Anomaly Detector

While COVID-19 has forced us to pivot the way we work and play, the Robbins Center for Global Business and Strategy is no exception. In fact, two virtual activities alone in October saw more than 250 students involved in international lecture, case analyses and culture sessions in Hong Kong and Bahrain. “Framed in this way, that's very promising international reach between WVU and these two international partners,” said David Dawley, executive director of the Robbins Center. 

Get Hyped

How did a global megacompany decide to invest in the Mountain State in developing the transportation of the future? Well, we have the Chambers College, Vantage Ventures and its Executive Director Sarah Biller to thank for helping land Virgin Hyperloop. The company announced it would build a certification center spanning nearly 800 acres in Tucker and Grant counties. When completed, the Virgin Hyperloop system expects to carry passengers in pods through a vacuum tube at speeds breaking 600 mph. Read more about it in an upcoming feature story in 2021 in WVU Magazine. 

A Big Four Dream

Lana Latif has already met her goal of securing a job with a Big Four accounting firm -- and she’s still in grad school. Latif will earn her master’s in accountancy in 2021 before heading to Pittsburgh to be an assurance associate at Ernst & Young. According to her mentor, Gary LeDonne, this is a great success story for Latif who came to WVU after living with her family in Palestine. 

Fans Arrive Like Butterflies

Large, one-off events such as music concerts can create economic impacts not seen from professional sports, suggests rockin’ research by Joshua Hall, chair and professor of economics. Hall and Justin Parker, a 2020 Ph.D. economics graduate, found that Pearl Jam’s Seattle “Home Shows” in August 2018 generated $58 million in additional hotel revenue and $9 million in hotel tax revenue. That dwarfs Seattle Mariners baseball games ($140,000 in additional hotel revenue on game days). Their research was published in the Annals of Tourism Research Empirical Insights.

Virtual Globetrotting

While COVID-19 has forced us to pivot the way we work and play, the Robbins Center for Global Business and Strategy is no exception. In fact, two virtual activities alone in October saw more than 250 students involved in international lecture, case analyses and culture sessions in Hong Kong and Bahrain. “Framed in this way, that's very promising international reach between WVU and these two international partners,” said David Dawley, executive director of the Robbins Center. 

Roll Call

Four Chambers College alumni who trailblazed their way to success in the business world joined the 2020 Roll of Distinguished Alumni class. They include Tina Bigalke, chief diversity officer of PepsiCo; Glenn Carell, managing director of Global Trading Systems Designated Market Making Operations; Dan D’Arrigo, former executive vice president and chief financial officer of MGM Resorts; and Albert Lewis, owner and chairman of Glass Inc.


Management Information Systems alumnus Jack Elliott helped the Philadelphia Union win the Supporters Shield, given for finishing first in the Major League Soccer regular season. Elliott, who played for the WVU soccer team from 2013 to 2016, plays as a defender. 


Working as a program manager at Honeywell seems like a sweet enough gig, but imagine expanding your technical skills and knowledge base while in that position. Scott Branham chose that path when he enrolled in WVU Online’s Business Data Analytics program. Read more about Branham’s journey here

Leidos and the Future of Business

Leidos, a Fortune 500 science and technology leader, partnered with the Chambers College in October for the ‘State of Innovation: Top Emerging Technologies Poised to be Key Drivers of a Post Pandemic World’ seminar. The event was part of the Leidos “Future of Business” series, designed to explore disciplines that are disrupting the business world, including cybersecurity, data analytics, cloud computing and the world of fintech. 

Bank on it

The Center for Financial Literacy and Education, in conjunction with the Finance Department, received an Executive Training Program Gift for $38,000. Finance Faculty Brant Hammer, Frank DeGeorge and David Fragale will teach a 15-week program to a group of burgeoning portfolio managers from United Bank. This partnership was initiated through the 2019 Bank Summit and cultivated further due to a long-standing relationship with finance Professor Paul Speaker.

Celebrating in Style

When COVID-19 hit, many faculty members were left learning virtual tools and hoping for some good news. Our Associate Professor of Marketing, Dr. Laurel Cook, did both. Cook receiving the news of her award of tenure was both exciting and joyful – a rainbow over the year 2020. While she could not throw the celebration party she had always wanted out of respect for our state’s COVID-19 restrictions, she did throw a one-of-a-kind photo session to share her news. “As a first-generation faculty member, this achievement is a reflection of the support and encouragement of my family,” said Cook. “Plus, this award bodes well for future generations in my family, and I am also incredibly grateful to West Virginia University and Chambers College.”

First Pitch

Supported by Silicon Valley CEO Ray Zinn, the first ZinnStarter Pitch Competition, hosted by the LaunchLab, gave aspiring collegiate entrepreneurs an opportunity to win cash to build their ideas into the next groundbreaking product or business. Winners included: First place ($2,500): Emma Adams, WVU animal and nutritional sciences major, and her business idea PetRecord, which provides universal medical records for pets in emergency situations; second place ($1,500): Cameron Keefe, global supply chain management major, and her idea ThermoRoller, which combines physical massage with temperature control to relieve sore muscle pain; and third place ($1,000) to the team of Austin Davis, Anne Byer and Emily Thomas, from the University of Charleston, and their idea Second Chance, a program that helps give active control back to people with quadriplegia and paraplegia. 

Tipping Points

Here’s a tip for New York City taxi drivers seeking bigger tips: Pick up tourists. Adam Nowak, associate professor of economics, and Amir B. Ferreira Neto, ’19, PhD Economics, studied data on yellow taxis in the Big Apple to see if tourists tipped more than locals. They do. Furthermore, theatergoers tip more than non-theatergoers, based on their findings that zeroed-in on drop-offs and pickups near Broadway. These differences between tourists and locals may affect the allocation of taxis throughout the city, conclude Nowak, Neto and Amanda Ross, of the University of Alabama.

The Hall

The West Virginia Business Hall of Fame posthumously honored coal industry billionaire and philanthropist Chris Cline and three other state business leaders who have led widespread growth.

The 2019 class includes Bill Bayless (pictured right), CEO of American Campus Communities Inc.; Judy K. Sheppard (left), CEO of Professional Services of America, Inc.; and Leo A. Vecellio, Jr. (center), chairman, president and CEO of Vecellio Group, Inc.

“Bill, Judy, Leo and Chris have made substantial impacts in their own respective business sectors, each getting their first involvement in business right here in West Virginia,” said W. Marston “Marty” Becker, chairman of the Hall of Fame Committee.

They were honored in August at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

Is PEPSI ok?

Actually, it’s more than OK for Amy Toscano, who graduated in May with a global supply chain management degree. Toscano, of East Stroudsburg, Pa., quickly fizzed into the workforce with a supply chain position with PepsiCo, which Toscano calls “a global brand that encourages my personal growth that started with great experiences at the Chambers College – both in and out of the classroom.”

No Dessert - or Dinner

One of seven West Virginians don't know where or when they’ll get their next meal. Food deserts are defined by the USDA as areas that lack fresh and healthful foods, and these are found throughout the state in impoverished areas lacking grocery stores, farmers’ markets and healthy food providers. John Saldanha, Sears chair in global supply chain management, is addressing this West Virginia problem head-on with his supply chain technology students. Read more in an upcoming edition of our magazine.

Take Stock

Worried about a looming recession and what to do with your money? Hold steady on those investment plans, advises Alexander Kurov, professor and Fred T. Tattersall research chair in finance. In an article penned for The Conversation, Kurov writes “Stick to your long-term plan and ignore day-to-day market fluctuations, however frightening they may be. Don’t take my word for it. The tried and true approach of passive investing is backed up by a lot of evidence.” To dive into the full article, go to


“The future is unpredictable so I focus on the ‘how’ and not the ‘what.'’”

Demitrus Jones, senior majoring in entrepreneurship and innovation, learned how to grow his business as a Gilman Scholar in Hong Kong last spring. Jones founded Royalte, a brand of apparel, in 2018. The Gilman Scholarship is a grant program enabling students to study or intern abroad, gaining skills critical to economic competitiveness.


Passing the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exam is a big career step for all accounting students.

Not only did Cailin Yoho Thompson pass, she was also one of 110 candidates (out of approximately 86,000 individuals who sat for the exam) from across the U.S. who won the Elijah Watt Sells Award in 2018 – the first time in seven years someone from West Virginia won this award.

The award was established by the American Institute of CPAs in 1923 to recognize outstanding performance on the CPA Exam. To qualify, CPA candidates must obtain a cumulative average score above 95.50 across all four sections of the Uniform CPA Examination and pass all four sections on their first attempt.

Thompson is a 2018 graduate of WVU. She received her bachelor’s degree in business administration in accounting, as well as a master’s of accountancy. Following graduation, Thompson took a position with Suttle & Stalnaker, PLLC in Parkersburg, W.Va., where she is currently employed as an audit staff accountant.

Beauty and the Least (Paid) $$$

Football was never intended to be a beauty pageant. A study led by economics professor Brad Humphreys backs it up. In fact, if you’re a handsome heartthrob coaching an NCAA Division I team, you might get a penalty flag when it comes to pay.

Using a face recognition and machine learning approach, researchers found that head coaches with a more aggressive appearance earned a salary premium. More attractive football coaches, on the other hand, faced a salary discount.

And, because you’re probably already wondering, Neal Brown ranked among the top quarter of attractive coaches.

Former WVU football coach Dana Holgorsen was ranked “substantially less attractive.”

“One explanation for the attractiveness discount and aggressiveness premium may stem from that fact that American football is a very aggressive sport, and an unattractive face might signal mental and physical toughness, viewed as a desirable characteristic in this market,” Humphreys said. Tackle more at

Feminine Appeal

After graduating magna cum laude in finance and economics in 2008, Nesha Sanghavi launched UG Apparel, collegiate sports fashions for women. As a varsity cheerleader for the WVU football and basketball teams, Sanghavi noticed the lack of feminine appeal in WVU clothing. So she did something about it. How successful has she been? Enough to donate $100,000 to establish an endowed scholarship and student enrichment fund in her name. She was named to the Roll of Distinguished Alumni in 2019.

Eight is Great

For the eighth consecutive year, the College’s Professional Sales Institute was named a Top University Sales Program in the world by the Sales Education Foundation. The listing highlights the top sales programs at higher education institutions that include 134 schools in North America and 16 international schools.

“Our sales program continues to grow in terms of student involvement and placements, and this recognition is a wonderful validation of our program,” said Michael Walsh, chair and associate professor of marketing.

Student engagement in the program has grown through high-level classroom education, experiential learning, exposure to companies, internship opportunities, sales case competitions, the professional sales club and featured speakers.


John Deskins, director of the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research, testified on Capitol Hill before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in July. The topic? The importance of energy innovation to economic growth.

“In West Virginia, the real key is finding things that are related to energy that build on our comparative advantage, that build on our historic strengths that are still different, new, innovative and growing — not just simply the extraction and exportation of raw coal and gas but other industries that relate to energy and benefit from local abundant supply of energy.”

When Life Hands You Lemons

In September 2019, our CEO Club donated the money from its Lemonade Day, which was held spring 2019, to WVU Medicine Children’s. Not only did local Morgantown kids learn how to run a profitable lemonade stand, but they were also able to support a great cause that will go on to help other children in our community.

Fashion and Finance

Interested in finance, but also fashion? You can do both! John Pineda, finance senior and fashion merchandising minor, attended New York Fashion Week this fall as a production coordinator. He had the opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes to put on a show — everything from hair and makeup to seating, lighting, ticketing and security.