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RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University Tri-Cities signed a memorandum of understanding today to partner with Vanwest College from Vancouver, British Columbia, and Mahasarakham University from Talat, Thailand, for a language and cultural exchange program that will benefit students from each of the three campuses and countries.

Christ Meiers, WSU Tri-Cities vice chancellor of enrollment management and student services, and Nitiphong Songsrirote, dean of the Mahasarakham University Business School, sign an MOU for a language and cultural exchange partnership.

The purpose of the partnership is to deliver programs that promote academics and cultural understanding between the three institutions and countries associated. VanWest will be responsible for delivering an English as a second language program, academic workshops and sightseeing at its campus. WSU Tri-Cities will be responsible for cultural exchange activities at its campus, which may include select lectures and presentations, tours and friendship exchange meetings with local organizations. The Mahasarakham University will be responsible for facilitating study abroad opportunities for WSU Tri-Cities students.

“This is a valuable experience both for our students and from those students from Thailand and British Columbia,” said Chris Meiers, WSU Tri-Cities vice chancellor of enrollment management and student services. “The students will benefit from the language exploration and competency experiences at VanWest and at Mahasarakham, in addition to learning about the cultural components, networking and more through WSU Tri-Cities and the regional community.”

Administrators from Mahasarakham University said they were excited to be partnering with both WSU Tri-Cities and Vanwest College.

(Left to right) Yujin Song, VanWest admission and marketing manager; Yawittha Daroth, Mahasarakham student; Mullika Yothikha, Mahasarakham student; and Kornuma Laphanuphat, Mahasarakham international affairs officer.

“Coming to Canada and the United States is a great experience for us,” said Pornlapas Suwannarat, associate dean for research and international affairs at Mahasarakham University. “We are hopeful for a fruitful collaboration to take place between VanWest and Washington State University Tri-Cities.”

A group of students and administrators from VanWest College and Mahasarakham University spent the last couple of days learning about the educational and business opportunities at WSU Tri-Cities, touring the Tri-Cities region, as well as networking with local businesses.

“It’s been a fun and enlightening past few days for all institutions,” Meiers said. “We have a lot to share and learn from one another. We’re excited about this partnership and the educational and cultural opportunities that will enrich the student experience for all three institutions and countries.”

By Maegan Murray

RICHLAND, Wash. – Sam Barnes may have another semester before graduating from Washington State University Tri-Cities, but he already achieved his dream of starting his own business.

While he completed his college education, Barnes worked first as a marketer beginning in Nov. 2013 and then as an office manager for American Family Insurance.

Sam Barnes - business administration student

Sam Barnes, WSU Tri-Cities business administration student, stands outside his branch office for American Family Insurance.

Barnes uses what he learned in many of his business, finance and other related courses at WSU Tri-Cities, as well as the networking connections he made through the university, to excel with his own branch office for American Family Insurance in Kennewick, Wash.

“I think I always wanted to be a business owner,” he said. “I knew I wanted to be in management in some form. As I went through college, I realized that this was what I was meant to be doing. WSU Tri-Cities really helped me get there.”

“When I started, I had no intentions to have an agency, but as things worked out, it has turned into the perfect opportunity,” he said. “I love it and I’m really happy with how everything worked out.”

Barnes worked at an internship at another organization he secured through connections at WSU Tri-Cities this spring when he received the call asking if he would be interested in owning and operating his own branch office. He decided to make the leap and opened his office in one of the company’s fastest turnaround times on record– all while he completed his course final exams this month.

Barnes said if it wasn’t for some of the skills and theories he learned at WSU Tri-Cities, he doesn’t think he could have been as successful as he has been in the past month since opening the office.

“I used the concepts we learned about in a finance class to build out cash flows for my business, I’m using what I learned from my accounting class in meeting with my accountant and I’ve readily used what I’ve learned about business law and business ethics for the management of my business and the hiring process,” he said. “It’s been great to take what I learned from WSU and apply it to the real world.”

Barnes said his favorite part about his business education at WSU Tri-Cities was that it was intertwined with world-class organizations and industry standards.

“WSU Tri-Cities is really good at helping students get a job and getting them connected to real-world opportunities,” he said. “Everything about this campus is about plugging you in somewhere. They helped me get an internship before I came here to American Family. It’s a crucial part of the college experience, in my opinion, and something that they do better than most universities.”

Now, Barnes said he is excited to see where his business takes him in his next stages in life. He graduates this fall with his bachelor’s from WSU Tri-Cities.

“I think anyone can successfully open their own business if they are willing to put their mind to it and are willing to take the leap,” he said. “I think I’ve found what I want to do forever, which is be a business owner. The freedom you have and the pride in what you do is incredible. It’s the most rewarding experience.”

By Maegan Murray

Washington State University Tri-Cities’ recent Point to Success Brunch raised $33,550 for the Carson College of Business’ degree programs, which will go directly toward supporting student success on the Tri-Cities campus.

“We are incredibly grateful for the funds we received, which help us to achieve excellence by having resources beyond state funding,” said Donna Paul, WSU Tri-Cities Carson College of Business academic director. “Dollars raised at the event are directly invested in business education at WSU Tri-Cities, providing resources for student academic and career success, faculty research and teaching effectiveness.”

In addition to a gourmet meal, which was entirely donated by Anthony’s at Columbia Point, those in attendance also participated in a silent auction, a wine grab and heard presentations by and conversed with a range of prominent local and regional community members. Some of those individuals included WSU and NFL football great Jack Thompson; WSU Tri-Cities Chancellor Keith Moo-Young; WSU Board of Regents chair Lura Powell; WSU Carson College of Business Dean Chip Hunter; Nancy Swanger, WSU director of the School of Hospitality Business Management; and Superior Court Judge Bruce Spanner.

“The feedback from the attendees and WSU administration is that the event was a huge success,” said Gary Spanner, WSU Tri-Cities advisory board chair for the Carson College of Business. “Going in, nobody knew what to expect of a Saturday brunch in the dead of winter, but it turned out to be a fun, novel, and effective fundraising approach. And importantly, all of the funds raised stay in the Tri-Cities to support the Carson College at WSU Tri-Cities. Anthony’s wants to make it an annual event, so we’re looking forward to holding the next one.”

In addition to serving as a fundraiser, Paul said the event served to raise awareness about the importance of growing community partnerships that are crucial to both student and faculty success. It also provided an opportunity to showcase how WSU Tri-Cities is educating its business students with hands-on, career-based opportunities as a result of those same community partnerships.

At WSU Tri-Cities’ Carson College of Business, students can earn baccalaureate degrees in hospitality and wine business management, business administration and a master’s in business administration. Paul said area companies realize the value of educating the upcoming workforce and partner regularly with the university for success workshops, opportunities in internships and other professional experiences.

“People often think of the Tri-Cities as a technocracy, and while they should, business is an essential part of the success of technology businesses, as well as agriculture businesses and health care organizations, to name a few,” Spanner said. “By supporting excellence at the Carson College at WSU Tri-Cities, we’re supporting excellence in the future of the entire Tri-Cities. A very large percentage of local graduates stay in the Tri-Cities to pursue their careers.”

Spanner said they are also grateful that Anthony’s donated so many of their resources toward the event.

“The advisory board of the Carson College of Business at WSU Tri-Cities was floored when Anthony’s restaurant offered to host this brunch at no charge,” he said. “The wait staff even donated their time for the event, and we are deeply grateful for that.”

To donate to the WSU Tri-Cities Carson College of Business and other university programs, visit https://tricities.wsu.edu/give/.

For more information about degree programs offered through WSU Tri-Cities’ Carson College of Business, and to apply, visit https://tricities.wsu.edu/business/.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Four Washington State University Tri-Cities students are working with AREVA, a multinational group specializing in nuclear power and renewable energy, to identify real-world process and cost improvements for the company using the Six Sigma approach.

The effort is part of WSU Tri-Cities’ master’s in business administration capstone course, which is led by Tim Baker, associate professor of finance and management science.

WSU Tri-Cities news

Tim Baker, background, with some of the Six Sigma students. (Photo by Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities)

“Through student-led projects, we either implement process improvements or new product designs and measure the benefits of each,” Baker said of the Six Sigma process. “It’s all about maintaining a continuous improvement in methodology.”

MBA students John Kummer, Kevin Sykes, Hongfei Rassmussen and Sammy Ernst are currently examining the processes and organizational structure within AREVA to identify cost and process improvements for production supplies.

Baker, who holds the highest certification in the Six Sigma process – a master black belt, said WSU Tri-Cities has paired up with local organizations for the last eight years to complete similar projects, and that AREVA has been a primary customer since day one. The student projects, he said, has saved various local organizations significant time and money.

Baker said on one previous year’s project, the students worked out a procedure to save the Sandvik Specialty Metals company approximately $750,000 due to a 25 percent reduction in throughput variability in the pilgering process for their titanium rods production. Another student project reduced the average patient flow time for the Grace Medical Clinic by 17 percent.

This year’s student group hopes for similar results in their own project with AREVA.

What is Six Sigma?

 Baker said the purpose and goal with the Six Sigma process is to systematically assess the current state of a process, uncover and prioritize improvement and design goals and generate and prioritize ideas for improvements and designs.

Six Sigma professionals measure the benefits to the client for an implementation of an improved process or new design and set up a control plan for the client to ensure that performance does not regress once the Six Sigma project has been disbanded.

Paul Skilton, assistant professor of management, information systems and entrepreneurship, said one of the great aspects of the project and utilizing the Six Sigma approach in a real-world scenario is that the students actively see all the “worms” and the “mess” of systematic procedure within companies, which is also not unique to any one company.

“They’re working through organizational messes that end up generating real results,” he said. “They are able to work through what we call a wicked problem. It’s a problem that doesn’t appear to have nice answers, but they ultimately have to get to one.”

Value to the company and the student

For AREVA, getting students involved in the company’s process and procedures opens opportunities to evaluate both new and old strategies.

“Projects like these give us a fresh perspective on our own processes and identify previously unseen improvement opportunities,” said Lance Stephens, AREVA manager of operations strategy and supply chain.

Ernst said part of her job outside of school is recognizing a problem within her company, examining the root of that problem and determining a solution. Utilizing the Six Sigma process through a real-world scenario in her MBA class, she said, is instrumental both in her academic and professional life.

“My employer is currently trying to ramp up in Six Sigma and improve its processes,” she said. “There is a huge push towards Six Sigma in our career fields, so this is definitely a huge asset.”

Sykes said it has been rewarding seeing the “mess” of the internal company structure because it is useful in his own career.

“It’s real-world life experience and we get do dive into a project in a company and see the overall scope,” Sykes said. “It’s been a really good learning experience.”

Skilton said WSU Tri-Cities also benefit from having Baker as their professor and mentor, as he is a world-class Six Sigma and operations research expert.

“As a result of his knowledge and experience in the field, our students here locally get to work on these exceptional projects,” he said.

Summer-research-grant-recipients

By Sue McMurray, Carson College of Business

PULLMAN, Wash. – The Carson College of Business recently honored its outstanding faculty, staff and graduate students during an annual awards event at Washington State University Pullman.

Outstanding Pullman MBA Faculty of the Year Award: Arvin Sahaym, Department of Management, Information Systems and Entrepreneurship, blends humor with acumen to capture students’ attention in class, encourage them to delve deeper and generate dialogue about real-world cases and companies.

Outstanding Online MBA Faculty of the Year Award: John Becker-Blease, Department of Business, Oregon State University, teaches courses in corporate finance and financial institutions at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Online MBA students recognize his scholarly and teaching efforts in corporate social responsibility and curriculum reform.

Outstanding Executive MBA Faculty of the Year Award: Fred Peterson, Leadership and Professional Studies, WSU Spokane, applies a student-centered approach, helping students understand the roots of leadership theory and compose a leadership philosophy.

Deans-excellence-fellows
Dean’s excellence fellows. At top are summer research grant recipients.

Outstanding Graduate Student Research Award: Lu Lu, Department of Hospitality Business Management, has published 11 research publications in leading journals and received in 2015 the Best Conference Paper Award at the 21st Annual Graduate Education & Graduate Student Research Conference in Hospitality and Tourism. She also received the 2015 Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-Financed Students Abroad.

Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award: Majid Dadgar, Department of Management, Information Systems and Entrepreneurship, has taught five courses multiple times and designed three new courses. He is dedicated to students and excels at actively engaging them in the teaching and learning process.

Outstanding Graduate Student Service Award: Warren Cook, Department of Management, Information Systems and Entrepreneurship, is a teaching assistant who positively affects students by gaining their trust and enhancing their writing, critical thinking skills and overall learning experience.

Outstanding Staff Award: Mistie Josephson, Business Growth Mentor and Analysis, WSU Vancouver, consistently garners support for the program, connects with potential clients and mentors for students and fosters business relationships. She ensures every business student has opportunity to gain real-world experience.

Outstanding Staff Award: Lael Gray, Department of Management, Information Systems and Entrepreneurship, balances a high workload as the principal assistant of the largest unit in the Carson College of Business. In addition to assisting the department chair, faculty and doctoral students, she supports the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, which includes helping with the Business Plan Competition.

Outstanding Clinical Faculty or Non-Tenure Track Faculty Award: Kim Houser, Department of Accounting, is the only Carson College member of a multidisciplinary team awarded a seed grant related to the Grand Research Challenges. She publishes in high level law reviews and ranked tax journals and has two papers in progress. She taught approximately 400 students this semester and is teaching an online law course.

Outstanding Faculty Scholarship & Research Award: Joe Cote, Department of Marketing and International Business, WSU Vancouver, has published over 30 publications in peer reviewed journals. Two publications were accepted into the Marketing Canon. He excels at mentoring and has been recognized for service to several prominent editorial boards.

Outstanding Faculty Service Award: Babu John Mariadoss, Department of Marketing and International Business, served on eight university committees this year, chaired the International Business Institute Fellows group and was instrumental in making significant changes to the International Learning Agreement.

Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award: Darrel Muehling, Department of Marketing and International Business, has demonstrated high quality teaching across undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels, in the Online MBA program and in the faculty-led summer study abroad program in Spain. His teaching evaluation scores are consistently high, and he is respected and praised by students.

Carson College of Business Dean’s Excellence Fellows: This award recognizes outstanding performance by faculty in teaching, research and service. Recipients include faculty from the following departments:

Department of Accounting: Sue Gill, chair and associate professor; Kim Houser, clinical associate professor; Debra Sanders, professor and associate academic director, WSU Vancouver;

Department of Finance and Management Science: George Jiang, professor and Gary P. Brinson Chair of Investment Management; Charles Munson, professor;

Department of Management, Information Systems and Entrepreneurship: Thomas Allison, assistant professor; Ken Butterfield, chair and associate professor; Deborah Compeau, Hubman Distinguished Professor of Information Systems; K.D. Joshi, Philip L. Kays Distinguished Professor of Information Systems; Kristine Kuhn, associate professor; Arvin Sahaym, associate professor; Leah Sheppard, assistant professor; Tom Tripp, professor and associate dean of undergraduate programs, WSU Vancouver;

Department of Marketing and International Business: Jean Johnson, professor; Jeff Joireman, associate professor; Babu John Mariadoss, associate professor and International Business Institute fellow;

School of Hospitality Business Management: Jenny Kim, associate professor and Craig Shafer Fellow.

Summer Research Grant Awards: Recipients include faculty from the following:

Department of Accounting: Li Xu, assistant professor, WSU Vancouver; Bernard Wong-On-Wing, professor;

Department of Finance and Management Science: Sung Ahn, professor; Stergios Fotopoulos, professor; Gene Lai, chair and professor; Sheen Liu, associate professor, WSU Tri-Cities; Charles Munson, professor;

Department of Management, Information Systems and Entrepreneurship: Ken Butterfield, chair and associate professor; Jerry Goodstein, professor, WSU Vancouver; K.D. Joshi, Philip L. Kays Distinguished Professor of Information Systems; Kristine Kuhn, associate professor; Arvin Sahaym, associate professor; Leah Sheppard, assistant professor; Paul Skilton, assistant professor, WSU Tri-Cities;

Department of Marketing and International Business: Jeff Joireman, associate professor; Babu John Mariadoss, associate professor and International Business Institute Fellow; Darrel Muehling, chair and professor; Andrew Perkins, associate professor; Alberto Sa Vinhas, associate professor, WSU Vancouver;

School of Hospitality Business Management: Ming-Hsiang Chen, associate professor; Christina Chi, associate professor; Dogan Gursoy, professor; Jenny Kim, associate professor and Craig Shafer Fellow; Nancy Swanger, director, associate dean of strategic initiatives; Iis Tussyadiah, associate clinical professor, WSU Vancouver.