for her business venture Kenyan Kutie Jewelry. Kenya Kutie is authentic jewelry from her homeland of Kenya, Africa. She shares the beauty and culture of Kenya with Ameri cans and donates 10 percent of the net profits to the Village Food Bank Inc., which feeds and supports the vulnerable in Kenya. In July 2019, Kenyan Kutie won first prize in the Chamber of Commerce Young Entrepreneur Pitch Competition. 


Her HCC professor informed her about the Ratcliffe Entrepreneur Fellows Program at UBalt. She felt it aligned well with her goals. Like-minded entrepreneurs surround her. The bond she built with others over the years is priceless. She credits the support and resources that the program provided, put her in a position me “to win.” 

The impact the program has had allowed her to grow her business, which is now has an e-commerce website, social media platforms, and she has a trademark patent for Kenyan Kutie Jewelry from USPTO. 


Jones' academic power was reflected in that she made the Dean’s List every semester at UBalt. She is part of the National Society of Leadership and Success. Finalist in the 2023 Rise to the Challenge Pitch Competition. She won the $5,000 Dean’s Challenge Award, an award given to the competitor or competitors who best demonstrate the social impact of their venture(s) and she won the Crowd Favorite award. 


The other awardees at this year’s ceremony were: 

  • Yohannes Aytenfisu, B.S. in Business Administration, (finance major) B.S. ’23, Finance Merit Award 
  • Chanell Benn, B.S. in Business Administration, (accounting major) B.S. ’23, Gleim CPA Exam Review Scholarship 
  • Bekit Berhane, B.S. in Business Administration, (general business major) B.S. ’23, General Business Merit Award 
  • Sa’Kiara Hopkins, B.S. in Business Administration, (accounting major) B.S. ’23, Mary Lou Hudson Award for a Woman’s Academic Excellence in Accounting and she earned the Accounting Merit Award from the accounting faculty. 
  • Duran Kelly, B.S. in Business Administration, (real estate and economic development major) B.S. ’23, Real Estate and Economic Development Merit Award 
  • Graysen Muscalli, B.S. in Business Administration, (risk management and insurance major) B.S. ’23, Risk Management, and Insurance Merit Award 
  • Carlos Ramirez, B.S. in Business Administration, (marketing major) B.S. ’22, the Dr. Peter Lynagh Marketing Merit Award 
  • Tori Seilback, B.S. in Business Administration, (data analytics major) B.S. ’23, Data Analytics Merit Award 
  • Barbara Wilkins, B.S. in Information Systems and Technology Management, B.S. ’23, the Charles Siegmann Information Technology Award 
  • Na’Quon Willet, B.S. in Business Administration, (Ratcliffe Entrepreneurship Program) B.S. ’23, Entrepreneurship Merit Award 
  • Vincent Wright, B.S. in Business Administration, (management major) B.S. ’22, Management Merit Award 
  • Jacob Zimmerman, B.S. in Business Administration, (international business major) B.S. ’22, International Business Merit Award 

All these students are high achievers in the Merrick School of Business in their academic program or discipline. They were selected by faculty in each department who recognized their academic strengths. 


Global Field Study to Switzerland Closes the Year

The pandemic has affected many things in education. One happens to be how The University of Baltimore offers study abroad programs. In 2023, we had a comeback for our program. The Merrick School of Business offered three Global Field Study courses this year—Great Britain, Thailand and Switzerland.


A dozen students recently returned to the U.S. after seven days in Lucerne, Switzerland. Our host university HSLU – Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, welcomed Dr. Mikhail Pevzner and his students on June 4. The course took place in the classroom, with site visits around Lucerne, Basel and Zurich.  


You can follow revisit the week’s activities on our LinkedIn page.


Topics covered during the week included currencies and geopolitics, international logistics, sustainability, leadership, the Swiss banking system, fintech and blockchain, customers' insights, diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Alumni Snapshot | John Zuknick, MBA
Connecting People through Strong Relationships 
John Zuknick

John Zuknick, MBA '14, B.S. '12 is currently serving as the Vice President for Business and Industry Solutions at the Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation. Over his career he has owned multiple businesses, worked in the printing and publishing industry, taught courses in entrepreneurship and in marketing. For a time, he even led the Merrick School of Business’ Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI). His keen ability to network is exemplified by his knack for connecting people and businesses with new opportunities.


Like many of our students, Zuknick worked full-time while attending UBalt. He transferred from Anne Arundel Community College and earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration and then he chose UBalt to earn his MBA. He is still engaged with many of the University’s programs and shares his knowledge with our students. Zuknick recently sat down with the Merrick Exchange to share some thoughts about his career, why mentorship is so important to him, and to share some valuable advice for our students. 


Merrick Exchange: Tell us about your career trajectory since completing the MBA degree at The University of Baltimore.


John Zuknick: My education is one of the most powerful determinants for my career successes.  I owned a few businesses in the printing and publishing industry, which continually struggled as digital media replaced the traditional printed materials.  So, I had to reinvent myself and the MBA education at UBalt served as part of the foundation for this pathway.


Upon completing my MBA in June of 2014, I sold my last business. I began doing some small business consulting and worked as an adjunct professor for UBalt. I also had a contractual role as the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation manager. While taking over the leadership of the CEI, I continued to teach a few classes and started moving into the economic development arena.  After working at UBalt for a few years I transferred to University of Maryland’s largest regional higher education center, as the Director of Economic Development and Workforce.  Last year, a friend and fellow UBalt alumni recommended me for the position as Vice President of Business and Industry Solutions at Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation.  I’ll say that networking and staying in touch with the UBalt family has paid off. 


Merrick Exchange: Why did you pursue a career in business development?  


John Zuknick: Business development is in my blood.  Early in my career I worked in operations, which was like putting a square peg in a round hole.  I’m an extravert who just naturally gravitated to the sales, marketing, and business development side of an organization.  Even early in my career, I could see the bigger picture and I see myself as visionary person.  Business developers serve as a conduit to an organization’s success and help the organization reaching its full potential.  You have your hands in a lot of different areas, and this has always been appealing to me.  


Merrick Exchange: What is the best aspect of your job? 


John Zuknick: First, my team and I solve human capital problems in the business community.  Second, we take people from minimum wage or no wages to the middle class. Let me provide you with one example:  Right now, there is a significant need for Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) drivers, starting salary range is from $50k - $65k, and in a year or two a driver can obtain different levels of CDL moving their salary range from $84K to over $100K.  We offer our citizens this training, and in six weeks their life has changed. 


Merrick Exchange: What are some business challenges that you have faced over the years and what have you learned about yourself in trying to resolve those challenges? 


John Zuknick: Earlier and midway through my career I was short on patience and had a low tolerance for slackers or those who serve on a team as a free rider.  With experience, and a few management courses, I learned how to motivate those who sometimes lack a work ethic.  As far as gaining patience, I believe that comes with experience and seeing outcomes where patience would have been a virtue.  A mentor once said to me, “I rarely regret a decision that I thought about.”  This statement did not register with me until later in my career.  I realized that I needed to focus on being more empathic. 


Merrick Exchange: How has the pandemic affected the way you work and what is expected by your employers? 


John Zuknick: The pandemic was like the Olympics for introverts and for extroverts it was just torture.  The pandemic for me slowed the process of business development.  As a business developer we have a lot of side conversations before or after an event/meeting/conference.  We can recognize facial expressions and body language.  It was harder to do this on a video conference call.  Additionally, I found it difficult to turn off the laptop. 


Working from home allows for an increased work life balance and depending on the team members, I have found that they are more productive at home. My team takes a blended approach to where they work from home anywhere from four days a week, to one day a week.  They know that working from home is a privilege and if they are not meeting expectations they will be in the office.   


Merrick Exchange: How has mentoring played a role in your career? 


John Zuknick: Mentoring served as an important contributor to my career success.  Every mentor I have ever worked with became a personal friend, who I still talk with today.  Those who served as a mentor I could always count on as a trusted advisor, and supported me in developing new skills, navigating political environments, challenging ideas, and encouraging me in career development. They always created a pathway to success.  Furthermore, I have served as and still mentor former students, co-workers or fellow staff members.  Always pay it forward! 


Merrick Exchange: In what ways do you like to give back to the community (UBalt or other organizations)? 


John Zuknick: I live in Annapolis, MD and am a member of Rotary International.  Our rotary club does several fundraisers to help the local community.  Our largest fundraiser is parking for Naval Academy Football games and all the proceeds go back into the community.  The club has provided over $4 Million back into the community.  As a volunteer I run the tailgate for the club members after the game starts and the cars are parked.  We have quite the gourmet spread for the volunteers and have fun doing it! 


I always consider serving as an adjunct faculty member at UBalt as a way of giving back.  Yes, adjuncts do receive compensation; however, I could work one weekend a month for Uber and make the same amount for less hours.  Adjuncts are not in it for the money.  Also, serving as an adjunct supplies insight to upcoming talent.  I have set up students and UBalt Alumni with interviews, jobs and/or internships.  In fact, I am getting ready to hire one of my former students. 

I volunteer with the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation offering workshops or mentoring students. Lately though, finding the time has been a problem. 


Merrick Exchange: What has been the most important thing you’ve learned to succeed in business or in life? 


John Zuknick: Empathy is a business skill.  Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.  Showing empathy increases retention, drives innovation, supports employees' wellbeing, and affects an organization’s bottom line.  This skill can help you relate better to coworkers and clients. Knowing how to be empathic helps you improve communication with others and create great relationships. 


Merrick Exchange: What characteristics do you see in successful leaders and why do you believe that? 


John Zuknick: I am a firm believer that successful leaders are the ones who take an organic approach, who focus on motivating people to get the job done, and are people centered.  Any good organization realizes that employees are their best asset.  Throughout my career I have worked for some really good leaders and some really bad ones.   


I’ve always observed that good leaders have four characteristics that stand out.  First, they are good communicators throughout the organization and talk to everyone in the organization from the cleaning people to their direct reports.  Second, great collaborators.  Those leaders are great at bringing everyone together inside and outside of the organization and motivating everyone.  Third, they practice autonomy.  No one likes to be micromanaged and if you must micromanage your people, you have hired the wrong people.  And last, good leaders hold their people accountable.   




Merrick Exchange: What advice would you give to students who would like to pursue careers in business development? 


John Zuknick: Go for it!  In business development you work closely and develop relationships with the leadership of the organization; although the work is more measurable, there are more perks and financial reward; and, business development serves as a springboard to a wide range of career options. 


Merrick Exchange: What is the one job-hunting secret you wish all students knew? 


John Zuknick: Network, network, network.  I read somewhere that 85 percent of all jobs are filled via your network.  A majority of the positions that I have had were through my network, someone recommended me for the position, or I worked with a recruiter.  In fact, if someone I know sends me a resume and they meet the minimum qualifications it usually gets to the top of the pile.  


Merrick Exchange: Why did you choose to earn your degree at UBalt? 


John Zuknick: UBalt is a working person’s school.  During the years I was earning my bachelor's degree, I worked full-time, attended UBalt full-time in some semesters and when I was busy, I worked and attended classes, part-time.  While earning my undergraduate degree, I developed strong ties with the faculty.  It’s easy to do when the average class size is less than 30 people and the faculty always made time for you.  I would have to say, I chose UBalt for the MBA because of the faculty. 


Merrick Exchange: How has attending The University of Baltimore helped you in your career? 


John Zuknick: The alumni network has been a great resource for me.  Keeping in contact with classmates has helped me with finding new opportunities, solving problems in different positions, and I conducted business with several UBalt alumni.  


The MBA education has supplied opportunities that would not have been afforded to me.   

A quick story: In a management meeting the compliance department (the numbers people) were sharing statistics on outreach.  I looked at the formula and said, “You’re calculating it incorrectly.”  Looking at their calculations, I remembered the correct formula from the MBA education.  To quote one of the UBalt faculty members, “Always check the numbers!” 


Merrick Exchange: What personal goal have you set for yourself for 2023 (or the next 12 months)? 


John Zuknick: A personal goal for this year, not working during vacations.  I struggle to not want to look at my email while on vacation. 

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Winners Announced for UBalt's 'Rise to the Challenge' Business Pitch Competition 

Five winners, including undergraduate students and recent alumni, emerged from The University of Baltimore's 2023 "Rise to the Challenge" Business Pitch Competition held on April 27 in the William H. Thumel Sr., Business Center, home of the Merrick School of Business. Each winner received their own "big check," plus a portion of the nearly $30,000 in prize money. The event, now in its 11th year, is supported annually by the University's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation to showcase many of the UBalt community's most talented and driven entrepreneurs. 

For the first time in five years, two entrepreneurs were chosen for the evening's top prize, the "Most Promising Business" award: 

  • Angel Wilson, MFA '19, an entrant in the "Existing Business Ventures" category and founder of Silent Books Publishing, a minority-owned self-publishing services business for aspiring and seasoned authors; 
  • Tyeisha Pinnock, M.B.A '19, creator of the Aspiring Business entry Dip'T, a line of vegetarian food for people who love to try new snacks, and who love to support locally made products. 

The two participants will share the $15,000 award, established in 2018 through the Jay Ripley Entrepreneurship Fund and given to the student whose business, in either category, has the best prospects for growth, as determined by the judges. 


Wilson's top vote from the judges earned her a $5,000 prize, while Pinnock's first-place finish netted her $2,000. 


The winner of the $5,000 Dean's Challenge Award was Joanne Jones, a senior Ratcliffe Entrepreneurship Fellow and creator of Kenyan Kutie, which imports and sells authentic, vibrant jewelry made by entrepreneurs in Kenya and donates 10 percent of net sales to a non-profit in Kenya. Established by Merrick School of Business Dean Murray Dalziel, the Dean's Challenge Award is given to the competitor or competitors who best demonstrate the social impact of their venture(s). Jones also took home the Crowd Favorite award of $1,000. 


Serena Brontide, a junior majoring in English and creative writing and founder of Synapse Collective, makers of "Rooms," an interactive online learning platform that uses 3D technology to create an immersive experience, won the Baltimore Fund Award. This $1,000 prize is awarded to the entrepreneur who best exemplifies the University's commitment to community and civic engagement, ethical engagement, and responsible and resourceful stewardship for the City of Baltimore. 


Jonah Willard, a senior Ratcliffe Entrepreneurship Fellow and founder of Grease Garage, a DIY auto shop for car enthusiasts that also offers skills training to underserved people in the area, earned the $500 "Hustle Award." Provided by Jason Tagler, founder of Pitch Creator, the cash prize—normally rolls of $20s in a mason jar but this year delivered via PayPal—goes to the finalist who shows the most improvement during the multi-week presentation coaching program. 


As an added highlight this year, Clarrissa Cozart, the 2022 winner of the "Most Promising Business" prize and the $500 "Hustle Award," delivered the event's keynote address. Cozart, a senior Ratcliffe Entrepreneurship Fellow and founder of Tailored Fit, a fashion line for tall boys, discussed how her experience as an entrepreneurship student at UBalt has fueled and shaped her success—and helped make the entire night a memorable celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit. 


The other finalist in the competition included Mario Izquierdo, founder of Limitir, a 3D-printed auto parts marketplace where customers can download car parts, saving time and money. 


The panel of expert judges, representing the local business and entrepreneurship community, included: 

  • Ted Goloboski, B.S. '75, president of Belfast Valley Contractors, Inc. 
  • Michael "MJ" Jackson, B.S. '00, M.B.A. '02, vice president and global head of industries at DocuSign 
  • Aneta Orellana, owner and manager of CMS, LLC 
  • Jay Ripley, B.S. '79, board chairman of Alaris Equity Partners 

"Although not everyone walked away with a monetary prize, I believe that all of the finalists proved to be winners this year," said Henry Mortimer, director of UBalt's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI). "Honestly, the work that they put into this competition, amid the continued uncertainty of the economy, as well as national and local unrest—not to mention managing their "real" personal, academic and professional lives—is nothing short of extraordinary. They're all impressive, and it is my hope that I'm not the only one who feels that way. My wish is that each caught the attention of someone new who'd be interested in their idea or product, possibly some very influential people who can help nurture the growth of their enterprise and allow them to continue to develop as entrepreneurs." 


The "Rise to the Challenge" competition, sponsored by CEI, is designed to generate awareness of emerging and established innovative business ventures nurtured by the UBalt community. 


The University of Baltimore Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation directs support and assistance to UBalt students and alumni interested in building or growing an enterprise. The center does this through support, culture, events, education and research, and connecting with the business community. Meet with one of our counselors to discuss launching or growing your business. 


Learn more about CEI