TU Announces New Master Plan

Stephens Hall, arguably one of TU’s oldest and perhaps most iconic buildings, has been home to the College of Business and Economics since 1978. Constructed in 1912, the building has undergone several major renovations and updates throughout its 110-year history. While Stephens Hall, with its distinguished and recognizable clocktower, will remain a steadfast symbol of TU’s history, it will soon become a part of the College’s history as well.

Last month, Towson University announced that after 44 years in Stephens Hall, the College of Business and Economics will be getting a new home. This is, of course, part of TU’s larger vision, as expressed in the 2020-30 Campus Master Plan. The $1.2 billion investment in infrastructure proposes the renovation and addition 1.3 million gross square feet.

Developed under President Schatzel’s leadership, the new Master Plan outlines ten capital priorities. Among them is a new state-of-the-art academic building for CBE. The building will be located on the corner of York and Burke, connecting the north and south sides of campus. A timeline for construction has not yet been determined, but excitement is already building.

“We are thrilled that the TU 2020-30 Campus Master Plan includes a new building for the College of Business and Economics” says Dean Shohreh Kaynama. She adds, “Though we love our Stephens Hall, updated facilities will ensure a sustainable future for CBE and position TU to remain among the very best public business schools in the country.”

Rest assured, however, that while Stephens Hall may no longer house the College of Business and Economics, it is not by any means going away. In fact, the Master Plan includes major renovations to the historic building, maintaining its place in TU’s past, present, and future.

TU’s 2020-30 Campus Master Plan is available in its entirety at  https://www.towson.edu/facilities/masterplan/documents/master-plan-summary-2022.pdf.

The Current Supply Chain Crisis – Stimulated Demand Outstrips Constrained Supply

Article written by: Chaodong Han, Professor of Logistics and Chair of the Business Analytics and Technology Management Department*

First, hand sanitizer. Then, face masks. And now, rapid test kits. We have become accustomed to the shortage of personal protective products throughout the pandemic. However, are we ready for the continued shortage of paper towels, toilet paper, table wine, and breakfast cereal? Amazon Prime members are annoyed by a two-week or longer delivery despite a free two-day shipping promise. It is disturbing that prices have skyrocketed for almost everything, including gas, groceries, used cars, toys, clothing, appliances, and furniture.

What has happened? What started as a supply shock caused by production lockdowns in China due to the COVID-19 pandemic spread rapidly to the entire world and triggered a global supply chain breakdown: plant closures, port crises, warehouse idling, and delayed last-mile delivery.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the longstanding structural weaknesses of the U.S. supply chain: a shortage of truck drivers due to high turnovers and early retirement, deteriorating roads and bridges, rising labor and fuel costs, inefficient port operations due to unionized workers and aging infrastructure, frequent disputes with major trade partners, and dependence on global supply of critical materials and products due to outsourcing. The pandemic has only worsened America’s vulnerabilities to supply chain disruptions.

Notably, the American Trucking Association estimates that the U.S. was about 80,000 drivers short of the workforce needed to keep goods moving freely in 2021. Regulations including vaccine mandates only make it more difficult to retain the logistics workforce and recruit new truckers and warehouse workers.

U.S. oil firms produced 12.29 million barrels of crude oil per day in 2019 but had to slash production in 2020 when faced with no demand due to lockdowns. With speedy economic recovery, U.S. demand for oil rebounded to 20.6 million barrels per day in 2022. However, the U.S. oil production barely reached 11.85 million barrels per day as of November 2021, much lower than the pre-pandemic level.  Cancellations of the Keystone XL pipeline and drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge combined with geopolitical conflicts only put upward pressure on oil prices. The U.S. has lost its briefly-held status as a net exporter of petroleum. Skyrocketing energy prices add unexpected costs to the supply chain and make frequent deliveries even harder and less desirable.

While supply remains severely constrained by the pandemic and government policies, demand for physical goods has significantly surged due to unavailability of services, historically low interest rates and the U.S. government’s stimulus and relief packages.

The U.S. government responded to the pandemic with expansionary monetary policies and a series of stimulus and relief packages. President Trump allocated a total of nearly a trillion dollars for direct cash payments, expansion of unemployment benefits, grants to small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program, educational relief funds, and agriculture relief funds through The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and the CARES Act. President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act with a $1.9 trillion price tag, including increased direct cash payments, increased child tax credit, expanded unemployment insurance and benefits, and continuing funding for education, public transit, and rental assistance. The recently signed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act budgeted another $1.2 trillion including $550 billion for infrastructure.

Unsurprisingly, the stark mismatch between stimulated demand and constrained supply has resulted in the current supply chain crisis.

In the transportation sector, the unemployment rate was 4.7% in January 2022, a drop of 4.3 percentage points from 9% a year ago. However, the unemployment rate remains above the pre-pandemic level of 3.4% as reported in January 2020. Millions of jobs are unfilled due to drops in labor-force participation. The U.S. labor force participation rate declined to 60.2% in April 2020, 61.7% in July 2021 and 61.9% in December 2021 from 63% in the pre-pandemic period.

To seek long-term solutions to the U.S. supply chain vulnerabilities, the U.S. federal, state and local governments may ease policies and lift regulations which may have hindered the supply of labor and fuels, keep inflation at bay and speed up modernization of waning infrastructure in partnership with the private sector. U.S. companies may consider transformation of their global supply chains in the aftermath of the pandemic, including diversifying supply bases, shortening supply chains through nearshoring or onshoring, and building a resilient logistics network.

Understandably, pay raises alone may no longer be an easy fix to the labor shortage problem facing the logistics industry. Logistics companies may adopt automation, build a work and cultural environment attractive to new generations, and leverage people analytics to identify potential demographics for truckers and warehouse workers.

*This article represents the research and perspective of Professor Chaodong Han of the Department of Business Analytics and Technology Management.  

CBE Hits a Home Run with UA Sponsored Case Competition

Since becoming part of the business curriculum in 2015, the Live Strategy Case Competition has partnered with some impressive corporations to bring real life issues into the classroom. The fall 2021 competition, sponsored by Under Armour (UA), is certainly no exception.

This semester’s case featured a unique challenge. UA leaders asked students to propose strategies to support the company’s position in the digital fitness market.

In what was the ultimate team project, nearly 300 seniors across 10 sections worked together to develop solutions for UA. The top 10 teams from each section advanced to the final round where they presented their recommendations to UA leaders.

Impressed with all of the day’s presentations, UA leaders deliberated at length before selecting their top three teams. In first place were The Focused Performers, including Cari Elliott, Allison Gigliotti, Zackary Gottzandt, Ava Havrilko, and Allison Jacoby, from Dr. Dutta’s section.

Second and third place went to teams mentored by Dr. Obedkova. They were the Focus Innovators (Amy Asare, Anna Borisova, Garshet Hatcher, and Briana Scott) and the Metaheads (Sant Chana, Konark Chopra, Mark Sanino, Adil Vahora, and Yuqi Wan).

Adam Flake, Director of Corporate Strategy at Under Armour says, “The live case competition at Towson was a great opportunity for Under Armour and Towson University to further strengthen our partnership as Maryland neighbors. We challenged the students with a real business problem that we face today, and we were extremely impressed with the rigor and creativity of their analysis and recommendations. It’s exciting for us to hear a fresh set of diverse ideas to better shape how Under Armour competes in the market. We hope the students learned valuable lessons of real business skillsets and teamwork, both of which are critical to success in the business world. We’re looking forward to continuing our partnership in the spring with a new case and another round of teams.”

What do Perdue Farms and TU have in common? A passion for using data analytics to solve real world business problems.

On December 3, 2021 CBE’s Business Analytics and Technology Management (BATM) department hosted the final round of the second campus-wide Data Analytics Competition sponsored by Perdue Farms. Nearly 60 students, representing five colleges (CBE, COFAC, CLA, CSM, and CHP) across campus participated in the competition. CBE and graphic design majors tend to have higher participation rates than other programs thanks in part to faculty like Kimberly Hopkins, Ph.D., assistant professor of graphic design (COFAC), who encourage students to step out of their comfort zones.

Chaodong Han, Ph.D., chair of BATM explains, “Data visualization and analytics is a cross-functional and cross-disciplinary undertaking. This year, many teams are in fact composed of students from different majors across campus, including CIS and graphic design, etc.”

The first round of the competition kicked off on October 5 when Perdue executives presented the case to students. Their challenge was to help Perdue Farms understand which customers would benefit most from the different logistic options offered by the company, utilizing existing delivery and transportation data.

Participants were given until October 31 to analyze the data, answer the company’s questions, and visualize their findings. Nine finalist teams were then selected and advanced to the next round where they had 5 minutes to present their findings and data visualizations to Perdue executives. The judges evaluated each presentation on the depth and accuracy of their analysis, as well as the clarity, creativity, and utility of their visualization.

Ultimately, three winning teams were selected.

  1. Thea Nolan (COFAC: Graphic Design), Ju Un Park (CBE: BSAP), and Connie Yee (COFAC: Graphic Design) – $2,500.00
  2. Deaira Carrington (FCSM: CIS) – $1,500.00
  3. Haja Sannoh (CBE and Honors College: Economics and Political Science) and Leah Sine (CBE: Economics) – $1,000.00

TU Vice President of the Division of Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research (SPAR), Darius Irani, PhD., shares, “The winning teams were able to take the massive trove of data and convey visually the underlying story and supporting elements to a lay audience, a crucial skill in a  21st century economy.”

As the title sponsor for the 2nd Annual Data Analytics Competition, Perdue Farms provided $5,000 in scholarships for the winning teams and an additional $5,000 to support experiential learning in data analytics.

“Working with Perdue Farms this year was amazing. The judges were excited to help students in the competition as well as network with the students to talk about internships”, says Stella Tomasi, PhD., professor and organizer of the competition. “Every year, we have teams with graphic designers win one of the prizes. It seems that winning teams are able to tell a story through data analysis.”

Kyle Benning, director of data strategy, adds, “As Perdue continues to grow our analytic capabilities it is essential to recruit new associates and ideas. Analytics is a team sport; this case competition gives us visibility to a diverse cross section of Towson’s talent and creates a way for us to see them in action.”

Counting on the Future Raises $40,000 for Student Scholarships

On November 11, accounting professionals from some of Maryland’s most prominent firms gathered in the South Campus Pavilion for their first in-person fundraiser in three years. The evening was a wonderful opportunity for members of the accounting community to connect with one another, as well as the College’s accounting faculty, students, and alumni.

CBE is especially grateful to Counting on the Future’s corporate sponsors, as well as the accounting advisory board members for coordinating the event and donating items to the silent auction.


In total, the evening raised $40,000 in scholarship funds for accounting students.

Patrick Donelan, a senior in the accounting program and scholarship recipient who spoke at the event, says, “A scholarship for many students like myself lessens the financial burden of attending school. These contributions let us focus on school rather than the finances behind it. They open up more time and opportunities to pour into the campus community. This can look different for everyone. In the past year, I have been able to explore and start The Towson Consulting Group which is a student run organization that will provide pro-bono consulting services to engage with small businesses in the Baltimore area. The group also brings in different consulting firms such as Oracle, a Fortune 100 company, to chat with students about their consulting services, the industry, and life as a consultant. This scholarship has continued to push me to want to give more to my community and further create a cycle of giving and growth within TU’s CBE!”