Ball State Renames Accounting Department for Beloved Professor

Paul Parkison (left) prepares for the celebration when Ball State honored the former professor. Joining Parkison in the Miller College of Business were Anthony W. Smith, ’68 (center), and Terry King (right), then interim president of the university. (Photo by Don Rogers)

Ball State University has renamed its accounting department as the Paul W. Parkison Department of Accounting within its Miller College of Business. The name change honors the former chair and professor who championed student-centered education and built relationships with accountants around the nation. The naming is part of a $3 million legacy campaign. Ball State Magazine reports:

Alumni, friends, former faculty and professional colleagues have always been loyal and compassionate when it comes to Parkison, said Jennifer Bott, the Bryan Dean of the Miller College of Business.

“One of the goals of this campaign was to create a legacy fund that would honor a professor who has touched the lives of thousands of people,” she said. “Whenever I would talk to someone about honoring Dr. Parkison, they would immediately smile and simply ask what they could do. We had more than 300 people give because of their gratitude and love for this man who transformed the department of accounting and Ball State.”

Mentor to several generations
From 1966 to 2001, Parkison, ’58 MA ’61, taught accounting to students who went on to become business and community leaders, entrepreneurs and certified public accountants.

“They put my name on the wall out there, but I had a lot of help over the years,” Parkison said during the dedication ceremony in Whitinger Business Building. “We have developed an excellent program, and it has been growing for years. I think our efforts will help it continue to grow, providing alumni with a lot of pride.”

Paul and Nancy Parkison were the honored guests in early May when alumni, friends, former faculty and professional colleagues gathered to celebrate the dedication of the Paul W. Parkison Department of Accounting.

During his tenure, the number of accounting faculty tripled, Ball State became the first public university in Indiana to achieve separate AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accreditation for its accounting program and the department was ranked in the top 12 percent in the nation.

Employer Survey: Skilled Workers Scarce; Few Take Advantage of Tuition Reimbursement

A new employer survey from the Indiana Chamber shows concerning trends in workforce shortages, tuition reimbursement and response to prescription opiate abuse.

“Too often employers can’t find the workers they need, and those currently employed aren’t taking advantage of tuition reimbursement that would put them in better positions,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

More than 1,100 businesses from throughout the state took part in the Indiana Chamber Foundation’s 10th annual employer survey, sponsored by WGU Indiana and conducted in partnership with Indiana-based Walker.

Specifically, research shows that nearly half (47%) of employers left jobs unfilled in the past year due to under-qualified applicants. That extended a trend from the previous three years in which the answers to that same question were 39%, 43% and 45%, respectively.

Additionally, almost 80% (79%) percent cited filling their workforce as among their biggest challenges. That number is also on the rise from 72%, 74% and 76% in the previous three years.

Once again, more than half of employers (53%) expect to increase the size of their workforce in the next one to two years. But their challenges are even larger with 54% saying the supply of qualified applicants does not meet demand and 85% placing the filling of talent needs as among their critical challenges.

“In many cases, it’s not a lack of a four-year degree or higher educational achievement. Two-thirds require less than a bachelor’s degree for their unfilled jobs,” Brinegar explains. “This puts additional emphasis on the certificates, credentials and associate degrees in which Indiana, unfortunately, trails the majority of states.”

But it’s not always a lack of education or training that leads to the unfilled positions. In the view of employers, 45% of applicants are unwilling to accept the pay/compensation offered and 28% are not attracted to the community where the job is located.

In the training world, there appear to be some missed opportunities for employers and their workers. Only 40% of the respondents indicate that they partner with an educational institution to help meet their training needs.

For the employees, nearly half (48%) have access to tuition reimbursement programs but very few take advantage of those opportunities. From the employer perspective, 60% said employees have no desire or motivation to participate and 35% believe workers see no personal benefit in advancing their education.

“Part of the problem is employees not having the funds to cover the tuition payments upfront that will be reimbursed at some point by their employer. And that’s a common arrangement for these programs,” Brinegar offers.

“But we also know if employers pay for the tuition directly to the school – which is obviously easier for larger companies – more workers are likely to take part. We heard from one of our members who saw participation jump from about 50 employees to more than 400 when that change was made. So that is something the Indiana Chamber will be looking at this summer in our business-higher education committee to see what public policy recommendations may make sense.”

When it comes to prescription opiate misuse, less than half (47%) of the respondents said they drug tested employees for it in safety-sensitive positions. On a broader scale, 56% of employers said they tested any employee if they suspected misuse or abuse of prescription opiates. However, more than a third (34%) of employers indicated they did not know how to detect such misuse or abuse.

The survey results are available at www.indianachamber.com/education.

The annual employer survey complements the work the Indiana Chamber is doing with the Outstanding Talent driver in the Indiana Vision 2025 long-term economic development plan for the state.

Indiana Vision 2025 measures Indiana’s progress compared to other states on 36 goals in the four driver areas of Outstanding Talent, Attractive Business Climate, Superior Infrastructure, and Dynamic and Creative Culture. The latest Report Card showing how Indiana ranks was released earlier this month and is available at www.indianachamber.com/2025.

Brain Drain/Gain Workshop Yields Comprehensive Report

In late April, Purdue University partnered with the Indiana Chamber, Indiana INTERNnet and others to present a brain drain/gain workshop as part of the Chamber’s 53rd Annual Human Resources Conference. Panel discussions, presentations and more on the talent/skills gap were compiled into a comprehensive report. Read the full report.

It documents the workshop, including key takeaways and actions and is provided to those with an interest in these topics. Our aim is for the information in the report to be a resource for those working to make progress within their organization and forming collaborations with other stakeholders to move Indiana forward.

Breaking Down the Research Efforts

Research corridors are not new. In our neighbor to the north, the University Research Corridor has been a strong performer over a number of years.

The State Science & Technology Institute has this brief recap of a recent analysis:

Michigan’s University Research Corridor, an alliance of Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, conducted $1.2 billion in academic R&D in the life, medical and health sciences, and served as a stabilizing force to the state’s economy as one of the only sectors that grew during the 2000s. Those are among the findings of the 2017 URC sector report, which was prepared by Public Sector Consultants.

The report, Leading Discovery: URC Contributions to the Life, Medical and Health Sciences, notes that employment in the life, medical and health sciences sector, which accounts for one in eight jobs in Michigan, is up 18.9 percent since 2000, compared to overall Michigan employment, which is down 9.3 percent.

The URC also was successful in moving discoveries out of the lab and into the marketplace. From 2012 to 2016, the following results relating to the life, medical and health sciences sector were found:

• 1,348 inventions reported by researchers
• 380 U.S. patents issued
• 433 new license agreements
• 32 new startup companies
• $142 million in royalties earned

Gov. Holcomb Statement on the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card

Gov. Holcomb offered the following statement on the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card and 10th annual workforce survey released Tuesday:

This report card makes clear our state’s strengths and challenges: Indiana is a top state for doing business, but to meet the demands of our growing economy we must double-down on efforts to attract and prepare a ready workforce.

There is no single solution for improvement. The only way we’ll take our state to the next level is with a comprehensive strategy, and Indiana has the right roadmap.

From improving roads and bridges to attacking the drug epidemic, from prekindergarten to adult career training, from more direct flights to enhanced regional development—all of these efforts combined will help build healthier, more vibrant communities that are magnets for jobs and growth.

Now is the time for our state’s leaders to come together and put in the hard work that will improve the lives of Hoosiers.

We appreciate the governor’s support and attentiveness to our efforts.

Where Are All the Workers?

While Indiana’s unemployment dipped to 3.6% last month, Utah is a full half point lower. The New York Times recently cites some of the challenges that brings. A few excerpts:

After eight years of steady growth, the main economic concern in Utah and a growing number of other states is no longer a lack of jobs, but a lack of workers. The unemployment rate here fell to 3.1%, among the lowest figures in the nation.

Nearly a third of the 388 metropolitan areas tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics have an unemployment rate below 4%, well below the level that economists consider “full employment,” the normal churn of people quitting to find new jobs. The rate in some cities, like Ames, Iowa, and Boulder, Colo., is even lower, at 2%.

That’s good news for workers, who are reaping wage increases and moving to better jobs after years of stagnating pay that, for many, was stuck at a low level. Daniel Edlund, a 21-year-old call center worker in Provo, Utah, learned on a Monday that his hours were changing. On Wednesday, he had his first interview for a new job.

But labor shortages are weighing on overall economic growth, slowing the pace of expansion in northern Utah and other fast-growing regions even as unemployment remains stubbornly high in Rust Belt cities like Cleveland and in regions still recovering from the 2008 recession, like inland California.

To Todd Bingham, the president of the Utah Manufacturers Association, “3.1 percent unemployment is fabulous unless you’re looking to hire people.”

“Our companies are saying, ‘We could grow faster, we could produce more product, if we had the workers,’” he said. “Is it holding the economy back? I think it definitely is.”

But the share of Utah adults who have withdrawn from the labor force remains higher than before the recession. Last year, 31.7% of adults in Utah were neither working nor looking for work, up from 28.2% in 2006. That is part of a broad national trend.

Chamber Report Card Shows State Is Moving Forward, But a Quicker Pace Required

While economic momentum continues in portions of the state, the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card and 10th annual workforce survey clearly illustrate challenges that need both short- and long-term attention.

Among the findings: not enough skilled workers to meet economic needs; high rates of smoking and obesity that prove costly and impact quality of life; rising electricity prices; and a lack of statewide entrepreneurial activity and venture capital to support such efforts.

“There are a number of positive developments – both taking place every day and in our latest research – that are cause to celebrate,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “But it is also evident that a lack of workers, unhealthy lifestyle choices and limited Indiana-based funding to grow promising companies is keeping the state from realizing its full potential.”

The Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card compares the 50 states on 62 metrics related to 36 goals grouped by four drivers: Outstanding Talent, Attractive Business Climate, Superior Infrastructure, and Dynamic and Creative Culture.

Overall, Indiana did better on the 2017 version than the 2015 Report Card. Improvement occurred in 36 metrics – up from 28 two years ago; Indiana also declined in 16 rankings, which was three less than in 2015. The state remained the same or there was no updated data available in eight metrics; that number was 12 in 2015. (Two metrics couldn’t be compared.)

Some of Indiana’s top performances include:

  • Business regulatory environment: Regulatory Freedom Index (2nd) and Small Business Policy Index (9th)
  • Early education: A variety of top 10 ranks in NAEP (National Assessment of Education Progress) test scores, particularly at the fourth-grade level
  • Exports: 10th among the 50 states, extending a string of similar rankings

The early education gains, however, are countered by a lack of workers in critical areas, including STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The Report Card reveals Indiana colleges and universities produce the third most science and technology degrees, but the state is only 42nd in the adult population with such degrees.

In addition, two troubling trends from the Indiana Chamber’s annual employer workforce survey continue:

  • The number of respondents that left jobs unfilled due to under-qualified applicants increased to 47% – from 39%, 43% and 45% the last three years
  • Those indicating that filling their workforce was their biggest challenge also increased – 29% after previous marks of 20%, 24% and 27%. Combine that with those answering next biggest challenge and the number soars to 79% – following totals of 72%, 74% and 76% the last three years

“Employers tell us, both through the survey and in their daily work experiences, that they simply can’t fulfill growth possibilities due to the lack of skilled workers,” Brinegar notes. “While many efforts are underway to prepare future employees and upgrade the abilities of those in the workforce today, those programs must be operated at the highest level of effectiveness and accelerated.”

The unhealthy lifestyle choices among Hoosiers carries a $6 billion annual price tag in increased health care costs and lost productivity. Indiana’s 20.6% adult smoking rate is an improvement over past years, but ranks 39th among all states. A six-rank improvement in adult obesity still leaves the state with a 36th-place rating and nearly a third of adults are considered obese.

Electricity prices, once considered a strong advantage for the most manufacturing-intensive state in the country, are now 29th for industrial customers and 26th for commercial. And while progress has been made on gathering data to avoid the water crises that have plagued others, the state must move quicker on regional planning and governance issues regarding future supplies.

In the important area of Dynamic and Creative Culture, momentum in central Indiana is overshadowed by poor statewide performance in a series of metrics, including: Kauffman Entrepreneurial Index (tied for 44th); job creation among new firms (44th); and venture capital (35th).

“Indiana must continue to make all areas of the state attractive destinations for workers and the companies that create jobs,” Brinegar concludes. “We’re encouraged by the regional cooperation that has emerged in recent years and look forward to enhancing our statewide performance and outcomes in future Report Cards.”

About Indiana Vision 2025
Mission: “Indiana will be a global leader in innovation and economic opportunity where enterprises and citizens prosper.” Indiana Vision 2025 was developed by a statewide task force of community, business and education leaders. The plan was released in early 2012. This third Report Card is available at www.indianachamber.com/2025.

About the Indiana Chamber Foundation’s Workforce Employer Survey
Sponsored by WGU Indiana, the 10th annual survey was conducted in partnership with Walker. More than 1,200 employers responded. Full results, including questions on workforce training and opioid use in the workplace, are available at www.indianachamber.com/education.

Statewide Discussions and Analysis
The 2017 Report Card and workforce survey will be the focus of six regional forums (to discuss the results, obtain local analysis and share best practices). The events are sponsored by Duke Energy Foundation; Indiana Michigan Power; NIPSCO, a NiSource company; and Vectren.

The forum schedule: June 6 (South Bend), June 7 (Hammond), June 27 (Sellersburg), June 28 (Indianapolis), June 29 (Evansville) and July 20 (Fort Wayne).

Ball State’s Social Media Center Turns Savvy Students Into Digital Marketing Pros

Today’s college students are immersed into social media while American corporations are looking for employees with such skills after investing heavily into digital marketing.

So, Ball State University created the Center for Advancement of Digital Marketing and Analytics (CADMA), providing students with the certifications, classes and on-site work to prepare them to handle digital marketing in the business world upon graduation.

“In developing CADMA, we found that major corporations have heavily invested in social media command centers, but few universities have created something similar for educating the next generation of technology workers,” said Eric Harvey, the center’s director and a marketing professor. “When it comes to this field, the average starting salary is just shy of $50,000 and companies — from the largest Fortune 500 firms to small start-ups — are seeking well-educated, highly motivated people to fill these positions.”

CADMA includes a social media lab, which is designed to educate students and help them hone skills they learned in digital marketing and analytics courses, including examining consumer behavior, professional selling and content development.

About 100 students have received or are working on social media marketing certifications using teaching modules provided by Google and other major technology firms around the world.

Read more in Ball State Magazine.

Worth Waiting For: A Personally-Delivered Diploma 18 Years After Commencement

Purdue University Northwest Communication and Creative Arts Department Head/Associate Professor Tom Roach, attired in graduation cap and gown, personally delivered to alumna Valerie Gonzalez at her Griffith store the Purdue diploma she expected to receive 18 years ago.

The following story was submitted by Purdue University Northwest:

Valerie Gonzalez didn’t give much thought initially to the fact her diploma failed to arrive in her home mailbox after she had participated in Purdue University Calumet Commencement Exercises back in the spring of 1999.

University graduates typically do not receive their diploma at Commencement Exercises, but rather weeks later in the mail.

As a communication/public relations major whose work load as a freelance writer had grown substantially, “the need for that piece of paper never came up as I worked, and so it kind of slipped from my mind,” Gonzalez said.

But when her diploma was still a no-show 17 years later, she decided last summer to follow up with her presumed alma mater.

It’s complicated
Upon contacting what is now Purdue University Northwest’s Hammond Campus, she discovered that the issue of her absent diploma had gone down a path of institutional procedural twists and turns of which she was unaware.

“It was a combination of two factors,” said the now 42-year-old owner of Charcuterie, a Griffith delicatessen/specialty grocery store. “I was told I was missing (academic) credits, which I didn’t think was possible, and also that I had an outstanding library fine.”

The academic credits issue arose from an incomplete she took in a final semester course in 1999. It was quickly resolved after the course instructor—Associate Professor of Communication and current Purdue Northwest Communication and Creative Arts Department Head Tom Roach—came into her store one day last fall to purchase some feta cheese.

Professorial attention
“Valerie recognized me and then proceeded to tell me she had graduated in 1999, but had never received her diploma,” Roach said. “When I got back to campus, I asked one of our academic advisors, Caitlyn Lackey, to investigate. We discovered that though Valerie had not satisfied the incomplete she took in my class, she had achieved strong enough marks throughout the course to easily pass and earn the necessary credits.”

As for the library fine, Noemi Elizalde, who acts as PNW’s graduation coordinator, said university policy prohibits awarding diplomas to otherwise qualified students who have university financial encumbrances to satisfy.

“You wouldn’t believe how many diplomas we have on hold because of unpaid student fees,” she said, pointing to a drawer-full of prospective graduate files.

Missing journal
As Valerie recalls, “I think it was a scholarly journal they said I hadn’t returned and was missing.”

After Roach paid the $35 fine to resolve the matter, he and Lackey agreed a graduation celebration was in order. For the occasion, Roach attired himself in traditional, graduation cap and gown and drove to Gonzalez’s store, surprising her with his personal delivery of the Purdue diploma she expected to receive nearly 18 years earlier—post-dated May 17, 1999.

“It was the best graduation I could have had—even better than the first one,” she said.

100th Student Says ‘I Can Go Back’ at WGU Indiana

An initiative from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (CHE) has been making gains in getting more of the 750,000 Hoosiers with some college but no degree to commit to finishing.

The statewide “You Can. Go Back.” effort hit another milestone earlier this month when the 100th student enrolled at WGU Indiana through the CHE initiative.

As we reported in the March-April edition of BizVoice®, those 750,000 Hoosiers make up about 21% of Indiana’s working-age population. And reaching the goal set forth by the CHE (and the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan) of Indiana having a 60% postsecondary education attainment rate (the current rate is about 41%) is unlikely without some of those adults with some college and no degree.

A press release from WGU Indiana adds that the nonprofit, online university offered an application fee waiver and a $100 tuition grant certificate for any student applying through the CHE campaign; a $2,000 scholarship has also been renewed for the next school year.
The CHE offers financial aid – including $1,000 grants on a first-come, first-served basis – and a matching web site to connect students with the best institution for their needs. A marketing campaign has also targeted specific demographics that are likely to return to school (in February, over 9,000 potential students targeted through the campaign had re-enrolled and almost 5,000 had been matched with participating schools).

“You Can. Go Back.” also applies to industry certifications and credentials, as well as two- and four-year academic degrees.

Additionally, the CHE partnered with Indiana employers to reach more potential returnees and is seeking more small- and mid-sized companies to sign on and encourage their employees to go back and get their degree.

Employer resources through “You Can. Go Back.” include a toolkit of promotional materials to inform employees, as well as a connection to local campus programs and other companies that offer such degree completion options for employees.

For employers interested in learning more or signing up, visit www.youcangoback.org and click on “Employer Partnership Sign-Up.”