The Eller Times.
Eller College of Management, The University of Arizona (logo). The Eller Times.

May 2006

Welcome to The Eller Times, sharing highlights of news, events, people, and partners of the Eller College of Management.


In the News.

Honors Students Face Off in First Thesis Showcase

Students practicing for thesis showcase.
  Honors undergraduate students prepare for the first Eller Thesis Showcase.

On May 3, Honors undergraduate students participated in the College’s first Eller Thesis Showcase, sharing their Honors theses work through displays and presentations.

A panel of sixteen faculty, staff, and students selected three winning projects, including the award for Most Educational Project, which recognized MIS and Operations Management senior Shirley Chai and marketing senior Jessica Kirkland.

Their project — the creation of Eller’s first Consulting Consortium — brought consulting professionals to Eller last February for workshops, panel discussions, and networking with interested students. A key criteria for the award was that the winning thesis benefit current or future students.

Business economics seniors Amanda Droopad and Byron Sarhangian were also recognized with the award for Most Collaborative Student / Faculty Team for their work creating the Global Impact Symposium held at Eller in April. Accounting senior Christine Mihalik was honored with the award for Most Inventive Project for her thesis, “The Global Future of the Aerospace Defense Industry: Consolidation, Collaboration, and Competition.”

“Students work for a minimum of two semesters on their honors thesis, so they’re often excited to share their findings and experiences,” said Pam Perry, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs. “We’re particularly proud of the diversity of projects, and we hope to continue to find ways to recognize our high-achieving students for their excellence.”

McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship Wraps Up a Red-Letter Year

McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship. From idea to reality.

Entrepreneurship at the Eller College ended a red-letter year last month. 2005 – 2006 saw what was formerly The Karl Eller Center / McGuire Entrepreneurship Program renamed the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship. On the heels of creating a new model for entrepreneurship education, the Center also saw its teams achieve greater success in national and international competitions than ever before.

Six teams took awards in seven events, including first-place wins at the prestigious Enterprise Creation Competition at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., University of Nebraska's New Ventures World Competition in Lincoln, Neb., and the Queen's Entrepreneurs' Competition at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

One team earned a Fast Track Grant from the Arizona Department of Commerce, and at least eight teams are preparing to launch the ventures they created in the course of the program. Two of these teams took top honors at the CB Richard Ellis / McGuire Entrepreneurship Business Plans Competition, which closed the program year last month: Cetra Coatings at the graduate level, with a plan built around scratch-resistant plastic coatings; and Upper Hand Athletics at the undergraduate level, which will offer the ElectroLick patch, delivering bursts of moisture and electrolytes to dry-mouthed runners, among other products for athletes.

At the competition ceremonies, National Board of Advisors chair Jon Underwood honored Gary Libecap, Anheuser-Busch Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies, Economics, and Law with the Center’s first and only (the award will be retired after this year) Lifetime Achievement Award. Libecap founded the Center and served as its director for 21 years before stepping down last May to focus on other professional interests. Libecap, like all this year’s honorees, was presented a piece of original art procured by Original Theory, a top-performing venture team with a business plan for selling online the best art of university students nationwide.

The competition also saw the presentation of a new honor in the McGuire Center’s catalog, one recognizing dynamic entrepreneurs on the rise. The Center gave the first Emergent Entrepreneurs Award to Jeffrey Kaiserman and Stephen Ochoa, founders of Frost, A Gelato Shoppe in Tucson which, since its opening, has enjoyed rave reviews and lines out the door for its authentic Italian frozen desserts.

The McGuire Center has long been one of the strongest programs at the Eller College, earning top rankings from all leading surveys. At the year-end competition, finance senior Grant Sahag of Upper Hand Athletics summed up the secret of its success: “This is the best thing I’ve done in college. It’s all about application and pressing the entrepreneurial mind and spirit. The program pulled together all four years.”

Experts Bring World Awareness to First Global Impact Symposium

Dr. Gerry Swanson.
  Gerald Swanson, top, and Arvind Singh, bottom, were panelists at the Global Impact Symposium.
Dr. Arvind Singh.

The Eller College hosted its first Global Impact Symposium in April as an extension of the Global Challenge inaugurated last year. The symposium brought together a panel of experts from economics, government, and private enterprise, including U.S. Congressman Jim Kolbe (R–Ariz.) — chairman of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations — who delivered opening remarks at the event.

Conducting a series of breakout lectures and discussions with students throughout the morning, panelists included Gerald Swanson, Thomas R. Brown Chair in Economics Education at the Eller College and author of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated book America the Broke; Arvind Singh, Eller College lecturer and director of International Finance and former International Finance Consultant for Citibank; and David Gantz, Samuel M. Fegtley Professor of Law and director of the International Trade Law Program at The University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law.

The International Business Student Organization concluded the event with the second annual Global Challenge, in which high school and college students teamed up to compete for $1,000 in prizes in a fast-paced quiz game dealing with world politics, geography, economy, and history.

MIS Meets English in Early Outreach

On university campuses, English and information technology often keep to their separate colleges, but the two combined in March when eleven MIS students from the Eller College sacrificed spring break to mentor students from Tucson’s Howenstine High School.

MIS student with Howenstine High School student.

MIS students mentored Howenstine High School students in areas such as computer use.


Over the course of three visits to the Howenstine campus and one event hosted by the Eller College, the MIS students helped the high schoolers incorporate film, digital imagery, PowerPoint, and other technologies in an assignment to create positive marketing messages.

“The interaction with peers, with the college students, and with the technology was a winning combination,” said Sue Butler, who teaches the Howenstine class. “Because the seniors look up to the Eller College students as role models, they were especially responsive to them. It was so satisfying to watch as each group developed a plan and began to map out tasks to accomplish their vision of their project.”

Christopher Lodge, an Eller College junior, said he felt good about being able to bring his mentoring and design skills to the Howenstine students’ project: “I left feeling very encouraged that there are high school students who really care about their work and put forth a large amount of effort to succeed.”

The collaboration was designed to increase students’ awareness about opportunities in information technology and create a pipeline of students interested in technology-related careers. See the Eller Presents section below for more information on Eller College early outreach programs.

Experiential Learning Adds Real-World Dimension to Undergraduate Education

Financial Intermediaries course competition judges.
  Financial Intermediaries course competition judges, left to right: Tom Shambo of Small Business Development Center, Fred Dawson, Jr. of Commerce Bank of Arizona, Mary Lou Mobray of National Bank of Arizona, James Barron of Canyon Community Bank, Alex Cooper of Small Business Development Center, Peter Vosburgh of Business Development Finance Corporation, Michael Trueba of Southern Arizona Community Bank, and C. David Foust of Bank of Tucson.

“One thing I always admonish my lenders about — never use the word 'hope' because hope is not a mitigator for risk.”

That piece of advice from David Foust, executive vice president of Bank of Tucson — one of eight judges evaluating student teams in finance lecturer Chip Ruscher’s Financial Intermediaries course — characterizes how action learning adds a dimension of real-world experience to academics. “I never realized the extent of the analysis that these bankers do every day," said finance senior Jeff Dunnam.

Throughout the year, Ruscher’s students have worked in teams to structure loan packages for local small businesses like Roh’s, a retailer for high-end home theater systems. Each team worked with an advisor and leaders from the businesses for months, analyzing each organization’s business model, finances, and challenges.

Undergraduation cohor project team presents.

Undergraduate students present as part of the Undergraduate Programs Core Project.


The projects concluded last month with the presentation of each team’s solutions to six judges from the business and banking community. The same model — but on a much larger scale — brings experiential learning to the entire cohort of students in the first semester of the professional phase of their undergraduate degrees.

Ninety-five teams of four or five students each worked together on a semester-long project creating a business plan for a new venture. This Core Project, piloted last semester, gives students a meaningful way to combine learning from core subjects like marketing, finance, and management and develops critical collaboration skills.

At the end of the semester, students present their completed business plans to judges from the business community. “We think this is a great problem-based learning model,” associate dean of Undergraduate Programs Pam Perry told Martha Lundin of Inside Tucson Business. “Today’s students want hands-on learning opportunities,” she said. “This is a realistic experience of what it might be like to pitch an idea to an investor.”

Social Entrepreneurship Students Consult with Law Professor to Benefit Nigerian Women

Leslye Obiora, Stephen Gilliland, and Social Entrepreneurship students.


Professors Leslye Obiora and Stephen Gilliland, center, surrounded by Social Entrepreneurship students.

In 2004, Leslye Obiora, professor of law at the James E. Rogers College of Law, created the Institute for Research on African Women, Children, and Culture (IRAWCC), focusing on improving the lives of 103 women in the Nigerian village Oguta.

This spring, graduate and undergraduate students in Professor Stephen Gilliland's Social Entrepreneurship course at the Eller College had the opportunity help Obiora in her mission.

The students consulted with Obiora on ways to best structure IRAWCC and reorganize its financial management in order to attract and inspire confidence in investors.

Among other recommendations, the students proposed various ways to prepare the organization for growth and replication. The team identified successful models from other organizations and suggested implementing a more defined organizational structure. Additionally, they explored ways to market IRAWCC in various media to build awareness of the program.

“It's incredibly rewarding to be able to help a real business, especially one that's main concern is humanitarian aid,” said business management senior Kristen Maryn, who worked on the project and will continue her work in her Honors thesis. “I feel lucky to have been given the opportunity, and I'm so glad to see that Eller has the ability and desire to approach such important issues.”

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Eller Presents.
Eller College presents A Night with the Stars!

A Night with the Stars

Undergraduate Programs closed another year with the annual A Night with the Stars event recognizing current students, faculty, staff and alumni.

In addition to the Outstanding Senior awards noted in the last issue of The Eller Times, some of the top honors for graduating seniors went to:

  • Marketing major Karla Moreno — recognized with the Laura Henderson Outstanding Multicultural Student Service Award
  • Marketing major Ariana Kirsch and Business Management major Charles Osbrink — recognized with the Marvin Fortman Award for Leadership
  • Criminal justice and public administration and policy double-major Juan Carlos Mazry — recognized with the William B. Barrett Award (for academic accomplishment and service to the College and its students)
Undergraudate seniors at table.
  Eller College seniors enjoy A Night with the Stars.

Two students from each of the freshman, sophomore, and junior classes were also recognized with the Philip Morris: Values in Action Award based on their exceptional motivation and leadership:

  • Dan Huebner, freshman pre-business major
  • Whitney Munroe, freshman pre-business major
  • Kyle Cherrick, sophomore marketing major
  • Julia Ushakova, sophomore accounting major
  • Diana Anderson, junior business management major
  • Melissa Howell, junior marketing major

Academic student advisors Cindy Elliott and Katie Smith were honored as Undergraduate Programs Team Members of the Year. MIS senior lecturer Dave Meader was recognized as the Don Wells Outstanding Faculty Mentor, and graduate entrepreneurship education coordinator Jim Jindrick was honored as the Tom Moses Outstanding Student Organization Advisor.

Congratulations to all of the outstanding students, faculty, and staff of Undergraduate Programs! View a complete list of award winners.

Eller K-12 Summer Programs

Kids on grass with sunglasses, smiling.

Join the Eller College of Management and The University of Arizona for an exciting series of new Summer Programs for K-12 explorers!

Students in grades 2 – 5 will discover the exciting world of entrepreneurship through hands-on activities that lead them through the process of starting your own business.

Boys in grades 1 – 8 will explore technology through game development, virtual reality, the basics of technology, and more.

Students from grades 1 – 8 have the chance to learn about commerce and the cultures of the world through technology and art.

"I want to be..." Career Camp
Students from grades 1 – 4 will learn about their dream careers through field trips and interactions with scientists, movie producers, and other professionals.

Girls in grades 1 – 8 explore and build skills in technology through digital photography, movie making, and more.

The Eller College Department of Management Information Systems will also welcome 70 students this summer in the MISS (Math, Information Systems, and Science) Adventures camp. Students are recommended by their schools and attend free of charge. MISS Adventures is presented in partnership with Raytheon, GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) at The University of Arizona, Tucson Unified and Sunnyside School Districts, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson.

Ernst & Young will also again partner with the Department of Accounting to welcome eleventh graders from underrepresented populations to the Accounting Careers Awareness Program, a week-long exploration of accounting and campus life.

And the Eller College partners with YMCA and Sunnyside Unified School District to offer the 2nd Annual Career Camp for High School Girls: Expanding Your Career Options.

Save the Date

Coffee cup.Breakfast with the Economists: A Mid-Year Economic Update

Wednesday, June 7, 2006, 7:00 to 8:45 a.m.
Doubletree Hotel Tucson at Reid Park
445 S. Alvernon Way
Tucson, Ariz.

How much higher will interest rates go? Why is immigration reform so important? What are the effects of voters' decisions on regional transportation? Plus, an update on Fed policy under a new chairman and a look at the economy-wide effects of unfrenzied housing markets. Please join us for breakfast with economists Gerald J. Swanson and Marshall J. Vest as they answer these questions and offer insights on what to expect in Arizona's economy for the remainder of 2006. RSVP by May 31 at

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Ensuring the Future.

Sara Brown Smallhouse, Sandy Brown, and Mary Brown.

Left to right: Sarah Brown Smallhouse (MBA '88), Sandy Brown, and Mary Brown


Brown Family Million-Dollar Endowment Supports Integration of Technology and Management

This fall, MBA students with a vision for integrating technology and management will compete for the first awards from a $1 million endowment given to the Eller College by the Thomas R. Brown Family Foundation.

The Brown Family Foundation has earmarked the awards primarily for students with undergraduate degrees in engineering or science, a move that honors the life achievements of Thomas R. Brown, whose combination of technology expertise and business acumen led him to co-found Burr-Brown, Inc. in 1956. Brown earned his engineering degree at MIT before getting his MBA at Harvard. In 2000, the sale of Burr-Brown to Texas Instruments commanded the highest price ever paid for an Arizona company.

Since 2002, the Brown family has been making annual gifts of $50,000 to fund scholarships for engineering and business students. “The endowment ensures the continued legacy of my father,” said Sarah Brown Smallhouse, foundation trustee, daughter of the late benefactor, and a 1988 graduate of the Eller MBA program. “He had a desire to encourage young people and supported education and training to enhance the ability of individuals to reach their potential.”

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Eller's Finest.

Marketing Students Place Third at AAF Competition

Studio320 Marketing students.
  Marketing students from the Studio320 team.

Marketing students teaming up as the agency Studio320 took third place in the American Advertising Federation (AAF) National Student Advertising Competition on April 9, 2006 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Building a campaign on the concept “Delivering Security,” Studio320 prepared a national advertising, public relations, and marketing campaign to promote sales of Postal Vault mailboxes for Postal Vault Systems, Inc., an entrepreneurial company that manufactures a secure mailbox intended to help prevent identity theft.

Sixteen students formed Studio320: Christiana Adema, Cyrus Behrana, Sara Birnbaum, David Blohm, Nicole Derosa, Christin Franco, Liz Heidenreich, Hartley Kurtz, Steve Luna, Anka Novasic, Gabrielle Pavelko, Laura Tischler, Jesse Sandvik, Sandra Schmidtman, Danny Shelby, and Stephanie Slawsky. Marketing adjunct instructor Ed Ackerley served as the agency’s faculty advisor.

Doing Honored for Excellence in Teaching

Judith Doing.
Accounting senior lecturer Judith Doing.  

The Arizona Society of Certified Public Accountants (ASCPA) has awarded Judith Doing, senior lecturer and associate department head of the Department of Accounting the 2005 Excellence in Teaching Award.

In nominating Doing, department head Dan Dhaliwal noted her steadfast accountability to three constituencies: her students, her colleagues, and the firms that will hire Eller’s accounting graduates. Balancing responsibilities to all three, Doing “is renowned in the Eller College for the rigor of her class and for the high standards of conduct and performance she expects from students,” Dhaliwal wrote to the Award committee. “She also is beloved by her students for her genuine interest in their welfare and dedication to their individual success.”

Each year the ASCPA honors one accounting instructor from each of Arizona’s state universities with the award. As this year’s recipient, Doing joins four past honorees from the Eller College: senior lecturer Phillip Blanchard, associate professor Lillian Mills, associate professor Kaye Newberry, and professor Jeff Schatzberg.

Marketing Doctoral Student Earns Social Science Fellowship

Tandy Chalmers.
Marketing doctoral student Tandy Chalmers.  

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) has awarded Eller Marketing doctoral student Tandy Chalmers a two-year fellowship valued at approximately $36,500 ($40,000 Canadian).

An international and multidisciplinary team of social scientists recommended Chalmers for the award after reviewing her research, which explores the concepts of collective and individual identity and their implications for marketing strategies.

Chalmers' receipt of the award is particularly noteworthy considering that her research was evaluated alongside the best work of students from traditional social science and humanities programs. The SSHRC awards the doctoral fellowships to support students who demonstrate a high standard of scholarly achievement in these domains.

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Research Report.

Fifteen Years of Network Research Produces Guide for Managers

Keith Provan and Brint Milward.
  Professors Keith Provan, left, and Brint Milward, right, have published a free guide for managers.

More and more, winning a grant means showing how well you work with other agencies. The requirement reflects a major trend in public service and beyond: the development of extended networks of organizations working together towards a set of common goals.

The network approach has definite strengths: Networks allow each organization to specialize in what it does best while drawing on the strengths of other organizations for products or services it can’t provide. Working in this way, networks can be more effective than the sums of their parts.

However, with those strengths come challenges. With no one person or organization in charge, issues of accountability often arise. At the same time, when disagreements and conflict surface, networks often lack clear procedures for resolution.

H. Brinton Milward, McClelland Professor and Director of the School of Public Administration and Policy at the Eller College of Management, and Keith G. Provan, Eller Professor of Public Administration and Policy, offer solutions to these problems in a new free publication.

Drawing on their extensive, world-renowned research on networks, Milward and Provan recently completed “A Manager’s Guide to Choosing and Using Collaborative Networks” funded by a grant from the IBM Center for the Business of Government. This guide will soon be available from the Center in hard copy or online at

Milward describes the publication as an easy-to-understand handbook for managers in any arena, one that is “…unique because it is not based on a few case studies but on more than 15 years of joint research. The guide is a tool that all three sectors — public, private, and nonprofit — will find valuable because it offers means of managing networks that do not depend on command and control.”

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Alumni Spotlight.

Thriving on Innovation
Toufic Abi-Aad , B.S.B.A. Accounting and Finance '98, MBA '02
CIO, Bourn Partners, LLC

Toufic Abi-Aad.

Toufic Abi-Aad, B.S.B.A. '98, MBA '02


When Toufic Abi-Aad completed his MBA in 2002, he didn’t go looking for a top job with a company known throughout the world. “I’d had the opportunity to work in a very large organization,” he explains, referring to the two years he spent working with Motorola as a financial analyst after completing his Eller undergraduate degree with an accounting and finance double-major. “I was looking for more of an entrepreneurial environment where I could immediately add value that I could see.”

Abi-Aad found that environment in Bourn Partners five years ago, a commercial real estate company based in Tucson that then had 12 employees. Today, the company weighs in at some 150 when including subsidiary and affiliate entities. With little knowledge of real estate but strengths in finance and analysis, Abi-Aad rode the crest of the growing company, pouring in countless hours and unbridled energy, to navigate the challenges inherent when a small company grows at a clip. Now CIO, Abi-Aad is responsible for the process of analyzing new opportunities and putting together the capital structure for projects they decide to pursue. But beyond that realm, he remains a key player in the company’s overall business strategy and planning.

Looking back on his Eller education, Abi-Aad identifies his undergraduate years as building basic knowledge and skills, but he says it was the Eller MBA that “really taught me a way of thinking, a way of approaching and solving a problem.” Combined with that, he notes that the emphasis on teamwork was one of the program’s greatest strengths. “That’s the way we work today,” he says. “It’s a very team-centric environment.” It’s also an environment that’s paid off for Abi-Aad, and as a company continues to grow, Bourn still offers the entrepreneurial challenges Abi-Aad thrives on. “That’s where you find the passion,” he says, “you’re constantly looking for creative and innovative ways to approach things.”

An Agent for Change
Richard Fimbres, B.S.P.A. '83
Director, Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety

Richard Fimbres.
  Richard Fimbres,
B.S.P.A. '83

When Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano appointed Richard Fimbres director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety in 2002, Arizona was below the national average in seat belt usage, the number languishing at 74 percent. In his first year on the job, Fimbres worked to change that – and did – and in the following year, Arizona led the nation with 95 percent.

Accomplishments like that bear out Napolitano’s vote of confidence in Fimbres, who she described at his appointment as “uniquely positioned to bring a renewed focus to highway safety.” His fit for the job comes in part from the twenty years he worked with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. In that capacity, Fimbres was already accomplished: In 1985 he was honored as the Department’s Officer of the Year. In 1998, he was Arizona’s recipient of the prestigious Jefferson Award for community service, and in 2000 he was named one of Pima County’s most influential individuals by the Tucson Citizen newspaper.

But the list of Fimbres’ awards hardly stops there. It doesn’t even slow down. In 2001, the League of United Latin American Citizens named him the National Man of the Year. In 2002, the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce named him Man of the Year. And two years ago, Fimbres was honored with the Ohtli Recognition from the Mexican government for his dedication to promoting the well-being of Mexican communities abroad.

Today the man behind those honors is promoting the well-being of motorists on Arizona’s highways, working in tandem with hundreds of agencies and organizations ranging from law enforcement and emergency services to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). The job is always challenging, but the challenge is growing as Arizona’s population continues to surge (it’s the second-fastest growing state) and new issues arise from economics: The rise in gas prices has contributed to record sales of motorcycles with many of those purchasers possessing little or no knowledge of how to ride safely and legally. Fimbres’ work is also complicated by social issues, such as the fact that Arizona leads the nation in underage drinking, or community factors contributing to the fact that while Native Americans comprise only five percent of Arizona’s population, they comprise roughly 12 percent of its traffic fatalities.

Fimbres attributes much of his success in these efforts and others to the organizational skills developed as an undergraduate at the Eller College. Here, he says, he learned the fundamentals of long-range planning before later earning a Master of Education from Northern Arizona University. He also credits much of his achievement to his family. “I have a great wife who’s been very supportive — in fact, she’s stood side-by-side with me on many of these projects — and my sons are also very supportive,” he says humbly. “I’ve been really blessed with a great family.”

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In the News.
Eller Presents.
Ensuring the Future.
  Eller's Finest.  
Research Report.
  Alumni Spotlight.  



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