Invenio 2011

Business Matters

The College of Business masters accounting and more.


“One of the hallmarks of the business programs at Lamar University is the high level of interaction with the business community that we serve.” Henry Venta, dean

The faculty of the College of Business is on the move – adding programs and earning awards. And they continue to build relationships with the business community, which strengthens students’ opportunities for real-world experience.

Mastering Accounting

Ann WatkinsThe Department of Accounting and Business Law started a master of science in accounting program in the fall semester of 2010. It is a 30-hour program designed to provide students with the necessary technical knowledge, communication skills and critical thinking abilities for successful careers in public accounting, industry, government and not-for-profit organizations. The degree can satisfy all educational requirements adopted by the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy to sit the CPA exam in the state of Texas.

The program admits students with diverse backgrounds. While a majority of graduate students have undergraduate degrees in accounting or business, many students have bachelor’s or master’s degrees in areas other than business. The flexible nature of the program allows both full-time and part-time students to obtain the degree. Applications are accepted throughout the year and students are admitted in fall, spring and summer semesters. The length of the program will vary depending on the accounting and business background a student has.

“Recently, in an effort to meet with CPA-firm recruiting demands and align our program with other accounting programs throughout the state, we have received approval to offer an Integrated BBA/MSA program,” said Ann Watkins, professor and chair. This will enable qualified students to apply and be admitted to the M.S. in accounting program prior to completing their undergraduate degrees.”

The college also offers a dual Master of Science in Accounting and a Master of Business Administration degree.

Investing in the Future

Thomas Thompson, assistant professor in the Department of Economics and Finance, received the University Merit Award in 2010 in recognition of his scholarship, service, outstanding classroom performance and interaction with students. His active teaching style encourages student participation and he stresses social, environmental and ethical issues through the use of case analyses. Using statistical models he developed, students analyze stock performance and company valuation in different sectors.

Thompson joined the faculty in 2005 and his areas of professional expertise include investments, security analysis and portfolio management. His research and teaching interests include investments, corporate finance, derivatives and real estate. His most recent publication is titled “Partial Price Adjustments and Equity Carve-Outs” and is published in the Eastern Finance Association’s The Financial Review. He has several papers under review and is working on one titled “Valuing Nostalgia: The Case of the 1957 Baseball Cards.” Several factors are examined that influence the values of the Topps 1957 baseball card issue through the years and show how this baseball card set avoided the price collapse of the post-1980 baseball card issues.

Thomas ThompsonWith Thompson as faculty advisor, Lamar University’s Finance Association, a student group, received national recognition as a Superior Chapter for the fifth year in a row in 2010. As a chapter of Financial Management Association International, the group promotes financial management for academic and professional entities. Thompson was named a 2009 Superior Faculty Advisor, a one-time award. Of the 200 active chapters, only five advisors were chosen for this honor. He also leads the Student-Managed Investment Fund, a $250,000 portfolio held by the Lamar University Foundation. With his guidance, students manage this fund and learn how to be good money managers and investors. The students are divided into industry sectors and track the stocks of 25 mid-cap to large-cap domestic companies including McDonald’s Corp., PepsiCo Inc., Walgreen Co. and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Each student group makes recommendations on whether to buy or hold the stocks of the companies they research. The students can have no more than 5 percent of the fund in any one company.

“The Student-Managed Investment Fund is currently at $273,000, a gain of 8 percent from January 2009,” Thompson said in October. “What is more important is that more than 50 students have received hands-on experience in managing real money in good and bad times.”

Emerging Scholar

Vivek NatarajanVivek Natarajan, assistant professor in the Department of Management and Marketing, is an emerging scholar in the areas of quality and services in marketing. Since earning his doctorate in marketing from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2006 and coming to Lamar, he has published 10 journal articles and has had 23 proceedings and presentations. Natarajan and two co-authors including Lynn Godkin, professor of management at Lamar, won a Distinguished Research Award from the Academy of Organizational Culture, Conflict and Communications of Allied Academies for his joint paper titled “An Empirical Study of Attitudes Toward Recognition Among Civilian Municipal Employees in a U.S. City.”

He serves on the editorial boards of the Business Studies Journal, Academy of Marketing Studies Journal and the International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing. In his marketing promotions course, he incorporates service learning into the curriculum. “Every semester, we have a client and create a marketing promotion plan for them,” he said. “I invite clients to class to give a lecture about the project, organize a field trip to the clients’ facilities and, finally, the students make a presentation in front of the clients in class. They also submit a final report to the client.”

Past clients include the Symphony of Southeast Texas, M&D Supply, Treasure House, AAMCO Transmissions and Reese Construction Management. Natarajan also teaches the MBA marketing management course. “I was sent to Harvard Business School for a training seminar/program on the Art and Craft of Discussion Leadership,” he said. “This program is designed to train instructors in the pedagogy of case method, of teaching and using discussion-centered learning in the classroom. I use case studies extensively in my MBA course.”