Missouri State University
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Bears Business Brief-Classifying an act of war or terrorism not as easy as you might think

Shannon McMurtrey
Shannon McMurtrey

By Shannon McMurtrey, Ph.D.

I was very privileged earlier this year to travel to our nation’s capital with a very talented group of students from Missouri State University. A global pool of over 600 schools had been narrowed to 23 who were invited to submit campaigns as part of a competition sponsored by the State Department called, “P2P: Challenging Extremism Initiative.” The competition arose from recognition that terror organizations such as ISIS are masters at using social media to recruit young people online and that perhaps young people could themselves be called upon to create a campaign to counter their efforts. Of the 23 schools invited to submit campaigns, three were selected to travel to Washington D.C. to present their ideas, one each from Australia, Canada, and The United States. Missouri State University represented the only domestic team invited to compete for top honors.

The Missouri State ad team conceived of a digital platform that was then created and operationalized by students in my Advanced Web Development class. The panel of judges, which consisted of executives from media, government, academics and a former ambassador to the United Nations, selected the campaign created by Missouri State University for first place. Working with these students, and focusing on this project, has served as a constant reminder of how serious the problem of cyber terrorism is becoming. While it seems like you cannot turn on the television without hearing about another data breach it is important to note that not all cyber crime is alike. Just like we make the distinction between thefts, acts of terror, and acts of war, we must also distinguish between data breaches, acts of cyber terror and acts of cyber war. There is an active area of academic research aimed at helping make these distinctions. It is important for our leaders to be able to accurately attribute the source of a cyber attack, and to correctly classify the intent to formulate an accurate and appropriate response.

The act of assigning blame for a cyber attack (attribution) turns out to be a very hard problem to solve. Similarly, classifying an attack as an act of war or terrorism is difficult (perhaps made even more difficult by our current “war on terror”). In the early stages of a traditional war, it is easy to recognize and attribute attacks. However, some of the early stages of our current cyber war may be going completely unnoticed. For example, on June 8th, 2015, the website for the U.S. Army was defaced, and then taken offline. The Syrian Electronic Army claimed credit for the attack. Another recent attack (discovered while I was in D.C. with our team), that might accurately be considered an act of cyber warfare, was the data breach that took place at the U.S. Government Office of Personnel Management. Personally Identifiable Information (PII) was stolen on every employee of the U.S. government, along with every individual that has held a security clearance since 1982. The New York Times and the Washington Post cited unnamed sources in the federal government claiming that Chinese hackers were behind the breach. China was quick to deny involvement. These attacks follow on the heels of widespread breaches at the IRS, Anthem healthcare and others that had a direct impact on many of us here in the Ozarks. Some of you may have discovered the problem after filing tax returns, only to be informed that criminals had already claimed refunds in your name!

All of these events are shining a glaring light on our nation’s lack of cyber awareness and training. Admiral Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, recently commented that of the 6,200 people engaged at U.S. Cyber Command, currently only 50 percent are capable of carrying out the full operational duties of its current mission. If that is the case at the NSA, imagine the situation at most U.S. businesses and those here in the Ozarks. There is no doubt that training our nation’s cyber warriors and defenders — both those in military and those in civilian service — must become a top priority.

This article appeared in the August 29 issue of the Springfield News-Leader and can be accessed online here.

Shannon McMurtrey, Ph.D., is director of Missouri State University’s master’s program in cybersecurity, as well as program director for the master’s in computer information systems in the department of computer information systems. Email:shannonmcmurtrey@missouristate.edu.

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Faculty and Staff Spotlight-BearBiz August 2015

Faculty members continue to push the bounds of exceptional classroom experiences and research.

Research and Awards

  • Nancy Allen, senior instructor in Finance and General Business, was honored in St. Louis at the Women’s Justice Awards Banquet. She received the Missouri Women’s Justice Award in the Legal Scholar category, which recognizes women who demonstrate leadership, professionalism, and passion through scholarship, writing, and classroom teaching. The Women’s Justice Awards are chosen by Missouri Lawyers Weekly.


  • S Brahnam, professor in Computer Information Systems along with assistant professors of Merchandising and Fashion Design Cathy Starr, Jenifer Roberts and Sandra Bailey, recently received the award for Best Paper in the Human-Computer Interaction thematic area at the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) 2015 International Conference held earlier this month. Their paper titled “Design of a Bullying Detection/Alert System for School-Wide Intervention” was co-authored by Loris Nanni (University of Padua, Italy).


  • Ron Clark, associate professor in Marking, recently had an article titled “An Offer You Can’t Refuse: Consumer Perceptions of Sales Pressure” accepted for publication in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science (JAMS). Co-authors on the project are James Zboja (University of Tulsa) and Diana Haytko (Florida Gulf Coast University).


  • Ronald Coulter, department head of Marketing along with three other Marketing faculty members Stephen Parker, professor, Christina S. Simmers, associate professor, and Christopher Ellis, instructor, had their article “Segmenting Local Financial Service Markets:  Balancing an Independent Image with the Need for More Business” accepted for publication in a forthcoming issue of the Academy of Marketing Studies Journal.


  • Mohammed H. Mehany, assistant professor in Technology and Construction Management, has been awarded a Missouri State Faculty Research Grant to investigate fracking.  This fracking research should directly confront one of the most important and controversial problems that we face on a national level and contribute towards a better feasible energy extracting process.


  • Mohammed H. Mehany, assistant professor in Technology and Construction Management, was recently awarded a scholarship and grant from the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA).  He will represent one of only 9 universities from across the nation at a Design-Build Educator Workshop to help university faculty incorporate design-build best practices into their existing curriculum. This will be the second year DBIA has hosted this workshop with support from the Charles Pankow Foundation (CPF).


  • Carol Miller, distinguished professor in Finance and General Business, received the 2015 MBAA International Distinguished Paper Award in Chicago for her law paper entitled “Medical Malpractice Non-economic Caps Violate Constitutional Right to Trial by Jury.” Her co-author was attorney Joe Weidhaas.


  • Cathy Starr assistant professor in Merchandising and Fashion Design, with Jenifer Roberts and Sandra Bailey assistant professors in Merchandising and Fashion Design and Brahnam, professor in Computer Information Systems, recently authored a chapter titled Historical Registry of Our Families through Textiles, in Human-Computer Interaction: Users and Contexts Lecture Notes in Computer Science Volume 9171, 2015, pp 125-132.


New Faculty and Staff Members

  • Andrew Albritton, instructor, Computer Information Systems (ABD University of Nottingham)
  • Amir Behzadan, associate professor, Technology and Construction Management (Ph.D. University of Michigan)
  • Rick Brattin, assistant professor, Computer Information Systems (Ph.D. University of Arkansas)
  • Nebil Buyurgan, associate professor, Technology and Construction Management (Ph.D. University of Missouri-Rolla)
  • Karen Eisman, administrative assistant II, Computer Information Systems (AAS, Accounting)
  • Wesley Friske, assistant professor, Marketing (Ph.D. Texas Tech University)
  • Tabby Henderson, administrative assistant II, Management
  • Radhika Kaula, instructor, Computer Information Systems (MBA  Missouri State University)
  • Jacob A. Nelson, instructor, Technology and Construction Management (MS Kansas State University)
  • Mary Grace Phillips, special event coordinator and marketing assistant, COB Dean’s Office (MBA William Woods University)
  • Jo Lynne Stalnaker, instructor, Computer Information Systems (M.Ed. Wichita State)
  • Lawrence (Zhiquo) Yang, assistant professor, Computer Information Systems (ABD University of Kentucky)



  • Nancy Allen, senior instructor in the Department of Finance and General Business, released A Killing at the Creek in the spring of 2015. This is the second book in her legal thriller series published by Harper Collins Inc.
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Glass Hall Renovation and Expansion

Glass Hall rendering
Rendering of the future Glass Hall

In 2013, a committee was formed to begin discussing a complete renovation and expansion of the existing 173,000 square foot Glass Hall, home to the College of Business.  The focus of the design is enhancing student success and will include an addition of 37,000 square feet to house the aptly named College of Business Student Success Center.

Included in the renovation and expansion will be technology updates, as well as hands-on learning labs such as a mock advertising agency and a financial trading lab, new study rooms that can double as interview space when employers visit campus, executive classrooms, meeting rooms, and a new facility for career services and advisement.

To help pay for the project, over $5 million in private funds have been pledged and that amount is expected to grow. The funds will come not only from private donations, but also bonds and other university funds. Here is the breakdown:

  • $16.2 million in bonds, issued through the Missouri Health and Educational Facilities Authority that the university will pay back over 25 years.
  • $5 million in dedicated funds from the College of Business. Three years ago the Board of Governors approved a program-specific fee for business students, with proceeds going to support this project. Much of the $5 million is from accumulated student fees dedicated to this project.
  • The remaining money will come from private donations and other university funding.

The university will hold a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, October 15 at 10:30 a.m. on the east side of Glass Hall.  We hope that you will join us for this event.  More details will be available on the University website closer to the event date.  If you have any questions please call the COB Dean’s Office at 417-836-5646.

We look forward to completion of this transformational project!

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Student Success-BearBiz August 2015

Beta Alpha Psi students win national competition

winning team group photo
George Schmelzle (co-faculty advisor), Zachary Buxton, Elizabeth Sivill (presenter), Brandon Smith (presenter), Clint Caselman, and Tanner Courtney. Not pictured: Carl Keller (co-faculty advisor)

Earlier this month, members of Beta Alpha Psi (BAP), an international honors organization for accounting, finance, and information systems students, converged on Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the national meeting and best practices competition.  College of Business students Brandon Smith, Elizabeth Sivill, Clint Caselman, Zachary Buxton and Tanner Courtney took first place in the Effective Operations category of the national competition.

“I am so proud of our Beta Alpha Psi students.  Having been at countless BAP Best Practice competitions for years and having judged many of them, I know from experience that the competition is very stiff.  These are the best accounting, finance and information students in the country,” states Dr. Stephanie Bryant, dean of the College of Business.

Before advancing to the national competition, the team won first place at the regional competition in St. Louis during the BAP Missouri Valley Regional Meeting in April of 2015.

“This project could not have been completed without the help of our entire team which also included Sam Schriver, Brock Wiberg and Freddie Young… In total, this project took our chapter over 400 hours of hard work. We had several people such as professors and accounting advisory council members provide us with beneficial feedback. Thank you to everyone one who has supported our chapter and our project,” states team member Elizabeth Sivill.

Similar sentiments of teamwork were echoed by Dean Bryant, “This kind of result doesn’t happen without dedicated faculty advisors.  Dr. Carl Keller and Dr. George Schmelzle have provided top-notch leadership to this group for many years.”

The group’s three-part Effective Operations project focuses on improving the BAP student chapter by streamlining communication through the use of online tools including:

  • A balanced scorecard used to assign and monitor the progress of tasks for the chapter officers.
  • An electronic dashboard allowing members and candidates to see their semester-to-date progress toward completing membership requirements.
  • An informational event for members and candidates called BOOTCAMP. The event is designed to introduce candidates to BAP while providing them with valuable information.

The 2015 competition was sponsored by Deloitte.  In order to become a member of Beta Alpha Psi students must attend an AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accredited program, be among the top 35% of their university class or have a 3.25 cumulative GPA.


Students excel at national Risk & Insurance Management Challenge competition

from left, Jennifer Richey, Jared Huffman, Hillary Rice and Casey Cornelius.
from left, Jennifer Richey, Jared Huffman, Hillary Rice and Casey Cornelius.

Most people spend their lives avoiding risky situations, but some people make a living seeking them out and finding solutions and alternatives to mitigate them. Four Missouri State University business students recently participated in the Spencer-Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS) national Risk Management Challenge this spring and placed second overall.

“There were 20 schools participating in the challenge,” said Dr. Stan Adamson, ARM, associate professor of finance and general business and Baker Chair of Insurance. “Each school had to prepare a report analyzing a case study containing a proposal for the risk consulting and brokerage services of The Walt Disney Company.”

The 10-page proposal included identification and assessment of key risks that Disney should focus on, as well as treatment and alternatives for each of those risks. The top eight teams, including Appalachian State University, Butler University, Florida State University, St. Mary’s University, Temple University, Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Georgia, were chosen to attend the 2015 Annual RIMS Conference in New Orleans and present their proposals in front of a panel of judges.

The individual team members—Jennifer Richey, Hillary Rice, Casey Cornelius and Jared Huffman—received a trophy and an individual cash prize for their placement. This is only the second year that MSU has competed in the competition.

“While our students get multiple job offers, this will only increase interest in our risk management and insurance students,” said Adamson. “The insurance industry’s demand is at an all-time high and is expected to hire 400,000 people in the next five years.”


MSU Enactus team competes at national exposition

trophiesThe Missouri State University Enactus team recently placed second in League 9 of the quarter final round of competition at the Enactus National Exposition, held in St. Louis. Missouri State placed in the top 32 teams in the nation.

The team presented four projects: Ice Your Debt, BEEP – Shanghai Inn, Uncap Opportunities for Harmony House and Stand Up, Stand Out workforce development program. Presenters for the team included Erik Stratman, Taylor Via, Rowena Stone, April Weiss, Frank Ulsch, William Stone and Parinya “Pepper” Kiravittaya. Sabrina Peterman and Joshua Dye assisted the team with audio/visual support.

“I am proud of how hard these students have worked to improve the lives of those in the Ozarks,” said College of Business Dean Stephanie Bryant, in a news release. “Their work especially with Harmony House has truly changed lives for the better. Enactus is an example of MSU’s public affairs mission in action.”

National competitions showcase how Enactus students are transforming lives and enabling progress through entrepreneurial action. There were a total of 181 competing teams from throughout the nation. From each national competition one team will be selected to represent their country at Enactus World Cup 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa.


Finance and General Business students achieve 100% CFA Exam pass rate for second year

For the second year in a row 100% of our finance majors who attempted the Chartered Financial Analyst Level I exam have passed.  Congratulations to each of the three students.

The CFA Level I curriculum culminates in FIN 599/699 during the spring semester, which has been offered as an independent study course.  However, in the spring of 2016, this course will be offered as an online course and will accommodate significantly more students.

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Dean’s Corner-BearBiz August 2015

Dean's corner logoWelcome to the inaugural issue of our newly formatted Bear Biz newsletter.  We have had several remarkable accomplishments since our last newsletter in the spring of 2015.  In this issue, we highlight some of these achievements, including our nationally award winning Ad Team and Beta Alpha Psi student groups.  As is always the case with our faculty, they continue to push the bounds of exceptional classroom experiences and research.  Many faculty achievements are also included, along with an introduction to our newest faculty members.  This information can found in the Student Success, and Faculty and Staff Spotlight articles.

As you may have heard, our Glass Hall renovation and expansion project is moving forward this fall.  I would like to invite all of you to participate in our upcoming groundbreaking ceremony on October 15.  More information can be found in this issue in the Glass Hall Renovation and expansion article.

I would also like to invite you to participate in the 2015 Missouri State Homecoming festivities the weekend of October 16-18.  Please join us at our COB tent in BearFest Village immediately preceding the football game on the 17th.   Homecoming is a chance to reestablish connections, reminisce, and participate in traditions both old and new.  I hope to connect with you during this weekend.

You will notice that this newsletter has a new look and navigation.  The publication will now be delivered three times per year instead of monthly.  In the college, we are always working to maintain open lines of communication with our students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends of the college, and community members.  This newsletter is a part of that initiative.  I hope that you find this publication both informative and timely when it arrives in your inbox.

As we move forward into a new school year my focus, along with that of the COB leadership team, will be to strategically work toward the bigger and bolder vision for the college.  Thank you for participating in this journey and remaining connected with COB.

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