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Greetings Hull Alumni and Friends!

Dean Franza

Welcome to our latest edition of Inside Hull, keeping you updated on the latest happenings at Augusta University’s James M. Hull College of Business.

Our last issue of Academic Year 2020-2021 brings you a recap of our magnificent Spring 2021 Commencement Ceremony, in which more than 100 Hull degrees were conferred. As always, you will get an inside look at the people of Hull: our students, our faculty and staff, and our alumni.

On the student side, you will learn about our accounting scholarship winners, Tia Askew and Kyle Oldenkamp, and one of our outstanding recent graduates, Jomari Jackson. You will be proud of the work of our faculty and students on projects for our community, including Dr. Marsha Loda’s class doing a social media project for the Greater Augusta Arts Council and Roger Duke’s project management class doing great work with its Compass for Hope project.

Finally, spotlights are provided on Dr. Melissa Furman’s work as a panelist for the Metro Augusta Chamber, one of our outstanding alumni, Rob Appleman, and on our accounting program being named one of the most affordable by University HQ.

As you can see, there is much going on in Hull, and we hope this issue provides you much insight and pride!

Richard (Rick) M. Franza, Ph.D.


Commencement, Hooding Ceremonies Return to
In-Person Celebrations

student at spring graduation

More than 100 students of the Hull College of Business graduated during spring commencement.

Augusta University hosted its Spring 2021 Commencement on Thursday, May 13, at Evans Towne Center Park, where more than 1,200 graduates celebrated their achievements along with their friends and families during two outdoor ceremonies at Lady A Pavilion. The Hull College of Business saw 102 spring graduates walk across the stage to receive their diplomas during the 9 a.m. ceremony.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, some of the participants in the ceremony were graduates of prior semesters who took advantage of the chance to be recognized in a non-virtual ceremony.

This semester’s hooding ceremony, a special recognition ceremony for masters and doctoral degree candidates, was also an in-person event Wednesday, May 12, at the James Brown Arena, where the Hull College honored two of its MBA graduates.

"The outstanding commencement ceremony made for a great finish to a challenging year. The Lady A Pavilion was a great venue, and the weather was spectacular! It was a thrill to see our Hull graduates in person, hand them their diploma cases, and congratulate them on a job well done,” said Richard Franza, dean of the Hull College.

To watch AU’s Spring 2021 Commencement ceremonies, visit

Graduation Week 2021: Jomari Jackson

jomari jackson Hull graduate

Jomari Jackson, graduate of the James M. Hull College of Business at Augusta University with a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in healthcare management

From Jagwire

Inspired to go into dentistry

When Jomari Jackson was growing up in Forsyth, Georgia, he would closely watch his mom, a local nurse, care for her patients.

The love and kindness she showed each of her patients made a huge impression on him over the years.

“Watching her sacrifice, and seeing her totally involved in taking care of people who were ill, inspired me as a child,” Jackson said. “So, ever since I was young, I’ve always known I wanted to work in health care. But I didn’t quite know in what kind of role until I reached high school.”

It wasn’t until high school that he noticed his local dentist also played a major role in his community.

“I started realizing how much a dentist interacts with not only patients, but people throughout the community,” Jackson said. “I saw my dentist back in my hometown become a part of many organizations in our community. He’s given out scholarships. He is a part of what is called the Touchdown Club at my high school, Mary Persons High School in Forsyth, where he has sponsored different football players over the years.

“I just thought it was cool to see him very involved, so that attracted me to dentistry.”

Jackson, who hopes to attend the Dental College of Georgia in the fall of 2022 to earn his Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry, decided he also needed to study business to have a successful practice in the future.

This week, Jackson will graduate from the James M. Hull College of Business at Augusta University with a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in health care management.

“To be an entrepreneur and be able to create your own business and have the flexibility on how you market and promote your dentist office, that was extremely appealing to me,” Jackson said. “I liked the independence of owning such a business, but I wanted to learn how to run it successfully, and Hull College made that possible.”

During his sophomore year at Augusta University, Jackson took the “Introduction to Business and Professional Skills” class with Dr. Melissa Furman, and he quickly gravitated toward a business degree from Hull College.

“I just immediately noticed the community in the Hull College of Business was so close and the professors were truly interested in their students,” Jackson said. “It was as if my dreams for the future were also their dreams. They adopted my dreams and helped show me the path to get there.

“And they just didn’t do that for me. They did that for a lot of students. They are very in tune with what you want to do in life, and they kind of customize your learning experience for you.”

Giving back

As a future dentist and possible owner of a private practice, Jackson said Hull College helped him develop the skills necessary to make that dream a reality one day.

“I knew I needed leadership skills and the know-how to manage and market my practice to get the word out about the work that I do,” he said. “Being at Augusta University, I already knew the science classes that I had to take to get into dental school. But, I thought, ‘It wouldn’t hurt for me to become a business major to get that professional and leadership side, too.’ So, that’s what I did, and it was a perfect fit for me.”

Jackson not only has a passion for Hull College and dentistry, but he is also dedicated to several local organizations, both on and off campus. He is a member of Doctors Without Borders, Augusta University Red Cross, the AU Dental Club, and he volunteers at the Boys & Girls Clubs. In addition, he serves as president of Lumin Society, which is a student ambassador organization for Alumni Affairs.

He also works as a resident assistant for Augusta University’s on-campus housing at University Village; he recently volunteered at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at his church, St. James Baptist Church in Forsyth; and he mentors to youth at his church and former high school.

“I’ve been asked to come back a couple of times to speak to principals and to different superintendents throughout the state to tell them about my experience throughout high school,” Jackson said. “I show them different avenues on how to promote more positive behavior in high schools around Georgia.”

In June, Jackson plans to take the Dental Admission Test, and he will apply to The Dental College of Georgia.

“I’ve been studying for the Dental Admission Test for probably close to six months now,” Jackson said, smiling. “So, that’s definitely coming up pretty soon, but I think I’m ready.”

Jackson said he was even more convinced that dentistry was the correct career path for him after he accepted an internship in the summer of 2019 at Columbia University in New York City.

“It was a summer health program, and I spent six weeks up there at their dental school just to see up close and in person what dental school is like,” Jackson said. “I also took some enhancement science courses that can help me with my prerequisites for applying to dental school. So, that was a great experience that really increased my excitement about dentistry.”

Returning home

One of the main reasons Jackson is interested in attending The Dental College of Georgia is because he’d like to open a practice to serve the people of Georgia. He would also like to eventually return to his hometown of Forsyth to help the community that has supported him over the years.

“Eventually, my goal is to be back and serve Forsyth because it’s a small and rural city, but it’s a growing area,” Jackson said, adding that during a recent visit home he was surprised by the number of new businesses opening up, including a natural birth gynecology office. “That was something new and exciting to me because I’d like to see more healthcare-based business to come in and feel confident that they can be successful, even in a smaller, rural area.

“I feel like if I’m able to do it with dentistry, then I can really open the door for a lot of different healthcare businesses to come in and do great things in Forsyth.”

In the future, Jackson said he’d love to be the person to inspire more change and growth in his hometown.

“When I was young, I had to drive 30 to 45 minutes to see a dentist,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I didn’t have access to a dentist, but at the same time, it wasn’t convenient because I had to leave for the whole day of school because the drive was 45 minutes. Then, I had to sit at the dentist’s office for two or three hours and drive 45 minutes back home. Sometimes I might be in pain or not feeling well.

“If that service was provided five minutes down the road from my house, then my experience would have been a whole lot better.”

Making life a little easier and happier for his hometown would be a dream come true, Jackson said.

“A lot of the people who invested in me and a lot of my mentors, they gave me the strength to be who I am today,” Jackson said. “Now, I want to return the favor. They are the people I want to go back and serve.”

Project Management Classes Provide Clothing and Necessities to Local Homeless Organization

Roger Duke delivering donation items to Compass for Hope

Roger Duke, lecturer for the Hull College of Business, drops off donated items to Mike Garrison, director of Compass for Hope.

Three project management classes at the Hull College of Business collected items for the homeless as their spring semester project.

Roger Duke, lecturer of project management, delivered the donated items on Wed., May 5, to Compass for Hope, a nonprofit organization helping the CSRA homeless. In all, the students created 75 “Blessing Bags” of personal hygiene items. They also collected blankets, water bottles, book bags, and rolling suitcases.

“In our classes we study the many processes it takes to manage projects. However, there's no better way to learn project management than to experience it. We chose to help local nonprofits by volunteering to lead projects supporting their missions. This approach provided the students opportunities to be project managers and make a positive impact in the community,” Duke said.

He was introduced to Compass for Hope by a colleague and created a community project for his project management classes.

According to Mike Garrison, director of Compass for Hope, the organization hands out more than 100 Blessing Bags and free clothing to the homeless on a weekly basis. Additionally, volunteers with the non-profit organization also assist with the Master’s Table Soup Kitchen on Fenwick Street in Augusta.

“Because of COVID, we have to do Blessing Bags. Pre-COVID, we laid out all of [the hygiene items] like a buffet, and the homeless could come by and get what they wanted,” Garrison explained.

The Hull College donation was unloaded into the organization’s North Augusta warehouse, where other donations from local businesses are stored. Garrison said companies like Bombas Socks also contribute to their cause.

During the fall semester, project management students collected more than 100 coats and gloves for Hope House, a residential substance abuse recovery and mental health facility for women.

Chamber Panel Features Hull Business Lecturer

Melissa Furman speaking at Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce

Melissa Furman. DBA, lecturer, speaks during the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce Member Economic Forum.

Melissa Furman, DBA, lecturer with the Hull College of Business, served as a panelist at the Member Economic Series meeting of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce on Wed., Apr. 28.

Furman along with two other panelists, Garrett Johnson, owner of Augusta Office Solutions, and Dennis Trotter, founding partner of JordanTrotter Commercial Real Estate, discussed “Rewinding the Workforce” with thoughts on the challenges and opportunities in returning a remote workforce to the workplace following Covid-19.

For millions of people, the daily commute during the pandemic was walking from the bedroom down the hallway to a makeshift office. So, how many will soon be required to commute in a car back to a commercial office space?

Furman said there will be challenges for both the employees and the companies to consider in planning a post-pandemic workplace. Working from home is not ideal for every employee.

“It needs to be about their job function. Can that job function be done remotely?” Furman said. “The pandemic was a disruptor, and over time the disruption will settle into a new normal. Look on whether it can be done [remotely] rather than how it had been done before.”

Furman said she sees potential issues with companies maintaining their culture as part of the workforce remains out of the office, as well as challenges of inclusion – making remote workers still feel like part of the team.

Johnson said manufacturers have taken notice of the fact there will be a lot more work-from-home now and have developed packages to address that, such as furniture geared for home environments.

Trotter said his office is seeing a gradual return of demand for office space. “The sky is not falling. We’re not going to tear down office buildings. We’re not going to convert them into apartments,” he said.

Trotter said he thinks there will be demand for more shared work spaces and shorter leases. He also sees a trend of having only half of a workforce in the office at one time and that they would possibly be sharing desks.

Hull College Senior Receives State CPAs Society’s Highest Academic Award

Student receiving an academic excellence award

l-r: Dr. Susan Murray, Kyle Oldenkamp, and Dean Richard Franza

Kyle Oldenkamp, a Hull College of Business senior, was among the dozen students in the state to receive the Georgia Society of CPAs Academic Excellence Award.

“He was nominated by the accounting faculty and is quite deserving,” said Susan Murray, Ph.D., assistant professor of accounting. “He’s an excellent student and has a bright future.”

Oldenkamp, graduating with an accounting degree, said he has “always been an analytical person” who enjoys government and non-profit accounting.

Certificates of Academic Excellence are presented to the undergraduate accounting major who is a senior with the highest overall GPA at each participating Georgia university.

The Georgia Society of CPAs (GSCPA) is the premier professional organization for CPAs in the state of Georgia. With almost 14,000 members throughout the state, the purpose of GSCPA is to achieve excellence by providing superior advocacy, leadership, service, lifelong learning and personal and professional development opportunities.

Accounting Senior Awarded CPA Scholarship

Tia AskewTia Askew, a senior accounting major at the Hull College of Business, received a $1,300 scholarship from the Georgia Society of CPAs. She was the only recipient selected from Augusta University, and she is on track to graduate in fall 2021.

"Tia is an excellent accounting student and well-deserving of this very competitive award. We are so proud to have her represent Augusta University to the profession,” said Susan Murray, Ph.D., assistant professor of accounting.

Scholarships ranging from $1,000-$5,000, for a total of $110,650, were awarded to 70 accounting students from 11 different Georgia universities and colleges in 2021. To be eligible to receive one of the scholarships, students must demonstrate a commitment to pursuing a career in accounting, be a U.S. citizen or eligible Permanent Resident Alien and resident of the state of Georgia, intend to remain a resident of the state, be a rising junior or senior majoring in accounting, be enrolled in a minimum of six semester hours beyond the sophomore level during the period scholarship funds are to be used, and maintain an overall grade point average (GPA) or accounting GPA of 3.0 or higher.

The mission of The Educational Foundation of The Georgia Society of CPAs is to encourage the best and the brightest individuals in Georgia to become Certified Public Accountants. The Foundation was formed in 1957 to aid and advance education and research relating to the study, teaching and practice of accountancy and allied fields.

Hull College Social Media Project Assists Arts Council

facebook post for greater augusta art council

A Facebook post for the Greater Augusta Arts Council created by Hull College students.

As the spring semester closed at Augusta University, students and professors alike often ask themselves “What did I really accomplish this semester?” One class can answer that question both with analytics and a feeling for making a difference.

In a Social Media Marketing class, students learned the ins and outs of social media. After learning theory, doing market research, practicing design, and constructing a content calendar, students conducted a real social media marketing campaign. 

The campaign focused on The Greater Augusta Arts Council. It involved both Instagram and Facebook, with the objective of increasing awareness about the benefits of art to a community and what the Arts Council does for Augusta, from public art – like the new sculpture trail and James Brown mural downtown – to producing the annual Arts in the Heart Festival. 

“I really try to incorporate hands-on projects in my classes. And, when I can also link in a non-profit organization, I consider it a real win-win,” said Marsha Loda, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing.

The campaign was made even more realistic with Experiential Innovation Funds Loda received from the university’s Center for Instructional Innovation. With these funds, students learned an essential new marketing skill – how to boost posts and the impact that ads have in social media marketing.  

So, what did Dr. Loda’s class accomplish this semester? There were 1,237 tracked uses of the hashtag #artmakeseverythingbetter. Students achieved an audience reach of more than 75,000 in the Augusta area for the Arts Council. Within that reach, some six percent of Instagram and 13 percent of Facebook users engaged with the content. What does that really mean? The campaign resulted in 4,125 likes, comments, and shares in Augusta about the value of art in a community and the importance of The Greater Augusta Arts Council.

The students’ reaction? Senior Sara June Alavi said, “This was definitely one of the more beneficial projects I have done in my upper-level business classes. I thought I knew a lot more than I did about the kind of Instagram postings that would do well. I had fun doing this and having the opportunity to help the Arts Council.”


Alumni Spotlight: Rob Appleman

ApplemanMajor: Finance

Graduation Year: 1999

What are you doing now? 

As a Retirement Plan Consultant at OneDigital, I assist companies' retirement committees with their investment fiduciary duties to make sure their retirement plans are reasonable in cost and provide diversified investment options to the participants so they can become more retirement ready.

How did your time at AU & Hull prepare you for where you are today? 

Through my time in school, I had my ups and downs, having outstanding teammates while playing baseball, losing scholarships due to lack of focus, and having to figure out how I would pay for school. I had some amazing professors as I got into my major, showing how what we were learning translated into the real world. All of it was an experience that I learned and grew from, providing me with the tools to be successful.

What do you know now that you wish you'd known while in college? 

The one constant in life is change, don't let it bother you. My favorite quote from Charles Darwin is "It is not the strongest that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." 

What person or course most influenced you while at AU? How? 

Accounting was the course that influenced me the most during my time at AU. When trying to pick a major, I originally landed on accounting. However, my lack of focus and interest during my first accounting class helped me change my major pretty quickly to finance. Things happen for a reason, and I always point to that accounting class as the one that started me down the path to where I am today.

What advice do you have for students interested in your field? 

The investment field has changed a lot, but at the core, it is still very much the same. When starting out, find a company you can grow with, gain knowledge through certifications or training, and find those who are successful with experience and willing to share what's worked for them along with their best practices.

What do you miss most about AU? 

Playing baseball during my time at AU. I miss the time just hanging out with teammates and those in my major. They were the best of times, just living in the moment.

What are one or two of your proudest professional and/or personal accomplishments that you’ve experienced after graduating? 

Honestly, I've won annual awards for sales at work, but starting a family and being able to provide for my kids while also being there for all their activities has been my greatest accomplishment.

Accounting Program Ranked in the Top 100

University HQAugusta University’s accounting program in the Hull College of Business’s Knox School of Accountancy has been ranked in the top 100 for the Most Affordable Accounting Degree Programs by University HQ.

“Accounting continues to be one of the most flexible and marketable majors that a student could pursue in the Hull College of Business,” said Mike Dugan, Ph.D., professor and Peter S. Knox III Distinguished Chair in accounting.

He said graduates of accounting programs pursue careers in public, industry, or government accounting. Others pursue positions in allied fields, such as financial or marketing management, because their knowledge of the language of business puts them at a competitive advantage. 

“The affordable nature of our accounting program provides students with a very high return of substantial lifetime compensation on their comparatively modest tuition investment,” Dugan said.

University HQ is an independent education organization providing students with resources to prepare and plan their career path in their chosen field. The organization compiled a list of more than 4,000 schools and ranked many different colleges and universities amongst their peers to provide an in-depth analysis of their programs. Ranking factors included retention rate, graduation rate, admission rate, the cost of tuition, graduates’ salaries, student loan default rate, diplomas awarded, and percentage of students receiving financial aid.

Alumni Society Plans Silent Auction for Scholarships

auctionAugusta University's Summerville Alumni Society, in partnership with Alumni Engagement, is presenting the first 2021 Augusta University AUction June 10­–13.

The public online silent auction will raise money for undergraduate student scholarships. Some of the items up for bid include Braves tickets, a 45-minute introductory golf lesson, a kayak rental, and upscale dinners for two.

Visit the AUction webpage for more information and to access the AUction link.

Faculty/Staff News

Stacy Roberts, DBA, lecturer of management and marketing, obtained her Doctor of Business Administration with a specialization in Human Resources from Liberty University on May 11.

Melissa Furman, DBA, made a presentation on diversity, equity, and inclusion to the inaugural members of the Executive Leadership Development Program in April. Details of the new human resources program can be read here.

Dean Richard Franza, Ph.D., wrote two columns that appeared in the Augusta Chronicle. On May 9, he had tips on how to make the annual performance review a less dreadful experience. On May 23, he wrote about being saddened by baseball players no longer adhering to the unwritten rules of the game.