Category Archives: News

EPIC Spotlight: Dr. Tim Yeager

Dr. Tim Yeager could have stayed focused on economics. He spent years in college, earning degrees in economics and even teaching the subject at universities on both the East and West coasts.

But when he took a job in the Bank Supervision Unit of the Federal Reserve Bank, he was about to get a crash course on banking.

“I walked in knowing very little about banking,” he says. “I tell people it’s where I got my second Ph.D.”

Now, bankers (and the media) across Arkansas seek Yeager’s opinions and knowledge of the banking industry.

As an associate professor in finance at the Sam M. Walton College of Business and the Arkansas Bankers Association Chair in Banking, Yeager teaches college students about the banking profession and updates and informs bankers through conferences and articles published through the Arkansas Bankers Association.

Yeager’s transition from economics professor to finance professor and banking expert may not have happened, in part, had he not been a bit homesick for his hometown of St. Louis. He taught economics at Ithaca College in New York and Humboldt State University in California – both far away from the Midwest where he and his wife were from. When the opportunity to work as a researcher for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis presented itself, he seized it.

At his Federal Reserve Bank job, where he was an economist in Supervisory Policy Analysis, Yeager researched issues affecting community banks as well as apprise bank examiners to economic and banking conditions. As he worked his way up to assistant vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank, Yeager says he found he spent more time in meetings and less doing research. Though he taught evening classes at St. Louis University, he yearned to return to a campus full time.

That campus would be in Fayetteville, Ark. In 2006, Yeager was hired for the position he now holds. “The job description fit me like a glove,” he says.

Yeager says he was pleasantly surprised with Northwest Arkansas’ scenic outdoors and the collegial and friendly atmosphere at Walton College. Yeager says at many universities, faculty can be competitive and even hostile. “Here, it’s completely the opposite,” he says.

At Walton College, Yeager teaches introductory, advanced and graduate banking courses.

He says his research interests are wide and varied, but most recently he has been exploring the link between the banking sector and the macro economy. He has been published in several publications, including Journal of Banking and Finance; Journal of Money, Credit, and Banking; and Journal of Economics and Business. “I have learned a lot since I’ve gotten here,” he says. “My research has improved because I’m surrounded by bright and hard-working colleagues and students.”

In addition, each summer for the past three years, he takes students to Belize where they assist potential and existing small business owners by presenting business education seminars and offering microloans to the most promising businesses. For Yeager, the Belize program has been personally rewarding and enriching. “I feel like we make a difference, and each year, thankfully, has been better than the last,” he says.

Yeager says when he’s away from work, he likes to spend time with his wife, Dara, and their four children—two of whom are attending the University of Arkansas. He also enjoys spending time on Beaver Lake. “I ended up where I wanted to be, but the path to get here had many twists and turns,” Yeager says.

EPIC Spotlight: Theresa Fette

The trust group was failing. It was in such disrepair that the state of Nevada was considering receivership.

For many, the task of resurrecting the Las Vegas company would be too daunting. Theresa Fette, however, saw the sinking business as an opportunity. Only 28 years old and a practicing lawyer, she and a business partner not much older pooled their resources to meet the company’s seven figure price tag a whopping sum for two people early in their careers. Continue reading EPIC Spotlight: Theresa Fette

EPIC Spotlight: Terrance Boyd

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“The faculty and staff are people with experiences who can tell you, ‘This is how you do it in the real world.’ ”

When Terrance Boyd was a freshman, he was like many University of Arkansas students starting college careers. He had to adjust to a new town – one different from his native Pine Bluff – and to newfound independence. To help ease the transition, he participated in the Connections Mentoring Program, offered through the university’s Multicultural Center. “It’s how I met a lot of the people I still keep in contact with,” he says.

In the program, freshmen are paired with upperclassmen, who serve as mentors. Moved by the experience, Terrance decided to continue his participation in Connections, as a mentor and now as president.

He says he found mentoring so rewarding that he became a counselor for the Business Leadership Academy, which is designed to create awareness of retail industry careers. The 13-day summer residential program for freshmen is sponsored by the Center for Retailing Excellence and the Office of Diversity Programs, both outreach centers at the Sam M. Walton College of Business. Boyd says he immediately noticed something when he saw all of those fresh faces. “They grouped up like they had been friends for years,” he says.

Terrance says it was family that got him interested in the University of Arkansas and the Walton College. He says he used to hear stories from his older sister, Whitnee Boyd, about how much she enjoyed attending the university. Her stories of campus life and programs made a lasting impression.

“I would always see things she would do,” he says. “She’s always been a spearhead and trail blazer.”

Now, Terrance is contemplating which trails he will blaze.

Majoring in accounting with a minor in both Spanish and retail, Terrance says he’s keeping an open mind as to what the future holds. He says he likes the idea of working for Walmart as a buyer, perhaps, or a product manager at the Colgate-Palmolive Co. Yet, he wouldn’t rule out going to graduate school or using his Spanish-speaking skills to work with Northwest Arkansas’ Hispanic population.

Then there’s auditing, which he says also fascinates him. “You have to be ethical,” he says. “You have to be alert.”

Terrance says the person who first mentored him in the Connections program now plays a significant role in his day-to-day college activities: they’re fraternity brothers in Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, where Terrance serves as keeper of the records.

His mentoring experiences also led to something else: taking on leadership roles. He serves as vice president of the university’s chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants. He says the group recently went to a conference in Austin, Texas, to learn career development skills while, on the home front, sponsoring seminars on resume-building and professional etiquette. It also does community service projects, such as participating in Make a Difference Day, he says.

Terrance also is a Walton College Student Ambassador. As a student ambassador he gives Walton College tours to prospective university students.

While he’s gaining his leadership skills, he says he continues to look up to the leaders at the Walton College, who continue to share their knowledge and inspire.

“The faculty and staff are people with experiences who can tell you, ‘This is how you do it in the real world,’” he says.

EPIC Spotlight: Talesha Christian

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Talesha Christian isn’t shy to say it. She loves math. From the time she was in grade school, she has enjoyed working with numbers. Now, as an Accounting and Financial Investments major at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, she sees so many opportunities where she can channel her passion.

The sophomore from El Dorado says she decided on her major after taking Business Foundations, a course that offers a hands-on, interactive experience in the business process. Talesha says the class enabled her to learn aspects of debits and credits and, through simulations, management and human resources.

“But I really liked the accounting side of it,” she says.

With many of her required classes out the way, Talesha, who was accepted into the University of Arkansas Honors College last year, will dive into her first accounting class this summer. She already has a good idea of what she wants to do after graduation: to be either an auditor, a private accountant or a financial analyst.

“I can see myself doing this all day,” she says of her love for number-crunching. “I feel like the professors here really know what they’re talking about.”

When she’s not sitting in a classroom, Talesha is a resident assistant at Maple Hill South. She says she enjoys being a role model to the incoming freshman still unsure about their new environment. Her job also involves planning programs and decorating for special events. Perhaps, she adds, she may someday work for someone who appreciates her experience as a residential assistant.

Talesha is a mentor with Razorback Bridge, a program that began a year ago through the Office of Diversity and is coordinated by the University of Arkansas Multicultural Center. Through the center, she is also is a mentor with the Connections Mentoring Program, which pairs upperclassmen with first-year, underrepresented students. She says she can empathize with the freshmen.

“I remember how scared I was when I was first on campus,” she says.

If that weren’t enough, Talesha is also a member of Student Support Services, a program that helps navigate students through the university system with the goal of helping students in any way that they can, so that they may become successful upon graduation.

“They take you in and check with you to see if you’re going to class, and to make sure you’re doing well. They make sure you are taking the necessary steps on the road to becoming successful,” she says.

Yet, her involvement on campus doesn’t stop there. She is a member of the university’s Black Student Association as well as the Associated Student Government Judiciary, which is in charge of ensuring the adherence to the ASG Constitution and Code, and they administer the ASG executive elections.

Talesha says when she can find the time, she enjoys shopping for shoes and dresses – the flowing kind. She will also sheepishly admit that if she could have two professions, she would also open her own boutique. In fact, she has a name for it already: Fierce Beauty Boutique. The store would offer a variety of women’s clothing and accessories, she says. Though she’s still working out the details, she knows one thing for sure: “I want it to be affordable for everyone.”

EPIC Spotlight: Stephen O. Kayode-Owoyele

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“I would encourage people of ethnic backgrounds to seriously consider this school.”

The trip to India is still fresh on Stephen O. Kayode-Owoyele’s mind.

There were visits to businesses and people’s homes. Stephen and other University of Arkansas students roamed the markets and bazaars. They visited a wild game reserve and met children in an orphanage “who entertained us as much as we entertained them,” Stephen says.

The most surprising thing? Seeing the wealthy and impoverished live side-by-side. And getting along.

Stephen, a graduate student at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, visited India over Christmas break in a business seminar as part of the university’s Study Abroad program.

“The experience was very enriching and educational,” he says. “I would say it’s the highlight of my education at this point.”

Stephen, born in Nigeria, has seen much of the world already. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in computer science with a minor in economics at Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria, he lived and worked in his native country for Accenture, a global management technology consulting firm, where he was an Information Security Consultant before moving to England briefly. After that, he moved to the United States and has worked at information security management jobs in New Jersey, Washington D.C. and Chicago.

Then it was off to Bentonville. Since 2009, Stephen has worked with Verizon Consulting Services’ Walmart account. There, he manages the relationship, sales and delivery of all contracted professional security services to Walmart stores.

Stephen says that when he decided to further his education, he researched colleges online. Walton College was on his list. “It’s the most reputable in the area,” he says of the college. “That was a good sell to me.”

He made an appointment to visit and was pleased with what he saw. “It’s a very cool campus,” he says. “It’s very well structured. It’s bustling with activities.”

He enrolled in the Managerial Master of Business Administration program, which is designed for working professionals like Stephen. Through online learning and attending class one Saturday a month, master’s degrees are typically earned in two years.

Stephen says his classes include people from many cultures and who hold many different opinions. This only increases the value of his education, he says.

“I would encourage people of ethnic backgrounds to seriously consider this school,” he says. “It’s increasing in diversity immensely.”

Combined with his bachelor’s degree and certification as an Information Systems Security Professional, this added knowledge will benefit his workplace, he says.

“It’s going to be more valuable to my employer and our clients,” he says.

Though Stephen has lived in major metropolitan areas, he says Northwest Arkansas stands out because of one thing in particular. “It’s the best place I’ve ever lived,” he says, adding that he finds the area calm and serene.

Back home in Nigeria, he says his mother has a long history in business. She operates a shop similar to America’s convenience stores. His father is retired and worked for an aluminum company.

Stephen says his move to the United States has been closely watched by his younger brothers and sister and that it gives them something to aim for.

“It’s inspirational for them,” he says.

EPIC Spotlight: Stephanie Nguyen

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As a rising senior at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, Stephanie Nguyen is a busy student. With a double major in accounting and finance, and a minor in economics, Stephanie has mastered time management. In addition to her extensive coursework, she is active in many organizations and activities on and off campus. Stephanie was one of 13 students selected to participate in the Center for Retailing Excellence Mentoring Programs. She has now completed half of this two year program under the mentorship of a Sam’s Club executive. Through the program, Stephanie has gained real-life exposure to the retail side of business with a focus on personal development. She also had the opportunity to fly to Cincinnati for a company visit and was selected to speak about the program at the CRE Executive Board Meeting in April 2009.

Stephanie also received a CRE scholarship to study abroad this summer. Along with eight other Walton College students, she spent the summer in Japan studying economic concepts, attending conferences with company executives, and traveling to various business plants and distribution centers.

After her study abroad experience, Stephanie began an internship with Colgate-Palmolive, a position for which she received the summer 2009 Arkansas Cooperative Education Program in Business Scholarship. As a collaborate planning forecasting and replenishment intern, Stephanie works on special projects in logistics, performs logistics analysis, and assists in analyzing business changes and cost impact.

Stephanie is also a member of Leadership Walton, volunteers at the Samaritan Community Center’s food pantry in Rogers and is fluent in Vietnamese.

EPIC Spotlight: Stefan Trim

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When Stefan Trim came to the University of Arkansas from Trinidad and Tobago, it was his first time to leave the Caribbean region. Stefan, who is majoring in organizational leadership management, with minors in economics, marketing and geology, explained that moving to a new place was difficult at first, but the excellent education he has received at the Walton College of Business has been worth the effort.

Stefan decided to study business because he likes the challenge and creativity of the field. “It’s exciting to set goals and meet the challenges that come with them,” he explained. “Through those challenges, you learn so much.”

“To whom much is given, much is required,” is Stefan’s credo, and at the University of Arkansas, he’s found plenty of opportunities to put these words into action. He is a student ambassador and has served as the vice president for membership in Alpha Kappa Psi, a professional business fraternity. Stefan has also participated in the Leadership Walton program and benefited from mentoring through the Center for Retailing Excellence. As a resident assistant, he received an award at an RA conference, and helped plan events for the Diversity Leadership Institute. He has also served as president of the Caribbean Students organization, worked as a staff photographer for the student newspaper, and hosted a music show on the student radio station.

As an international student, Stefan appreciates the opportunity he’s had to experience other cultures, and he was able to experience even more through a study abroad program in Brazil. Over three weeks in the summer, he traveled with a group of students to Rio De Janeiro and Perambucu, visiting corporate sites such as the Wal-Mart distribution center and a large steel manufacturing plant. One of Stefan’s favorite memories from Brazil was the view from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain. “It was stunning,” he said.

After graduating, Stefan plans to work for a few years before pursuing a master’s degree. He’s keeping an open mind about his job plans, but he would like to travel, and he hopes to be in a position to motivate others and encourage innovation and creativity. Stefan is excited about his future, and for this he credits the efforts of faculty and staff. “It’s the extra mile that the professors go to give students the tools they need for the working world,” he explained. “The things I’ve been involved in have greatly enhanced my professionalism and helped me realize how great my potential can be.”

EPIC Spotlight: Shannon Joyce

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Shannon Joyce joined Energy Corps in February 2011 and is now in her second year of service as an Outreach Coordinator in the Applied Sustainability Center at the University of Arkansas.

Energy Corps is a national service program in conjunction with AmeriCorps. It focuses on promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy. Currently, the program is in four states: Arkansas, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Montana.

Melissa Terry, Energy Corps Coordinator for Arkansas, says Shannon stood out from the crowd of Energy Corps applicants in several dimensions. “She was passionate about the environment, she had experience working with the public and developing creative outreach programs, and she is incredibly organized,” Terry says.

Shannon was relatively new to the idea of energy efficiency and renewable energy but quickly learned the basics. She was soon attending events and making presentations to groups about saving energy – and how that equated to saving money. One of the most valuable experiences for Shannon was getting an energy assessment performed on her own home. “We had already made many retrofits to our home over the past several years: new windows, insulation in our attic, and an air conditioner and furnace; however we were not seeing the return on our investment reflected in our utility bills. After having an energy assessment on our home in May of 2011, we learned that our ducts were leaking at 85 percent. This meant that only 15 percent of the air was actually coming into our home so I knew where the problem was,” Shannon says. That June, the Joyces had their duct work sealed and have saved more than $1,000 on their utility bills in comparison to what they spent during the same time the previous year.

Aside from her own personal energy efficiency odyssey, Shannon works with the EAST (Environmental and Spatial Technology) Initiative. EAST students from all across the country work on service projects in their local communities. In the 2011-2012 school year, the focus was around energy efficiency. Other programs that she has worked with are the Track & Save campaign through the Arkansas Energy Office, where she has presented at Washington County libraries about Kill-A-Watt meters and saving energy and money. Resources used regularly that are available to the public include rebate and incentive programs from local utility companies such as SWEPCO, Ozarks Electric Cooperative and SourceGas, as well as publications from EnergyStar and the Arkansas Energy Office. Currently, Shannon is planning a Sustainability Summit, set for October 2012.

“Energy Corps has opened my eyes to a whole new world,” Shannon says. “My other colleagues are all doing such amazing work in our community and state. When I look around, my fellow members are everywhere! The sustainability movement is here, and Energy Corps is helping to raise awareness and education around this precious gift of life. To sustain is to have something last forever. Just because we have done something a certain way for the past 100 years does not mean that we have to do it the same way for the next 100 years. At the current rate of consumption, we will deplete our resources and destroy what Mother Nature has given us. I am a mom of two little ones, and this mission is for them. To leave this world a better place than I found it.”

Energy Corps members are also first responders. After the tornado hit Joplin, Mo., last spring, the Arkansas Energy Corps hit the road to help in the recovery. There they set up the Red Cross shelter, canvassed the area in the debris cleanup and were sent on search crews for the missing. They were recognized at the Arkansas State Capitol for their efforts.

“It feels so good to be walking in my shoes,” Shannon says. “This experience has been like no other and I will keep marching on, making the change I wish to see, one step at a time.”

EPIC Spotlight: Scott Schroeder

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Before Scott Schroeder came to the University of Arkansas, he worked as an operations manager for a bank in Altus, Arkansas. Returning to school to study transportation logistics, he discovered that his experience in the working world had given him a new appreciation for his classes.

“The instructor knowledge at the Walton College of Business is world class,” he explained, and added that the emphasis his professors have placed on real-world problems and critical thinking means that “the end result is more than a GPA.”

One of Scott’s favorite classes is Logistics Strategies, where the students work on realistic logistics puzzles. For example, the professor might give them a budget to ship products from a distribution center to customers in a rural area. As the students work out a solution, however, they come across obstacles, such as inadequate resources. Figuring out how to solve these unexpected problems makes the class more applicable to the real world, explained Scott.

Logistics has always been fascinating for Scott. “You don’t think about how your bottled water gets to the store,” he explained. “It is so efficient that we don’t see it any more.”

Scott plans to be one of the people who makes sure the consumer goods we depend on make it to the grocery store shelves. He would like to work as a procurement or purchasing manager for a large company like Tyson or Cargill. In this job, he could help ensure that high quality, low cost goods are available to the public.

As he interviews for jobs, Scott is grateful for the confidence he has developed as a Walton student. “I have confidence in my abilities and my knowledge about the field,” he explained. Overall, he describes his years at the Walton College of Business as a wonderful experience.