Jim received his bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University and his JD from Texas Tech University School of Law. He is an assistant professor of business administration.
What brought you to Alaska?
Very simply put, my son. I grew up in northern Canada and I wanted him to have that same experience. There is something about the northern lifestyle that imparts a certain sense of independence and integrity in people who grow up in the far north. As the musician, Prince said when asked why he lived in Minnesota – “because it’s so cold it keeps the bad people out.” There is a simple truth to that. There are easier places to live, but few better.
What do you enjoy most about Alaska?
The people and the unpretentiousness of it. Let’s just say that I have saved a lot of money on razor blades since moving here.
This is your second year with SOM. What do you tell people in the Lower 48 about it?
I constantly tell my friends and family what a great place SOM is to work. I can truly say that I love teaching here. The administration, faculty, and staff here are fantastic and a pleasure to work with.
You’ve spent time teaching in China. How does that translate into the classroom here?
There is very little difference in the teaching component between China and here. Students in both countries want to learn and they want to be engaged. I try the best I can to strip down the material and make it relatable. What I have found to be most beneficial from my time in China is the plethora of experience I gained from consulting and working with both Chinese and foreign corporations. Many of the textbooks today contain information on doing business in China and, having been directly involved with it, I am hopefully better able to communicate the realities and dispel some of the myths associated with China.
Which research or project are you currently working on?
I am currently working on several projects with other SOM faculty members, but I recently finished an article on the Federal Court injunction that was issued against the new salary level base of $47,476 for overtime exempt employees, which was to go into effect on December 1, 2016.
What advice do you have for current students?
Get out and experience the world. Take your headphones off, put your phone and iPad away, and talk to people. I have met some amazing people who became great friends just by simply saying ‘hello’.
- What is one thing you think everyone should own no matter the cost? Nothing – one thing that I learned from traveling around the world is that there isn’t anything, other than the essentials in life (food, clothing and shelter), that people really need.
- Last music download? The new Jack Savoretti album, “Sleep No More”
- In a next life, what would your career be? Why wait for your “next life” – if there is something you want to do, go do it!
- If you were granted one wish to change the world, what would it be? Two things that shouldn’t require a wish because humans have the power to change it: End the suffering of children caused by war and hunger.
On Friday, May 5, 2017, SOM honored our Beta Gamma Sigma inductees for 2017.
Beta Gamma Sigma is a national honor society recognizing the highest scholastic honor a student can achieve in Business Administration at an AACSB accredited institution. To be eligible for membership in this distinguished
organization, a student must rank in the top of their class.
- Top 10 percent of the Junior class
- Top 10 percent of the Senior class
- Top 20 percent of MBA students
Tara Ann Ellis
On Friday, April 28th, the School of Management held our second annual induction for our Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) students into the Order of the Sword & Shield National Honor Society. These students met the rigorous academic requirements for induction into the only honor society tailored to students in the homeland security and emergency management fields.
The new inductees were welcomed into the society by previous inductees, Thomas Antal, Jason Fegurgur and Wally Murrell. This stellar accomplishment by our students is yet another example of how this nationally ranked HSEM program continues to grow and excel.
Floyd Wright Jr.
UAF Photo by JR Ancheta
On April 15, 2017, the School of Management honored Steve Lundgren, President and CEO of Denali State Bank, as the 2017 Business Leader of the Year award.
The UAF Business Leader of the Year award is given to a deserving recipient based on leadership in the Fairbanks business community, business achievements, community service, and educational support.
The event sold out for the eighth year in a row. Many SOM students worked hard to make the night a success, volunteering their time in order to earn a ticket to the event. They sold tickets, ironed hundreds of chair sashes, worked with vendors, and decorated the venue.
Funds raised through the Business Leader of the Year event support student organizations at SOM. The audience, made up of the Interior community and business leaders, demonstrated enthusiastic support for our students, collectively raising over $36,000 – all of which will go back to the future business leaders of Alaska: UAF School of Management students.
To view photos and videos from the event, click the links below:
Download the Business Leader of the Year Program.
Steve accepted his award from student committee co-chairs, Claire Everts and Zack Morris. UAF Photo by JR Ancheta.
The many student committee members and volunteers helped make the event a success. Photo by Latitude 64 Photography.
Lori with her significant other
Lori is the Executive Director of the American Red Cross of Alaska, Far North and Interior District. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing in 1996.
Why did you choose to attend UAF?
I had taken a year off from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life. My family lived in Alaska, so I decided to move here and continue my education at UAF. SOM had the same AACSB accreditation as schools like Harvard, Cal Poly, and many other top business schools, yet it provided a more intimate learning environment.
Share with us an outstanding teacher or class.
My very best Professor was Dr. Laura Milner. She demanded excellence and pushed us to be better students and to think outside the box. She was tough, but she was fair. I remember a group project that we spent hours on, but we turned it in 30 minutes late. When we met with her, she told us that when we handed it in late she wanted nothing more than to fail us because deadlines are critical, and as professionals there are no excuses for being late. However, the paper was so well done that she had no choice but to give us an A, and in fact our recommendations were implemented by the company we did the research for. She taught me a great lesson about commitments and fairness. I can’t remember the name of most of my professors, but I do remember hers, as she taught me the most.
What is a favorite SOM memory?
Working on the Business Leader of the Year was a lot of fun. I was working full time while going to school, so my ability to get involved in campus life was rather limited. Being a part of working on this event in my final year was truly one of my best memories.
How did SOM prepare you for your professional career?
I learned that, in addition to “book learning,” teamwork and cooperation are critical to success. A willingness to ask questions, respecting other people’s time, and working as a high functioning team will produce much better results than working individually.
What does being a UAF alumna mean to you?
I have lived in Fairbanks for the past 25 years and am very proud to be able to say that I am a UAF alumna. When I hear teenagers criticize or downgrade UAF because it is in their back yard, I can easily give testimony to the fantastic education that I received.
What keeps you enthusiastic about your career?
I appreciate being able to put my education and knowledge to work for the good of our community. The many curve balls I’ve experienced in my own life have helped me understand the importance of nonprofits to our community. Not only do we provide many jobs, but we are the safety net for when life throws those curve balls. I am honored to be able to put my arm around a family that just lost their home to a fire and let them know someone cares, they are not alone, and we will help. I am passionate about the mission of the American Red Cross. Fires and disasters do not discriminate; they are great equalizers and we are able to help regardless of all the factors that tend to divide people.
I am never bored. I am constantly challenged by the importance of providing a positive working environment for my staff and volunteers, an environment that encourages team work yet individuality, inspiration when we are so busy that we can’t think, open communication across service lines, and the support they need to do their jobs effectively.
What’s the number one skill or practice that has contributed to your success?
Honesty and integrity are the primary skills that have contributed to my success. No one can truly be successful if those around them do not trust them, and that only comes from working with honesty and integrity.
What advice would you give to current students?
No amount of advancement up the corporate ladder is worthwhile if it is not achieved with honesty, integrity, and ethical decisions. Part of that means not making commitments that you can’t keep. Do not forget appointments, do not promise to do something and then not do it, and never pass the buck – if you made a mistake, own it and learn from it. No matter how good you are at the tasks of a job, if you cannot be trusted as a person of your word, you will never truly succeed. Additionally, you should never be afraid to ask questions; there is never a time when you will need to pretend to know everything and have all the answers. Finally, have fun! It’s OK to laugh and have fun at work, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be productive, but work shouldn’t be a place of misery – laughter does wonders!
Lori heading to Hawaii with her daughters
- What is your favorite breakfast food? Smoothie
- Dream vacation destination? A sandy beach with lots of sunshine
- Last music digital download or streaming music channel? Google Play
- When was the last time you sang out loud? Yesterday just to watch my daughter cringe since I sing off key
- What was your last DIY project? Building my shed
Lori with Red Cross staff on Community Smoke Alarm Install Day
A Family Owned and Operated Mine
Usibelli Coal Mine, Inc. (UCM) is a fourth-generation family-owned business. Joe Usibelli Jr. currently serves as President of the corporation and his father, Joe Usibelli, 1978 UAF Business Leader of the Year, is chairman of the board of directors. UCM was founded in 1943 by Emil Usibelli in the mountains of the Alaska Range, near the town of Healy, Alaska. The mine is located 115 miles south of Fairbanks. UCM currently holds six permits that provide access to over 100-million tons of coal. In 2017, the mine is projected to produce approximately 1-million tons. Today, UCM provides coal to the six power plants in Interior Alaska: GVEA’s Healy 1 & 2, Aurora Energy in downtown Fairbanks, Eielson Air Force Base, Fort Wainwright Army Post, and the UAF Combined Heat & Power plant on campus.
Four generations of the Usibelli family have lived in or near Healy. With the mine in the family’s backyard, it was no surprise that six years before it was required by federal law, UCM pioneered a successful land restoration program to establish a natural landscape on mined land. The land is contoured and then seeded with a mixture of grasses and plants indigenous to northern regions. Over the years, through a partnership with the local school, children have helped collect cones from local trees to germinate seedlings for transplanting.
The mine supports many community events and activities, and through the Usibelli foundation, provides grants to more than 100 organizations annually throughout Alaska.
UCM’s involvement with SOM
SOM plays a critical role in providing students with the education, tools, and resources they need to be successful in the workplace upon graduation; this is important not only for the mine, but for businesses across the state. UCM has a long history of supporting UAF and SOM, including management team members serving on the Business Advisory Council and the Accounting Advisory Board, sponsorship and volunteers for the annual Business Leader of the Year Banquet, participation in the annual Spring Etiquette Seminar and Dinner, and two $5,000 scholarships per year for SOM students. Earlier this year, UCM pledged $75,000 to become the lead sponsor for the UAF Arctic Innovation Competition for the next three years.
UCM support of UAF
Since 1977, UCM has donated more than $4.2 million dollars to UAF, including the UA Museum of the North. The importance of a healthy community fueled by the commitment from private enterprise remains a priority for the Usibelli family and for the mine. From funding scholarships to providing the lead gift for the Engineering Building and from establishing the Usibelli Awards to supporting university athletes, UCM has a long and proud relationship with UAF.
Join UCM in Support
For UCM, the choice to support SOM and UAF is an easy one. UAF is the state’s premier educational institution and over the years the university has assisted with research projects directly related to the coal mining industry, natural resource development, and the electrical power generation business. UAF is truly building the workforce of the future – something that benefits every business in the state. Supporting UAF is a two-way partnership!
UAF Chancellor Dana Thomas, UA President Jim Johnsen, UCM VP of Public Relations Lisa Herbert, SOM Dean Mark Herrmann, and Dr. Ping Lan at AIC 2016