Tuesday, July 15, 2008

UIS instructor receives award for small business

Donna Rogers, instructor of management in the College of Business and Management at UIS, was among five recipients recognized at The Springfield Chamber of Commerce Small Business Awards Luncheon on July 1. The Small Business Awards Luncheon is an annual event recognizing outstanding entrepreneurs and business advocates in our community.

Rogers received the award of The Home-Based Business Owner of the Year, which recognizes an owner whose business is based in the home for more than two years. Roger is the owner of Rogers HR Consulting.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Speaker discusses financial innovations

By Courtney Westlake

Dr. William Poole, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, spoke to campus and community members on Thursday evening, March 6, on the topic of "Financial Innovation: Engine of Growth or Source of Instability?" in Brookens Auditorium. Poole's presentation was part of the ECCE (Engaged Citizenship Common Experience) Speakers Series at UIS.

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is one of 12 regional Reserve banks, serving the Eighth Federal Reserve District. Regional Reserve banks, along with the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C., constitute the Federal Reserve System.

In his current position with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Poole directs the activities of the Bank's head office in St. Louis, as well as its three branches in Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee. He also represents the bank on the Federal Open Market Committee, the Federal Reserve's chief monetary policymaking body.

"The markets, as we're all aware, have been pretty upset," Poole said during his presentation. "Distress in home mortgage markets, falling new home construction and falling home prices in many areas have been a focal point in the outlook for the U.S. economy for at least the past nine months."

There is "nothing fundamentally new" about the recent subprime mortgage "debacle," Poole said. There are many examples in history of innovations that led to instability, at least initially, he said, but in general, economists agree than financial innovation plays a big role in economic growth, such as the long-term amortizing mortgage, money market mutual funds and credit cards.

"Financial markets are always innovating," Poole said. "Some innovations, such as credit cards, reflect technological advances. Clearly some people borrow more than they can afford. Credit cards, however, like many other payments and credit innovations, have lowered transaction costs, improved resource allocation and thus contributed to economic growth."

Subprime mortgage lending took off in the 1990s, but default rates on subprime mortgages began to rise in 2006, when the growth in house prices began to slow down, Poole said. He claims there are five major mistakes that led to the "meltdown," with plenty of blame to go around.

But there are lessons to be learned from this occurrence and other cases of instability, he said.

"For the individual or the firm, the lessons are clear: educate yourself about the potential risks of any investment or financial transaction, understand the incentives of counterparties in those transactions and avoid putting at risk money you cannot afford to lose," he said.

Above all, the importance of financial innovation in promoting economic growth shouldn't be forgotten, Poole emphasized.

"Successful financial innovations - those that meet the market test over the long term - promote the efficient allocation of capital and contribute to raising our standard of living," he said.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Professor Engages Students with Theatrical Teaching Style

By Courtney Westlake

Dr. Richard Judd started out as a young man who wanted to sing classical music, but he soon realized that few people can have a career in opera, so he switched to musical comedy and became a professional actor and singer in the 1960s.

Eventually, though, Judd shifted to a new audience.

With a Ph.D. in Business focused on business strategy, Judd has been a writer, researcher and professor at UIS for the past 28 years, engaging his students with his clever personality and interactive teaching style in the College of Business and Management.

Over his tenure here, Judd has taught subjects ranging from entrepreneurship, business strategy, business and public policy, franchising and marketing. He also teaches a course called Business Perspectives, which is the first course in UIS' MBA program. The class discusses how to analyze a firm and examines key issues business leaders will face in the next ten years.

"We want you, when you move into your career, to move beyond your biases and come to: what is the philosophic point, as I manage and own and make a decision that will have an impact, where I can stand firm?" he said.

Judd has published three different books: one on business strategy, an award-winning book on small business in a regulated economy and the first and only textbook on franchising, which is now in its fourth edition.

He also serves as the director of the UIS Center for Entrepreneurship, which was launched in January 2005 as part of the Illinois Entrepreneurship Network along with twelve other centers in the state. Judd was also the director of the center when it began originally in 1983.

"(Business leaders and entrepreneurs) come in and talk; we see what the center can do for you, whether it be workshops, counseling and developing, guidance to another source," Judd said.

Judd often looks over finances of businesses confidentially and make recommendations about next step. Many who come to the center are also referred to the Small Business Development Center, located downtown. He is thrilled with the Center for Entrepreneurship, he said, and hopes to remain involved after retirement at the end of the school year.

"I want the center to become more intimately involved in the local business community, and all around central Illinois, not just in Springfield. And my personal goals include doing more fishing," he joked.

For students attending UIS, Judd encouraged students to immerse themselves in the opportunity they have been given.

"Why would you ever come to school? You come to school to learn arts and develop habits.
You come here to learn to think critically; you come here for self-examination," he said.
"You come to a good school for one thing: self-knowledge. So you know who you are when you leave much better than when you came."

Judd said he is more than pleased with the growth and continuing excellence of the College of Business and Management over the years.

"We've made dramatic changes in our programming here. The beauty is, after some long and hard work, we are now an accredited association, one of a couple hundred in the country that are accredited nationally and internationally for what we do as a business school," he said. "We've come a long way, and we've done a good job, frankly. The strides made here have been virtually incredible."

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Professor Heads to Yellowstone when Summer Comes

By Courtney Westlake

On a typical day during the school year, Dr. Gilbert Crain can be found in his office, writing for the monthly newsletter, Governmental Accounting and Auditing Update, or in a classroom, teaching students about the finer aspects of accounting.

But when the summer moves in and school lets out, Crain packs up his books and heads to Yellowstone National Park, where he spends his days as a park ranger, primarily directing “bear jams” to ensure that Yellowstone’s bears can get safely across the roads, while leaving the park-goers and their vehicles unharmed as well.

It’s a double life that isn’t for the faint of heart.

Born in Urbana, Crain obtained his Ph.D. in accountancy from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In the spring of 1974, he left Illinois to teach at Montana State University in Bozeman, Mont.

It was several years ago, while still living in Bozeman, that Crain stumbled upon an opportunity that fulfilled a life-long dream of working outdoors.

“When I first started at Southern (Illinois University at Carbondale for undergraduate), I had my sights on being a forester, but I’m not a science guy,” he said. “That was really always where I wanted to be, was outdoors. About eight years ago, I had the opportunity to quit teaching some continuing education courses in the summer and started volunteering with Yellowstone.”

Crain spent several years working to keep unwanted plant life in the park to a minimum before he found his niche. One weekend, he ventured to Yellowstone for his typical activities, fishing and hiking, when he came across an enormous bear jam and a lone park ranger to handle it.

“I stopped and asked if she’d like some help; I’d done a couple bear jams before,” he said. “I started working jams with her that day, continued throughout the whole weekend and continued every weekend that fall.”

During a bear jam, when bears get too close to the road or cross the road, rangers work with three objectives: keeping the bear, and cubs, safe, keeping the people safe and lastly, keeping the vehicles safe, Crain said.

“Fortunately the bears along the road are really habituated and not aggressive, but they are still bears; they can run a hundred yards in 6 seconds,” he said. “I can tell you that in a situation like that (a complex bear jam), by the time it’s over, my adrenaline is well up there. I’ve decided that is a lot of why I do it - it’s an adrenaline rush.”

Now, Crain is taking a new step in his life: moving back to Illinois to become a new associate professor of accountancy at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

“Part of it was a little bit of ‘going home’,” Crain said, adding that he knew his predecessor, Dave Olsen, very well. “To me, the most important things are the camaraderie of my colleagues and the work ethics of the students. I got good evaluations from Dave on both, and so far, that seems to be accurate.”

But although he is back in his home state, many hours from Yellowstone, Crain does not anticipate giving up on his second life anytime soon. And he encourages anyone else interested in volunteering at Yellowstone to talk with him.

“It’s exciting. It’s almost a spiritual thing, even though that sounds kind of hokey, but if you’ve ever been out on a jam with me, you’d understand,” Crain said.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour Motivates UIS Students

By Courtney Westlake

Sheena Lindahl clearly remembers leaving for college with one half of her first semester paid for and $30 in her pocket. But she was determined to make it, and through ambition, action and some good fortune along the way, found a job and earned her way through school.

Lindahl is now one of the co-founders, along with Michael Simmons, of Extreme Entrepreneurship Education and authors of The Student Success Manifesto and All or Nothing, Now or Never. The pair is 2005 graduates of New York University and now travel the United States as part of the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour.

The Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour made a stop on Wednesday afternoon, October 2, at UIS while visiting colleges nationwide to inspire students to dream big and take action.

"There are a lot of reasons that having a vision is important," Simmons told the crowd on Wednesday. "Even though it's way in the future, what you want to accomplish in your life and the legacy you want to leave, it immediately starts guiding your decisions now."

The tour also brings together young entrepreneurial speakers who have made, earned and sold their company for millions and made a huge impact before 25. UIS’ panel of speakers included Joe Kim of Springfield’s Design Ideas, Michelle Tjelmeland of e-Websmart in Springfield and Mary Byers, a local author and motivational speaker.

"Act like the person you want to be," Byers advised the audience during the panel presentation. "If you want to be a successsful CEO, you need to dress like one, you need to act like one, you need to respond to phone calls like one, you need to be a continuous student like one. Whatever it is you want to be, ask yourself how does this person act, and then act that way, and you'll be successful."

Throughout the afternoon and evening, booths were set up in the Lincoln Residence Hall entry from a variety of vendors around the area, including the UIS College of Business and Management, Career Development Center, and Center for Entrepreneurship, SCORE, LLCC Small Business Development Center, State Farm Insurance, Illinois Entrepreneurship Network, e-Websmart, Chamber of Commerce Young Springfield Professionals Network and Design Ideas.

Several workshops, speed networking and an “inspirational” keynote introduction were also offered as part of the tour’s stop. During the Dream Action workshop, participants were asked to write down their goals in life, how they might accomplish those and what obstacles they might face, and were left with the challenge of taking action on their goals.

"If you're really committed to a vision, and you're willing to take action steps, you'll have all of the resources - like research, marketing, networking - available to you," Lindahl said. "It sounds so simplistic: to take action. But if you're taking action on your vision, you can't go wrong."

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