Author: hchansen

Thomas Dorsey (B.S.’75/B) honored at VCU Alumni Stars ceremony

Alumnus, Thomas Dorsey (B.S.’75/B) was honored among sixteen of  the most accomplished VCU alumni at the recent Stars ceremony.

“In art, commerce, education, service and health care, VCU alumni are solving, discovering and enhancing the quality of our lives,” said Gordon McDougall, associate vice president for university alumni relations. “They have become known for their commitment to excellence—excellence in their work and in how they live their lives. Our stellar graduates are proud of their university, and we are proud of them.”


Dorsey (1)Thomas J. Dorsey
1975 Bachelor of Science
School of Business

A serious weightlifter, avid pool player and inveterate globe-trotter, Thomas J. Dorsey is a man of many talents. As president and co-founder of Dorsey, Wright & Associates, Dorsey prefers a rigorous, no-nonsense style to sizing up investments, with a top-down, objective approach that relies on the Point and Figure price-charting method popularized by Charles Dow in the late 1800s.

An investing pro with 41 years of experience, Dorsey has written nine books based on the Point and Figure technique, which have been translated in a number of languages. He’s been a regular guest on Fox’s “Cavuto: Coast-to-Coast” and “Bulls & Bears” programs and frequently speaks to audiences worldwide on topics related to the stock market, technical analysis and momentum investing.

Looking back, though, Dorsey says, his success was a longshot.

“You see, all my life I would have been voted the least likely to succeed,” says Dorsey, who has dyslexia. With a high school GPA that hovered around 1.5, Dorsey started at Richard Bland College in Petersburg, Virginia, on probation. He flunked out the first semester and spent the next four years in the Navy during the Vietnam War. He continued to work on his studies, teaching himself to eventually read at the college level and finished one final semester at Richard Bland before transferring to VCU.
“My experience at VCU was intoxicating to say the least,” Dorsey says. “Every class I took got me closer to that coveted degree I was never expected to attain. I learned that one can have difficulties learning in the younger years and still attain great success.”
Dorsey credits the lessons he learned in Economics 101 for serving as the spark that later prompted him to leave a senior vice president position at Wheat First Securities to start Dorsey, Wright & Associates. “I still mention in every talk I do, how Economics 101 changed my life,” he says. “Once I graduated from VCU, I realized I could do anything in the world. If I was asked to be president of the United States, I was ready.”

Dorsey started his career as a stockbroker at Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith but planned to have his own company by age 40. In 1987, at age 39, he started Dorsey, Wright & Associates, which grew to become a world leader in supplying technical research services to the financial industry. Just this year, he sold the company to NASDAQ for $225 million.

“I started Dorsey, Wright & Associates with $90,000 in borrowed money, a pregnant wife and two young boys. All we had in the beginning was a vision and hope,” he says. “I’ve learned that great success is in every one of us.”

“My experience at VCU was intoxicating to say the least. Every class I took got me closer to that coveted degree I was never expected to attain.”


See the full VCU Alumni Stars article here.

Annual VCU International Business Forum examines North America’s competitive agenda

The past 25 years have been an era of globalization, with countries becoming more connected as geographic, economic and social barriers of a bygone era are removed. With these power shifts taking place, the 21st annual Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business International Business Forum asks, What about North America? What should be on its competitive agenda?

“North America’s Competitive Agenda: Why and How the U.S., Canada and Mexico Should Enhance Their Alliance to Meet the Asian and European Challenges of the 21st Century,” sponsored by Universal Corp. and hosted by the VCU School of Business’ Center for International Business Advancement, takes place Tuesday, Oct. 13, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the University Student Commons Ballrooms, 901 Floyd Ave. A reception will follow in the School of Business Atrium, 301 W. Main St.

Van Wood, Ph.D., professor of marketing and Philip Morris Chair of International Business in the VCU School of Business, will moderate the panel, which will feature representatives from each country in North America.

“While these three countries have made significant progress in their quest to be a free trade area, there is significant opportunity to do more to strengthen the North American alliance, and to present a more coherent, meaningful and influential force in the shifting global landscape,” Wood said. “Our panel members bring a great wealth of experience and, I believe, insight into the many issues that will shape our economic, political and cultural landscape throughout the remainder of the 21st century.”

The panelists are Gilles Gauthier, minister for economic affairs at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C.; Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan, an international strategic consultant and former Mexican ambassador to the U.S.; and Brandon Price, Ph.D., president and co-founder of Biogenen and the Ben J. Rogers Chair — Entrepreneur in Residence, at Lamar University in Texas.

The VCU School of Business established the International Business Forum in 1994 to raise awareness among students, faculty and the business community of the global nature of commerce and how it links to events both at home and abroad.

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. The only academic medical center and Level I trauma center in the region, VCU Health is comprised of five health sciences schools (Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy), VCU Medical Center, Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, VCU Massey Cancer Center and Virginia Premier. For more, please and

25th Real Estate Trends Conference

Erik Qualman, who spawned the “Socialnomics” movement with his book of the same name, will speak at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business’ 25th annual Real Estate Trends Conference.

The conference, organized by the Kornblau Real Estate Program in the School of Business, will be held Thursday, Oct. 22, at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Doors open at 12:45 p.m. with registration and networking. Conference sessions run from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., followed by closing remarks and a reception.

Called a “Digital Dale Carnegie” and “the Tony Robbins of Tech,” Qualman is the author of “Socialnomics” and “Digital Leader,” the latter earning him the distinction of second “Most Likable Author in the World” behind Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. His latest book, “What Happens on Campus Stays on You Tube,” explains the art and science behind the development and impact of digital reputations.

Joining Qualman are real estate and economics experts Mary Ludgin, Ph.D., Maurice Jones, J.D., and Michael Rubinger.

Ludgin is a managing director at Heitman, where she serves as the firm’s director of global investment research. She is a partner of the firm and holds a seat on its investment, valuation and management committee.

As Virginia secretary of commerce and trade, Jones utilizes Virginia’s assets to solidify its position as one of the preeminent places to live, work and conduct business.

Rubinger, president and chief executive officer of Local Initiatives Support Corp. since 1999, has more than 40 years of experience in the housing and economic development fields. Prior to joining LISC, he was executive vice president of the Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the largest private foundations in the country.

An annual event where speakers discuss trends affecting the real estate and business economies, the Real Estate Trends Conference is expected to attract more than 1,400 people from the academic and professional ranks, representing segments such as banking, engineering, investments, consulting, government, brokerage and appraisal.

For more information, including registration details, visit the conference’s website at

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. The only academic medical center and Level I trauma center in the region, VCU Health is comprised of five health sciences schools (Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy), VCU Medical Center, Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, VCU Massey Cancer Center and Virginia Premier. For more, please and

Trio of VCU Business alumni take their tenant-matching startup to Silicon Valley

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From left to right, Brandon Anderson, James Barrett and Chris Stewart.

Two years ago, James BarrettBrandon Anderson and Chris Stewart each took the day off from their respective jobs to meet in Barrett’s Richmond-area garage and discuss their future. That day, Tenant Turner — a website that matches rental property managers with quality tenants — was born.

Almost exactly two years later, the trio of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business graduates found themselves in Mountain View, California, having been accepted into Silicon Valley’s Y Combinator, one of the world’s best business accelerators, which has helped launch a number of successful companies such as Airbnb, Dropbox and Reddit.

“It’s an honor for Tenant Turner to be selected into the program,” Barrett said. “In addition to the investment, they also provide specialized mentorship and access to the entire YC network, which includes vendors, YC [alumni] and investors. With access to new investors, we hope to be able to raise more money faster the next time we open a fundraising round.”

Since 2005, Y Combinator has funded more than 800 startups valued at more than $30 billion.

Twice a year, YC operates a three-month session in which it invites selected startups to Silicon Valley to get their companies into the best shape possible and refine their investor pitches. At the end of each session, the entrepreneurs present their plans to an audience of specially selected prestigious investors.

Tenant Turner met with about two dozen investors, some of whom have already committed to invest. Perhaps more valuable than the monetary investments is access to an elite network of mentors and YC alumni.

“There’s really no better place to be for a new company trying to get jump-started,” Stewart said. “It’s somewhat surreal to be going through that process. The advice is direct, useful and comes from people who have been there before. … YC is also amazing from the perspective of the network effect. Hundreds of companies have gone through YC and even as a current batch company, you feel the sense of camaraderie and know that even in the future there’s an amazing network you can tap into.”

While most startups spend several weeks preparing their application for YC, the process for Tenant Turner was more of a whirlwind. After making a quick pitch to the Rise of the Rest investment group when it came through Richmond this spring, the trio was encouraged to apply to the YC.

“Joining for us was a really quick process,” Stewart said. “Thousands of companies apply for every batch — nearly 7,000 for this summer — and only 106 were accepted. We were a late application, as it really wasn’t on our radar, but it was suggested we apply. So we did, and were flown out to have a second interview in person a few weeks later. We found out maybe an hour or two later that we were accepted and that effectively the program began the next day.

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 12.10.30 PM“We very quickly needed to … simply restart our lives 3,000 miles away from home. It’s been a challenging experience, mostly being away from our families and our home, but one we’re determined to make worthwhile,” Stewart said.

Making the experience easier is the comfort the partners have with one another. More than a decade ago, high school friends Anderson and Barrett both studied information systems at VCU, where Stewart tutored them in Java. They became friends outside of school, years later serving as groomsmen in each other’s weddings.

“A lot of our bond was created during our time together at VCU,” Barrett said. “Our long friendship and the respect that we have for each other has made this journey incredibly enjoyable.”

Similarities abound between the three. Each knew at relatively early ages that they wanted to go into business for themselves. Anderson, in particular, seemed destined for an entrepreneurship career.

“At a young age I had a talent for drawing, which I used to draw logos of fictitious companies I pretended I had,” he said. “I created ‘business cards’ and wrote company newsletters. I made and sold friendship bracelets at day care. And I regret to admit there was a period of time in fifth grade where I carried not a backpack but a briefcase.”

Their shared interests endured well past their school days. After graduating from VCU, each alumnus owned rental properties, an experience that often proved frustrating.

“There are plenty of sites to list a rental like Craigslist and Zillow but no tools that truly solved our No. 1 problem: finding quality tenants quickly,” Barrett said. They all experienced the pain involved in going from a tenant moving out to another moving in, Stewart said, adding that everything that needs to happen in between can be very time consuming. With careers, families and children, taking time away to focus on turning over a property was inconvenient. With their software backgrounds and experience in the tech industry, they knew they could create a better process. That conviction led to the creation of Tenant Turner.

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 12.10.20 PM

“We shared a passion for the problem and had the complementary skills to build the leasing software of our dreams,” Barrett said.

Tenant Turner adds rentals to its site and then resubmits them to dozens of rental websites, pre-qualifying all tenant leads online or by phone before scheduling showings for the best prospects. Before Tenant Turner, Barrett said, property owners and managers would have to input listings into multiple sites, field all of the phone calls and emails, and track showings in a spreadsheet. With Tenant Turner, they now have one central hub for all of their leasing activity.

“We’re in growth mode right now and expect to raise more money, hire more employees and acquire more customers,” he said. “Our mission is to make happier, more confident renters, owners and property managers by improving the leasing experience. We’re off to a good start but have so much we can do to live that mission.”

With 43 million rental properties in the United States alone, Anderson said, there is plenty of opportunity for growth.


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Research team with Frank Bosco mentioned in NY Times article

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 12.00.30 PMFrank Bosco, Ph.D., assistant professor of management  was on the research team for the major study published in the journal Science investigating if “suspect science was a widespread problem.”  The study was recently featured in The New York Times article, “Many Psychology Findings Not as Strong as Claimed, Study Says”. Read the full article, here.



2014-2015 Dean’s Excellence in Teaching Awards

At the Faculty and Staff meeting on Tuesday, August 18th, Professor Laura Razzolini announced the winners of the 2014-2015 Dean’s Teaching Excellence Awards.

The 2014-2015 Committee was composed by Peter Aiken, Brian Brown, Pam Burch, Donna Byrd, and Laura Razzolini.

During the month of January 2015 the committee  ran a poll of the alumni and student body. They received 115 nominations: 67 from alumni and 48 from students. A total of 53 faculty were nominated as excellent teachers.

After carefully reading the alumni and student nominations, analyzing syllabus, data on teaching and teaching evaluations, and reading each faculty member’s writing summary in the FES (teaching section), the Committee identified the following three individuals for the excellence in teaching award:

Alumni most preferred teacher: Rasoul Tondkar, Ph.D., Controllers Executive RoundTable Professor of Accounting

Students and alumni refer to professor Tondkar as “motivating,” “inspirational” and “a truly gifted professor,” “… sort of an icon in the EMBA program.” He always encourages students to persevere. He goes above and beyond what is expected from a university professor to make sure his students will succeed at VCU and in their future life. He demands excellence in the classroom and forces his students to work hard. As a consequence, students are well prepared for “what it takes to be successful in the accounting field.” Several of his PhD students have been awarded outstanding dissertation prizes by the American Accounting Association for work done while at VCU under Dr. Tondkar’ s supervision. Well after graduating, students keep seeking Professor Tondkar’s advice at every step of their career, and he is always supportive and encouraging. Using the words of a 1990 alumnus, “Professor Tondkar transmitted to his students a discipline, a love for learning and a deep respect for the academic profession.”

Best undergraduate & graduate teacher: Robert Andrews, Ph.D., Associate Professor Emeritus of Supply Chain Management and Analytics

“Dr. Andrew is awesome!” “Unfortunately for us, Dr Andrews is planning to soon retire….and the resounding sentiment is that he will be sorely missed.” Dr. Andrews is commended for his teaching qualities: he makes the material understandable; he relates abstract concepts to real life situations; he communicates in a fun, fair and clear style; he shares with the students his personal class notes of exemplary quality; he makes the students understand the data. Dr. Andrews helps his students with academic issues as well as with personal life situations, his door is always open and he listens patiently.  In conclusion, many undergraduate and graduate students agree that “He has been by far the best teacher we have ever had at VCU!”

Most inspiring teacher: Jon Hill, Term Faculty in Accounting

In the words of an alumnus, Professor Hill “is an amazing professor with an outstanding level of commitment to his students, to Beta Alpha Psi and to VCU Business Alumni.” Professor Hill is commended for the large number of classes he teaches and both alumni and students all agree that he “is an inspiration, a mentor and a great professor;” he “shows passion in everything he does and wants his students to really learn.” Professor Hill is famous for his smile and sunny disposition and his level of enthusiasm has led students to a broader and deeper involvement with the School of Business and its mission.

Dr. Lance Saunders serves on a panel of experts for a Logistics Management webinar

Dr. Lance Saunders of the Supply Chain Management & Analytics department recently served on a panel of experts for a webinar presented by Logistics Management. According to the article on Logistics Management: 


Attend this session and learn ways you can transform your transportation network, including:

• How achieving full visibility across all transportation modes creates flexibility needed to meet variability in demand

• New analytics and business intelligence can help make the best decision when choosing between your fleet and for-hire carrier

• Implementing continuous improvement can help right size     your fleet and reduce costs

Read more here.


Professor Jason Merrick in this month’s issue of OR/MS Today

Professor Jason Merrick, featured in this month’s “Innovative Education” issue of OR/MS Today magazine, discusses his focus on students’ learning rather than his teaching. Merrick writes:

I found that my teaching really improved when I relaxed and concentrated on the students learning, not my teaching. I personally get a lot of energy from seeing my students do thorough and careful analysis that helps them in their careers and personal lives. Operations research and decision analytics can have a tremendous impact.

For the full article, click here: ORMS Today


School of Business graduate students help government agencies with data management

Monday, Aug. 3, 2015In some circles, statistics have a bad reputation. Mark Twain implied statistics are the worst kind of lie, while humorist Evan Esar defined statistics as “the science of producing unreliable facts from reliable figures.” Why the mistrust in statistics? Because understanding data can be difficult.

“Many misunderstand data’s role in decision-making – leading to confusion between cause and effect,” said Peter Aiken, Ph.D., associate professor of information systems in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business. “It’s light outside and it’s daytime. That’s a correlation, right? Well that’s interesting, but in this case, just because we passed 12 hours, doesn’t mean it caused the light to come back on. What caused it was the earth revolving. It is only through better management of the data surrounding these questions of light and dark that we can begin to understand various causes and effects.”

As an authority on data, Aiken teaches his students how data management can help organizations to better approach various decisions, including separating reality from randomness. The exercises are so effective the state has taken note, tasking Virginia Deputy Secretary of Technology Anthony Fung — known informally as “Deputy Secretary Data” — with overseeing the state’s data re-engineering internships among his other duties.

Last fall, Gov. Terry McAuliffe established the program through VCU to explore additional uses of data to improve citizen benefits and state government effectiveness and efficiency. Based on Aiken’s curriculum, the internships provide a unique opportunity for graduate students to collaborate with chief information officers of participating states agencies. The students work in teams of two or three to evaluate available data and identify specific business cases in which data can be used to improve decision-making.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 3.18.17 PMWhy is this so important? Well, “big data” is more than just jargon.

“Data is the only resource we have that is a nondepletable, nondegrading, durable, strategic asset,” Aiken said. “We spend or invest fiscal resources, we wear out as human beings, capital assets degrade over time. … All organizations maintain data assets and if you put in place a program to treat them with the respect they deserve, they will grow in value over time and more importantly the organization will mature in its ability to employ them productively in operations.”

About 20 state agencies and 45 students have participated in the internship since its launch last fall. Class participants gain practical experience using data to drive re-engineering. At the end of the semester, participating CIOs have concrete examples of how to make better use of data to provide innovative and less costly services to citizens.

For example, Aiken cites one agency that works with endangered children. Agency workers would go to homes with an 80-point checklist to evaluate specific cases. The VCU interns tested the variables to see how much impact each had.

“This team did a phenomenal job, determining [which] data collected had little or no impact on the cases,” Aiken said. “By getting rid of the data that’s in the way, we can concentrate on those aspects of the case that are really important. Separating correlation from causality. In the future, it will be easier to separate urgent from routine cases, permitting this agency to better allocate resources according to its mission.

“Once we have that type of a result, we can now package these results for other classes permitting increased analysis,” Aiken said. “The hope is that we can expand this program to other universities.”

Certainly the program benefits both the state and its students.

“We estimate that total agency benefits [include] permitting specialists to process more cases, focus more time on investigative work or reduce the paperwork requirements,” Fung said.

Benjamin Siegel has gotten so much out of the internship that he is now in his third semester of the program.

“Supplementing my textbook learning has increased my ability to meet prospective employer requirements,” said Siegel, an Army veteran who is pursuing a master’s degree in information systems. “I’ve grown by working on a real-world problem. I’m working with real-world people, with real-world problems and real-world deadlines. It motivates me to find the best possible solution because the outcome isn’t only a grade but the implementation of a solution I helped to create.”

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 3.19.37 PM

While typically information systems students apply for the internship course, it’s open to any graduate student in the School of Business. The course does not require students to have an information systems background, but it does require a background in data. Aiken said the program has attracted students from just about every School of Business department, such as accounting, finance and logistics. Moreover, he sees such a future for data analysis that he’s proposing a data course for all business undergraduates and collaborating with Jeff South, associate professor in the Robertson School of Media and Culture, on a possible interdisciplinary project with students from both schools.

“Our thinking is that Peter’s students would focus on compiling and analyzing large data sets and that my students might focus on putting a human face to the data — by using the data as the foundation for news stories,” South said. “In data journalism, reporters analyze data, find trends and anecdotes to support those trends, and then write news stories that combine statistical analysis and compelling narrative.

“It’s hard to make people care about numbers, statistics and data. But if we show how the data connect to ‘real people,’ then we can get the information across.”

If people understood numbers, statistics and data, they might care more. It’s challenging to teach statistics well, but worth it, Aiken said. Because if statistics are not properly understood, you are in danger of focusing on bizarre connections, such as the divorce rate in Maine correlating with the per capita consumption of margarine.

Graphs demonstrate how correlation does not necessarily equal causation. Chart courtesy
Graphs demonstrate how correlation does not necessarily equal causation.
Chart courtesy

“If you looked at that, you’d say, ‘There must be a relationship,’ right?” Aiken said. “This is why we need the additional grounding to go in and say, ‘Is that coincidence or is that, in fact, causation?’”

Utilizing existing data to its fullest potential is a risk-free route to better efficiency.

“In a time when government is expected to do more with less,” Fung said, “data is a resource that we can turn into actionable information in order to get greater [return on investment] and improving programs and outcomes for our citizens. In government, we need to move toward a much more data-driven culture where we can measure the value we create.”

For more information on the governor’s data internship, contact Peter Aiken, Ph.D.,


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“The lessons that will stay with me forever.”


EMBA class of 2016 student, Kimberly Fields, recently travelled to Greece for the “Global Challenges” portion of the EMBA program. In a recent article posted on Dominion’s blog, You. The People of Dominion Kimberly discusses the rewarding experience abroad and the lessons she brings back with her.

Enlightening visits with the locals, engaging cultural events, business meetings and traditional classroom lectures helped us better understand not only the state of the country’s economy and lack of governmental structure, but also the history and legacy of its people. There is no doubt that the answer to its past struggles and future stability lies in the hearts of its people. Their pride and belief in their country still stands strong, even in the midst of unemployment and poor financial conditions.

And although it’s been kept quiet, there is a movement growing in Greece. These start-up businesses realize there is an opportunity to create market solutions that will contribute to the rebirth of the economy. This isn’t a perspective you gain by reading newspaper articles or listening to CNN. You have to be there. I left the country proud that I was able to experience the issues, but also contribute to the beginning of the solution.

Read the full article here: MyWord_ICP

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