UT Joins I-Corps South to Expand Entrepreneurial Training

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will receive grant funding to teach technology entrepreneurship, perform research and foster innovation through the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program.

A public-private partnership, I-Corps was created in 2011 to train researchers to evaluate the commercial potential of their scientific discoveries. The program is offered in a “startup boot camp” format.

“I-Corps [hubs] support the national innovation ecosystem and help some of America’s brightest researchers test the commercial potential of their discoveries,” Grace Wang, acting assistant director for the NSF Directorate for Engineering, said in a statement.

I-Corps South, which started with the Georgia Institute of Technology, is being expanded to include UT and the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. It will receive a collective $3.45 million over five years.

Taylor Eighmy, vice chancellor of research and engagement, will oversee UT’s portion of the grant.

“The University of Tennessee is already a leader within the state in commercializing technology invented in our labs,” Eighmy said. “We look forward to using this grant to leverage our strengths to provide even greater economic impact throughout the state.”

Rhonda Reger will administer the grant under Eighmy’s oversight. She is the Nestle Professor of Business Administration at the Haslam College of Business and research director for the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

“The expansion of the Georgia Tech node to become I-Corps South and serve the southeastern United States will greatly accelerate technology entrepreneurship throughout this growing region,” Reger said.

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development supports programs associated with the grant, said Randy Boyd, that department’s commissioner.

“We will be working with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and LaunchTN, our statewide public-private partnership focused on supporting the development of high-growth companies in Tennessee,” Boyd said. “This type of entrepreneurial training will encourage and grow an innovation ecosystem in this region enhancing commercialization and economic well-being.”

Boyd’s comments reflect the stated goals of I-Corps South. The regional Innovation Corps program aims to accelerate the development of the South’s entrepreneurial ecosystems; provide for increased partnership opportunities between academia and industry; and focus on underrepresented minorities to increase their participation in research pursuits and entrepreneurship.

More information is available at: the I-Corps South website; the National Science Foundation press release about the grant; the UT, Haslam College of Business, and Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation websites; the Georgia Institute of Technology VentureLab website; and the University of Alabama I-Corps website.

Posted in 2014

Experts at Boyd Center Economic Forecast Luncheon Bullish on State Economy


Associate Director Matt Murray & Director Bill Fox

Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research Director Bill Fox and Associate Director Matt Murray told a crowd of nearly 200 business members on Sept. 8 that the Tennessee economy is expected to continue to grow in 2017.

The Boyd Center, housed in the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, held its first economic forecasting luncheon to share what the nation and state’s economy could look like in the coming new year.

Tennessee is in the top 10 states in the nation in terms of economic momentum and one of the fastest in growth, Boyd experts said. Tennesseans are spending “aggressively” and at a fast rate, as strong job growth and lower gas prices are putting more money in consumer’s pockets, according to Fox and Murray.

The state also has consistently experienced stronger job growth than the national average over the past several years, while its unemployment rate is now below the national rate. In 2009, Tennessee’s unemployment rate reached 11.1 percent. This year, the state’s unemployment rate has plummeted to just above 4 percent. The nation’s average is just below 5 percent.

The pair also noted that Tennessee’s tax revenue growth is solid. Sales taxes, in particular, are showing strong growth at nearly unprecedented levels.

“You can see the outlook going forward is generally positive growth in the national economy and the state economy, barring some unforeseen shock,” Murray said. “We expect the economy to continue to grow.”







Posted in 2016 | Tagged , , ,

Top Golf CEO Ken May Receives Haslam Accomplished Alumni Award


Ken May, a 1994 MBA graduate, accepted an Accomplished Alumni Award from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Haslam College of Business on Sept. 8.

During his visit to Knoxville, May shared lessons on leadership with a group of Haslam Global Leadership Scholars, explaining how he motivates his team members and achieves results within a corporate structure.

“You’ll find that your followers want to know honestly what people think of them,” May said. “When you do feedback sessions, keep things simple by sticking to three things. Don’t overcomplicate your interactions. Anyone can remember three things to work on.”

May, who was featured on the cover of the winter 2016 issue of Haslam Magazine, is the CEO of Top Golf, a Dallas-based company operating golf entertainment complexes in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Prior to his current role, May spent 25 years with FedEx and worked his way up to the position of CEO for FedEx Kinko’s in 2004. He credits his Haslam MBA education with enabling him to move from mid- to upper-level management. After leaving FedEx, May spent a year as president and chief operating officer of Krispy Kreme before joining Top Golf.

According to Chip Bryant, interim vice chancellor for alumni affairs and development at UT, May has distinguished himself through his personable manner and dedication to higher education.

“Ken May is a great example of what a Haslam graduate can achieve,” Bryant said. “He’s the caliber of person that brings sincerity, vision and determination to everything he does. It’s evident that he cares deeply about the people he’s crossed paths with during his substantial career, which is why we’re honored to count him as an accomplished alumnus.”

Maddie Rule, a Global Leadership Scholar and senior marketing major, reflected on May’s message about servant leadership after his talk.

“Servant leadership is really important and under-acknowledged,” Rule said. “It’s important to understand the people you lead and what their aspirations are.”

Posted in 2014

Full-Time MBA Class of 2017 Includes More Veterans


The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Haslam College of Business MBA class of 2017 started the fall semester with twice as many military veterans as in previous years. Veterans now account for nearly 13 percent of the 62-person class.

“As a group, veterans have a lot of leadership and management experience and often make very good students,” said Trent Thurman, executive director of Haslam’s graduate programs. “In some cases, they’ve led troops in battle, worked under extreme pressure and learned valuable skills that certainly have business applications.”

Most of the incoming veterans are transitioning into civilian careers, while some plan to continue their military careers after earning their MBAs. Part of the increase may be due in part to the college’s decision to waive the GMAT test score requirement for veterans for the first time this year.

“We can see a lot more about their character based on their experiences rather than what a test score will show,” Thurman said.

Phil Montag, who was an United States Army helicopter pilot in Afghanistan after completing his bachelor’s degree at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 2009, applied to the Haslam MBA program as a bridge to a career in supply chain, analytics or finance.

“The Army provided me the opportunity to grow as a leader and develop my soft skills,” Montag said. “The Haslam MBA is offering me a chance to polish those skills and make them marketable to leaders in business. It’s a veteran-friendly environment and everyone here makes the process of using the GI Bill as simple as possible.”

Tanya Cuprak, an active-duty coast guard officer, is in her second year of pursuing dual MBA and MS in industrial engineering degrees. She credits the Haslam MBA program with building her knowledge of business from the ground up.

“The curriculum is challenging, but the professors are incredibly helpful and truly interested in your success,” Cuprak said. “For the most part, veterans have the leadership and management skills they need to succeed. Almost every Haslam MBA assignment involves working with a team. You succeed or fail together.”

Chris Ruel, also a second year MBA student, is specializing in entrepreneurship and innovation. He spent 12 years in active duty service, including special forces, and owns the Prometheus Group, a personal security company.

“The military was all I had known for my adult life, so it naturally shaped my thought processes,” Ruel said. “I knew this MBA program would help shift my frame of reference and allow me to approach problems from a fresh perspective.”

UT was recently recognized for its strong support for veterans and their families in the 2017 U.S. News and World Report list of Best Colleges for Veterans. The university rose 18 spots since last year to the place of 31st among all public universities and 66th among all public and private colleges and universities.

In addition to an increased number of veterans, the Haslam MBA class of 2017 has an average GMAT score of 627, an increase from the previous two years. Thirty-seven percent of the class is female and 31 percent come from outside the U.S.

Posted in 2014

U.S. News ranks Haslam College of Business supply chain program No. 3

The undergraduate supply chain management program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business is third in the nation according to rankings released today by U.S. News and World Report.

Haslam’s supply chain management program rose two spots in the 2017 rankings from fifth last year. The college’s overall undergraduate programs retained their position of 30th among public universities and rose two spots to be ranked 48th nationally this year.

“Continued recognition of our top-notch supply chain program by U.S. News and World Report underscores similar honors by industry rankings such as Gartner,” said Steve Mangum, dean and Stokely Foundation Leadership Chair. “The successes of supply chain, and the gains achieved by the Haslam College of Business broadly, are a direct result of the hard work and dedication of our faculty, staff and students. We will continue to strive for high standards in business education and outcomes that improve the world.”

U.S. News averaged surveys taken in 2015 and 2016 of deans and senior faculty at business schools accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business to arrive at their rankings. Participants were asked to rate the quality of programs of which they were familiar on a scale from one to five, with five being distinguished.

The University of Tennessee’s overall undergraduate programs rose one spot to 46th among public universities while retaining its rank of 103rd nationally in the same rankings. The heightened status is a result of improvements in graduation rates and average freshman retention rates. Additionally, the university was ranked 66th nationally and 31st among public institutions on a list of best colleges for veterans.

To see the complete list of rankings, visit http://www.usnews.com/education.

Posted in 2014

UT Business Analytics Forum to Discuss Leveraging the Internet of Things

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Haslam College of Business will gather analytics experts from across the country Sept. 15–16 to address how to leverage data from new sources at its semiannual Business Analytics Forum.

Estimates suggest that by 2020, 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet and to each other. Used properly, machine-to-machine communication built on cloud computing—popularly known as the Internet of Things—can do more than connect devices: it can automate action.

“Analyzing retrospective data to make business decisions becomes antiquated when devices are interconnected,” said Julie Ferrara, director of the Business Analytics Forum. “With the proper architecture in place, an organization can program its data sources to communicate and make predictive decisions—like avoiding delivery routes that have the potential to be iced over or flooded.”

Bill Schmarzo, chief technology officer at EMC Global Services Big Data, will lead the keynote address on how to take an organization from being connected to being smart.

Jeff Huckaby of Tableau Software will reinforce Schmarzo’s discussion of big data leverage with a case study. On the second day of the forum, Khuram Zaman, CEO at Fifth Tribe, will discuss how he used analytics to model and combat ISIS propaganda on Twitter.

Forum participants will tour Cherokee Farm Innovation Campus and Research Park and conduct breakout discussions on how their companies are analyzing and using new data sources as well as the challenges they face.

The forum will take place at the Hilton Knoxville and cost is free for forum members.

Companies interested in joining the forum can attend once as a guest. Forum members meet twice a year to develop competitive strategies and share best practices. For inquiries about membership and benefits, contact Julie Ferrara at 865-974-1659.


Julie Ferrara (865-974-1659, jferrar@utk.edu)
Katie Bahr (865-974-3589, katiebahr@utk.edu)

Posted in 2014

1,000 UT Freshman Business Majors to Participate in “Haslam Engaged”


KNOXVILLE—The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Haslam College of Business will host nearly 1,000 first-year business students Sept. 9 from 1 to 4:30 p.m. in Thompson-Boling Arena for “Haslam Engaged,” an experiential team building and learning event.

The event will begin with students gathering on the arena floor before dividing into smaller groups. Upperclassmen in the Haslam College of Business will lead the team building exercises.

One of those exercises, the blind lineup, asks students to line up by height with their eyes closed and without speaking. Another asks them to cross an imaginary river using only one pair of “magic shoes.” The exercises become progressively more challenging as the program goes on.

“The inaugural event is intended to make first-year students feel welcomed, included and valued,” said Lane Morris, associate dean of undergraduate programs and student affairs. “We are extremely excited about offering this rewarding experiential learning event for our first-year business students. Our faculty and staff will be in attendance as well to show their support.”

The event is part of the college’s required first-year course—Business Administration 100—Inclusion: Becoming an Engaged Leader in a Diverse Community.

“The course is a critical component of our retention and graduation efforts that also provides an opportunity for first-year students to be in a class comprised entirely of fellow business students,” said Morris.

Goals of the first-year seminar include integrating students into both UT and the Haslam College of Business, helping students develop strategies for success in both college and life, and enabling students to become engaged leaders in a diverse community.

All students will receive lunch and a T-shirt.


Gerhard Schneibel (865-974-2894, gschneib@utk.edu)

Tyra Haag (865-696-1941, tyra.haag@tennessee.edu)

Posted in 2014