Hosted by the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship, the four-part Innovation Challenge began with The Minute Pitch on Wednesday, Oct. 24. In front of an audience of nearly 200 students, faculty, staff and supporters, 27 teams gave 60-second pitches of their venture idea. Determined by a panel of industry expert judges, $2,500 in prize money was awarded to the first-, second- and third-place teams and the audience choice selection.
“Sports fans are getting older,” observed 2018 Mark H. McCormack Executive in Residence Bernie Mullin in a campus-wide lecture in October. “In that trend, baseball does worst, with fan age growing by half a year each year,” Mullin remarked. Last year’s NCAA football attendance, he added, was the lowest in 30 years. And three years ago, season ticket sales to collegiate football continued their decline, dropping by 10%.
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Ten years ago, the globe was gripped in a historic financial crisis. Markets crashed, entire countries defaulted – Greece is still reeling from the effects -- and the event forced major policy shifts that have shaped the financial landscape across the globe. This was the topic of presentations and discussions at the Isenberg School of Management’s annual CISDM conference on October 4.
It’s a steamy Friday afternoon in early June, and the window air conditioner in the third-floor conference room in Bartlett Hall is working furiously to provide relief to the handful of students gathered around a large meeting table. The setting is unmistakably a university classroom in summer, but once Birton Cowden begins to speak, it becomes immediately clear that this is anything but a typical college course.
Meet the new star of UMass Amherst’s campus, and the result of finding the answers to those questions, the Business Innovation Hub. Designed by the Boston architectural firm Goody Clancy and the Bjarke Ingles Group (BIG) of New York and Copenhagen, the circular building’s most striking design feature is the series of three-story-tall, copper-clad fins that create a vertical lattice for the glass outer wall. Along with their dynamic look, the slats function as a way to allow natural light in without overheating the building.
Distracted driving is decisively the leading cause of auto accidents among teens, emphasize Isenberg marketing students Emma Townsend ’18 and Kyle Pandiscio ’18. In June, the Isenberg duo placed first in a national competition to design a billboard that discourages texting while driving. Now in its 7th year, the Project Yellow Light scholarship competition offers anti-texting design contests in three categories—TV, radio, and billboard public service announcements. “'You beat out 1,600 designs,' a contest official told us,” recalls Kyle, whose billboard with Emma depicts a sky-view grid of three unoccupied parking spaces, and a fourth occupied by a car-sized cell phone.
On August 29, at the UMass Club high above Boston Common, David O’Leary ’81 MBA convened the 2018 MBA Keys to Success panel discussion after drinks and dinner. The event was the celebratory end of a three-day Boot Camp for first-year MBA candidates, in which the students learned career-building skills while getting to know each other. Along with several supportive second-years, alumni, and faculty, the first-years engaged with moderator David and the panelists on subjects ranging from job searching and interviews to Ford’s recent decision to stop manufacturing almost all of their sedans.
Interim Dean Tom Moliterno announced two new directors for the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship on September 4. Gregory S. Thomas (left), a proven leader with diverse experience in corporate America, has been named the center’s new executive director. Stephen Brand (right), who has taught entrepreneurship at colleges and universities across the country, will serve as the new associate director.
“My overriding aim in supporting Isenberg is to build and strengthen the community, especially among students,” says Isenberg finance grad Brian Tino ’11. To that end, Brian has partnered with former Isenberg undergraduate dean Carol Barr to create the Barr/Tino Leadership Scholarship. The award recognizes exceptional student leadership at Isenberg. In making that commitment, Brian found a role model in UMass Amherst alumnus Peter Bloom ’78. “I was one of the first three recipients of Peter’s scholarship, which honored our track & cross country coach, Kenneth O’Brien,” Brian recalls.
“A number of things in my life have special meaning, special resonance. For me, Isenberg and UMass are among them,” notes Isenberg accounting grad John Micalizzi ’94. As Human Resource Leader with the Boston office of accounting firm RSM, John has catalyzed two substantial gifts of $150,000 and $100,000 to Isenberg from its alumni at RSM and the RSM Foundation.
“I don’t have the stories that Jeff has,” remarked EY partner and New England recruitment leader Jason Janoff ’93. “I may be fun to listen to, but Jason is more important to you,” countered Jason’s former classmate and special agent in charge of the FBI’s Chicago office, Jeff Sallet ’93. With the aplomb and timing of a seasoned Saturday Night Live comedy duo, the former Isenberg classmates made an incontestable case for accounting as a professional destination. The venue was Cathy Lowry’s Introduction to Accounting class, and the students couldn’t get enough of Sallet and Janoff’s positive message.
Sport management Alumnus Bill Hubbard, in conjunction with Tokio-Marine HCC, has established an endowed fund with a $1 million gift that will provide financial support to McCormack Department of Sport Management students who participate in internships within the sport and entertainment industry.
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Hosted each school year by the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship, the Innovation Challenge is a series of four entrepreneurial competitions that replicates the process of developing and pitching a winning business venture. From the opening Minute Pitch event in the fall through the high-stakes Final round in the spring, teams have the opportunity to refine and improve their business plans and messaging, and to win thousands of dollars in seed money — thanks to sponsors Ernst & Young, The Heiser Family, Norman “Bud” Robertson, Kumar Ganapathy, Jeff Glassman, Darn It! and John & Sally Burke — to help make their ideas a reality.
October 25, 2017: The Minute Pitch
The venue: Amherst Room, Campus Center
The prize: $2,500, awarded to the top three teams and the audience choice
Melissa Baker, an assistant professor in Isenberg’s Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, is recipient of a 2018-19 Lilly Fellowship. The nationally competitive fellowships foster teaching excellence through pedagogy workshops and seminars, course development and redesign, third-party assessment of teaching skills, and other resources. The Institute for Teaching Excellence & Development has awarded the fellowships since 1986.
“UMass Amherst and Isenberg are now investment grade,” remarked Edward D. Shirley ’78, principal honoree at Isenberg’s annual Business Leadership Awards gathering on June 14. “When Mark Fuller became dean in 2009, he developed a strong aspirational team culture with the faculty that will live beyond [him],” Ed told his audience of 450 alumni, students, and faculty at the Colonnade Hotel in Boston. Isenberg’s rebranding as a “driven” community was a powerful catalyst in its rise to national prominence, Ed continued.
In April, a team of five Isenberg undergraduates won first place in the annual International Business Ethics Case (IBECC) competition’s main undergraduate event. This year’s three-day competition, at the Marriott Copley Place Hotel in Boston, attracted 28 undergraduate teams from five countries. (Graduate programs also vied in their own division. An Isenberg MBA team placed second in a 90-second competition in that division.) For the main undergraduate event, each team devised its own case topic for legal, financial, and ethical dissection.
Aclarity, LLC has recently been awarded additional funding via the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) Catalyst grant program, the 2018 Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) Accelerator and the National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research (NSF SBIR) grant program.
Thom Lytle ’07 MBA, Senior Director of Social Business and Digital Marketing with Dell, spoke to Isenberg’s full-time MBA students to share his insights on the importance of aligning social media practices with a company's marketing strategy.