BATM Junior Becomes First TU Student to Pass the Expert Level Exam in Excel

Jeremy Hotchkiss, a Business Systems & Processes and Investments Major, is set to graduate with both an Associate and Expert level certification in Excel

As a junior Business Systems & Processes major, Jeremy Hotchkiss took the Associate Level Exam in Excel – a requirement for the program. After passing this exam with flying colors, Hotchkiss decided to take his knowledge in Excel a step further and sit for the Expert Level Exam. Hotchkiss aced the exam with a perfect score of 1,000. Hotchkiss’ success not only highlights his tremendous work ethic but earns him the honor of being the first Towson University student to graduate with both an Associate and Expert level certification for the spreadsheet system.

Microsoft Office offers two exams for those looking to get certified in the program: the Associate Level Exam and the Expert Level Exam. While the Associate Level Exam in Excel focuses on measuring competency in creating and managing Excel worksheets, the Expert Level Exam focuses on managing professional spreadsheets to enhance productivity and meet project needs in a workplace setting. As Hotchkiss is expected to graduate in winter 2024 with his degree in business systems & processes and investments, it is crucial to understand how to implement Excel within the workplace.

“By earning an Expert Level certification, Jeremy has demonstrated to all prospective employers that he has a unique set of analytical skills and capabilities,” says professor Lynnwood Cook of the Department of Business Analytics & Technology Management. “His future employer will also be pleased to learn that he scored a perfect score on the exam.”

When asked how these exams have prepared him for his future career, Hotchkiss emphasized having confidence in the tools of the program. “This exam will have provided me the knowledge and know-how to give me a better footing when it comes to database and data analysis,” he said.

Hotchkiss was able to reach this milestone through consistent studying and practice, such as completing practice tests provided by GMetrix, a certification preparation resource. “Once I had covered that, I went back to the concept sheet that laid out the potential concepts that were going to be covered on the exam,” Hotchkiss said.

Prior to Hotchkiss’ success with the Expert Level Exam, he also passed the MOS Certification Exam, exceeding the benchmark of 950 with a score of 962. Due to this achievement, the total cost of Hotchkiss’ participation in the Expert Level exam, including his GMetrix training materials, was funded by Certiport, a certification exam provider dedicated to helping people succeed through certification.

For students who are considering taking the Expert Level Exam in Excel, Hotchkiss emphasizes the importance of having a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the concepts in the Associate Level Exam, along with the new content of the Expert Level Exam.

“About a third of the Expert Exam version I completed contained concepts from the Associate Level exam. Future Excel Exam test takers should study the concepts in depth. The rest of the exam was completely new stuff that the Associate level did not cover,” said Hotchkiss.

Through this endeavor, Hotchkiss expanded his knowledge of Excel and prepared himself for a successful future. “Although Excel isn’t the most exciting subject, taking this exam opened my eyes to many new functions and such that I never knew Excel could complete or run.”

This achievement not only highlights Hotchkiss’ talents, but also opens the door to other students within the College of Business & Economics to consider going beyond the Associate Level Exam and aim for additional certifications that could set them apart from the pack when applying for jobs in their desired fields.

“Excel is a powerful tool for data visualization and data analytics,” said Dr. Chaodong Han, the chair of the Department of Business Analytics & Technology. “Students graduating with Excel proficiency and certification will gain a clear edge in a competitive job market.”

The College of Business & Economics celebrates Hotchkiss’ success and the opportunities these certifications will give Hotchkiss in his future career.

Building with sunset background

CBE earns extension of AACSB accreditation

AACSB International — The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) — accreditation is the highest seal of quality business schools can receive.

Towson University’s College of Business & Economics (CBE) has earned extension of accreditation for its business and accounting programs from AACSB International — The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

This accreditation is the highest seal of quality business schools can receive and recognizes continuous improvement. TU is part of the less than six percent of schools that are AACSB International-accredited and the less than one percent that are accredited in both academic programs. CBE is one of only four schools in Maryland to hold both accreditations.

AACSB accreditation is the longest-standing, most-recognized form of specialized accreditation business programs can receive worldwide, yet only 949 business schools in 59 countries and territories currently have AACSB accreditation. Of those institutions, only 192 hold the additional, specialized AACSB accreditation for their accounting programs.

AACSB Accredited Logo
TU is part of the less than six percent of schools that are AACSB International-accredited and the less than one percent that are accredited in both academic programs.

Earning this dual distinction requires schools to meet rigorous standards for academic programs, as well as faculty qualifications and scholarship that are designed to challenge educators to pursue excellence. To maintain accreditation, schools must demonstrate how they meet the standards, and strive for continuous improvement, every five years through a peer review process.

In the most recent accreditation maintenance cycle, a team of outside reviewers commended TU for its emphasis on experiential learning, academic advising and career services for its students, and engagement of its advisory groups.

CBE Interim Dean, Dr. Judy Harris

“This extension of accreditation from AACSB is confirmation of CBE’s commitment to excellence and of the high-quality education we provide,” said Interim Dean Judy Harris. “In particular, the peer-review team commended CBE for the depth and quality of faculty engagement and of student-faculty interactions, the dedication of CBE’s Student Academic and Career Advising unit, the strength of our assurance of learning processes, and the college’s significant social impact as measured by faculty intellectual contributions. I am so proud of the hard work of CBE faculty and staff that made this achievement possible.”

AACSB-accredited schools are recognized worldwide by top employers, and many top, global corporations only recruit from AACSB-accredited schools. Achieving AACSB accreditation is a rigorous process that assesses a school’s ability to perform in critical areas — such as teaching, research, curricula development and student learning— and ensures the programs are challenging and teach skills that give a distinct advantage in the real world.

The mission of the College of Business and Economics is to develop high-quality, innovative, and inclusive programs and resources, connect individuals to opportunities by applying theory to practice in curricular, co- curricular and scholarship activities, and transform students into professionals who will have a positive societal impact within Maryland and beyond.

The peer-review team commended CBE for the depth and quality of faculty engagement and of student-faculty interactions, the dedication of CBE’s Student Academic and Career Advising unit, the strength of our assurance of learning processes, and the college’s significant social impact as measured by faculty intellectual contributions.

Over the review period of the last five years, CBE has seen several accomplishments in program creation/revision, faculty research/participation and student impact. Highlights include:

  • Launching new combined B.S./M.S. programs in BSAP/Supply Chain Management and Business Administration/Marketing Intelligence
  • Launching new minors in Accounting, Business Analytics, and Business Law
  • Launching a certificate in Entrepreneurship, the first undergraduate certificate at TU
  • Faculty publishing 264 peer-reviewed journal articles with 47% in A* or A outlets
  • Providing six case-competitions in which 5,066 students participated
  • Mentoring CBE students in the completion of 3,558 credit-based internships

TU first received AACSB accreditation for its business administration program in 1992. In 1994, the accounting department also received AACSB accreditation. In 2008, the business administration program received its maintenance of accreditation. The accounting department followed suit in 2010. In 2013, 2018 and 2023, both programs received five-year extensions.

Students pose with company executives

Students present digital engagement strategies and social media trends to McCormick & Co. for fall case competition

This past December, ten teams and 48 students participated in the Department of Management’s Fall 2022 Live Strategy Case Competition sponsored by McCormick & Company. The McCormick & Co. judges named three winning teams. Students from the winning teams received monetary scholarships for their innovative strategies.

The sponsoring company presented students with a case study about digital engagement, popular culture and social media trends. The case challenged students to “capitalize on consumer trends and develop a digital engagement strategy that further engages the consumers and enhances McCormick’s brand presence and engagement.”

Taking first place in the competition was Team CASIS, a five-member team including Amanda Lien, Clarence Smalley, Ian Harvey-Thomas, Sierra Silkman and Samantha DeLeon.

Students pose with company executives
Members from the first place team, Team Casis, pose with McCormick & Co. executives and CBE faculty.

In second place came The McCormick Club, a five-member team including Carly DiGiacomo, Noah Hagan, Hamza Mushtaq, Richard Slemaker and Taran Thielmann.

Digital Enablers won third place with members Dylan Mayer, Sam Ray and Nicholas Wynn.

The first-place team, Team CASIS, was made up of students from a variety of majors allowing them to draw insight from several disciplines. When asked about the team’s winning strategy, Sierra Silkman their professor, Dr. Koushikee Dutta, for her help with preparing the team for success. “Dr. Dutta [taught us how] to do a comprehensive analysis of the company including internal, external and financial analysis. We used that information to come up with a strategy that we thought would be representative of the company… making sure we hit on all their key strengths.”

Members from the second place team, Team, pose with McCormick & Co. executives and CBE faculty.

Each semester, the upper-level MNGT 481 Strategic Management course offers students the opportunity to compete in the Live Strategy Case Competition to test the knowledge and skills they have gained during the class and throughout their academic careers. It is an excellent opportunity for students to practice presentation skills in a real-world environment, as well as allowing students to network with businesses local to the Towson area.

“This event is not only high impact, experiential, and an amazing learning experience for our graduating students, but it also highlights the best and the brightest in our college marking the beginning of the journey into their professional careers,” Dr. Filiz Tabak said. “None of this could have been possible without the participation of McCormick. We are very grateful to McCormick top executives for their time throughout the semester.”

In total, 310 students across 10 sections of the MNGT 481 capstone course worked on the McCormick case. Students across all sections are divided into teams and given the duration of the semester to research and prepare a written report and presentation. Teams present to their classes and the winning team from each class section goes on to present their case to executives from the sponsoring company.

Members from the third place team, Digital Enablers, pose with McCormick & Co. executives and CBE faculty.

Three McCormick & Co. executives participated in the competition as judges and provided students with invaluable feedback and a plethora of thoughtful questions. “We valued and enjoyed our time supporting TU’s Live Strategy Case Competition,” said Ryan Charlier, McCormick & Company’s Vice President of Finance. “The energy and the thought the students brought to their recommendations was evident in their presentations and provided a great perspective into the minds of one our important and growing consumer bases.”

Senior Genevieve Tchoubfong, a Business Administration major with a concentration in Human Resource Management, presents her team’s case to the McCormick & Co. judges.

When asked what advice they would give to future participants of the Live Strategy Case Competition, members from the first-place team shared two key tips: know your material and have fun.

“You’re here for a reason,” Ian Harvey-Thomas said. “They value you as much as you value them. Knowing your material is all you need. This is your strategy, your research. You know it.”

“The key is having fun,” Sierra added. “We’re very diverse, which helped our team. We had all different majors that came together so we came at it with different perspectives. We have diverse backgrounds as individuals–athletes, people working full time, different personalities. We were able to mesh well, and we worked hard. It was a lot of fun.”

Interested in learning more about or becoming a sponsor for the Department of Management’s Live Strategy Case Competition? Visit our website for more information.

Students pose in professional attire

Eighth annual strategic sales competition provides students with real-world sales experience

On November 18, 2022, the Department of Marketing at Towson University held its 8th Annual Strategic Sales Competition. Nearly 60 students and 44 representatives from 13 corporate partners gathered to participate in the competition. Advance Business Systems, the platinum corporate sponsor for this year’s event, tasked the students with selling a package of various IT services offered by their company and served as “buyers” for the competition.

Representatives from Northwestern Mutual, United Electric Supply, Sherwin-Williams, Lower, MDP, Insight Global, Contour Mortgage, Enterprise, ADP, Chesapeake Plywood, Cvent, memoryBlue, and Stanley Black & Decker served as judges for the competition. Among the group of judges were several alumni including Kevin Carr ’87 (Cvent), Hailey Hardesty ‘19 (Enterprise), Alex Parker ’20 (Northwestern Mutual) and Joe Richardson ’98 (Stanley Black & Decker).

The Sales Competition is a great experience for students to gain hands on sales experience, as well as providing them with the opportunity to network with business professionals from the Towson area. Students from any major and class are welcome to participate, but students in MKTG 452 participate as part of their course.

“The Strategic Sales Competition provides the perfect environment to gather our best students and a large group of representatives of the regional business community. It is the perfect setting – the companies are looking to hire fresh talent and the students are looking for their first job after college,” Dr. Plamen Peev, professor of marketing and organizer of the competition, said. “The event grows every year and hopefully it will help elevate our sales program to where in the next few years we should be able to offer a sales certificate to TU students and establish a sales center within the College of Business and Economics,” he added.

In preparation for the competition, students were asked to develop a sales pitch for a potential buyer. During the competition, students enter a room with one buyer, introduce themselves, and then have 15 minutes to deliver their sales pitch.

When asked about how she prepared for the competition, first place winner Carly Lobus emphasized preparation and rehearsal. “You never know when you’re prepared enough, you never know when to stop,” she said. “My best advice is to practice with somebody, but don’t be too rehearsed.”

Students pose in professional attire
The top three competition winners. From left to right: Haley Haggerty (3rd place), Ayden Schnitzer (2nd place), and Carly Lobus (1st place).

To replicate a “real-world” environment, the judges view the performances from a live stream in another room. From there they can evaluate students’ performances based on their delivery, tactics and ability to address the buyers’ concerns.

Olivia Bushong, Towson University Class of 2015. Photo: LinkedIn.
Woman poses in professional attire
Hayley Beddard, Towson University Class of 2020. Photo: LinkedIn.

Advance is home to several Towson University alumni who represented the company during the competition as buyers. Hayley Beddard ’20, an account sales representative for Advance since June 2022, praised the students for their tenacity and hard work. “I think [the competition] just gives them good real-world experience and helps build some confidence, she said. “I know when I did it myself it was really nerve-wracking, and it took a lot of courage to do it.” Hayley graduated from Towson University in 2020 with a degree in business administration. Olivia Bushong ’15 joined Advance’s marketing and communications team immediately after graduating from Towson University with a degree in mass communications.

The judges selected eight winning students:

  1. Carly Lobus, Senior, Mass Communications
  2. Ayden Schnitzer, Senior, Business Administration, Management Concentration (Leadership & Management)
  3. Haley Haggerty, Senior, Business Administration, Marketing Concentration
  4. Ryan Hashim, Senior, Mass Communications, Marketing Minor
  5. Alicia Anthony, Junior, Mass Communications, Marketing Minor
  6. Josh Munley, Senior, Business Administration, Marketing Concentration
  7. Hannah Herman, Junior, Business Administration, Marketing Concentration
  8. Ellie Pikulsky, Senior, Business Administration, Marketing Concentration
Students pose with their winning certificates
The eight winning students pose (from left to right) with Jeff Elkin, President of Advance Business Systems; Dr. Erin Steffes, Chair of the Department of Marketing; Dr. Judy Harris, Interim Dean of the College of Business and Economics; and Professor Plamen Peev, professor of marketing. The winning students featured center (from left to right) include: Ellie Pikulsky (8th place), Hannah Herman (7th place), Alicia Anthony (5th place), Ryan Hashim (4th place), Haley Haggerty (3rd place), Ayden Schnitzer (2nd place), and Carly Lobus (1st place).

Jeff Elkin, president of Advance, commended the students for their preparation and the quality of their pitches. “We thought the presentations were terrific. Students were clearly very prepared for it and had great training. We were very impressed,” he said. “My advice for future students is to prepare. Know the product. And be yourself.”

All eight winning students received scholarships up to $1,500 for their success in the competition. The top 5 students were also invited to represent Towson University at the National Shore Sales Challenge to be held at Salisbury University this spring.

For more information about the TU Strategic Sales Competition, please visit our website.

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jorge Romero

Dr. Jorge Romero has been with the accounting department at the College of Business and Economics at Towson University since 2008. During this time, he has taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate classes, as well as undertaking some exciting research projects. I had the chance to speak with Dr. Romero and was able to gain some valuable insight into his career, the world of accounting, and what it is like to be a professor at Towson University.

When asked about all the degree programs he has completed, Dr. Romero stated “I enjoyed all my degree programs. Each program was unique and valuable”. Dr. Romero gained his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru. He went on get both his MBA and Ph.D. in Management Science with a concentration in Accounting from the University of Texas in Dallas, supervised by Dr. Rajiv D. Banker, who Dr.Romero describes as one of the most influential researchers in business. On top of his impressive academic career, Dr. Romero also has experience working for HSBC Bank in its main headquarters in Chicago. Here he was part of a research team working in data analytics – very crucial for the world of business and accounting!

Having been with Towson University for 14 years, Dr. Romero knows a thing or two about being a professor at the university. “It is a great environment, and I have a chance to interact with a diverse set of students and faculty” is the first thing Dr. Romero says when asked his favorite thing about teaching at here. He goes on to say “I have very positive experiences with my students every semester. They’re excited about accounting, data analytics, and learning in general. They’re fun and energetic, and it’s great being around them. I also like to share with them the link between my research and the topics that we cover in class, I strive to integrate my experience in research and industry to provide real-life applications for students, and I like them to see practical applications of accounting concepts in the real world”.

We went on to discuss his research interests, where Dr. Romero stated that his extensive background in cost accounting, managerial accounting, data analytics, and the use of market measures of firm performance in a broad range of contexts, including research, teaching, and industry has allowed him to contribute some valuable research to the industry. His work has been published in leading accounting journals. When asked more specifically about his previous and current research topics, Dr. Romero said “because of my solid background in mathematics and statistics, my research expertise focuses on empirical accounting work. I work on different research projects with co-authors from different universities all over the world, as well as from Towson University. Currently, I am working with Dr. Rajiv
Banker on several empirical accounting research projects”.

Dr. Romero was also made the Editor of the Advances in Public Interest Journal in January 2022. He explained that “the Journal is abstracted, indexed, and ranked in several international databases, including Scopus, Web of Science, SCImago Journal Rank (SJR), and the Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC), among others.”. The Advances in Public Interest Journal has been published regularly since 1986 by the UK-based Emerald Group Publishing, one of the largest publishers of academic material. Dr. Romero described his experience as an editor thus far by saying “being an editor is very rewarding; I get to interact with Editorial Members, Associate Editors, Reviewers, and Authors. It also pushes me to be well-informed about relevant technological advances in publishing and disseminating research. Currently, I am working on expanding the pool of authors to American, Asian, and Australian researchers interested in submitting papers to the Journal through my network of contacts. The target of the Journal is to create awareness of different issues of public interest and reach a higher ranking in the different international rankings and databases”. He added “current strengths of Advances in Public Interest Accounting include a solid reputation for providing original contributions that add to the understanding of public interest that impact businesses, regulators, governments, and government
bodies; a reasonable level of diversity of topics; and its association with Emerald, an established leader
in publishing”.

It is often interesting to look at business, and its related subjects, from the perspective that they can bring good to the world, rather than being very heavily ‘corporate’. In reference to his Editorship of an academic journal about such a topic, I asked Dr. Romero how he thought accounting can promote the public good. He informed me that the Journal focusses on promoting the public good through its social impact on climate action and sustainability. He stated “the central mission of the Journal is to provide essential reading for those who need to stay informed about issues related to public interest around the world. The Journal plays a critical role in providing a forum where innovative and leading research is given open-minded consideration based on scientific merit. Advances in Public Interest Accounting aims to provide a forum for researchers concerned with critically appraising and significantly transforming conventional accounting theory, practice, teaching, and research”.

Finally, we discussed up-and-coming research in the accounting field. There is currently a new trend in empirical accounting where data analytics tools are being used to deepen the research understanding of different accounting issues in the field. Dr. Romero gave the following example: “For instance, currently Python is being used, which is a textual analysis tool that I am using to extract textual sentiments to analyze how companies write their annual reports, focusing on the sentiments and tones included in the text and how that affects the future performance of the company.”

In his spare time, Dr. Romero likes to spend time with his family, enjoy the outdoors and watch movies. He is also an avid swimmer, and says it is a great source for relaxation. With such a busy schedule, it’s no surprise that Dr. Romero needs time to wind down! We’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate Dr. Romero on behalf of Towson University’s College of Business and Economics for his Journal Editorship and thank him for his contributions to the Towson University Accounting Department.


Written by: Elizabeth Higgins