“Pitch For a Million” Leads to Nearly $2 Million in Potential Real Estate Investment
Real Estate Fellows

In an evening full of anticipation and hope, the inaugural University of Baltimore “Pitch for a Million” competition hit the mark. The culmination of 10 weeks of intense discovery, brainstorming and planning for UB’s Real Estate Fellows, the June 5 competition led to five thoughtful and professionally-crafted proposals focused on the middle market real estate needs of five Baltimore neighborhoods—Forest Park, Franklin Square, Upton, Liberty Heights and Cherry Hill. The Merrick School of Business’s M. Scot Kaufman Auditorium was filled with engaged community leaders, family, friends, and area real estate investors, all curious to see which pitch would garner the million dollar guidance line of credit from Baltimore Community Lending.

In an evening full of anticipation and hope, the inaugural University of Baltimore “Pitch for a Million” competition hit the mark. The culmination of 10 weeks of intense discovery, brainstorming and planning for UB’s Real Estate Fellows, the June 5 competition led to five thoughtful and professionally-crafted proposals focused on the middle market real estate needs of five Baltimore neighborhoods—Forest Park, Franklin Square, Upton, Liberty Heights and Cherry Hill. The Merrick School of Business’s M. Scot Kaufman Auditorium was filled with engaged community leaders, family, friends, and area real estate investors, all curious to see which pitch would garner the million dollar guidance line of credit from Baltimore Community Lending.


The night started by framing what it means to be in real estate development in Baltimore. In his keynote address, Thibault Manekin, co-founder of Seawall Development Co., shared his personal story about realizing his calling to breathe life into underutilized and distressed properties, and filling them with a neighborhood’s greatest asset, its people. Manekin equated it to what our Real Estate Fellows were embarking on in this competition: Their journey to help Baltimore’s neighborhoods regain the essence of years gone by was in their sights and their hearts, and with financial backing, their vision would become a reality.


First up for the competition judging was Janna Holmes, MPA ’13, who had the daunting task of kicking off this brand-new pitch competition. Holmes said she has seen and experienced the repercussions of a community’s lack of investment growing up in East Baltimore. She chose to look at solving the problem of affordable housing for college students in close proximity to UB’s midtown campus. She worked with the Southwest Partnership in the Franklin Square section of town, and made a pitch for $596,000 to rehabilitate three adjacent buildings with ground-floor retail and upper-floor residential units, which would rent for $1,000 or less. Holmes also focused on ensuring the units would be highly energy-efficient to reduce utility costs for occupants.


Nikolay Ratajczak, B.S. ’14, presented a pitch for $1 million to renovate 10 townhomes for the Upton neighborhood. His “Townhouse Cluster Model” built upon a white paper he wrote while in UB’s real estate and economic development program—a paper that won 1st Prize in the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Real Estate White Paper Competition, sponsored by Grosvenor Fund Management. Equity into the project would come from a variety of sources, Ratajczak said, and would include crowdfunding from community members themselves so that they would reap the benefits of the rehabbed properties financially as well as aesthetically and otherwise. He carefully navigated the five judges through each nuance of his plan and how he was working with the neighborhood leaders to accommodate several housing options.


Olusegun Aje, M.S. ’17 (nonprofit and social entrepreneurship), took an approach that focused on a $1 million pitch for new construction on vacant land in the Howard Park/Liberty Heights neighborhood of northwest Baltimore. Aje’s innovative cooperative model aimed at providing ownership opportunities for people in the neighborhood where co-op owners could rely on his property-management experience to maintain the building. The lower floor retail and upper-floor housing proposal already had the backing of a potential tenant—the youth-led Tandea Smoothie company, currently operating out of a cart in the neighborhood. He built a team that included his brother, who is the owner of their property management company, T&A Covenant Solutions, and a former Redskins starting offensive lineman.


Next up was the trio of William Casey, Joao David Ferraz and Haydon Wyatt, all current students in the B.S. in Real Estate and Economic Development program. Although the only current undergraduates who were in the Real Estate Fellows competition, they held their own since they each have real estate experience as a data analyst, licensed Realtor and construction manager, respectively. They pitched a detailed plan requesting $580,000 to rehabilitate 6 vacant and abandoned rowhomes in Cherry Hill in an otherwise fully-occupied section of the neighborhood. Their pitch was to reconstruct the rowhomes to a three-bedroom, 1.5-bath home, which would better meet the needs of families with children who are attending the area’s newly built school, as opposed to the two-bedroom, 1-bath options that are abundant now. The team included stories of walking the neighborhood and becoming deeply engaged in the needs of the area.


Lastly, Tiffany Green, a candidate for UB’s Masters of Public Administration program, won over the crowd with her passion for her project—a feeling that was evident to everyone in the room. Green made a pitch for $350,000 to rehabilitate three homes in Forest Park in a phased development approach, in which she could use the profits from each property as equity for the subsequent ones. She envisioned the project would help provide home ownership opportunities within the up-and-coming neighborhood, and why she was so passionate about the idea having been the recipient of the opportunity herself several years ago through the United Way.


After all of the pitches, the crowd filed out to the building’s atrium and the wait began. Thirty minutes later, judges John DeZinno, senior vice president of Howard Bank, Charles English, vice present of PNC Real Estate, Barbara Simmons, group vice president at M&T Bank, Zed Smith, chief operating officer at The Cordish Companies, and Tom Sychuk, senior vice president at BB&T, emerged after consulting with Bill Ariano, president and CEO of Baltimore Community Lending and his colleague Sean Russell, to announce who would qualify for the million-dollar guidance line of credit.


In a large, boisterous voice, Ariano announced that not just one pitch would move forward, but three! Green, Ratajczak and the trio of Casey, Ferraz and Wyatt were all chosen to have their projects move on to the next stages of financing. Subject to successfully making it through the underwriting process, this could mean up to $2 million being invested in the ideas of UB students and alumni. Ariano added that Holmes and Aje should continue on and work with his team to continue to tweak their proposals for future funding.


“This was an amazing night,” said Murray Dalziel, dean of the Merrick School of Business. “At UB, we know our responsibility and commitment to Baltimore. As we like to say, we are the University FOR Baltimore. Our partners and sponsors stepped up and agreed that this competition could ignite what is absent here: qualified developers who understand how to become fully capitalized, who understand the needs of the community and have the savvy to get the job done. I’d like to think that all three are true of our students in the Real Estate program and every program at this University.”


Seema Iyer, director of UB’s Real Estate and Economic Development program, began envisioning this competition idea with Ariano more than three years ago. Iyer got to know Ariano as well as many people living in Baltimore City neighborhoods through the years, since she also serves as the associate director of UB’s Jacob France Institute, where she oversees the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA). A signature project for BNIA is Vital Signs, a comprehensive, long-term look at more than 100 quality-of-life indicators for Baltimore communities. BCL often uses these indicators to understand the impact of their investments, and the fellows used them as well to show the market conditions for the neighborhoods in their pitches.


“I just couldn’t be prouder of our Fellows. I am so excited about how their pitch ideas were both community-oriented and business-minded,” Iyer said. “Community leaders throughout Baltimore are looking for resources to help invest in and improve their neighborhoods, and our Fellows’ commitment, passion and genuine desire to invest in Baltimore’s neighborhoods was precisely the connection we wanted to make.”


Iyer was also impressed with how many real estate professionals in the metro area came forward themselves, once their heard about the program, to volunteer with and mentor the fellows. Plus, the event sparked interested among other students who are already asking about next year’s competition and still others asking how to enroll at UB.


A special thank-you goes out to our 24 mentors and community leaders who worked with the Fellows, to the Neighborhood Design Center for providing concept plans for the Fellows’ pitches, and our sponsors: M&T Bank, Baltimore Community Lending, The Cordish Companies, Seawall Development, and the UB Real Estate and Economic Development Advisory Board members.


Interested in Baltimore’s neighborhoods? Dive deeper in to the statistical data behind every Baltimore neighborhood by using the interactive Vital Signs 17 database tool.

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What's Hot in the Merrick School of Business
Image of the business school's building

It may feel like a scorcher out there today, but what's really hot are the new program offerings in the Merrick School of Business.


There is nothing like a hot June day in Baltimore. However, the real hot topic we're talking about today are the new and updated academic offering that our faculty have rolled out over the past few months.


While mostly these include new specializations in the school's two largest programs, we did have considerable new offerings created that can enhance an accountants career. Read on to check out what's hot. 

It may feel like a scorcher out there today, but what's really hot are the new program offerings in the Merrick School of Business.


There is nothing like a hot June day in Baltimore. However the real hot topic we're talking about today are the new and updated academic offering that our faculty have rolled out over the past few months.

While mostly these include new specializations in the school's two largest programs, we did have considerable new offerings created that can enhance an accountants career. Check out what's new and hot.


New to the B.S. in Business Administration program

  • New to the B.S. in Business Administration program is the specialization in Data Analytics. Businesses today, and every sector of the economy overall, are increasingly dependent on big data. Business analytics involves using that data to improve decision making / leverage insight from data, and is used for everything from optimally pricing hotel rooms, to figuring out which TV shows will be successful, or identifying procurement fraud. The data analytics specialization provides students skills in database and big data technologies like online analytical processing, business intelligence, and data manipulation and transformation, as well as skills in predictive and prescriptive statistical modeling, and project management.
  • Just added to the BSBA program is the specialization in Real Estate and Economic Development. Real estate is still the largest asset class in America, creating vast opportunities in the field of real property. The business of real estate is far more than the acquisition and sale of property. Real Estate includes not just selling, but building, developing, managing, lending, appraising, investing, and legal oversight. But real estate, land use, housing policy, and economic development include more than business. The public side of real estate addresses the issues of neighborhoods, jobs and economic growth, construction safety, and government.

UB MBA Program


We have expanded our MBA specialization offerings to better align with what employers are saying are important areas to their businesses. Among our 11 MBA specializations we've added:

  • Cybersecurity and Organizational Resilience may be a mouthful to say but for this region qualified candidates are needed to bridge the gap between the technical side and the management side of the business. Employment of information security analysts is projected to grow 28 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for information security analysts is expected to be very high, as these analysts will be needed to create innovative solutions to prevent hackers from stealing critical information or causing problems for computer networks. [Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook , Information Security Analysts, (website visited May 10, 2018).]
  • Specializing in Data Analytics, is a growing field and all facets of business, government and non-for-profits are turning big data for actionable intelligence to gain a competitive advantage and growth. The Merrick School of Business is home to one of the best examples of using data to improve outcomes in the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance's (BNIA) annual report "Vital Signs." This important project is spearheaded by researchers in the Jacob France Institute—the nonpartisan economic research center housed in the school—and produces reliable and actionable quality of life indicators for Baltimore’s neighborhoods.
  • Digital transformation and innovation are forcing business to rapidly adapt. The MBA specialization in Digital Business will provide students with an understanding of the key effects of technological change on business. Think about this. Mobile data traffic will reach the following milestones within the next 5 years:
    • Monthly global mobile data traffic will be 49 exabytes by 2021, and annual traffic will exceed half a zettabyte.
    • Mobile will represent 20 percent of total IP traffic by 2021.
    • The number of mobile-connected devices per capita will reach 1.5 by 2021.
    • The total number of smartphones (including phablets) will be over 50 percent of global devices and connections by 2021.
    • Over three-fourths (78 percent) of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2021. [Source: Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2016–2021 White Paper, (Visited website May 2, 2018)]

M.S. in Cybersecurity Management

UB recently obtained from the Maryland Higher Education Commission the necessary approvals a to begin offering a M.S. in Cybersecurity Management degree. This program designed to meet the needs of security specialists who want to climb the ladder in business, government, defense, and other organizations where data protection and IT systems management. The degree, which is currently accepting students for the fall, is entering the market at a time when the demand for effective protections against electronic threats has never been higher. In the Baltimore-D.C. corridor, for example, employer demand for master's-level cybersecurity management professionals grew 68 percent between 2013 and 2017. Last year, that number—doubled. UB's foray into this growing field is not focused on the technical side of cybersecurity, instead, the new program is about building leadership skills, the ability to evaluate and reduce risk, and gain knowledge of cybersecurity strategy and policy development, and so on. In a field that is rapidly changing by design, the management of an organization's cybersecurity footprint requires a solid educational foundation. And we are here to make it happen.


Accounting and Finance Certificate Programs 


You might be sitting in your office as you read this and be saying, "How can I up my professional game?" The Merrick School of Business' accounting faculty have built academic pathways for just that reason.  In the last year they have either development or updated the 12-credit graduate certificates aligned with accounting to better position you for career advancement or professional enhancement. And all these certificates can feed right into the M.S. in Accounting and Business Advisory program. Check out the new options.

  • Accounting Fundamentals is designed for students who want to strengthen their understanding of accounting or for students seeking to fulfill some of the accounting requirements to sit for the CPA exam.
  • Business Valuation is a stackable credential for people who want to hone their skills in estimating the economic value of an organization's financial interest and risk. This certificate will allow students who seek more focused training in business valuation to develop necessary expertise to advise their clients. It will also address the needs of students in accounting who are need to complete 150 credit hours for purposes of CPA licensure, but who do not necessarily seek a full master's degree.
  • Government Financial Management has the biggest news. We are now offering the certificate at two sites; the University of Baltimore and at The Universities at Shady Grove campus in Rockville, MD. The certificate is designed primarily for individuals who are interested in careers in government financial reporting, government auditing, and government contracting and budgeting. It also prepares you for the Certified Government Financial Manager and Certified Defense Financial Manager examinations.
  • Internal Audit Services The graduate certificate Internal Audit Services is designed primarily for individuals who want to strengthen their understanding of internal audit and prepare for the Certified Internal Auditor examination. The field of internal audit is one that is expected to see growth through the next decade.


UB's New Brand Rolls-out
You Know Us the University of Baltimore
University of Baltimore emblem logo

You know us because we’ve been educating leaders for nearly 100 years; you know us through our faculty’s outstanding research and teaching; you know us thanks to the hard work, dedication of UB alumni, students and staff. You know us because we are the University of Baltimore.


You know us because we’ve been educating leaders for nearly 100 years; you know us through our faculty’s outstanding research and teaching; you know us thanks to the hard work, dedication of UB alumni, students and staff. You know us because we are the University of Baltimore.


In the latter part of 2018, the University of Baltimore launched an all-new branding campaign, designed to show the institution's long-established attributes as a home for hard-working, determined students in the context of a rapidly changing higher-education marketplace. The process took about a year and included with input from a wide array of internal and external audiences, the brand is intended to stand out as aspirational and academically focused. It also serves as a celebration of the University's home in central Baltimore and its nearly 100-year history. 


UB's new brand is largely centered on the idea of "You Know Us," and delivers a number of key messages designed to engage a variety of audiences, including prospective students. From a new logo to forward-looking, succinct messaging describing UB's capabilities and its unique qualities—as well as those of its students and alumni—the brand solidifies the University's place as an urban institution rich in history, broad in impact, strong in values and relevant to the shifting conversation about what public higher education is about in 2018.


"In ways that we've never seen at UB, our new brand tells the world what we are teaching and learning here, and how important that work is to our city and the world beyond," said University of Baltimore President Kurt L. Schmoke. "We have always had a solid reputation from an academic perspective, especially when it comes from our alumni. But we needed to flesh out that message and have it speak to the enormous amount of change that we've seen in recent years, and will continue to see going forward. We have never been complacent about the success of our students, and I believe our new brand delivers that message in ways that are bold—even striking. We are learning how to share our passion for transforming lives."


Those involved in the branding process say that the "You Know Us" message speaks to the lasting impact that UB alumni are making in Baltimore and beyond—in the legal community, the arts and sciences, in business and commerce, in public policy, and across multiple professions.


The University of Baltimore, founded in 1925 by local business owners and civic leaders as a home to those seeking to improve their career potential, is among the most diverse institutions in the state, and the only one of its kind in Maryland boasting undergraduate and graduate programs alongside its historic School of Law. It became a public institution in 1975 and joined the University System of Maryland in 1988.


"A key factor in developing our brand was to meet the new expectations of students considering higher education," Schmoke said. "There are many choices, and even more ways to pursue a degree—online, part time and so on. We know we are the right answer for a lot of these students, but we certainly can't wait for them to find us. We have to reach them, where they are now and how they're living now, and tell them about UB in ways that clarify and convince. Our students come from all walks of life; they are driven, resilient and focused on changing their future, and the future of their families and communities. I think this brand reflects that reality quite well."


Learn more about UB's new brand web site.

View the new video below.

The University of Baltimore: You Know Us

Message from the Dean

Each year, as I reflect on the impact the Merrick School of Business has on our students and our city, I am amazed by what we’ve accomplished. You’ll notice it too, as you read the stories in this issue of The Merrick Exchange. There is no shortage of good things happening here at the University of Baltimore.

As a professional school, our focus is on launching and developing the professional and entrepreneurial careers of our students. We actively create research that advances knowledge about business. We help our students use this knowledge because in the end, our students are at the heart of what we do. 


We strive to provide them opportunities to take their careers or startups, to new heights. And in this issue, we highlight our student entrepreneurs who have competed in multiple competitions over the past year, including, for the first time, students who competed in a pitch competition to address critical development needs within Baltimore's middle-market neighborhoods. The prize for that competition— financing up to $1 million in a "guidance line of credit" from Baltimore Community Lending—an U.S. Treasury certified nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution. Three student projects were selected, totaling almost $2 million in investments.  


This year, our Global Field Study courses took our students to Thailand, Great Britain and Finland. Led by Associate Professor of Information Systems, Eusebio Scornavacca, our students provided insights and advice to four Finnish startup companies. Real-world work is nothing new to our students—most of them are working adults. Their perspectives and experiences were unique in helping the companies and based on the news coverage in Vaasa, our students made a great impression and represented UB well.  


Of course, the core of our success stems from the dedication of our faculty to our students, to our mission and to scholarly research.  Several of our faculty members were recognized for their outstanding accomplishments in teaching and scholarly pursuits, these included:

  • 2019 Merrick School of Business Outstanding Article of the Year, Robert Felix, assistant professor of accounting
  • 2019 UB President’s Faculty Award Winner: Professor of Accounting Mikhail Pevzner
  • 2019 University System of Maryland Board of Regents Award Winner: Frank van Vliet, senior lecturer in marketing and entrepreneurship
  • 2019 Fulbright Specialist, David Lingelbach, associate professor of entrepreneurship for his recent work in Myanmar.


One of my favorite achievements this year, is the launch of the M.S. in Cybersecurity Management program and the new specialization in Risk Management and Insurance that is offered in our B.S. in Business Administration program. In both cases, industry executives, work closely with our faculty to address workforce gaps in these areas. The cybersecurity management program, takes people working within the industry, and focuses on building their leadership skills, their abilities to evaluate and reduce risk, evolving their knowledge of cybersecurity strategy, and policy development. All things that insiders say the workforce needs. The new specialization in risk management and insurance, is the only program of its kind offered in Maryland. Key executives, including the Maryland Insurance Commissioner, we involved in the development of the curriculum. There is some great momentum and opportunities for our students like access to internships, scholarships, and job placements. 


None of this could be possible without your support.  Whether you give your time by serving on an advisory board, speaking to a student group, or you actively sharing your Merrick School of Business experience with your network — your support matters to the health and future of the school. In particular, I want to thank you for your financial commitments. Your investment opens opportunities for our students and faculty to do great things, close to home or abroad, and in the classroom or in the community. For that I am very grateful.


Take your time and explore this issue. There is a lot discover.




Murray M. Dalziel, Ph.D.


Merrick School of Business

Merrick Engages Series Innovation

When Dean Murray Dalziel came to UB in 2014, he brought with him a speaker series idea that brings together our student, alumni and business communities. Merrick Engages is a series that takes a closer look at contemporary business topics through the experiences of successful business leaders. Each business leader sits down with the dean and they engage in a conversation that aims to better inform us, and provide a new perspective into the business world. Each dialog delves into topics pertaining to careers, business transformation and life lessons-learned.


This year our featured speakers included:

  • Joe Weinberg, CEO Cordish Global Gaming; CEO Cordish Global Cities Entertainment where he shared with the audience his thoughts on how reinvigorate communities and creating new business possibilities. View the full event video.
  • Chris Wilson, a graduate from the inaugural class of University of Baltimore Ratcliffe Entrepreneurship Fellows Program, Wilson recently published a memoir titled "The Master Plan: My Journey from Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose." View the full event video.
  • Laura Neuman, entrepreneur, author, former Anne Arundel County Executive and current Merrick School of Business Dean's Advisory Board member, brought forth her incredible life story that includes humble beginnings, personal challenges, sale of a firm she co-founded for $230 million dollars, and political office. View the full event video.

On September 25, 2019, Dean Dalziel will sit down with Paul Fipps, chief digital officer at Under Armour and two-time graduate of the Merrick School of Business. Learn more about this event and to register visit the web page.

Lessons From Legends

The University of Baltimore’s annual celebration of leaders in real estate and economic development, “Lessons From Legends,” featured alumnus Arnold Williams. The 1972 accounting graduate is a CPA and the managing director  at Abrams, Foster, Nole & Williams, a minority-owned certified public accounting firm in Baltimore, came back to UB to be honored as this year’s “legend” and to share his experiences influence and shape Baltimore City’s landscape.

Williams, joined University of Baltimore President Kurt Schmoke for a conversation about the approaches Williams takes to move  the city and the state forward in areas of development. During Schmoke’s time as the mayor of Baltimore, he appointed Williams to the board Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC), a non-profit organization, which serves as the economic development agency for the City of Baltimore. Their long history and friendship made the conversation rich with takeaways for the audience, including what it means to have a “win-win” when working with the community, developers, and the city.

To view the 2019 Lessons From Legends event visit our YouTube channel.

Accolades to Celebrate

Our undergraduate business programs are ranked as one of the top in the nation according to the "Best Colleges" ranking by U.S. News & World Report




















The UB Online MBA has been ranked eight consecutive years  as one of the top in the nation according to the "Best Online Programs" ranking by U.S. News & World Report. This includs for the first time, the designation of being a program great for veterans.



Top 50 Master's-Level University; highest ranked public university in Maryland (#41 in national category of top 150 master's universities) (Washington Monthly)









UB is in the top 10 percent nationally for advancing the economic and social mobility of students (#2 in Maryland) (CollegeNET's 2018 Social Mobility Index)





Upcoming Events



  • Sept. 25: Join Murray Dalziel, dean of the Merrick School of Business, as he talks with UB alumnus Paul Fipps, Chief Digital Officer at Under Armour.



  • Oct. 3: Join the Beta Alpha Psi Honor Society for Accounting, Finance and Information Systems for their annual event. 




  • Aug. 26: "Opening Day for Applications" for the Leonard and Phyllis Attman Competitive Business Prize. Open to University of Baltimore students or recent alumni from graduation years 2014-2019.


  • Oct. 7: "Startup Maryland Pitch Across Maryland" Tour Business Stop at UB


  • Nov. 19: "Live Finale" for the Leonard and Phyllis Attman Competitive Business Prize. 


Apply today.


  • Jul. 9: Transfer Decision Day, 8:30 a.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Jul. 11: Graduate Information Session, 6 - 7:30 p.m.
  • Jul. 13: Saturday Admission Hours, 9 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.


  • Aug. 3: Saturday Admission Hours, 9 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
  • Aug. 10: Open House
  • Aug. 13: Graduate Information Session, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Aug. 17: Saturday Admission Hours, 9 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
  • Aug. 24: Saturday Admission Hours, 9 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.


  • Sept. 12: Downtown Baltimore Graduate Business Information Session (Harbor East), 6-8 p.m.
Accounting Faculty Wins Outstanding Article

At the annual Faculty Awards celebration, Assistant Professor of Accounting Robert Felix received the Merrick School of Business's Black & Decker Outstanding Article award for his 2019 co-authored article titled “Spillover Effects of Internal Control Weakness Disclosures: The Role of Audit Committees and Board ConnectionsContemporary Accounting Research.


"I'm honored to win the best paper award," said Felix. "I'd like to thank Dean Dalziel and the whole executive team for their consideration. And I'd also like to thank my department chair, Phil Korb, for the nomination and his support. I think the paper gives an adds to the literature about into how information spreads between firms through directors and how financial reporting can be affected by the experience of directors at other firms."


In this article, the researchers were interested to see whether a firm's likelihood of having a material weakness in a particular year is affected by an audit committee members' prior experience with a material weakness disclosure. The researchers found that a firm is less likely to have a material weakness when one of its audit committee member experienced a material weakness at another firm in the past. One explanation of their findings is that the prior experiences of directors outside the firm influences their work on the audit committees inside the firm. To that end, the study suggests that directors diffuse important insights based on their prior experience and serve as a catalyst for improvements in a firm’s internal control and financial reporting practices.


Internal controls are the policies and procedures put in place to ensure the integrity of the financial reporting system. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) requires publicly traded firms to disclose the status of their internal control system, and to specifically state if their internal controls have a material weakness. A material weakness indicates that the internal control system has a problem big enough that could potentially lead to misstatement in financial reports. As such, reporting a material weakness is viewed negatively and is generally associated with a host of consequences. 

Learn more about Prof. Felix.  

In addition to the Outstanding Article Award, the School of Business announced professorships, chairs and annual teaching awards for the academic year 2018-19 at the school’s May awards ceremony:

Professorships / Chairs

  • Regina Bento, professor of management, awarded the Baltimore Gas and Electric Chair
  • Mikhail Pevzner, associate professor of accounting, continues to hold the E&Y Chair in Accounting
  • Amir Pezeshkan, assistant professor of management and international relations, awarded the 
  • CSX Leadership Chair
  • Dennis Pitta, professor of marketing, continues to hold the J. William Middendorf Distinguished Professor
  • Eusebio Scornavacca, assistant professor of information systems, continues to hold the John P. & Margaret M. Thompson Professorship in MIS
  • 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, awarded the Harry Y. Wright Chair

Annual Teaching and Service Awards

  • William Carter, assistant professor of management  received the Dean Clifford C. James Chair for Distinguished Teaching.
  • Robert Felix, assistant professor of accounting received the Yale Gordon Chair of Distinguished Teaching.
  • Jeffrey Weaver, adjunct management faculty received the Adjunct Faculty Award.
  • J.C. Weiss, received the Turner Medallion.
  • Jan Williams, associate professor of accounting, received the Yale Gordon Chair for Distinguished Teaching and the Dean Daniel Costello Service Award.
  • Frank van Vliet, executive-in-residence in marketing and entrepreneurship, received the G. Maxwell Armor Professorship.
  • Ting Zhang, assistant professor of economics received the T. Rowe Price Excellence in Teaching.


UB President's Faculty Award Goes to Accounting Professor

Mikhail Pevzner, professor and holder of the Ernst & Young Chair in Accounting in the Merrick School of Business, is the recipient of the 2019 President’s Faculty Award. Prof. Pevzner will be honored at a luncheon during the fall semester.



Mikhail Pevzner, professor and holder of the E&Y Chair in Accounting in the Merrick School of Business, is the recipient of the 2019 President’s Faculty Award. Prof. Pevzner will be honored at a luncheon during the fall semester.


This meritorious award is the highest that UB’s president may bestow upon a member of the faculty, and is based on letters of nomination from the deans to a selection committee in the Office of the Provost.

In an academic career with many highlights, Prof. Pevzner’s 2016-17 appointment as a visiting academic fellow to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the Office of the Chief Accountant remains a singular achievement. Following this fellowship, he was invited back to the SEC to serve as a visiting economist in the Division of Economic and Risk Analysis. His rigorous analyses of the impact of proposed rules and standards helped the Commission to strengthen public understanding of the accounting and auditing functions that support our country’s financial markets.


Prof. Pevzner’s “high teaching evaluations, commitment to continuous improvement in teaching, world-class scholarship, considerable professional impact, development, advocacy and management of the M.S. in Accounting and Business Services, service to the nation’s primary institution for overseeing financial markets, and exemplary leadership in the School” make him a deserving recipient of recognition by the University, said Murray Dalziel, dean of the Merrick School of Business.


In recommending Prof. Pevzner for the President’s Faculty Award, Prof. Phillip J. Korb, chair of the Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics in the School, said his colleague has contributed greatly to UB’s educational mission.


“Having observed his classes several times, I am most impressed with how he has structured his face to face classes as well as his online classes to maximize the student experience,” Prof. Korb wrote. “During his tenure at the University, Dr. Pevzner has evolved into a master teacher.”

In addition, his academic research has proven to be superlative, with multiple articles published in highly-ranked publications and a growing record of citations that indicates he is having a significant impact on the accounting profession.


“Overall, Prof. Pevzner has established a track record of teaching and scholarship of which we can all be proud,” wrote UB President Kurt L. Schmoke in a message to the campus community. “Please join me in congratulating him on this award and thanking the selection committee for its fine work.”


Learn more about Prof. Mikhail Pevzner.

Prof. Cavazos: Digital Advertising Ecosystem is Rife with Fraud
Study was cited in <i>The New York Times</i>.

To the tune of more than $20 billion annually, fraud is laying waste to the world of online advertising and marketing, according to a global economic study led by University of Baltimore Professor Roberto Cavazos for the cybersecurity company CHEQ. Marketers are contending with a digital ad ecosystem with "little regulation, connectedness or disincentive against fraud,” Cavazos says in an article in Ad Age. Improving the situation, he says, will require "honest and robust methods."

To the tune of more than $20 billion annually, fraud is laying waste to the world of online advertising and marketing, according to a global economic study led by University of Baltimore Professor Roberto Cavazos for the cybersecurity company CHEQ. Marketers are contending with a digital ad ecosystem with "little regulation, connectedness or disincentive against fraud,” Cavazos says in an article in Ad Age. Improving the situation, he says, will require "honest and robust methods."


Based in Tel Aviv, CHEQ's mission is "to help sustain the digital ecosystem by protecting leading advertisers from the risks of online advertising and helping them restore confidence in the space," according to Cision's announcement about the article. The report, "The Economic Cost of Bad Actors on the Internet: Ad Fraud," finds that while direct global economic costs of advertising fraud are estimated to be around $23 billion, the true economic and social costs may climb to $30 billion. As many as 30 percent of digital ads are affected by fraud, and the associated costs are expected to continue to climb during the next few years.

"I have studied the economic costs of fraud in many sectors for decades," Prof. Cavazos said, "and I was left stunned by the scale of fraud in online advertising."


The complexity of the online ecosystem, combined with a volume of online ads that reaches into the tens of trillions, has established a situation that is utterly susceptible to massive fraud, he says.

Read the Ad Age article.


The study was cited in The New York Times.


Learn more about Prof. Cavazos

Differences between user addiction to smartphone devices versus addiction to social network

University of Baltimore Associate Professor of Information Systems, Eusebio Scornavacca has co-authored a paper to be published in Computers in Human Behavior in January titled "Mobile ubiquity: Understanding the relationship between cognitive absorption, smartphone addiction and social network services."


In addition to his role a Merrick School of Business faculty member, he serves as UB’s Parsons Professor of Digital Innovation and holds the John P. & Margaret M. Thompson Professorship in Management Information Systems. He is a sought after speaker around the world. Prior to joining UB, Professor Scornavacca was a faculty member and director of research at the School of Information Management, Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. He has also held visiting positions in Japan, Italy, France, Finland and Brazil. Prof. Scornavacca is a research fellow of the Consumer and Organizational Digital Analytics Research Center at King’s College, London. His research interests include mobile and ubiquitous information systems, disruptive digital innovation and digital entrepreneurship. During the past 20 years he has conducted qualitative and quantitative research in a wide range of industries, including research sponsored by the private sector. Professor Scornavacca’s research has appeared in journals such as the Journal of Information Technology, Communications of the ACM, Decision Support Systems, Communications of the AIS, Information Management and the Journal of Computer Information Systems.

Learn more about the paper by reading the abstract.

The purpose of the present study is to examine the differences between user addiction to smartphone devices versus addiction to social network services (SNS), and the role of user perceptions. While a growing corpus of work has demonstrated the potentially deleterious effects of smartphone usage, relatively few studies have differentiated between addiction to the device versus addiction to social network services or measured the influence of user perceptions on smartphone addiction. To contribute to knowledge on this subject, the present study had three key aims. The first was to examine the differences between smartphone addiction and social network services addiction. The second aim was to understand the influence of user perceptions on addiction (measured through cognitive absorption to examine users' state of involvement and engagement with software and technology). Our final aim was to examine differences for demographic factors for smartphone and social networking services addiction and user perceptions. Based on a survey of business students at a university in the Mid-Atlantic region of United States, the results showed that addiction to smartphone devices is greater than addiction to social networking services and varies by educational attainment, while social networking services usage does not vary by gender, age or education. Further, users addicted to smartphones and social networking services experience higher levels of cognitive absorption, particularly by females when using social networking services and greater for social networking services than smartphones. Finally, we find that the impact of cognitive absorption on smartphone addiction is mediated by addiction to SNS services.

The journal article in Computers in Human Behavior.

Lingelbach Goes to Myanmar

The Merrick School of Business has had seven faculty through the years participate in the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, the most recent faculty member to join the prestigious program is David Lingelbach, associate professor of entrepreneurship. From November 2018 to March 2019, Lingelbach had been conducting research as well as teaching in Myanmar at the Monywa University of Economics. His Fulbright research focused on the topic of "Making Sense of Entrepreneurship in a Transition Economy."


Throughout his journey abroad, the professor and his wife documented their thoughts and experiences, sharing images of their Myanmar friends and colleagues.  They posted stories about the people they lived among and worked with. They even shared some stories of the political realities in the country which is home to a population of approximately 54.4 million people.


Upon his arrival back in the U.S., Lingelbach shared the news that he was most recently named a Fulbright Specialist. This designation will enable him to remain engaged with his work in Myanmar and extend it to other places in Southeast Asia. We look forward to seeing Lingelbach back on campus in the fall and learn more about his research activities. 


Below are just a few photos that the Lingelbachs shared in their social media postings. 



Prof. van Vliet Receives USM Regents Faculty Award

Frank van Vliet, executive in residence and holder of the G. Maxwell Armor Chair and Professorship in the University of Baltimore's Merrick School of Business, received the University System of Maryland Board of Regents Faculty Award during the board's meeting on Friday, April 19 at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Prof. van Vliet, a faculty member in the school's Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship, will receive the award for Excellence in Public Service. The honor is the highest bestowed on faculty at USM institutions, and recognizes "activity that benefits the citizens of Maryland, the nation, or humanity in general." Faculty nominating committees from each USM institution make recommendations to their respective presidents, who review nominations and supporting material and forward recommendations to the USM Chancellor. The Regents Faculty Review Committee makes the final recommendations.

A total of 16 awardees were recognized at the April meeting of the Board of Regents.

Learn more about Frank van Vliet.

Recent Scholarly Publications

Samples of scholarly research generated from July 1, 2017 -May 31 2019


(Merrick School faculty names are bolded.)







  • Kang, Y., Miller, N. A., Tzeng, H.-M., Zhang, T. (2018). Racial and Mental Disorders' Impact on Older Patients' Nursing Home Admissions upon Hospital Discharge. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 79(2018), 269-274.
  • Sawhney, B. L., Kabaklarli, E., Mangir, F. (2018). Contribution of Infrastructure to Economic Growth. International Review of Business and Economics, 2(1).
  • Sawhney, B. L., Kabaklarli, E., Mangir, F. (2018). Military Spending and Income Inequality in the U.S. International Journal of Economics Commerce and Management.














"Faces of UB" - Business School Edition
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If you aren't folllowing the University of Baltimore's Instagram account (@eubiebee), you might be missing out. This spring the university's social media team began a series called #facesofUB. Twice a week a new student profile emerges on the social media platform and provides a window into who we are at UB.


Here are a few stories that featured Merrick School of Business students.


Julie Styers


I got married and started having kids when I was 20.


So I wanted to do that and then, you know, a couple years into all that I was like, wow, I really shorted myself by not getting an education because you had to work three times as hard trying to raise a family. My husband, neither one of us had a college degree and I had always said I want to go back, I want to go back. I had four little kids and there was no way to go back. "I think at that time there were a couple of classes you could take like over cable or something like that. There were no Internet classes, so it was not possible. My sister, I would say about six years ago, she's 6 years older than me and she went back to school and I was like you know what, yeah, I can do this. My kids are grown now so then I was able to do it.


When I first started school, I walked in the door—I mean it took me 15-20 years to even go sit for a placement exam—and I was thought I'm going to go take one class and if I pass it, I’ll take another. And I've got a pretty good GPA, I got involved with Beta Alpha Psi, I’m doing an internship, I’m just doing a lot more than I thought I ever could so I think that that's probably what I’m of most proud of, that I can keep everything under control. "I have a lot on my plate. I’m doing the internship, I work another job, I have a family four kids we have farm animals so I don't like going on so I'm impressed that I was able to do it all and do a good job at it at the same time.

--Julie Styers, a B.S. in Business Administration student specializing in accounting. She is already taking courses with a goal to pursue a M.S. in Taxation.


I’ve been teaching a couple of high school courses on the side in business, public speaking, economics, stuff like that. That hour or two that I have is the most rewarding time I have all week. 

When I was an undergrad, I wanted to get people together and run study groups. I’d just send an email to the roster and I’d eventually get phone numbers and text them and it was insane; I’d be sitting there and all of a sudden like 10 people would show up. And they’d all be looking to me and I would be up on the white board for like an hour, drawing out and saying, 'I think this is it,' and figuring it out and then we’d actually have almost like a class session right there. There’s like 10 of us jammed in the study room and it’s hot as anything, but we’ve have an exam tomorrow and we’re studying.


I ran 15 or 20 of them as an undergrad and I’m proud of that because it was all me. There wasn’t anyone else that organized it or was leading the sessions and I was really proud of that. I was also proud of the fact that the people who came to the class sessions, they all did better. My professor in global business was like, 'Did you run a study session?' He said he was looking at the sheet and everybody in my group scored like a letter grade higher than everybody else.


That was kind of when I realized I should start trying to do this [teaching]. And that was nice because that was probably the most organic way it could have happened.


--Zachary Nelson, who transferred to UB from Carroll Community College and just graduated from UB's MBA program.

I didn't know anybody at UB when I came here and I came to orientation, sitting in the Lyric and I sat down there and I was involved with my high school, but not with my community college at all and one of the things was I missed being involved, so I was sitting in the Lyric at orientation and I promised myself to get involved and immerse myself in the UB community, not knowing what I would I would get my feet into.

I got an email from the SGA saying get involved with campus-wide committee so I joined facilities committee and then through that, I joined SGA. Through that, I met people in other student organizations, became the treasurer of the International Student Association and this year became president of the senate for the Student Government Association, remained treasurer for the International Student Association, and became president of the Investment Society here at UB.

I was an orientation leader this past spring semester and what was very interesting was talking to other students that were in my same situation not even two years ago and I met someone at orientation and they were like, ‘Yeah I want to get involved, and I said we have a position open in UBIS. He became the vice president and now he’s meeting all these people trying to get involved in stuff, so it's very interesting to be helping people following in the same footsteps.

One of the most rewarding lessons I’ve had here at UB is becoming involved, immersing yourself into the community. The stories you hear, the people that you meet are way more valuable than a test that you’ve taken and you’ll forget 20 years from now because, you know 30, 40 years from now you're not going remember the projects you did or the test that you took, but you'll still probably remember the people you went to school with, especially here where people’s stories are so vastly different.


--Kevin McHugh, who just graduated from UB's Merrick Business School and will continue this fall as a graduate student here.


Micayah JohnsonI don’t settle. I really strive for the best I can get at everything I can. That’s why I’m here.

I’m from Liberia. I transitioned here seven years ago in America with no family, no attachment. I sat for a visa interview, so I came here as a permanent resident. That was an opportunity. I had never dreamed about coming here. I always looked down on myself. I don’t have family in America; I thought I would never be that person to go there. So when I did apply to sit in this interview, it was just a trial thing from high school. Somebody helped me to fill out the form. I didn’t even know how to access the computer.

So when I was called that I won the opportunity to come to the embassy for visa, I didn’t have money--it was about $1,200 for the process--so my family started. My mom was selling bread, cutting wool in the bush, burning coal, just for me to raise this money to pay for my interview fee, which was $600. Going through this process, it took me one year, eight months to come here and I left my 7-month-old baby. He was crying 2 in the morning on my way to the airport. I left my baby, my son, to come to America to no family. I remember on the plane everybody who sat by me was trying to encourage me because I couldn’t stop crying on the 23-hour flight. So it’s been a long ride coming here.

Just seeing myself here, I know I’ve come from a worse place, so I believe there is nothing from America that will let me down because I’ve seen worse growing up as a child. I’m just grateful for every opportunity that I’ve had. I’m proud that I’m educated. I’m proud that I sat with my peers in classes. I’m proud that I have a voice to contribute to what we’re learning. I’m proud my professors have listened to me. The school administration has helped me in every way that I needed help. I’m very grateful for everything UB has given me.


--Micayah Johnson, a member of UB’s Class of 2019 who graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration, specializing in finance.


Thomas PutmanA lot of people talk about the colleges that you transfer to as being much more competitive and sort of brutal, like you’re there in the classroom and you’re competing for good grades, but I never really got that vibe at UB. I transferred in with a bunch of other students who were also transferring in. We ended up taking similar classes and seeing each other and it was really more of a hospitable environment, like we all sort of made friends and have been working through it together and we’ve all been helping each other along the way. I really didn’t think that’s what my undergraduate experience would be like. I thought I would just be transferring and just sort of taking classes and working toward the degree, but I see the same faces over and over again. I’ve had some of the same professors a couple of times and it’s really been helpful for getting through the rest of the degree.

And one other experience that I’ve had at UB that I didn’t think I would get out of my undergrad experience was doing one of the global field studies trips. Last year, we went to Thailand with Dr. Pitta and it was a huge cultural and educational experience and something that I was really glad to participate in. It really just puts the whole globalization of business into perspective. I never really thought about working abroad as a career potential, but now it’s one of my career goals.

--Thomas Putman, a B.S. in Business Administration student focusing on accounting. He transferred to UB two years ago from Carroll Community College.


Ryan ClaggettI like numbers and I like problem solving.

I don't like crazy numbers with calculus and things like that. I like regular math and then I like accounting because of the things you can do with it and the understanding that you have when you look at numbers and are looking at business deals. Like if you have an accounting understanding, you can understand the numbers, understand what numbers should be and what they mean.

And you can do a lot with accounting. You don’t have to be just be an accountant. You can get into finance and of course you can do so many things with the government, but it's business administration with the accounting, so you're also getting the well-roundedness of being a business student. You're not just in the corner working on numbers all day. You still get to learn how to work with people and work in a team environment. That’s pretty much why I like it.

--Ryan Claggett, a B.S. in Business Administration student specializing in accounting.


Liz PittsThe school's been very helpful to me. My last semester, I was diagnosed with cancer and I reached out to ask if there is anything that they could do financially to assist me, and Assistant Dean Kathea [Smith of Merrick School of Business], she stepped right up and helped me get a scholarship for my final semester. It was unexpected and it was wonderful and it was extremely supportive and it’s a great memory.


"It was all very new to me. I’m 33. It was in October that they found out for sure, so it was very recent. I was leaving my job at the bank and I was going to be without benefits. I was going to do all my routine tests and just through that process, they discovered that I had cervical cancer, stage 1. ... "It was very stressful and very sudden, but I was so close to being finished with school. It's a big priority for me to finish, being so close, and so I wasn't sure exactly what would happen, but it was nice to know—Kathea has been so very helpful in so many ways.


I had surgery in December. They just reconfirmed that nothing had spread and they had removed all the cancer and it’s just checkups every three months from here on out. I got very lucky.

--Liz Pitts, an International Business graduate, May 2019.

Cynthia GreenApparently, I am a person who likes to take complex situations and sort things out and make things happen positively related to those problems.


I really am motivated by—I am a Baltimorean, I am a native—and I am motivated by what the city’s potential is and real estate and economic development are some of the big-ticket items that this city needs to have some progress with. Of course, there are other areas like education and criminal justice issues, but if you can give people decent housing and decent work, you’ve gone a long way to fixing some of the other problems. And I might be doing it in a small case-by-case manner, like in the [Court] Navigator Program, just working with individual people to help them be their own representation, but that’s one way to help people.


I worked for the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance and they have a real estate project tracker where you tracked major projects over $1 million that were being developed at different points in the city. The tracker, basically, you could go in and you could see in different time periods and different locations, there was also a source map, so you could see all over the city. I was inputting the data, so people could see where all the latest projects were happening. Because it was in the 2014-15 time period, that was right after we had the major crises, so it was really fulfilling to put out there in the database that things were still thriving and that projects were still going forward. It was a major time for development in the city of Baltimore. Doing that work was quite fulfilling. I really felt part of the progress for the city.

--Cynthia Green, B.S. in Business Administration student, specializing in Real Estate and Economic Development


Tyler MedleyMy best memory is taking Marketing 301. We were assigned a project by Professor van Vliet. Basically, the project was to create a marketing plan for a company named Furbish; they try to enhance the ecosystem by building plants mainly to improve the environment surrounding a city or within a city. One of my tasks for that was to go interview the CEO of the company. I think that was the most memorable experience because I was always intimidated of executives and speaking to them one-on-one, but sitting down at a conference table just made me feel very relaxed. It was like they’re human beings just like we are; they just have important positions within their workplaces.

The fact that I had internships while being a student at UB has helped me maintain the notion of being consistent and not being complacent in where I am and wanting to obtain more knowledge than I already have. Everyone wants to be rich, but being rich mentally and knowing more than your competition, that might help you leverage opportunities in the workplace. Like, I think the fact that I have the experience with the CEO, that helped my communication skills. It helped me to better understand how to communicate with an executive.

--Tyler Medley, B.S. in Business Administration student, specialization in accounting, and a Bronfein Scholar. He graduated in May 2019.




2018-2019 Academic Achievement Awards

At the end of the spring semester, the School of Business holds its annual Academic Achievement Awards Ceremony. The highlight of the night is always the presentation of the Dean's Award. The award is presented to the undergraduate student who demonstrates high academic achievement, leadership and service. This academic year, the award was present to Thomas Putman, B.S. ’19. 


Putman completed his associate’s degree at Carroll Community College and transferred to the University of Baltimore in the Fall of 2017. A recipient of the Wilson Presidential Scholarship, Putman earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with concentration in Accounting and of the Helen P. Denit Accounting Honors program. As an accounting student he has completed internships with CliftonLarsonAllen and Acadia Family Office. He began working full-time at CliftonLarsonAllen right after graduation.  While a student, Putman was also very active on campus. He is a member of Beta Alpha Psi and was president for the Fall 2018 semester. In the Spring of 2019, he participated in the Student Government Association as a senator. He was also a member of the finance committee. Through his membership in Beta Alpha Psi, he supprted the Junior Achievement of Maryland, JA Biztown ,and RSM’s International Day of Literacy.


Putman participated in the Global Field Study to Thailand and was also an accelerated bachelor’s to master’s student. He is planning to sit for the CPA exam and pursue his master’s degree in the near future.


The following awards were also presented during the ceremony: 

  • Maryland Associations of CPAs “Outstanding Student Award”: Thomas Putman, B.S. ’19
  • Accounting Merit Award: Michaela Reid, B.S. ’18
  • Finance Merit Award: Farheen Nabi, B.S. ’19 and Kevin McHugh B.S. ’19
  • Real Estate and Economic Development Merit Award: Chase Robinson, B.S. ’18 and Joshua Dinkins, B.S. ’19
  • General Business Merit Award: Elise Smith, B.S. ’18
  • Human Resource Management Merit Award: Olha Dikusar, B.S. ’18
  • International Business Merit Award: Sean Molony, B.S. ’18
  • Management Merit Award: Nathan Freeman, B.S. ’19
  • Charles Siegmann Information Technology Award: Scott Thomsen, B.S. ’18
  • Entrepreneurship Merit Award: Malikahon Amanova, B.S. ’19
  • Dr. Peter Lynagh Marketing Merit Award: Theodora Nnagbo, B.S. ’18

Below are images of the awardees who attended the May 2019 event. 

2019 Honor Society Inductions

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2018-2019 Business Honor Society Inductees


Beta Alpha Psi, national honor society with a goal to encourage and recognize scholastic and professional excellence in the fields of accounting, finance and information systems. Faculty Advisor: Jan Williams, Ph.D.

  • Caleb Adeosun
  • AyomikunAkindayo
  • Christopher Anderson
  • Momina Butt
  • MeenaChhantyal
  • Jana Barnes
  • AnaisHibbert
  • ShaistaHira
  • Whitney Kalu
  • Chelle’ Lewis
  • Tiffany Lui
  • Farheen Nabi
  • Omar Perez
  • Ryan Reames
  • Jerry Ramirez
  • Michael Scott
  • YogapriyaSomasundaram
  • Naomi Weiss
  • Becky Zavorka


Beta Gamma Sigma, The national honor society serving business programs accredited by AACSB International. Membership in Beta Gamma Sigma is the highest recognition a business student in the world can receive in an AACSB accredited business program. Faculty Advisor: Paul Richardson, D.M.

  • Robert Brulinski
  • Eileen Catte
  • Julia Cole
  • James Daniel
  • Shelby Gonzalez
  • Jason Green
  • Logan Hayes
  • Jennifer Hemler
  • Madison Jordan
  • KareemaMclendon
  • Tony Overbey
  • Nuria Diallo Padro
  • Breyauna Stubbs


Mu Kappa Tau is the national marketing honor society, founded in 1966 in order to pursue and recognize academic excellence in marketing. Faculty Advisory: Frank van Vliet

  • BjorgAsgeirsdottir
  • Marshall Smith
  • Ryan Trott
  • Robert Waddell


Sigma Iota Epsilon is the national honorary and professional management fraternity. Faculty Advisory: Kurt Siklar

  • Bheti Cheeks
  • Benin Dakar
  • Marie Desire
  • Corey Futrell
  • Shelby Gonzalez
  • Jason Green
  • Meghan Miller
  • Andrea Murphy
  • Tony Overbey
  • NuriaDialloPadro
  • Breyauna Stubbs


Sigma Nu Tau is the national honorary fraternity in entrepreneurship. Faculty Advisory: Frank van Vliet

  • AraoAmeny
  • Johannes Badejo
  • Corey Bouldin
  • Momina Butt
  • Bheti Cheeks
  • Myra Derbyshire
  • ChitraDevadas
  • Ashley Frazier
  • Myah Frederick
  • Corey Futrell
  • Jason Green
  • Logan Hayes
  • HibaJamil
  • AkeriaLumpkins
  • Ashley Matthews
  • LashaeMorant
  • SabeloMthembu
  • Nuria Diallo Padro
  • Christian Ritchie
  • Mariah Scott
  • Edward Shields, III
  • David Speer
  • BreyaunaStubbs
  • Marcella Trader
  • Trenae’ Watson
  • Staci Woodward
Alumni Spotlight
Josh Penrod: Tackles Consumer Neuroscience, Head-on

Joshua Penrod, MBA ’10, is Senior Vice President for Source and International Affairs at a biologic and biotechnology industry trade association called the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association. He also is an adjunct professor in the Merrick School of Business. In 2018, he earned his Ph.D. and completed a dissertation titled “Innovating the Mind: Three Essays on Technology, Society, and Consumer Neuroscience,” at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. The research paper focused on emerging practice of consumer neuroscience and neuromarketing. Among his dissertation advisers was UB Professor of Marketing Ven Sriram.


Penrod recently sat down with The Merrick Exchange to share some thoughts about the field of neuroscience and neuromarketing, his career milestones and to share some valuable advice for our students.

Joshua Penrod, MBA ’10, is Senior Vice President for Source and International Affairs at a biologic and biotechnology industry trade association called the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association. He also is an adjunct professor in the Merrick School of Business. In 2018, he earned his Ph.D. and completed a dissertation titled “Innovating the Mind: Three Essays on Technology, Society, and Consumer Neuroscience,” at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. The research paper focused on emerging practice of consumer neuroscience and neuromarketing. Among his dissertation advisers was UB Professor of Marketing Ven Sriram.


Penrod recently sat down with The Merrick Exchange to share some thoughts about the field of neuroscience and neuromarketing, his career milestones and to share some valuable advice for our students.


Merrick Exchange: Why is the field of neuroscience and neuromarketing so important in better understanding the decision process of consumers? 


Joshua Penrod:  I think the verdict is still out on how important it is in a general sense for marketing; the theory is that if one has a better understanding of brain activity, one will also have a better understanding of psychology and consumer decision-making.  It’s likely to be true and interesting in some cases, but perhaps not in others.  It has the potential to be very useful in regard to branding and product design, but I don’t think we’re quite there yet.  We are more than just our brains.


Merrick Exchange: How does technology play a part in better understanding a consumer’s decision-making process? 


Joshua Penrod:  This is a great question that kind of was the crux of my dissertation.  I’ll skip a lot of the history but some researchers interested in business and consumer behavior started to use long-standing techniques such as eye-tracking and electroencephalography (EEG) in the 1970s and a bit later.  These started the idea of measuring behaviors which acted as a measure of a mental state…eye-tracking studied eye focus and fixation, which acted as a surrogate for the mental state of attention, for example.  This sort of thing has been around for decades.  It’s only been in recent years where the sexier technologies, such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) have been deployed in an effort to relate brain activity to things such as emotional states, decision-making, and perception.


Merrick Exchange: What is the most interesting or most fulfilling aspect of your work in the field of neuroscience and neuromarketing?


Joshua Penrod:  The entire neuroscience area is an emerging one and bursting with opportunities for science, technology, and enterprise.  Ultimately, the hope is that improving our understanding of the brain will lead to better understanding of ourselves not just for business but for basically everything.  There are so many ongoing controversies right now in the whole discipline that it’s hard to keep track of, but for someone with more of an observational role, such as mine, it’s a lot of fun to follow the arguments and discoveries.


Merrick Exchange: Please describe what you do at the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association.


Joshua Penrod:  I lead the international affairs department and source plasma division for the trade association.  All of PPTA represents the leading global  manufacturers of plasma-derived medicinal products and collectors of human plasma.  I do a little bit of everything, getting involved in our industry’s legislative, regulatory, and trade efforts all over the world.  A major part of it is the perception of the industry, the economic value of the industry, and the health care potential for patients.  I have an opportunity to interface with industry experts, policymakers, patients, and health care practitioners in many different countries and heath care systems.  I also work with a wonderful team of professionals.


Merrick Exchange: What are some of the business challenges that you face with your current projects at PPTA?


Joshua Penrod:  As a trade association, we’re on the cutting-edge of all of the health policy issues faced by a global industry.  We have to assist our member companies in many different facets and in many different cultural environments, and yet we a have a very small staff.  At the same time, our industry has been successful in meeting the needs of a medical infrastructure which has been achieving higher rates of clinical diagnosis for our patients, all of whom are afflicted by extremely serious and rare diseases.  It’s not unusual for myself or a colleague to be at a symposium in China, then in a meeting with European Union officials, in time to make it back for a conference with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration all in a 10-day period.  Managing the many different issues, attaining a deep cultural understanding and appreciation, and building relationships all require time, attention, and skill.


Merrick Exchange: You selected UB Professor of Marketing Ven Sriram as a dissertation adviser/mentor. Please share your thoughts on the importance of having a mentor in your professional life.


Joshua Penrod:  I knew Ven from when I did my MBA at UB many years ago.  We stayed in touch over the years and when I chose the direction I did for the dissertation at Virginia Tech, it made sense to “recruit” him and his expertise for the committee.  He didn’t seem to suffer too much, but you’d have to ask him.

But more seriously, he has been a wonderful guide and adviser both inside and outside of academia.  A good mentor is a sounding board and gives new perspective on issues that you may face, without being a de facto helicopter parent…and at the same time, the mentor has enough humor to see that when you ignored advice and made a mistake, more advice will cheerfully follow anyway.  And hopefully the mentee listens a bit more carefully the next time.


Merrick Exchange: What advice would you give to students who would like to pursue a career that combines marketing and technology?


Joshua Penrod:  It’s almost impossible to get away from technology in any field of business and management today.  There are so many interesting things happening now, not with just neuroscience, but in data analytics (Big Data), artificial intelligence, combining more and more techniques and insights.  It’s a dazzling time, but in the same context, the importance of listening carefully and having good judgment has also increased.  One can only hide behind data for so long before you just have to make a decision with conflicting, or even no information.  Leadership is still the most important skill.


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


Joshua Penrod:  I wish I knew some secrets, but I don’t.  I do think that sometimes some of us may be too quick to hop from place to place without fully exploring the opportunities within an organization.  Ultimately, there’s always a time to move on, but oftentimes this is done in haste.  Another challenge is in confusing education and credentialing.  There’s no doubt that an MBA can open doors, but it’s also about the skills that you learn and practice in the workplace where it really pays off.  I worry sometimes that folks get lost in the notion of having a degree, without taking account of the actual practical skills that you refine as a professional in your field.  We all need to build on education.  It starts with an education, but career success takes practice and hard work to generate greater skills and expertise, and those skills and expertise are what generate value for organizations.


Merrick Exchange: Why did you choose to attend UB for your MBA?


Joshua Penrod:  It had (and continues to have) a wonderful flexibility to its online program, and I was attending in the Dark Ages compared to what it is now.  I had the good fortune to run into a number of professors during my time who really discovered how to use the online interfaces and get great value delivered to the students.   The curriculum was directly and immediately relevant to my life and career, and I learned just a tremendous amount.


Merrick Exchange: How has attending UB helped you in your career?


Joshua Penrod:  The substantive work in the classes all have direct relevance to my role in general and senior management.  So finance, accounting, marketing, economics, and operations have all been areas that I continue to draw on regularly.  The online interface increases pressure on the student to be self-starting and disciplined, which also helps in terms of execution and leadership.  Last, but certainly not least, to the extent that I engage in teaching, my role as an instructor at UB has been greatly informed by my time there as a student.


Merrick Exchange: What personal goal have you set for yourself for 2019?


Joshua Penrod:  I have a bunch of writing projects in the works, almost all of which come from the dissertation.  There are at least three articles and a book coming, so this is an excellent opportunity to practice even more self-discipline and get those projects done.  I’ve had a few things published in recent years, and I always feel great satisfaction to see the results of that sometimes difficult process.  I’m also looking forward to spending more time with UB teaching some courses, and getting to know more students.  I learn so much from my students every term; the diversity, the commitment, and the talent in our student pool all amaze me. That’s something you get from teaching that’s simply priceless.

MBA Alumna’s Experience Leads Her to Donate to the School

On a brisk morning Friday in December, Murray Dalziel, dean of the Merrick School of Business convened the school’s end-of-year advisory board meeting. The board, made up of  local business leaders and alumni, were in store for a inspiring message from Lisa Phillips, MBA ’18. The dean invited Phillips to attend the meeting in order to thank her for her recent financial support and to share her life story with the board. For about 45 minutes Phillips’ shared her story and demonstrated her tenacity, persistence and ingenuity and why the university is so near and dear to her heart.


Phillips grew up in Baltimore’s public housing, in foster care, and on welfare. However the game of life wouldn’t hold her back.  In 2011 she graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Coppin State University and launched her small business, “CeleebrateUs,” a gift basket and party-planning company.  In 2014, she entered the MBA program with the goal taking her business skills to the next level. She has worked hard to manage her growing business and earned her MBA degree, she was even invited to the White House for a small business owner roundtable discussion. But for Phillips her next chapter was a daunting one–in December 2017 she would get the medical diagnosis no one wants to hear–brain cancer.


Like everything else Phillips attempts, she tackled the diagnosis head on.  She didn’t see brain cancer as an obstacle. She saw it as an opportunity to refine her business and pivot it to include a workforce training program. This was extremely important to her. She remembers how it felt to go through a workforce training program that opened the door to landing her first job in medical billing. She had a sense of pride and accomplishment to getting to that point. She now uses that experience to inspire others in her workforce program to reach new heights and build the confidence to navigate new pathways.


Now almost two years post-tumor removal, Phillips is going full throttle making a difference in the lives of so many who faced similar obstacles as she did–and doing it with a passion for business and compassion for people.

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Winners Announced for UB’s ‘Rise to the Challenge’ Business Pitch Competition

Four winners emerged from the University of Baltimore’s “Rise to the Challenge” Business Pitch Competition on May 1, each taking home their own “big checks” and a portion of the more than $23,000 in prize money. The annual event, held in the William H. Thumel Sr. Business Center, home of UB’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, showcases many of the UB community’s most talented and driven entrepreneurs.

Four winners emerged from the University of Baltimore’s “Rise to the Challenge” Business Pitch Competition on May 1, each taking home their own “big checks” and a portion of the more than $23,000 in prize money. The annual event, held in the William H. Thumel Sr. Business Center, home of UB’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, showcases many of the UB community’s most talented and driven entrepreneurs.

Melvin Clark, III, B.S. ’20, hooked the top award in the category of “Aspiring Business Ventures,” netting $2,000 for his business idea, AMJ Fishing Gloves, which allows anglers to manage all tasks (baiting the hook, handling the fish, casting, etc.) without removing their gloves.


The winning vote in the category of “Existing Business Ventures” went to Kareema McLendon, B.S. ’20, who earned $5,000 for her eponymous fashion startup, a wholesale bridal firm focused on designing, manufacturing and selling bridal gowns for women aged 30-55.


Kevin McHugh, B.S. ’19, founder of Bloom Box, an agricultural subscription box business catering to the needs of urbanites, especially those living in elder care facilities, took home the Crowd Favorite award of $1,000.


Stuart Tweedie, B.S. ’19, CEO of Stoned Audio, a lifestyle brand offering unique, hi-fi wireless earphones online and in select physical locations, was chosen as the evening’s “Most Promising Business,” walking away with a $15,000 check. The award, established last year 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.

As an added highlight this year, one of last year’s “Rise to the Challenge” winners, a graduate of UB’s Ratcliffe Entrepreneurship Fellows program and a rising star among the University’s many entrepreneurs, Brianna Billups, delivered the keynote address and made the entire night a memorable celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit. Billups is the founder of Fully Grown, a product-driven company on a mission to help communities eat balanced, nutritious meals.


Other finalists in the competition, now in its seventh year, included:

  • Casey Loeffler, ’20, representing Lightning Cycles LLC, a full- and self-serve motorcycle oil-change, maintenance and safety service provider;
  • Nicole Street, ’19, whose company, Premium RV Repair and Maintenance, a veteran-owned business, offers mobile, custom repair and maintenance for RV owners;
  • Tracy Shand, ’22, founder of Licata Boutique Salon, a mobile beautification service designed for career men and women, stay-at-home moms and dads, teenagers, children, and the elderly.

This year’s all-undergraduate student cohort competed in two separate categories, Aspiring Business and Existing Business, before a standing-room-only crowd and a panel of expert judges representing the local business and entrepreneurship community, as well as the UB entrepreneurial ecosystem:

  • John Cammack, managing partner, Kingcedar Holdings, LLC;
  • Gretchen Legrand, executive director, Code in the Schools;
  • Takia Ross, ’11, founder, Accessmatized;
  • Stu Silberg ’71, executive director, University of Baltimore Foundation;
  • Greg Stone ’96, partner, Whiteford Taylor Preston

The “Rise to the Challenge” competition, sponsored by UB’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, is designed to generate awareness of emerging and established innovative business ventures nurtured by the UB community.


Learn more about the “Rise to the Challenge” Business Competition.


Attman Competition Winner’s Video Game Focuses on Mental Illness Awareness

Four winners emerged from the 2018 Leonard and Phyllis Attman Competitive Business Prize Competition event on Nov. 13, each taking home their own "big checks" and their portion of the more than $5,000 in prize money. The competition, held in the William H. Thumel Sr. Business Center, home of the University of Baltimore's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, showcases many of the UB community's most talented and driven entrepreneurs.


Willow Hendershot, B.S. '20, took the top prize for the evening, netting $3,000 for her startup, Prevail, the first in a series of video games that focus on mental illness awareness. In Prevail, players progress through the story of someone struggling with PTSD.


"The competition was such an amazing experience," Hendershot said. "It really validated my ideas and my research—not just winning, but the amount of people that approached me throughout the event and told me their stories of dealing with their mental illness. At the end of the day Prevail is for them and anyone else that may need that extra support, however small of an impact it makes."


Second place, and a $1,000 prize, went to Brittany Whitby, B.S. '18, MBA '20, and Demi Abromaitis, B.S. '17, who teamed up to create Charmony Naturals, a unique line of hemp-based cosmetics for a diversity of needs. Kareema McLendon, B.S. '20, whose eponymous fashion startup focused on designing, manufacturing and selling bridal gowns to women aged 30-50, took home the Crowd Favorite award of $750.


As an added highlight this year, Crystal Santiful, B.A. '19, owner of Chrystal Tutu Paradise, which offers custom fashion designs for special occasions, earned the $500 "Hustle Award." Jason Tagler, founder of Pitch Creator, presented the cash prize—rolls of $20 bills in a glass jar—to Santiful for showing the most improvement during his 4-week presentation coaching program.

Read about this year's winners in Technical.ly Baltimore.


The annual event, established by the Attman family in 2011, is sponsored by UB's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and provides an opportunity for UB undergraduates and graduates, from all four of UB's schools and colleges, to pitch ideas and concepts for new and existing businesses before a live audience of their peers, UB staff and entrepreneurial experts.


Now in its fifth year, and a highlight of Global Entrepreneurship Week on campus, the Attman Competitive Business Prize is designed to provide seed funding for and generate awareness of new and emerging innovative business ventures nurtured by the UB community.  


Below is Willow Henderson holding her winning check along side of Mr. and Mrs. Attman, Murray Dalziel, dean and Henry Mortimer, of the UB CEI.


Williow Henderson winner of the 2018 Attman Competition is hold the check along side Mr. and Mrs. Attman.

Takes a Startup to Know a Startup
Entrepreneurship Fellows Go to Finland

The startup culture isn’t for everyone, nor is it for the faint of heart, but at UB we are grooming a select group of entrepreneurs through the University of Baltimore Ratcliffe Entrepreneurship Fellows program to launch and grow their startups. This highly selective cohort of students work intensely over four semesters to build a revenue-generating business.

The Global Field Study to Finland provided an excellent chance to utilize the knowledge and skills our Entrepreneurship Fellows are learning in the classroom and sharing the best practices they have unleased while launching their own startups.


Current E-Fellow, Kareema Mclendon of Cohort 6 and founder of a wholesale bridal gown firm that specializes in designing gowns for women between the ages of 35-50, and James Gerst, B.S. ’19, and founder of the Hooya’s Tea Company, both saw the Global Field Study course as a way to apply what they have learned in the classroom.


For Mclendon, who consulted for a lingerie company in the United Kingdom more than 16 years ago, she could relate to what she is going through with her business and what her assigned company Taiga Chocolate is going through as a startup.


“When you’re starting a company, you sometimes feel you are alone in terms of feeling overwhelmed,” said Mclendon. “I learned that what I feel sometimes as an entrepreneur is universal after talking with a few of the companies’ founders. My experiences in the Entrepreneurship Fellows program were extremely helpful when thinking about taking Taiga Chocolates to new markets.”


Mclendon credits Prof. David Lingelbach’s entrepreneurship course about opportunity assessment and development which emphasizes effectual reasoning (Who am I? Who do I know? What do I know?) and concepts of effective communication and teamwork from Prof. Lisa Stickney’s class in organizational behavior, with working with her teammates and putting forth a great presentation.

Gerst was one of her Mclendon’s teammates, and Cohort 5 graduate of E-Fellows program already had some experience working on case studies in other classes.


“From my experiences at UB delving into a case study and putting one’s self into the shoes of the decision-makers, I felt prepared on how to offer my research and advice,” said Gerst. “I’m also fortunate to have been part of the E-Fellows program, where we became intimate with the startup process and what it takes to operate a lean business. It was an absolute pleasure to work with the Taiga team and my classmates from UB and I’d encourage any student to consider enrolling in a UB Global Field Study.


According to, Eusebio Scornavacca, Parsons Professor of Digital Innovation, the Entrepreneurship Fellows are a perfect fit for the Global Field Study based on real-life cases from start-ups around the world. In 2017, in collaboration with the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, Scornavacca took 13 UB students to work with entrepreneurs in Accra, the capital city of Ghana. Last year, he developed a case-based field study in collaboration with IÉSEG School of Management in Paris, France.


The Ratcliffe Entrepreneurship Fellows program is a four semester program embedded in the B.S. in Business Administration program. It provides a scholarship to each student in the program, covering all in-state tuition and fees, plus a stipend. In the fall of 2019, we’ll begin the seventh cohort of the program.

Global Business Challenges Yield Real Results
Global Field Study Courses Take Students to ....

You never know what you’ll discover about yourself during a business school class, especially one that is taught in Finland. In partnership with the University of Vaasa, Eusebio Scornavacca, Parsons Professor of Digital Innovation, led 14 University of Baltimore students on a Global Field Study where they worked on real-life business challenges from four Finnish startups. Scornavacca, whose own work has sent him around the world and helped him develop far-reaching connections, has a history of leveraging those connections to help push the University of Baltimore onto the global stage. .

You never know what you’ll discover about yourself during a business school class, especially one that is taught in Finland. In partnership with the University of Vaasa, Eusebio Scornavacca, Parsons Professor of Digital Innovation, led 14 University of Baltimore students on a Global Field Study where they worked on real-life business challenges from four Finnish startups. Scornavacca, whose own work has sent him around the world and helped him develop far-reaching connections, has a history of leveraging those connections to help push the University of Baltimore onto the global stage.


According to the World Economic Forum, Finland has the fourth largest knowledge economy in Europe and it is one of the most innovative and entrepreneurial nations in the world. Eight UB MBA students, a M.S. in Accounting and Business Advisory Services student, and five undergraduate business majors, traveled to the industrial city of Vaasa (about 1,860 miles south of the North Pole) to immerse themselves in to a unique business culture and to work together addressing the business challenges presented by the partner companies. The participating companies were from diverse industries and had different objectives. Our students rolled-up their sleeves to impress and most importantly to help solve a pressing business issue for each company.


This international partnership was fully embraced by the local community. The UB team was invited to a reception in their honor, hosted by the City of Vaasa and they also made the local newspaper Pohjalainen with the headline “American Professor, Student Group, Looking for Answers to Vaasa’s Business Challenges – “Interesting, Different, Promising.”


That’s a lot of pressure, but UB students who are known for being practical and professional about their work product, were more excited and exhilarated than pressured. Scornavacca also credits the diversity of the group – the blend of experience, ethnic, gender and age groups – as a real strength for the success of this initiative.


Prof. Scornavacca has a history with the University of Vaasa. As a matter of fact, he has been going to Finland for more than 20 years because of his leading research work on mobile technologies.  He has previously been to the University of Vaasa twice before, collaborating with colleague, Prof. Panu Kalmi, in the area of using digital technology to enhance financial literacy.


“I decided to take the summer Global Business Study course to Finland so our students would have the unique opportunity to address complex business challenges from local start-ups, while effectively experiencing life in one of the most innovative, and socially developed countries in the world. The choice of Vaasa was in part to the long-term research partnership I have with Vaasa Prof. Panu Kalmi. Both the university and the city of Vaasa provided great support for our group. This partnership allowed us to have a level of access that no money can buy – like having a VIP backstage pass to the local entrepreneurial ecosystem” says Scornavacca, who also heads UB’s Center for Digital Communication, Commerce and Culture. “Our students were challenged to overcome jet lag, uncertainty from limited and unstructured information, understanding complex technologies and business models, as well as differences in language, culture and the business environment. And they nailed it!”


The companies that our students partnered with and developed a report and presentation for, included:

  • Finhow, a firm focused on early childhood education and pursuing ways to use digital media for marketing their services in the U.S.,
  • Taiga Chocolate, a company looking for a positioning strategy for the U.S. market,
  • Somessa, Finland’s largest influencer media company who were looking to improve their capabilities using social media monitoring tools in the social media market, and lastly,
  • Platonic Partnership, a gaming and digital experience company who were seeking to bring a product to the mainstream.

As for the students, they dug deep into examining each challenge’s strengths and weaknesses and making sure that their analysis encompassed issues such as organizational impact, cost, and feasibility — and of course justifying their recommendations to their clients.

For MBA student Murtala Sada, this was not his first time abroad, but he knew that the Finland field study was an opportunity to take him out of his comfort zone, looking at business processes and solutions with a different lens.


“I had high expectations prior to the trip about what we would learn and experience,” said Sada. “From a professional perspective, my expectation for this global study was an opportunity to use accounting, finance, and other areas like business operations, processes and solutions, all in a very different environment. I anticipated the challenges and welcomed the opportunity to think outside of the box.”

Sada’s group worked with Platonic Partnership. He and his team members had several ideas to address the client’s challenge so they set up additional meetings with the CEO and CTO of the company so they could have ongoing conversations about their research and proposed solutions. He saw this as a great way to get constant feedback from the executives and it also provided a better understanding of possible solutions that their proposal could address.


“Given the limited time we had to present our proposed strategies made the process adventurous,” Sada said. “We felt like we had a stake in the business and were compelled to research and present solutions that best addressed the challenges of our assigned startup company. When we arrived back in Baltimore, we had an email waiting for us from Juhana Lehtiniemi, who is the CTO, which stated their intentions to start implementing the strategies we proposed. How gratifying is that? They are moving forward with our proposal.”



Measuring Connectedness in Baltmore City Neighborhoods

The latest edition of Vital Signs, a comprehensive statistical portrait of Baltimore and its neighborhoods, introduces several new indicators aimed at measuring the connectedness of city neighborhoods to a wide variety of networks including home-based internet, the public bus system and capital markets for small business.

The latest edition of Vital Signs, a comprehensive statistical portrait of Baltimore and its neighborhoods, introduces several new indicators aimed at measuring the connectedness of city neighborhoods to a wide variety of networks including home-based internet, the public bus system and capital markets for small business.


Vital Signs 17 marks 17 years of continuous monitoring of community-based quality of life indicators. The latest edition of the report, published by the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance-Jacob France Institute (BNIA-JFI) at the University of Baltimore, tracks more than 100 indicators that take the pulse of neighborhood health and vitality. The report, along with new indicators and several data visualization aides, is available now on BNIA-JFI's updated website.


"Many of our indicators reflect what's going on within our neighborhoods," says Seema Iyer, associate director and research assistant professor for the University of Baltimore's Jacob France Institute, home of BNIA-JFI. "But to truly understand the strengths of our communities, we needed to provide measures that show how connected our neighborhoods are in terms of digital, physical, social and financial infrastructure. Neighborhood isolation across any of these domains results in the lack of resources to communities today, tomorrow and beyond."

The new indicators and the chapter of Vital Signs 17 that they are in include:

  • No Internet At Home (Workforce and Economic Development): 24.6 percent of Baltimore households do not have access to the internet at home. The highest percentage of households with no internet was in Greenmount East (42.4 percent) and the lowest was in Greater Roland Park/Poplar Hill (4.5 percent).
  • Total Dollar Amount Invested in Small Business (In collaboration with the 21st Century Cities Initiative at Johns Hopkins University): $1.7 million per 50 small businesses invested in Baltimore. The greatest amount invested in small businesses per 50 businesses was in Harbor East/Little Italy ($14.1 million) and the least was in Madison/East End ($0.14 million)
  • Daily Bus Ridership (Sustainability): 500.4 riders per 1,000 residents board/alight busses daily in Baltimore. The highest average daily bus ridership was in Downtown/Seton Hill (10,379 per 1,000 residents) while the lowest average daily bus ridership was in Canton (62 per 1,000 residents).

Every indicator in Vital Signs analyzes data provided at the Community Statistical Area (CSA) level, for which there are 55 CSAs in Baltimore. CSAs are clusters of neighborhoods organized around census tract boundaries, which are consistent statistical boundaries. Neighborhood borders don't always fall neatly into CSAs, but CSAs represent conditions occurring within the particular neighborhoods that comprise a CSA.


Informing Middle Market Strategies

Housing is the predominant land use in nearly all of Baltimore’s neighborhoods, and serves as the basis for quality of life in nearly all other aspects of communities such as health, education, local economies and safety. Yet the policies and laws that impact the development of housing have historically been established in isolation across federal, state and local governments and policymakers. To overcome diverging impacts on neighborhoods, Baltimore has worked on several innovative initiatives to take more local control over housing practices and their impacts during the past several years. The Department of Housing and Community Development issued a framework for community development in 2019 that expands resources to all communities through new funding mechanisms such as the Community Catalysts Grants and the Neighborhood Impact Investment Fund.

Vital Signs 17 provides measures to track investment in all of Baltimore's neighborhoods, including "middle market" neighborhoods that tend to see less capital investment or rehabilitation:

  • Between 2016 and 2017, the percentage of residential properties with rehabilitation permits in excess of $5,000 in Baltimore increased from 3.2 to 4.4 percent. In 2017, the CSAs that had the highest percentage of residential properties with rehabilitation permits were Highlandtown (13.7 percent), South Baltimore (10.8 percent) and Medfield/Hampden/Woodberry/Remington (8.4 percent). The CSAs that had the lowest percentage of residential properties with rehabilitation permits were Cherry Hill (0.9 percent), Brooklyn/Curtis Bay/Hawkins Point (1.1 percent), and Sandtown-Winchester/Harlem Park (1.4 percent).

A Difficult Year for Crime

The indicators presented in Vital Signs 17 detail the overall crime and safety trends within the city and the variation across its communities. It is important to recognize the context for many of the statistics presented in this chapter; the individual narratives of Baltimore’s communities vary and each area faces its own unique challenges or successes. The resiliency of each community is dependent on ability to adapt to changes in the community, new policies in policing, and collaboration around shared goals for safety and improved quality of life.

Violent crime in the city remains a pressing problem:

  • Between 2016 and 2017, the Part I crime rate in Baltimore City increased from 63.0 offenses per 1,000 residents to 67.0 offenses per 1,000 residents. The greatest increases in offenses per 1,000 residents occurred in Madison/East End (+32.1), Edmondson Village (+19.0), and Brookyln/Curtis Bay (+18.1). Despite the citywide trend, the Part I crime rate decreased most significantly in Downtown/Seton Hill (-28.2), Washington Village/Pigtown (-14.5), and Harbor East/Little Italy (-14.2).
  • Baltimore City experienced 342 homicides in 2017, an increase from the 318 reported in 2016. In 2017, 80 percent, or 275 of the total deaths were a result of a shooting. Two communities with the highest rates in 2017 doubled their gun homicide rates from 2016 to 2017: Greenmount East and Pimlico/Arlington/Hilltop.

About BNIA-JFI   

BNIA-JFI also hosts an annual workshop, Baltimore Data Day, in which community leaders, nonprofit organizations, governmental entities and civic-minded "hackers" come together to analyze the latest trends in community-based data, technology and tools, and learn how other groups are using data to support and advance constructive change. This year's workshop will take place on July 13 on the University of Baltimore campus. Details will be announced shortly.

BNIA-JFI began in 1998 as a partnership between the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. In 2006, BNIA joined with the University of Baltimore’s Jacob France Institute in an expansion of its capabilities. BNIA-JFI has strengthened the Vital Signs report and provided additional services and resources for those who seek data, information, and analysis about the city.

The complete Vital Signs reports, along with a separate executive summary, data, maps and other research by BNIA-JFI, are available here.


Fast Pitch: Video Stories in 120 Seconds.

In 2018 the Merrick School of Business launched the Fast Pitch series. This video series allows the school to use multiple platforms to share information about new programs, internships and other important information.


The series came to be after Dean Murray Dalziel challenged Kathea Smith, assistant dean host of the Fast Pitch series, and Danielle Giles, director of marketing and communications in the Merrick School Business, to come up with a way to showcase what’s happening in the school. After some noodling on the topic and evaluating the channels available to them, the two administrators came up with the Fast Pitch series.

In 2018 the Merrick School of Business launched the Fast Pitch series. This video series allows the school to use multiple platforms to share information about new programs, internships and other important information.


The series came to be after Dean Murray Dalziel challenged Kathea Smith, assistant dean host of the Fast Pitch series, and Danielle Giles, director of marketing and communications in the Merrick School Business, to come up with a way to showcase what’s happening in the school. After some noodling on the topic and evaluating the channels available to them, the two administrators came up with the Fast Pitch series.


“We initiated the Fast Pitch video series as a new way to interact with our prospective and current students, faculty and external stakeholders,” said Smith. It also introduces our community to our fantastic faculty and students. Many of the videos also serve as training materials on new programs and initiatives for our admissions staff and advisors.”


“Our plan was to tell our story in 120 seconds–that’s easier said, than done,” said Giles. “Just like one of students who is pitching their business idea to investors, we wanted our people to pitch the topic to our audiences in an authentic way. We generally record in one-take and never edit it. And we aim to really get the message out there as succinctly as possible.”


Check out the full series of YouTube videos


A Sample of Topics Covered: