UConn Today – Ticking up the thermostat a degree or two is going to cost anyone more money, but a new study from UConn researchers suggests Black households pay more to keep their homes comfortable, in part due to increased cold sensitivity.
The finding, published this fall in Energy Economics, spans the socioeconomic spectrum and also states Black people who can’t afford those couple extra degrees end up seeking medical attention more often than white counterparts.
Like so many members of UConn Nation, I cheered wildly for our men’s basketball team throughout March Madness, and when our players captured the NCAA Championship trophy in April.
And while every coach and player on that team contributed to an amazing season, I would be less than honest if I didn’t tell you I cheered just a little louder for guard Joey Calcattera, a member of our MBA cohort at the School of Business.
“Joey California’’ as he was fondly nicknamed by Coach Dan Hurley, and then the rest of the world, signed a basketball contract with the South Bay Lakers, the LA Lakers’ G-League team, last month.
Calcaterra’s continuing success is no surprise.
During a recent interview with the School of Business, he talked about how he chose UConn because he knew he would be “working his tail off’’ both on the basketball court and through his graduate coursework. It is that kind of persistence that creates champions!
At the School of Business, we have more than 4,000 students all seeking their own championships—in business, in entrepreneurship, and in life.
Our report highlights their success, with 90 percent of our 2023 undergraduates employed or in graduate school within three months of graduation. Their employers, and their salaries, are equally impressive (page 17).
I hope the magazine will offer you a glimpse of our accomplishments, an introduction to some of our outstanding faculty (pages 7-9), and the alumni who are dedicated to our school (pages 10-11 and 14). Be sure to glance at our Words Worth Repeating (page 20), highlighting the wit and wisdom that we have shared and received throughout the year.
I want to thank you, our alumni and friends, for the many contributions you have made to the School of Business this past year. I am grateful for your support and encouragement of our students, and your partnership in our commitment to excellence in business education.
I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving, with the love and companionship of those you hold dear.
One way to think about a college business degree is that it consists of 120-credit hours of course work, about half of which is study in the arts and sciences, and half in business courses. But students will tell you that the course work is only part of the growth opportunity that colleges provide in today’s world.
Beyond the course curriculum is a rich array of opportunities giving students incredible choices in experiences that will help them grow, thrive, and enjoy their college experience. Some are obvious, such as sports, the band, the student newspaper, social societies, and the like. Some are crafted living opportunities, such as the Business Connections Learning Community (BCLC), which provide programs that augment the student experience. The BCLC is a residential community in Belden Hall where students engage in significant, supportive programming, learning about everything from preparing a resume to becoming certified on the Bloomberg terminals. They host alumni who share insights about professional career paths and many agree to serve as mentors to our students.
There are many clubs focused on everything from accounting or finance to Formula 1 racing. Each of these clubs provides students the option to engage modestly or to become a leader with significant responsibility.
Alumnus’ Career Spanned From Military Service to Renewable Energy
Today I want to share a recent extracurricular event that exemplifies the richness and diversity available outside the classroom. On Oct. 20, alumnus Bryan Dougherty ’17 MBA was our guest speaker in the Sustainable Business Breakfast Series. Today’s students are sensitive to the environment and want to care for it, and learn about the many ways we can do so.
Bryan is an Operations Project Manager with Orsted, a Danish company that is launching offshore wind farms in New England. From my perspective Bryan played two roles. He exemplifies career progression, and he knows a great deal about green energy that the students want to learn.
Bryan is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at Westpoint. He served nine years as an active-duty U.S. Army officer and then transferred to the National Guard where he continues to serve part-time. Following active duty, he returned to civilian life, joining Sikorsky in Stratford, Conn. The company encouraged and supported him in getting an MBA at UConn. This prepared him for a series of increasingly demanding roles over nine years. He then joined Orsted, following
through on an internal career spark to get involved with renewables.
He shared with us the challenges of bringing offshore wind to New England. Orsted has been doing this in Europe for 25 years, and the company has the technology to do it well. Bryan emphasized that in these initiatives, track record and experience are critical. But every new location is distinct and understanding the local operating environment is needed to gain a sustainable foothold. Regulation and environments are different.
I was reminded of learning decades ago about efforts to build long-distance transmission lines in the United States. The industry pointed out how much easier it was in communist countries or countries with other regulatory environments. In our country, every state, county, and municipality has property rights over regulatory approvals. The challenge is not only about whether projects will be approved but also about how long it takes to earn approval. In the United States, NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) is a potent barrier to approval of even the most logical initiatives. Getting energy from water-powered electricity to consumers was no easier than getting wind-powered electricity to consumers.
One Turn of the Blade Could Power a Home for 24 Hours
These wind turbines are huge, producing at an 11-megawatt capacity; where one blade turn is enough to power a home for one day. These offshore wind turbines are much larger than their land-based turbine siblings. Maintenance will require technicians to go up elevators inside them to service the mechanics. The technicians must get from land-based homes to the water-based generators. There are whales to protect, birds to worry about, and more. Launching these devices will be a mammoth effort, and Bryan referred to New London as the “Cape Canaveral’’ of New England offshore wind power. Once launched, these generators are expected to have a 35-year lifespan, and there are several entities involved ensuring the New London region remains an important hub during that timeframe, including the eventual decommissioning of the wind farms.
The proposed wind farms will generate sufficient electricity to power 900,000 homes, with future bids on the horizon to bring new offshore wind farms online in the next 10 years. The process involves companies bidding to access offshore sites for turbine installation, and the project is moving forward. But recently plans have been disrupted by the rising interest rates, which imperil the viability of large capital projects. The wind-farm projects are one of many examples of potential moderation of man-made climate change, and the difficulty in implementation reminds us of the challenges.
Bryan tied back to his MBA learnings, specifically with international business and operations management courses. He is seeing first-hand how understanding the local operating environment is imperative to business success. He is also applying operational design tools taught in his graduate class to apply to the current operations and maintenance strategy for Orsted’s New England projects. He is experiencing this with a job and company he loves, where he’s following through on an internal spark that was lit 15 years ago.
Bryan intends to support the School of Business’ Global Business Leadership in Sustainability Summit on March 1st, 2024 in Storrs, and hopes to see Husky Nation turn out to learn more about the impact of renewables on our state and the region.
UConn Today – The coffee in Lviv is some of the best that Ryan Coles has ever had.
“Better than Seattle,” declares Coles, an assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship in the UConn School of Business’ Boucher Management & Entrepreneurship Department, who has sampled coffee in cities all over the world as he’s pursued his work as a researcher, educator, sociologist, and entrepreneur.
UConn Today – Communication skill development is what entrepreneurs who participate in university accelerators most need in the early stages of their growth.
That’s the finding of a team of researchers from UConn’s Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CCEI), led by Associate Director of Entrepreneurial Communication and Research Rory McGloin, who is also an associate professor in both the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School of Business.
UConn Today – UConn is among the top 20 public universities nationwide in which alumni who built careers in accounting, finance, and law earn more than peers who graduated from other institutions, according to data compiled by an organization that researches employment trends.
Molly Cournoyer graduated from the UConn School of Business in December 2022. During her time at UConn, Molly made sure to focus on both her physical and mental health to ensure success in starting her career. Molly explained, “I think in today’s world being able to work from home can get in the way of work life balance as you can just hop on your device to answer a few emails. By choosing to prioritize my health while in school I became a better student and now a more successful employee.”
Molly is currently working as a Sales Representative for Pure Barre. The company’s focus on health and wellness is what attracted her to the role. “The team is very focused on having a healthy mind and body for the clients, along with each other;” she continues, “The deciding factor for me was how I felt in the studio. I would say I’m a pretty intuitive person so when I felt at home as I walked into the studio I knew it was a good fit.”. For Molly, a typical day in her role is centered around strong customer service. She works to make sure members are getting what they are looking for out of their memberships, as well prospecting for new members. Her main objective is to get them into the studios and eventually into memberships that will work for their own routines and personal goals.
Molly recalls her favorite professional experience so far would be making so many connections with her professors while at UConn, especially those who are adjunct professors. “Having professors who are still in the field has been such a great opportunity for connections that will help in my professional life;” Molly stresses the importance of networking, “The connections you make can bring so many opportunities your way. Something that I’ve done to advance my career is keeping an active LinkedIn account and consistently growing my network.”. Molly’s advice to current undergraduate students is to be prepared for whatever comes your way. She notes that “When you are in an interview you are also interviewing that company. Be prepared, ask questions, and follow your gut instinct. Learn to be your best self. If a company is not going to accept you for who you are, and what you have to offer then there are bigger and better things coming your way!”.
UConn Today – In high school, Ish Panwar used her talents in public speaking and leadership to run a non-profit organization teaching those skills to young adults. That approach to life – simultaneously ambitious and concerned with helping others – served her well at UConn, where she forged connections with mentors, developed new skills, and discovered that, for such a big university, UConn has a close-knit, supportive field. After graduation, she heads off to New York City, to put her skills to use in the finance industry.
UConn Today – The University of Connecticut Office of the Provost is pleased to announce the award of promotion and/or tenure to 96 faculty across its multiple campuses.
Evaluations for promotion, tenure, and reappointment apply the highest standards of professional achievement in scholarship, teaching, and service for each faculty member evaluated. Applications for promotion and tenure are reviewed at the department level, school or college level, and finally at the Office of the Provost before recommendations are forwarded to the Board of Trustees.
A key goal of the School of Business is to convene important conversations among faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends. On March 24, we hosted our second- annual Global Business Leadership in Sustainability Summit. This half-day event to explore ESG issues drew a wide array of talent.
It was my pleasure to start the program with a conversation with Dinah Koehler, the head of ESG Research at FactSet. Dinah is no stranger to UConn, having met with our Student Managed Fund students last fall to discuss ESG. At the summit, we tackled pressing questions around sustainability, reporting practices, and regulation. Next, multiple panels including students, alumni, and UConn faculty delved into other pertinent ESG issues.
ESG stands for Environment, Social, and Governance, three important dimensions of our economic lives. In recent decades, many investors and companies have moved past profit maximization as the sole criteria for managing their companies and their investments. They have integrated ESG issues into their decision-making. For some companies, their commitment to ESG is about emphasizing these issues relative to their business model. For others, their ESG focus is a way to communicate to the investing community not only corporate values, but also about the risks and rewards of investing in the company’s stock.
A Legacy of Environmental Reliance at Risk
Dinah put the story in perspective by reminding us that humanity’s prosperity in the last several hundred years was built on a stability of climate regarding temperature, that enabled agricultural success and importantly, stability of ocean levels. This stable environment has been the cornerstone for economic progress, and now these historic realities are at significant risk.
Concerns about the environment and human influence on earth’s sustainability go back to Malthus. At the end of the 1700s, he cautioned that the natural growth of human population would exceed the ability of our planet to feed everyone. Happily, decades of agricultural innovation have sustained population growth. Recently however, the tension between people and planet has intensified. Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the Club of Rome’s landmark report, ‘The Limits to Growth’ – which stressed our planet’s interconnected systems. Of paramount concern is their predication that if growth trends in population, industrialization, resource use, and pollution continued unchanged, we will reach, and then overshoot the carrying capacity of the Earth within the next 100 years.
Companies Tend to ‘Cherry Pick’ Their Stories
More recently, the environmental threats have accelerated and despite the global gnashing of teeth, we are making insufficient progress to alter the overheating of our planet. The ESG focus is a response to these issues, in the spirit of what-gets measured-gets-better. Europe has led the way in requiring company disclosures about their environmental footprint, and U.S. companies have begun to engage in reporting. But a key concern around the world is the reliability and verifiability of disclosures. The phrase “greenwashing” has emerged to reflect company tendencies cherry pick the stories to tell in voluntary disclosures. Companies craft their narrative in a favorable light, emphasizing the positives and ignoring the problems.
The costs and difficulty of verifying these disclosures rather naturally spawned a small industry of firms that rank/measure/assess companies’ ESG characteristics. That industry fed another industry of companies offering ESG-friendly investment portfolios. Our conversation at the conference addressing ESG sustainability as an assessment of what these innovations are delivering, what they could deliver, how they could be improved, and what the future might look like.
Mandated Government Reports Provide Critical Information
ESG measurements and rankings are numerous and diverse in nature, including for example risk analysts MSCI. The basis of these measurements and rankings is information that companies report about their ESG profile. For example, what kinds of environmental risks do they face and how do they mitigate them? The “better” firms report more, but many critics argue that these firms “greenwash” their efforts. The data is not easily verifiable. An alternative reporting structure based on ESG activity drawn from mandated government reporting would yield reliable and verifiable data. Companies are required to fully disclose hazardous spills, train derailments, air traffic mishaps, accidents in the workplace, and the like. Today, these measures are less commonly the basis of an ESG ranking system, but such a system would be more credible.
From an investing perspective, some investors focus on maximizing their returns, and ask the question, “Is an ESG portfolio likely to deliver high(er) returns? Is an ESG portfolio likely to deliver lower risk (lower variability of returns).” Other investors have value-based agendas for their investments, and for example, prefer a portfolio that doesn’t hold tobacco stocks, or gun stocks, or fossil-fuel stocks. The important question is whether current ESG rankings provide relevant information for these questions.
The day of our symposium, MSCI (one of the most visible ranking activities for ESG that relies on firm reporting) announced that they were downgrading ESG ratings on thousands of funds. As reported in the Financial Times, “the changes are part of a push by index providers to tighten the criteria for ESG-compliant funds.” Especially in Europe, a triple-A ESG rating is required by many portfolio managers and this MSCI change is projected to reduce the number of triple-A companies from 1,120 to just 54, while the number with no rating will surge from 24 to 462.
Doing the Right Thing
In the last 50 years, science has made a case for global warming, and many countries have embraced the importance of action to ameliorate the CO2 and other pollutants accelerating the warming path. Good intentions have been expressed, but actions and investments have been insufficient to significantly slow the path. Awareness is critical, and ESG measurements support awareness. The clock is ticking.
We have witnessed many successes of businesses “doing the right thing.” Sixty years ago, the ozone layer was severely threatened, and SC Johnson, the parent company of Johnson Wax, responded by removing the destructive propellants from its products. Shortly thereafter, the government banned those propellants. Recently the press has acknowledged that the ozone layer has largely recovered. By all accounts, our challenge today is bigger and much more complicated, but there is hope.
Our second Global Business Leadership in Sustainability Summit brought attention to the issues of ESG measurement and investing, but also specific conversations more local to UConn and Connecticut. One panel led by alumnus Brian Paganini discussed the significant challenges of food waste in Connecticut. Brian’s company, Quantum Biopower, converts food waste into green energy and provides compost as a byproduct.
Professor Richard Meinart, Center Coordinator at UConn Extension, reminded us that not all compost is perfect for all uses. In Connecticut, our ground is over-burdened with phosphorous, and Quantum Biopower’s compost is phosphorous rich. This reminds us that the details matter, and Quantum will be challenged to find a way to mitigate phosphorous or treat their compost as an export product to other states.
Our other panels featured students and recent graduates who shared their UConn and professional experiences in the ESG space. They reminded all of us about the importance of bringing passion to address the ESG challenges what we will continue to face.
Indeed, our Summit was a rich and rewarding day – an important conversation that we must and will emulate.