Southern Miss Business April Newsletter

Maintaining the Quality of Business Programs while Learning Remotely

Along with most universities and schools, COVID-19 caused the College of Business and Economic Development at Southern Miss to seek innovative solutions to keep students engaged after converting all face-to-face courses to an online delivery format in a matter of two weeks. It is safe to say that uncertainty was the feeling that many faculty members and students had while entering this unchartered territory. Now, five weeks into 100% online course delivery, virtual meetings are becoming the new norm as many professors host their classes in a live video format. Professors are continuing to work with experts in the field as they virtually host guest speakers and work with companies and organizations on class projects. Students and faculty alike are working diligently to uphold the high-quality standard of the business curriculum while overcoming this unprecedented time.

Mr. Chris Balaski, a Professor of Practice in the School of Marketing, has worked to keep his course as close to the real thing as possible. By utilizing video conferencing technology, the class has been able to continue doing their assignments as they would be in the classroom. Experiential learning is a huge part of his Advanced Professional Selling course, a highly interactive and hands-on class that often hosts sales representatives and professionals in the classroom as guest speakers or sales pitch and roleplay participants and judges. These professionals provide examples of their own sales experiences and techniques before students take what they have learned and implement it into sales pitch scenarios.

Since converting to online delivery, Balaski has hosted virtual presentations and role play scenarios with large corporations such as Zoetis. He has also invited former professional selling student, Leighton Keonnen to virtually provide valuable peer feedback while playing a customer in their mock sales pitches.

Savannah Rheams, a student of Mr. Balaski’s said, “I am so thankful for the frequent check-ins by Mr. Balaski to see how we are all doing with the course, virtual roleplay preparations and sales calls with real professionals over Microsoft Teams, and full lessons plans provided on Canvas, so we are fully prepared for all exams. I think I can speak for all students in the College of Business and Economic Development in saying thank you to all of our faculty and staff for working so earnestly to create just as comfortable of a learning environment online as we were provided in Scianna Hall.”

Most recently, the advanced professional selling students worked with Northwestern Mutual, a financial services company. Representatives Keith Frye, Managing Director & Financial Advisor, and Becky Broersma, Experience Leader, assisted the students on perfecting their sales pitches as they perform role plays.

“This is our second semester partnering with Chris to help his students develop in their advanced sales skills. I believe the skills and experience they are getting in this class are top notch! I wish I would have had access to a class like this in college. It is also super impressive that these unprecedented times could not stop them from learning and growing. Learning to adapt is an extremely valuable skill in any marketplace,” said Keith Frye.

These resilient business students have overcome their fears of the unknown and are thriving in this new format. Chelsey Liddell, a student in the class shared her thoughts. “Mr. Balaski has done an exceptional job transitioning our course to an online format. Advanced professional selling is a nontraditional course, and requires interaction to get the full benefit, and by incorporating Microsoft Teams into our home learning experience, we have been able to continue doing exactly what we would be doing in the classroom. We still get to hear from real professionals, learn their techniques, and then give our own spin to them during our virtual role-plays. At the very least, finishing school at USM during COVID-19 has taught me to become more resilient and flexible, which is a necessary trait in the sales force.”

Northwestern Mutual Representatives Becky Broersma, Experience Leader and Keith Frye, Managing Director & Financial Advisor



The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) is temporarily waiving requirements for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and the Graduate Records Examinations (GRE) for Graduate School applicants during the summer and fall 2020 admission periods.

Three Students Join the EAGLE Scholars Program

Congratulations to Quinn Gordon, Bailey Bynum, and Rachel Green for being chosen to join the EAGLE Scholars Program for the 2020-2021 academic year. As EAGLE Scholars, they will receive leadership and professional development programming from business professionals and other industry and community leaders. Additionally, they receive an annual scholarship to assist with tuition.

2020 Graduate School hall of fame Inductees

Service-learning faculty fellows Program

Congratulations to Dr. Wei Wang and Dr. Chao Meng who recently completed USM’s Service-Learning Faculty Fellows program. As a Fellow, Dr. Wang and Dr. Meng spent the spring learning about the integration of community engagement into the classroom to enhance student learning and address community needs.

James wilcox named gew organizer

James Wilcox, Director of the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education, has been selected by the Global Entrepreneurship Network as the Global Entrepreneurship Week USA Community Organizer for the Hattiesburg area. Global Entrepreneurship Week is a large-scale campaign that is celebrated each November in 170 countries by more than 9 million participants and through more than 34,000 events. Congratulations, James!

Student center for the public trust

The Student Center for the Public Trust was recognized as the Best New Student Organization at the 2020 SOAR Awards, hosted by the Southern Miss Office of Leadership and Student Involvement. This year, the College of Business and Economic Development established a student chapter of the Center for the Public Trust which exists to provide a platform for corporate America and the accounting profession to explore, promote and advance ethical practices in organizations. There were 12 new student organizations in the running for this award. Congratulations to students, Kayla Martin and Erin Howell for their leadership in establishing this organization and to Dr. Marv Bouillon for his advisement and mentorship!

Faculty & Staff Awards

Each spring we hold an awards ceremony recognizing students, faculty & staff for their outstanding work throughout the year. Since we were unable to hold our ceremony this semester, we would like to congratulate the following faculty and staff members on a job well done. Please help in celebrating the following faculty and staff members! Student award recipients will be recognized in May.

Kelli King

Joseph A. Greene Excellence in Teaching Award

Sungsoo Kim

Louis K. Brandt Publication Award

Melinda McLelland

Business and Economic Development Service Award

Amber Hatten


Bailey Harris

Outstanding Staff Member Award

Kimberly Goodwin

BAC Research Award

Joanne Cao

BAC Research Award

Chad Miller

BAC Research Award

Wei Wang

BAC Research Award

Fujun Lai

BAC Research Award

Chris Croft

BAC Research Award

Stacey Hall

BAC Research Award

John Miller

BAC Research Award