Entrepreneurship Professor and CEO Raises $1.5M for Company
Assistant Professor Sanwar Sunny

Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship Sanwar Sunny had a steller spring in terms of raising seed funding for the company he founded in 2019. The practicing entrepreneur is the CEO of Dynamhex, a company that provides complex energy consumption and carbon footprint data for corporate, utility and government entities.


In March, a number of investors offered up $1.5 million in funding including $250,000 from the “Maryland Momentum Fund,” a fund sponsored by the University System of Maryland. The total investment included $200,000 from the Chesapeake Bay Seed Capital Fund, a College Park-based fund that invests in companies that can help improve air and water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Intelis Capital, the Exelon Climate Change Investment Initiative, and the KCRise Fund.

Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship Sanwar Sunny had a banner spring in terms of raising seed funding for the company he founded in 2019. The practicing entrepreneur is the CEO of Dynamhex, a company that provides complex energy consumption and carbon footprint data for corporate, utility and government entities.


In March, a number of investors offered up $1.5 million in funding including $250,000 from the “Maryland Momentum Fund,” a fund sponsored by the University System of Maryland.  The total investment included $200,000 from the Chesapeake Bay Seed Capital Fund, a College Park-based fund that invests in companies that can help improve air and water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Intelis Capital, the Exelon Climate Change Investment Initiative, and the KCRise Fund.

Professor Sunny joined the Merrick School of Business faculty in 2019 after completing his Ph.D. program at University of Missouri-Kansas City and currently teaches undergraduate and graduate entrepreneurship courses for the school. The mechanical engineer, social scientist and entrepreneur, was profiled in Forbes.com “30 Under 30,” where they touted the fact that at age 22, Professor Sunny “developed and commercialized lithium-polymer battery packs, and worked to scale them up from 1kwh to 1mwh. In 2016 he sold his battery venture Verd2Go for $2 million to Exergonix.”

As CEO of Dynamhex, he and his team work closely with corporate and municipal entities to align their climate commitment goals into high-fidelity, investment-grade fundable energy projects using Dynamhex’s machine-readable climate action road-mapping platform. Using artificial intelligence, the platform is able to consume, monitor and visualize energy consumption and emissions data for clients.

“Being a researcher of entrepreneurship and teaching entrepreneurship in the classroom, I believe it is important that I am looking at relevant research questions and creating curriculum about the state of innovation in real-time,” said Sunny. “UBalt is about practical knowledge. Our students see my real-world business experience and they can apply that knowledge to their jobs or business in the future. I see it as a way to allow them to take a peek inside the real-life version of some of the content that they are learning in class.”


Since his time at the University, he has been an active member of the community and has found ways to share his knowledge with students, colleagues and the public. This year he earned the “Dean’s Rising Star Research Award” for all of his scholarly output. His research interests are grounded in entrepreneurship and innovation. He has published in academic journals on topics of blockchain, venture capital, climate change, and entrepreneurship education. He even has shared his thoughts about non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and blockchain. 

 “As one of Maryland’s leading business schools for professionals and entrepreneurs, we know the importance of creating knowledge that has impact,” said Murray Dalziel, dean of the Merrick School of Business. “Not only does our community benefit from being taught by an active entrepreneur like Dr. Sunny, our world benefits from the effects that his company will have on battling climate change and growing a greener economy.”


Learn more about Asst. Prof. Sunny and Dynamhex.

Eleven UBalt Alumni Represent 25 Largest Area Accounting Firms in Annual List
image of the Thumel Business Center

For the past two decades, alumni from The University of Baltimore have served in senior leadership positions for the majority of Baltimore’s largest accounting firms—a claim that no other university, public or private, can make. Over those years, UBalt alumni have earned significant senior leadership roles in the metropolitan area’s 25 largest firms, with a concentration holding University of Baltimore graduate degrees in accounting or taxation. Currently, University of Baltimore alumni are serving in top leadership positions in 11 of those firms.

For the past two decades, alumni from The University of Baltimore have served in senior leadership positions for the majority of Baltimore’s largest accounting firms—a claim that no other university, public or private, can make. Over those years, UBalt alumni have earned significant senior leadership roles in the metropolitan area’s 25 largest firms, with a concentration holding University of Baltimore graduate degrees in accounting or taxation. Currently, University of Baltimore alumni are serving in top leadership positions in 11 of those firms.


UBalt’s dominance in this category—as compiled in the Baltimore Business Journal‘s annual "Book of Lists"—has been steady going back to the 1990s. Consistently, the University has been a top producer of alumni leaders in accounting, with one or more of its graduates in the position of managing partner or its equivalent. In 2013, the University had its highest number of alumni represented, with 13 in the survey of the top 25 largest area firms. Year after year, UBalt’s alumni numbers far surpass the representation of accounting graduates from other universities and colleges. In this year’s list, seven of the alumni have earned a master’s degree in taxation, a program that is offered jointly with The University of Baltimore School of Law, and is the only program of its kind available in Maryland.


The Merrick School of Business is a springboard for our students’ entrepreneurial and professional careers and accounting is a big part of that principle,” said Murray Dalziel, dean of the school. “We are proud that so many alumni rise to significant leadership positions in area firms, and that their careers have a huge impact on both business and our community.”


The leaders and their firms’ respective ranking in the 2020/2021 Book of Lists are:

  • Jeffrey N. Berman, M.S. ’96, CPA, CFP, PFS, managing partner, KBST&M, P.A. (#22)
  • Patrick M. Byer, Sr., MBA, ’94, CPA, managing principal, CLA – Baltimore (#7)
  • Simpson H. Gardyn, M.S. ’80, CPA, CVA, managing director, Gorfine, Schiller & Gardyn, P.A. (#10)
  • Andrew W. Garrett, B.S. ’88, CPA, managing partner, Weil, Akman, Baylin & Coleman (#21)
  • Donald Hoffman, M.S. ’84, B.S. ’78, CPA, managing partner, Hoffman Group (#25)
  • Ofer Lurman, M.S. ’88, CPA, MSE, CFF, managing partner, Handwerger, Cardenga, Funkhouser & Lurman (#24)
  • Harold Mohn, M.S., ’91, CPA, managing director, UHY Advisors Mid-Atlantic, MD (#15)
  • Howard J. Rosen, B.S. ’71, CPA, co-managing partner, RS&F Chartered (#14)
  • Len Rus, M.S. ’91, CPA, managing partner, Gross, Mendelsohn & Associates (#13)
  • Frank G. Savarese, B.S. ’79, M.S. ’86, CPA, managing partner, Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra Chartered (#17)
  • Arun Subhas, M.S. ’04, CPA, managing partner, EY – Baltimore (#4)

Ali Filali, B.S., ’20, a candidate for UBalt’s M.S. Accounting and Business Advisory program degree and the past president of the University’s Beta Alpha Psi Theta Iota chapter, said the University’s high rate of graduates in leadership roles in the area’s top accounting firms is confirmation of the program’s overall prowess and lasting impact on its graduates.


“Accounting students at The University of Baltimore, pride ourselves with the legacy that we inherited from the leaders that preceded us,” Filali said. “In fact, when applying to schools, this is one of the reasons I chose to attend UBalt versus some of the other programs available. CFOs and partners from elite accounting firms have walked the same hallways. Like us, they strived to become the best versions of themselves despite the common challenges of being working adult students. I can confidently say that the authentic engagement of our faculty, professors, and alumni truly has been beneficial to the success of the Accounting Program and Beta Alpha Psi. The connections have allowed me to grow my own network and be able to put my foot in the door to gain experience through internships and job offers from some of the top accounting firms in the area. As I continue my own career journey, I do so with the expectation to continue to give back and carry the torch and legacy of the alumni before me.”


In its undergraduate accounting concentration, the University offers expertise for careers in public accounting, banking, financial analysis, credit management, government, nonprofits, and much more. High achieving accounting students are invited to join the school’s Accounting Honors program, a program that exposes them to a deeper understanding of the industry and encourages leadership. On the graduate degree side, the M.S. in Accounting and Business Advisory Services is a specialized program built for both current accounting professionals and career-changers. Rounding out the portfolio, the institution offers an M.S in Taxation program that is paired with the UBalt School of Law’s L.L.M. in Taxation program, as well as several accounting certificates.

Redevelopment Plan Clinches Second Annual 'Pitch for a Million' Real Estate Development Competition
Matthew King

A plan by a University of Baltimore graduate student to reinvest in the rejuvenation of Baltimore's historic Harlem Park was the winning entry in UBalt's second annual "Pitch for a Million" real estate development competition, held in September 2020 as an online event and witnessed by dozens of UBalt students and alumni, as well as representatives from the metropolitan area's real-estate development community. The competition, which challenges participants to envision the development of residential, commercial, green space and more, all within the City of Baltimore, features the chance for up to $1 million in Line of Credit to start the project. It is sponsored by M&T Bank, Howard Bank and the UBalt Real Estate and Economic Development Program Advisory Board, in partnership with Baltimore Community Lending.

A plan by a University of Baltimore graduate student to reinvest in the rejuvenation of Baltimore's historic Harlem Park was the winning entry in UBalt's second annual "Pitch for a Million" real estate development competition, held in September 2020 as an online event and witnessed by dozens of UBalt students and alumni, as well as representatives from the metropolitan area's real-estate development community. The competition, which challenges participants to envision the development of residential, commercial, green space and more, all within the City of Baltimore, features the chance for up to $1 million in Line of Credit to start the project. It is sponsored by M&T Bank, Howard Bank and the UBalt Real Estate and Economic Development Program Advisory Board, in partnership with Baltimore Community Lending.


Matthew H. King, a second-year student in the UBalt College of Public Affairs' Masters in Nonprofit Management and Social Entrepreneurship program, submitted a proposal entitled the "Progression Redevelopment Plan," a multi-phase community reinvestment project that King says is designed to bring new residential and commercial properties to Harlem Park and other historically underfunded communities in Baltimore.


"Being a Harlem Park resident for over 10 years, I saw the neglect and historic disinvestment that exists in my community," King wrote in his proposal to the "Pitch for a Million" judges. "I decided to act by founding the Harlem Park Community Development Corporation and going back to academia to pursue a second master's degree in Nonprofit Management & Social Entrepreneurship. While attending the University of Baltimore, I was selected to participate in the REED [Real Estate and Economic Development] Fellow Pitch Program for 2020. During my time in the program, I learned a lot about the various phases of real estate development. My pitch for the Progression Development Plan will result in increased property values and tax revenues as well as decreased numbers of vacant buildings and poverty levels."


Seema Iyer, director of UBalt's REED program and co-creator of the competition, said King's entry, which included a video about the Harlem Park community, had all the makings of an aspirational, yet well-grounded proposal that could make a big difference in a worthy city neighborhood.


"Matthew's and all of the Fellows' pitches demonstrated how thoughtful real estate proposals can unlock the untapped potential we have in our neighborhoods," Iyer said. "They were community-oriented and business-minded, which is what the future of real estate development will be all about." 

All of the "Pitch for a Million" competitors are either UBalt students or alumni. They enter as UBalt Real Estate Fellows, and they each receive a stipend of $1,500 for the successful completion of their pitch. This year, the entrants also received more than $1,200 worth of design services from the Neighborhood Design Center to help visualize their ideas.


The other 2020 finalists were:

  • A team consisting of Trina DuBose and lson Nash created Baltimore Seed Properties as a non-profit real estate development organization based in Baltimore, dedicated to building and redeveloping low-to-moderate energy efficient and net zero ready homes in the Greater Govans area.
  • Mikita Thompson pitched a method of manufactured-home construction, to accomplish project speed, durability, environmental-sustainability, and cost-reduction benefits, to provide safe and sanitary affordable homes to low- and moderate-income families in the Oliver neighborhood.

Watch the full video from the Sept. 17,2020 event.


The 2020 "Pitch for a Million" Judges

  • Robert A. Altieri, Chief Operating Officer, Baltimore Community Lending
  • John DeZinno, Sr., Vice President, Howard Bank
  • Barbara Simmons, Group Vice President, M&T Bank

The 2020 Mentors

  • Sean Russell, Baltimore Community Lending
  • Bob Pipik, Baltimore City Department of Housing
  • Sophie Morley and Katryna Carter, Neighborhood Design Center
  • Tim Pula, Beatty Development
  • Vidushani Jayalal, York Road Partnership
  • Mark Washington, Coldstream Montebello
  • Wendi Redfern, Rebuild Metro
  • Kari Synder, SECDC
  • Doug McCoach, Morris & Ritchie Associates
  • Jeff Ratnow, Site Insight
  • Brad Shapiro, Jabberfive
  • Andrew Michael and Andy Bolton, M&T Bank
  • Bob Aydukovic, President, Maryland Center for Construction Education & Innovation
  • Matthew Bolyard, Southway Builders
  • Robert W. Gehrman, BCT Architects
  • Jack DeBeir, Small Developers Collective
  • Annie Milli, Live Baltimore
Message From the Dean

As all of you can imagine, the pandemic has created quite a strange and unique environment for all of us. However, the situation did provide many bright spots and opportunities to showcase the best of what the Merrick School of Business has to offer in terms of business education and engagement.


While we have always been very proficient and ahead of the curve in terms of our online teaching capabilities, we pivoted quickly at the onset of the crisis. Online teaching became front and center for most universities over the last year, but from what I can tell, we had a smoother transition than some schools experienced. Since March 2020, we have been teaching 100 percent of our classes online. In fact, not only that, we have operated everything online, including all of our events. We look forward to opening up more in the fall, but we certainly stand tall with our quick pivot and quality of online teaching that was necessitated by the world closing down.


We celebrated our Spring Commencement, online, and I found this a very moving event. If you have a moment to spare, I think you will like our student speaker, Prithviraj Bhosale, MBA '20, as well as our Assistant Dean Kathea Smith's rendition of the national anthem. We also saluted our most talented students at our annual Academic Achievement Awards and Honor Society Induction Ceremonies, also taking place online. I especially want to recognize Alexander Hosseini, B.S. '20, Dean's Award Recipient. He and all the merit award recipients, made the most of the business education, and I expect they will all have successful careers in the future. 


As a way to keep our community engaged, we ran sessions of "Team with the Dean" around the theme of "What will be the nature of business in the post-pandemic world?" These were well-attended sessions and provided opportunities for our students, faculty, alumni, and business community to convene online and discuss real-time business problems, and possible solutions. In that regard, we were honored to have the following alumni come back to our virtual campus and share their perspectives:

  • Kimberly Morgan, MBA '06, Chief Operating Officer at LendUp;
  • Paul Saval, J.D. '80, Owner of Saval Foods;
  • Manuel Sampedro, MBA '99, Senior Vice President, Strategic Initiatives at Verizon; and
  • Dr. Sunil Budhrani, MBA '03, Chief Executive Officer & Chief Medical Officer at Innovation Health.

Additionally, we heard from guest business partners, Jonathan Roberts, founder and partner at Ignition Partners; Carlyle Singer, President of Acumen; Andrew Freedman, Managing Partner at ShiftUp. Most of the events were recorded, so if you are interested in viewing any of them, visit our YouTube "playlist."

Another piece of news we are very proud to announce is that we are lead sponsors, along with Wharton School, University of Michigan and nine other business schools, for the new journal—Management and Business Reviewa publicationthat Forbes.com says rivals Harvard Business Review. If you missed the link for the inaugural edition of MBR, you can get free access to the first two issues. The Merrick School will be making future editions available to all our students and alumni on a complimentary basis.


Our faculty continue to do great work inside and outside the classroom. Lisa Stickney, professor of management was awarded the J.B. Arbaugh Outstanding Contribution to Management Education and Development (Academy of Management). Seema Iyer, associate research professor was recognized with the 2020 Board of Regents for Public Service.


Our faculty continue to publish interesting and important research. Notably this year, Professors Ven Sriram, professor of marketing, David Lingelbach, associate professor of entrepreneurship, Tigi Mersha, professor of management, published an excellent textbook on African Entrepreneurship. We launched a webinar with over 40 researchers on entrepreneurship from around the world as well. Professor of Accounting Mikhail Pevzner won our Merrick School Outstanding Article Award for his work on why labor costs do not adjust downward at the same rate as revenue declines. This is certainly going to have key implications as we come out of pandemic, Dr. Pevzner is opening up a new research stream and will be working with Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for the next academic year, particularly around the implications of further regulation of broker-dealers in the market.


Finally, we launched a new and exciting networking platform called “Givitas." If you have not already seen this, you soon will. This gives our alumni, business partners and graduate students ways to communicate and develops networks around the notion of helping each other. We want to create the most engaged alumni/business partnerships in the solar system and see this as a part that goal. While Wharton and Harvard Business School launched similar ventures recently, we are the first to include our students and business partners. We sincerely hope you will find it engaging. 


New and better days are ahead of us. We hope you'll join us as we continue to make an impact on business and management through our programs, graduates, scholarship, and community collaborations.



Signature of Murray M. Dalziel


Murray M. Dalziel, Ph.D., Dean

For 10th Year in a Row, Online MBA Cited in U.S. News Rankings

For the 10th consecutive year, The University of Baltimore has earned the U.S. News and World Report‘s “Best Online Programs” ranking in the category of “Best Online MBA.” While five Maryland-based programs made the list in 2021, the University’s program in the Merrick School of Business is the only State of Maryland school that has consecutively been ranked there since the publication’s establishment of the list in 2012.


This year the school comes in at #100, tied with notable institutions including Central Michigan University, East Carolina University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, and Temple University. The University also garnered a ranking of #63 for having the Best Online MBA program for Veterans. The program is also #4 among all institutions, public and private, in the Baltimore/Washington region. Inclusive only of public institutions, UBalt’s online MBA comes in at #2 among public universities in the Baltimore/Washington area and #71 nationally.


According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly 31 percent of U.S. post-baccalaureate students enrolled exclusively in distance education programs in Fall 2018. Fast-forward to 2020, and the reality of the pandemic forced many universities and colleges throughout the nation to migrate their courses to online platforms. For the Merrick School of Business, the faculty’s long-time expertise in online course development, plus the students’ familiarity with online courses, made the transition from in-person classes much more successful than what has been reported by some other institutions.


The trend for online and hybrid learning is meeting students where they are, and providing them with the flexibility to conquer the demands of earning a degree and balancing work and family. The foresight from the Merrick School of Business faculty in the late 1990s to add online courses, and then to launch the world’s first AACSB-accredited fully-online MBA program is a testament to their innovative thinking. Through the years, faculty have strived to be leaders in the delivery of online courses. They regularly convene for best practices seminars and offer papers on online teaching pedagogy in academic publications.


“The Merrick School of Business was a pioneer in offering an online MBA,” said Murray Dalziel, dean of the school. “I am pleased to see this reflected in our 10th straight year of being ranked in the U.S. News Best Online Programs.”


The publication’s ranking methodology focuses on five areas of evaluation (Engagement, 30 percent; Expert Opinion, 25 percent; Faculty Credentials and Training, 15 percent; Services and Technologies, 15 percent; Student Excellence, 15 percent).


Learn more about The University of Baltimore’s Online MBA program.

Roberto Cavazos Named Director for Cybersecurity Management and Risk Programs
Roberto Cavazos

The University of Baltimore’s Merrick School of Business has aligned two of its most recent programmatic offerings, the M.S. in Cybersecurity Management and the specialization in Risk Management and Insurance with the needs of the Maryland workforce. Roberto Cavazos, a lecturer and executive in residence at the school, has been named program director for this important contribution to Maryland business and the economy.


“The state has a strong pipeline of technical cybersecurity talent and we are looking to take that talent and produce what the industry needs in terms of business leadership,” said Murray Dalziel, dean of the Merrick School of Business. “Not only are we helping the cyber industry, our risk management and insurance specialization in the B.S. in Business Administration program is poised to aid the talent gap that is beginning to unfold in Maryland and around the country. Dr. Cavazos’s research and business experience transcend both areas and will provide the direction we need to move these programs forward.”


In 2018, Cavazos joined the Merrick School of Business as a lecturer and an executive-in-residence in the field of data science. Previously, he was consulting in areas of economics and data science. His work has been cited in The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Forbes, CBS, the Times of London, Elle, Advertising Age, the Baltimore Business Journal, among others. He focuses his research in economic analysis, statistics, data science, process improvement and fraud detection, predictive analytics, and cost of fraud.


Cavazos’s most recent work with the artificial intelligence-driven cybersecurity company, CHEQ, has revealed the overwhelming risk and fraud that advertisers face in digital advertising as well as the economics costs associated with fake influences, fake news, affiliate fraud, and click fraud.


“With mission-critical federal agencies like U.S. Cyber Command, NSA, DISA and NIST, and hundreds of civilian cybersecurity businesses, our cybersecurity management program is ready to provide the business acumen to the techies and nurture the managerial talent for Maryland’s future,” Cavazos said. “Risk Management and Insurance, on the other hand, will see a boom in retirements in the coming years, and our program will provide home-grown talent that the state is vying for. I look forward to working with industry leaders to bring new students and initiatives to the University of Baltimore.”


Learn more about the M.S. in Cybersecurity Management program or the specialization in Risk Management and Insurance, both programs are part of the Merrick School of Business efforts to align programs with the state's critical workforce needs.


Learn more about Roberto Cavazos.

Givatas to Help School Grow Engaged Network

The Merrick School of Business is working to create better networks. In doing so, we have partnered with a company called Givitas. Their platform will provide you with an opportunity to connect with other professionals, students, and UBalt alumni—giving you the chance to broaden your network and give back to others. The program has no associated financial costs to you and the benefits are numerous. We have just started building the network this summer and we hope you'll join us. Currently the network is for Merrick School of Business alumni, students in our graduates business programs, members of school's advisory boards and other identified business professionals.


Here's some background about the platform:

  • Givitas is a purpose-built platform for asking and giving help that is based on the social science research of Wharton School Professor Adam Grant and U of Michigan Professor Wayne Baker.
  • The goal of Givitas is to be a "Giver," someone who gives without expecting anything in return, in just 5-minutes a week. It also takes less than 1-minute to join.
  • You will not be expected to give help to everyone nor will you be able to, as there will be diverse needs in the community and therefore we need a diverse network to help. Once you join, feel free to share the link with others you know in the Merrick community/alumni network.
  • Everyone is encouraged to ask for help and give help when you can - however, striving to either ask or give help a few times per month is ideal. Don't know what to ask for, Givitas has a guide for that on the platform.
  • Requests for help can be big or small, personal or professional. Most requests are for information, advice, resources, and connections. You will see some already in the community when you join. 

We have just started building the network. We hope you'll join us.


Have additional questions or you want to join our network, contact Amy Greenlee in the Office of the Dean for answers. She can be reached at agreenlee@ubalt.edu.

Preparing for a World Transformed, Prof. Singhal Leads Launch of New Business Journal
Merrick School of Business Partners with <i>Management and Business Review</i>, a Newly Launched Journal to Rival HBR.

Launching a new professional business journal is no easy feat. But for Merrick School of Business Professor and the McCurdy Professor of Innovation and Supply-Chain, Kalyan Singhal, a determination to make the world better through transformative research propelled a bold vision for his recently launched journal: Management and Business Review (MBR). As publisher of MBR, and one of its three editors in chief, Singhal has been mapping out his latest project for over a decade. He is joined by Wallace J. Hopp, the C.K. Prahalad Distinguished University Professor of Business and Engineering at the University of Michigan, and Christopher Ittner, the EY Professor of Accounting and Chair of the Accounting Department at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, as coeditors in chief.


On November 7, 2020, they published the first issue of what is sure to become the world’s next globally influential business journal, Management and Business Review. A complimentary digital copy of its debut issue may be found here.


Drawing upon 28 years of publishing experience with the top-tier management journal, Production and Operations Management, Singhal has created a journal that Forbes.com called "a rival to the Harvard Business Review." MBR strives to draw attention to the questions facing contemporary business and management leaders, scholars, and students and, when possible, to answer them. The inaugural issue includes 27 articles which scrutinize topics ranging from adaptive space to reimagining capitalism, from strategy to climate change, from digital transformation to leadership and organizational change, with much more in between.


MBR’s editors freely admit that there are over 30,000 academic journals publishing research on a vast array of topics and that many of them may be of use to the millions of businesses around the world. So why do we need another business journal? While there are hundreds of business magazines written and edited by journalists, few of them include articles by leading-edge management scholars. The handful of publications that do address the interplay between management research and practice cannot possibly disseminate the research findings of over 200,000 business professors, let alone those of professors from other disciplines or of leading management thinkers outside of academia. The MBR team, along with their academic sponsors, believe it is time for a new journal which will draw management scholars and practitioners closer together worldwide.


“In 1900, Dartmouth College awarded the world’s first MBA degree. About sixty years later, two reports from the Carnegie and Ford Foundations led to the evolution of more rigorous research and modern business education. However, after another 60 years, only a small part of that research has been accessible to executives and managers,” said Singhal. “The new journal is an opportunity to publish articles that translate overlooked leading-edge research into useful insights and thereby help managers to elevate their practices.”


In the words of MBR’s three editors-in-chief, “MBR is designed to publish overviews and discussions of pressing management concerns and to bring the ideas of leading thinkers from academia and industry directly to students to enhance their education and help them to become more effective managers.”


The University of Baltimore’s Merrick School of Business and 11 other top business schools around the world have sponsored the establishment of MBR. Murray Dalziel, dean of the Merrick School of Business is enthusiastic in his support of the publication.


“I see this journal as providing a quality platform to deepen the engagement of management scholars with practitioners in business and vice versa,” said Dalziel. “Engagement with the practice of business and management is so deeply a part of the Merrick School’s mission. We are dedicated to educating the next generation of business professionals and entrepreneurs to be ready for a rapidly changing world. This journal is an important part of their toolkit.”


Kalyan Singhal is a 1967 mechanical engineering graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay at Mumbai, a university once described on CBS’ 60 Minutes as “Harvard, MIT, and Princeton put together.” He founded the Production and Operations Management Society (POMS) in 1989. In 1992, he also launched the society’s journal Production and Operations Management (POM) and has since served as its editor in chief.  POM is one of the top twenty journals on the Business Week list. Singhal is also a fellow of INFORMS and POMS.


Accounting Professor Wins Outstanding Article Award

At the annual Faculty Awards celebration, Professor of Accounting Mikhail Pevzner received the Merrick School of Business's Outstanding Article award for his 2020 co-authored article titled “Labor adjustment costs and asymmetric cost behavior: An extension,” in the academic journal Management Accounting Research


The focus of the article was examining asymmetric cost behavior which has had a heightened interest in managerial accounting literature as of late. “The literature has hypothesized that adjustment costs, particularly labor adjustment costs, play a significant and central role in driving empirically observed cost behavior patterns.”  


“This research shows how important human capital considerations are in adjusting firms’ costs even in hard times,” said Pevzner. “Human capital is hard to replace, and this is why firms are reluctant to cut costs arising from more highly skilled labor.”  


From the perspective of Dean Murray Dalziel, who had to consider several Merrick School of Business faculty for the Outstanding Paper award, he selected Pevzner’s paper because Pevzner and his research colleagues demonstrated what the Merrick School of Business is really looking for in terms of knowledge creation.  


"The research was rigorously carried out and it is especially relevant at this time," said Dalziel. "In a post-pandemic world, labor issues will continue to be an important topic as companies react to the new business landscape, and this research reveals there is much to be considered. We know all labor issues are not the same, but firms with needs for highly-skilled labor need to particularly scrutinize the relationship between costs and revenues."


Prof. Pevzner teaches auditing and financial accounting and has strong research interests in auditing and capital markets, and he currently holds the school's EY Chair in Accounting.


Learn more about Prof. Pevzner.


In addition to the Outstanding Article Award, the School of Business announced professorships, chairs and annual teaching awards for the academic year 2020-2021 at the school’s May virtual awards ceremony:


Professorships / Chairs


  • Regina Bento, professor of management, continues to hold the Baltimore Gas and Electric Chair
  • Mikhail Pevzner, associate professor of accounting, continues to hold the E&Y Chair in Accounting
  • Amir Pezeshkan, associate professor of management and international relations, continues to hold the CSX Leadership Chair
  • Praneet Randhawa, associate professor of marketing, was awarded the J. William Middendorf Distinguished Professor
  • Jaya Singhal, professor of decision science, continues to hold the Frank Baker Chair for Research Excellence
  • Kalyan Singhal, professor of supply chain management, continues to hold the Doris and Robert McCurdy Chair
  • Lourdes White, professor of accounting, awarded the Lockheed Martin Chair
  • Nafeesa Yunus, associate professor of finance and real estate, continues to hold the Harry Y. Wright Chair in Finance
  • Ting Zhang, associate professor of economics, awarded the Harry Y. Wright Chair in Economics


Annual Teaching and Service Awards


  • William Carter, associate professor of management, awarded the Dean Clifford C. James Chair for Distinguished Teaching.
  • Roberto Cavazos, lecturer in decision science, received the Dean’s Award for Faculty.
  • M. Kate Demarest, lecturer in accounting, shares the G. Maxwell Armor Professorship.
  • Art Flach, adjunct accounting faculty, received the Adjunct Faculty Award.
  • Dan Gerlowski, professor of economics, received the T. Rowe Price Excellence in Teaching.
  • Seema Iyer, associate research professor and program director of the Real Estate and Economic Development program, received the Dean Daniel Costello Service Award.
  • David Lingelbach, associate professor of entrepreneurship, received the Turner Medallion.
  • Theodore Peters, lecturer in management, received the Yale Gordon Chair for Distinguished Teaching.
  • Kathea Smith, assistant dean, received the Dean’s Award for Staff.
  • Sanwar Sunny, assistant professor of entrepreneurship, received the Dean’s Rising Star Research Award.
  • Frank van Vliet, senior lecturer in marketing and entrepreneurship, shares the G. Maxwell Armor Professorship.
  • Jan Williams, associate professor of accounting, received the Dean Daniel Costello Service Award.
New Book on African Entrepreneurship Offers New Perspective

Looking at the world through a global lens is an integral feature of the Merrick School of Business’ academic programs. Global research streams and projects are commonly pursued by a number of faculty members in the school. Most recently a team of business faculty, Ven Sriram, professor of marketing, David Lingelbach, associate professor of entrepreneurship, Tigi Mersha, professor of operations management, and their colleague, Franklyn Manu, a professor of marketing at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, published a textbook titled “Entrepreneurship in Africa: Content and Perspectives.”  A book aimed at university students and potential entrepreneurs.


The project was conceived several years ago when they recognized the need for context-specific material on Africa. They found most material focused on entrepreneurship in Africa was developed with a Western-derived lens. While there is increasing attention being paid to Africa by researchers, entrepreneurship as a formal discipline is rarely taught at African universities. In addition, when it is taught, it is from a Western perspective using material designed for the West. This is the first textbook that the professors are aware of, that has been written from the African perspective with the African student and reader in mind.


When asked how can entrepreneurship in Africa influence ways Western entrepreneurs start and grow a business, Sriram explained that many African entrepreneurs are very innovative and enterprising, leveraging what resources they have and who they know. They are nimble and agile in that they can pivot rapidly to seize opportunities and move on quickly from mistakes. These are valuable lessons for all entrepreneurs, with particular relevance for those operating in resource-constrained and unstable environments in the West.


In addition, until quite recently, many of the entrepreneurs in Africa have been small, self-employed and motivated by necessity. The book highlights stories of African businesses that are scalable and growth-oriented. The authors see these factors as important contributors to success. Of course, all startup activity is contextual. In the case of Africa, the stability or turbulence of the environment, the availability of infrastructure, access to funding, the ability to recognize or create opportunities, leverage connections and networks, etc. are clearly major drivers of African entrepreneurship success.


“Part of the distinctiveness of this collaboration is that while we are all passionate and informed about African entrepreneurship, we come at it from different perspectives,” said Sriram. “David’s doctorate is in entrepreneurship and he researches areas of entrepreneurial finance with a focus on emerging markets. Tigi brings an operations management and service quality emphasis while Franky and I take a marketing perspective. All these are hugely important for successful entrepreneurship.”


With the rapid economic growth in many African economies—the March 2020 issue of the Economist dubbed the second half of the 21st century as the African Century—scalable, fast-growing business are springing up all over Africa, many of which are highlighted in the “Entrepreneurship in Africa” textbook. Africa is a complex continent with over 50 countries and many ethnicities and linguistic groups, often within the same country. In that sense, capturing the essence of such a complicated region can be a daunting task, especially at the continental level. Its notable to mention that the school’s faculty have substantial experience in conducting research, writing cases, presenting papers and teaching in Africa. And in the last few years there have been students who have travelled to Ghana as part of the Global Field Study program.


Murray Dalziel, dean of the Merrick School of Business believes that the work of our faculty to study entrepreneurship in difficult places, is an absolute point of pride for the school, and should be celebrated.


“This is important research because entrepreneurship can be a real vehicle for tackling some of the most systemic problems in neighborhoods, nations and globally,” said Dalziel. “But there is much to be learned. As my colleagues show, learning about how entrepreneurship works in Africa not only helps us understand Africa a little better, but also can advance entrepreneurship in other settings—and that includes in our neighborhoods and communities in U.S. and Europe.”

SALT and The Marriage Penalty
by Phillip Korb, CPA & Jan Williams, Ph.D., CPA

For many years, Congress has passed income tax laws designed to mitigate the so-called marriage penalty.  The marriage penalty occurs when a married couple with similar incomes incurs a higher tax liability by filing taxes jointly than if they would have filed as two single taxpayers. Examples of such provisions by Congress to attempt to alleviate this additional tax burden include lower income tax brackets, increased alternative minimum tax exemption amounts, and most notably, a higher standard deduction for married taxpayers filing jointly.


The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) took a step backwards in the effort to mitigate the marriage penalty.  While the standard deduction for married couples filing jointly is twice the standard deduction of single taxpayers, the TJCA limited the itemized deduction for state and local taxes (SALT) to $10,000 for both single taxpayers and those filing married jointly.  State and local taxes include income or general sales taxes, real estate taxes, and personal property taxes. A married couple can easily exceed this threshold with state income taxes alone, resulting in the loss of any income taxes in excess of $10,000 and all real estate and property taxes. Although the standard deduction for married filing jointly remained twice that of single taxpayers under the TCJA, the same limitation on state and local taxes made it more difficult for those filing jointly to itemize deductions.


While the standard deduction for married filing jointly ($24,800) is twice the deduction for single taxpayers ($12,400) for 2020, married taxpayers must have $12,400 more in itemized deductions to benefit from itemized deductions. Three other main categories of itemized deductions, other than SALT, include medical expenses, mortgage interest, and charitable contributions. Only medical expenses in excess of 7.5% of adjusted gross income are deductible.  Due to the large amount of medical expenses needed to exceed this threshold, taxpayers do not often qualify for this deduction.  When they do exceed the threshold, it usually results in only a small deduction. Therefore, in order for married taxpayers to benefit from electing to itemize deductions, they must have an additional $14,800 ($24,800 – $10,000) in deductible expenses compared to an additional $2,400 ($12,400 – $10,000) for a single taxpayer. If married taxpayers do not have sufficient medical expenses and mortgage interest, they will need a greater amount of charitable contributions. Recognizing this conundrum and not wanting to contribute a substantially greater sum to charities than they did before the TCJA, many married taxpayers succumb and claim the standard deduction. This results in failing to receive any tax benefit from charitable contributions made during the year.


By choosing not to itemize, married taxpayers are penalized when filing their state and local income tax returns also.  In many state and local jurisdictions, in order to itemize on one’s income tax returns, one must have itemized on their federal return.  Most states have significantly lower standard deductions in comparison to what most taxpayers can claim as itemized deductions, even after adding back their deduction for state and local income taxes.  As a result, the marriage penalty at the federal level flows down to the state and local level and results in a marriage penalty there as well.


The SALT limit of $10,000 for married taxpayers is even more unfair in the light of married joint returns where both spouses have income subject to state and local income taxes, such as two-earner married couples.  Even though some states offer a small reduction in taxable income for all two-income couples who file jointly (up to $1,200 in Maryland) in consideration of the marriage penalty, it is not substantial in mitigating the impact.


The marriage penalty has long been considered an unfair tax that results in a higher tax burden solely based on marital status.  While the TCJA included some tax provisions that reduced the married tax penalty (as stated above), the $10,000 SALT limit increases tax on married taxpayers filing jointly. In the spirit of mitigating the marriage penalty, Congress could review the SALT limitation and consider raising it to $20,000 to make it more equitable for married taxpayers filing jointly.


Phillip Korb is an associate professor of accounting and the chair of the Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics in the Merrick School of Business. He is a licensed CPA and received his master’s degree in taxation from the University of Baltimore. He is also a former education member of the State of Maryland Board of Public Accountancy. Mr. Korb can be reached at pkorb@ubalt.edu.


Jan Williams, Ph.D., is an associate professor of accounting in the Merrick School of Business.  She is a licensed CPA and holds a M.S. in Taxation from the University of Baltimore. She currently serves as the education member on the State of Maryland Board of Public Accountancy and the Effective Learning Strategies Task Force chair on the Academic Executive Committee of the American Institute of CPAs.  She is a past president of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the American Accounting Association.  She may reached at jwilliams@ubalt.edu.

Prof. David Lingelbach Receives Fulbright Specialist Award

David Lingelbach, associate professor of entrepreneurship in The University of Baltimore's Merrick School of Business, has received a Fulbright Specialist Award to work on a project at Universidad Nacional de Colombia.


According to the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, Prof. Lingelbach will complete a project at the institution—one of the South American nation's top research universities—to "exchange knowledge and establish partnerships benefiting participants, institutions, and communities both in the U.S. and overseas through a variety of educational and training activities within Business Administration."


"I will be working with my colleagues at the National University of Colombia to develop its national entrepreneurial ecosystem," Prof. Lingelbach said. "This work will consist of a number of public, broadcasted lectures, a short entrepreneurship course, and consultations with the university's entrepreneurship faculty and staff. In addition to work on the university's main campus in Bogota, I will also be traveling to the campus in Manizales, an important university city and the main center for Colombian coffee production. We are all hoping that this project will turn into a long-term relationship."


Prof. Lingelbach is one of more than 400 U.S. citizens who share expertise with host institutions abroad through the Fulbright Specialist Program each year, according to the State Department's Bureau of Edfucational and Cultural Affairs. Recipients of Fulbright Specialist awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, demonstrated leadership in their field, and their potential to foster long-term cooperation between institutions in the U.S. and abroad.


This is Prof. Lingelbach's second Fulbright. His first took place in Myanmar.


Since its establishment in 1946, the flagship Fulbright Program has given more than 400,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.


Learn more about Prof. Lingelbach and the teaching of entrepreneurship in the Merrick School of Business.

Prof. Seema Iyer Receives USM Regents' Faculty Award for Public Service

Seema Iyer, research assistant professor and associate director of the Jacob-France Institute in The University of Baltimore's Merrick School of Business, is one of 16 faculty members from across the University System of Maryland to receive the 2021 USM Board of Regents' Faculty Award. Iyer, a nationally recognized expert in the study of data in support of effective decision-making for community development, as well as the impact of the review process on real estate development and energy efficiency measures on housing policy, was honored for her work in the category of Excellence in Public Service.


According to the USM, the awards are the highest honor presented by the board to exemplary faculty members. The awards celebrate excellence in the categories of Teaching, Public Service, Mentoring, and Scholarship, Research or Creative Activity.


"It is rewarding to celebrate the success of a member of our distinguished faculty," UBalt President Kurt L. Schmoke wrote in a letter of congratulations to Prof. Iyer.


The Board of Regents cited Prof. Iyer's success in developing the University's Real Estate Fellows Program, which offers University of Baltimore students and alumni access to all aspects of the development process in Baltimore. The program features the Pitch for a Million competition, in which Fellows publicly present an original development proposal to select investors. The winner can be awarded a line of credit of up to $1 million. The competition has injected $3 million into Baltimore neighborhoods and has helped citizens become real estate entrepreneurs.


USM Chancellor Jay A. Perman praised the award winners, noting the unprecedented difficulties of delivering educational excellence in spite of the pandemic.


"It's an honor to recognize these faculty members, whose impact on their students is so profound. And while these awards recognize years of dedication, we know that the past 12 months have involved extraordinary challenges unique to COVID," Perman said. "Systemwide, our faculty have worked hard to maintain instructional quality under circumstances none of us wanted, and I'm grateful for that. But the efforts of these honorees are especially impressive and contribute so much to the USM's resilience and strength."


Each award carries a $2,000 prize provided by the institutions and the University System of Maryland Foundation. The awardees were officially recognized by Chancellor Perman and Board of Regents Chair Linda Gooden during the board meeting on April 16, 2021.


Read about all of the winners of the 2021 USM Regents' Faculty Awards.


Learn more about Prof. Seema Iyer.

Business School's Jeffrey Weaver Receives Bucher Award for Adjunct Teaching

Jeffrey S. Weaver, adjunct professor in the Department of Management and International Business in The University of Baltimore's Merrick School of Business, has been named the 2020 recipient of the Richard H. Bucher Adjunct Faculty Award. The award, named for Richard Bucher, a long-time adjunct faculty member who served his profession, his community, and his UB students to a high standard, recognizes an adjunct faculty member who contributes to the University community through excellence in the classroom and community service. The award includes a cash prize of $1,500.


Weaver has served as an adjunct professor in the Merrick School of Business since Fall 2016. He taught undergraduate human resources management classes at that time, and began teaching graduate classes in Spring 2018. In additional to his teaching, Weaver also chairs the Adjunct Faculty Advisory Council.


Weaver had a 21-year career in the U.S. Army, and has been a federal employee for over 10 years, including senior advisor to the Army Chief of Staff, where he was involved in the development of the Army Strategic Education Program at the U.S. Army War College. Currently, he serves as a senior executive consultant for the Center for Human Capital Innovation.


In a letter supporting his nomination, Weaver said, "My teaching philosophy is to show the 'real world' of human resources and human capital to students in the classroom. These real-world examples and discussions emphasize the important of the human resource principles that should be understood in their workplace."


Weaver earned a Ph.D. in Organizational Management and Human Resources Management from Capella University in 2008. He received an M.S. in Administration from Central Michigan University in 2004, and a B.S. in Human Resource Management from Park University in 2001.

Faces of UBalt Instagram Series

The University of Baltimore has added to Instagram thoughtful and personal short stories of members of our community. For the "Faces of UBalt" series found on the @ubaltmain Instagram handle, the team posts authentic and moving words of our students and alumni. Here are just a few stories that you might enjoy.



Liz O., a B.S. in Business Administration student specializing in Risk Management and Insurance

“The learning process is really sharpening my mind. I see myself in two or three years working in the government and changing the insurance world.” Read the full post.


Willow H. a B.S. in Business Administration student, knew public speaking triggered her anxiety so she avoided it.
When she came to UB as an entrepreneurship fellow, she wanted to scale her idea for Prevail, an idea that started as a game featuring a character dealing with trauma and that later developed into a plan for a game studio focused on mental health. Read the full post.


Audie M., who is specializing in accounting in the Business Administration program, is one of 5 recipients of the 2020 George Willie Ethnically Diverse Student Scholarship and Internship.  “Getting the scholarship was a moment of positive assurance for me and it's just like, hey, you've committed and worked very hard and sacrificed quite a bit of things—my time, my money, my personal life that's very non-existent when you work 40 hours and you take classes online. … It was just like a moment of really, really positive assurance.” Read the full post.


Want to read more? Follow the hashtags #FaceOfUBalt and #FacesofUB on Instagram.


Want to be featured? We encourage current students and UBalt alumni to email SocialMedia@ubalt.edu to part part of the fun.

Academic Achievement Awards Goes Virtual (Again)

In May, the Merrick School of Business celebrated our top students at the annual Academic Achievement Awards during a virtual event. This year the top award, the Dean's Award, went to Alexander Hosseini, B.S. ’20 (business administration, international business). To earn this honor he had to demonstrate high academic achievement, leadership and service. Hosseini, transferred from Howard Community College to The University of Baltimore was looking to expand his foundational business knowledge. During his time at UBalt he was a member of the Helen P. Denit Honors Program and a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success.

“The University of Baltimore gave me a hands-on and practical application of business. I got better at data analysis and spreadsheet management in Professor Cavazos’ Business Statistics and Data Analytics classes, as well as in Professor Gerlowksi’s Money and Banking class. My experience at UBalt culminated in two Global Field Study courses focusing on the countries of Finland and Ghana where we consulted with startup companies. These were my first trips out of the country.”


In addition to excelling academically, Hosseini volunteered as a tutor at both the University of Baltimore and Howard Community College, all while working part-time as a retail manager. He is about to begin a new job at Loyola University Maryland as program assistant.


Other Merit Awards:


Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics honored:

  • Ryan Claggett, B.S. in Business Administration, Dec. ‘20, Accounting Merit Award
    Ali Filali, B.S. in Business Administration, Dec. ‘20, MACPA Outstanding Student Award
  • John Isokpehi, B.S. in Business Administration, May ‘21, Finance Merit Award
  • Caralyn Stevens, B.S. in Business Administration, May ‘21, Mary Lou Hudson Award for Academic Excellence in Accounting
  • Haydon Wyatt, B.S. in Business Administration, Dec ‘20, Real Estate and Economic Development Merit Award

The Department of Management and International Business honored:

  • Kelly Coleman, B .S. in Business Administration, May ‘21,General Business Merit Award 
  • Flora Giakoumakis, B.S. in Business Administration, May ‘21, Management Merit Award
  • Krysta Reilly, B.S. in Business Administration, May ‘21, Human Resource Management Merit Award
  • Jacob Zimmerman, B.S. in Business Administration, May ‘21, International Business Merit Award

The Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship honored:

  • David Green, B.S.in Business Administration, May ‘21, Dr. Peter Lynagh Marketing Merit Award
  • Kareema McLendon, B.S. in Business Administration, May ‘21, Entrepreneurship Merit Award

The Department of Information Systems and Decision Science honored:

  • Kyle Schroeder, B.S. in Information Systems and Technology Management, Aug. ‘20, Charles Siegmann Information Technology Award


Alumni Snapshot
Craig Horner: Paying It Forward

Craig S. Horner, B.S. '88 (accounting), is an active CPA and currently the Chief Financial Officer at Kelly Benefits, one of the nation’s largest providers of benefits administration and technology, broker and consulting services, and payroll solutions, based in Sparks, Maryland.


He joined the Kelly Benefits Executive Leadership Team as Chief Financial and Compliance Officer in May 2009. His prior experience includes more than 13 years as Chief Financial Officer of a large regional Maryland-based insurance broker and seven years in public accounting at what is currently known as PricewaterhouseCoopers. Throughout his career, he has focused on continuing his professional development, including attending the Wharton Executive Development Program at the University of Pennsylvania and the Commonfund Endowment Institute at Yale University. He is a member of the Financial Executives International, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and the Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants.


Horner recently sat down with us to share some thoughts about his career, why paying it forward 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 B.S. in Business Administration degree at The University of Baltimore. 


Craig Horner:  I have been very blessed to have worked with several exceptional organizations over my career, starting with a foundation of seven years at one of the largest public accounting firms.


Merrick Exchange: Explain what you do in your role at Kelly Benefits.


Craig Horner: I serve Kelly Benefits as the Chief Financial and Compliance Officer


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


Craig Horner: Each day, I get to work alongside talented people in a thriving organization that is owned and led by a wonderful family and whose expert leadership team is truly top-notch.


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?


Craig Horner: The one all of us faced recently was managing the impact of the pandemic on our business and how to ensure we continued to reflect our mission, vision and values through those realities. It is clear to me, more than ever, that you need the diverse perspective and voice of your leadership team and others, along with current and relevant facts and data, to help guide you through it. We have a great team that helped us manage it well.


Merrick Exchange: How does technology transformation and data-driven disruption impact the insurance industry and how are you and your team addressing those issues?


Craig Horner: We are fortunate that our business model involves the delivery of industry-leading technology along with talented and customer service-oriented staff. This requires us to focus daily on both our technology and our people, which we believe are critical to any sustainable business. You must have talented people, not just technology, to serve clients with excellence.


Merrick Exchange: How has the pandemic impacted the way you work at Kelly Benefits?


Craig Horner: We have learned so many things, including how to better collaborate and connect with our people using technology. It further strengthened our commitment to preparing for the unknown and reinforced how important is to have a team-oriented culture that is resilient in the midst of difficult circumstances. By the way, we were able to transition over 450 people to remote work within five days.


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


Craig Horner: I have been blessed to have worked for, with, and alongside several impactful leaders in my career. I have worked hard to emulate many of their best traits and characteristics.


Merrick Exchange: In what ways do you like to give back to the community?


Craig Horner: I see this as an important calling and a responsibility for each of us to “pay it forward.” I have looked for opportunities to serve others in our company, and others I meet in my travels. By coaching youth sports and serving on boards and other ministries, I’ve been able to give back. It is imperative that we draw the next generation forward with positive character traits.


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


Craig Horner: Work hard and for a greater purpose than your comfort and wellbeing.


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


Craig Horner: They are generally hard working, with a greater purpose, and they engage and empower others because they recognize that they cannot do it all themselves.


Merrick Exchange: What advice would you give to students who would like to reach the C-Suite in their careers?


Craig Horner: In addition to the characteristics I just mentioned, ensure you spend a lot of time learning your trade and enhancing your technical skills. Even more, learn how to be an ideal team player by being humble, hungry and smart.


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


Craig Horner: Most leaders are willing to share their wisdom and experiences so tap it, but also offer to help them.


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


Craig Horner: It had a lot to do with the cost of tuition since I came from very modest circumstances. I was the first in my family to go to college. However, it just felt right when I was looking at colleges, which I credit to the Lord speaking to me and guiding my path at a young age.


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


Craig Horner: It gave me the technical skills I needed and kept me humble and hungry for future learning and career opportunities.


Merrick Exchange: What personal goal have you set for yourself for 2021 (or the next 12 months)?


Craig Horner: Kelly Benefits has a unique four-pillar wellness program that we designed to create a culture of wellbeing and to help each employee fulfill their potential. These pillars include physical and nutritional wellness, mental and emotional wellness, and spiritual health and wellness, and financial wellness. I set goals each year to advance and personally grow in each area of these four areas and I encourage others to create and focus on at least one specific goal around these pillars as well.


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Past Issues of The Merrick Exchange
Winners of the 9th Annual Rise to the Challenge Pitch Competition

This year six winners, including undergraduate and graduate students and recent alumni, emerged from the “Rise to the Challenge” Business Pitch Competition that was held on April 22. They each received their own virtual version of “the big check” and a portion of the nearly $30,000 in prize money. The event, conducted entirely online for the second year in a row, is supported annually by the University of Baltimore's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation to showcase many of the UBalt community's most talented and driven entrepreneurs. Watch the event "Highlights Reel."


Nicole Mighty, a Ratcliffe Entrepreneurship Fellow, and founder of Spiked Orchids, which produces and sells high-quality, environmentally friendly apparel and home goods by leveraging sustainable manufacturing practices and repurposing second-hand materials, was chosen as the evening's “Most Promising Business” — walking away with a $15,000 “check.” The award, established in 2018 through the Jay Ripley Entrepreneurship Fund, is given to the student whose business, in either category, has the best prospects for growth, as determined by the judges.


Mighty also earned another first, becoming one of two competitors ever to tie for the top vote in the category of “Existing Business Ventures,” a $5,000 prize. The other top earner in that category was Rebecca Thompson, a first-year Ratcliffe Entrepreneurship Fellow and creator of Crate Craft & Co., which turns easy-to-follow DIY projects into fun, online events, by shipping customers all the necessary materials and hosting “live” group instruction parties. Thompson also earned the $500 “Hustle Award,” presented by Jason Tagler, founder of Pitch Creator. The cash prize — normally rolls of $20 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.


Other winners include:

  • Robert Myers, an inventor who earned the top award in the category of "Aspiring Business Ventures,” netting $2,000 for his business idea, Switchboard Pedal Management System, a new organizational tool that revolutionizes and simplifies how pedalboards are built for use by guitar players and other musicians in live and studio settings.
  • Derek Lau, CEO of Stemtric, an online hub that hosts high-quality, gamified, incentivized, and community-engaging mathematics learning resources on social media platforms, also was a double-winner, taking home the Crowd Favorite award of $1,000, along with the Baltimore Fund Award, a $1,000 award given 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.

And two alumni emerged as winners to split the $5,000 Dean’s Challenge Award: Kellie Brown (BA ’18), Founder/CEO, SpreadKarma, an ecosystem for social entrepreneurs and others seeking fundraising education, access to funding and exposure for projects that create a positive impact in underserved communities; and Shelby Blondell (BS ’15/MBA ’18), inventor and founder of the Shell Pick, a unique way to play guitar that breaks barriers and solves problems between the musician who enjoys playing with a pick and those who play without one. Newly established this year by Murray Dalziel, Dean of the Merrick School of Business, the Dean’s Challenge Award is given to the competitor or competitors who best demonstrate the social impact of their venture(s).


As an added highlight this year, three alumni – former Ratcliffe Entrepreneurship Fellows, Matthew Jung (BS '18), co-founder of Dead Veggies; Emily Kim (BS '15), founder and CEO of Over Rice, Zety Taste, and Uma Uma; and Meejee Kim (BS '17), CEO of MISKOFITS and MV Studios – provided the “half-time” show while the judges met to deliberate and choose the winners. All three engaged in a Q&A session with Dean Dalziel, about their journeys from undergrads to successful business owners, and helped make the entire night a memorable celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit. Check out the conversation on YouTube.


Other finalists in the competition, now in its ninth year, included: Nikia Madison, a Ratcliffe Entrepreneurship Fellow and CEO of SafePl8/Allergy-Free Grocery, which helps people living with food allergies purchase allergy-friendly products and serves as a resource to the community to help with understanding and managing food allergies, and Elizabeth Ogun, Founder, Scribe, an online platform with a mission to make professional writing accessible to everyone at various mastery levels. Through the use of artificial intelligence, customizable templates, and an intelligent editor.


For the second straight year, the finalist cohort, consisting of undergraduate and graduate students, and alumni, pitching in two separate categories, Aspiring Business and Existing Business, all competed from remote locations, due to restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The panel of expert judges, who also participated remotely, represented the local business and entrepreneurship community:

  • Lily Bengfort, Chief Growth Officer at TCecure, LLC
  • Troy A. LeMaile-Stovall, CEO/Executive Director, TEDCO
  • Laura Neuman, Partner, NextGen Venture Partners; and
  • Carolyn Yarina, CEO and Co-Founder, Sisu Global


“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. “Honestly, the work that they put into this competition, amid the continued uncertainty of a global pandemic, a volatile economy, and national and local unrest — not to mention managing their “real” personal, academic and professional lives in a virtual world — 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.”


If you were unable to view the completion, you can watch the archive of the livestream on the Merrick School’s Facebook page. The “Rise to the Challenge” competition, sponsored by UBalt’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, 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. We do this through support, culture, events, education and research, and connecting with the business community.  Visit us at www.ubalt.edu/cei for more information

(Video) Alumni of the UBalt Ratcliffe Entrepreneurship Fellow Program Share Experiences