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Georgia Southern alumni recognized for outstanding achievements

(front, left to right) Dawn Cartee, Louvenia Rainge, Chris Rustin, Nick Wiley, Mike Davis, Russell McMurry (back, left to right) Robert Mikell, Teresa MacCartney, Major General Leslie C. Smith, Mychael Knight

The Association presented its 2017 biennial Alumni Awards at a campus luncheon held this past Saturday, March 25.

The following alumni were recognized for outstanding achievements in their respective fields:

Teresa A. MacCartney, Alumna of the Year
Teresa MacCartney has served as chief financial officer for the State of Georgia and director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget (OPB) since her appointment by Gov. Nathan Deal in 2012. She began her career in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget (OPB), later becoming the senior policy advisor for budget and governmental affairs at the Georgia Student Finance Commission. In 2005, MacCartney returned to OPB as director of the Education Division and was promoted to deputy director in 2010. MacCartney serves as secretary of the Board of Directors of the OneGeorgia Authority, vice chair of the Georgia Higher Education Facilities Authority Board and is on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Lottery Corporation and Georgia Higher Education Savings Plan. She is a member of the Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority Board, State Depository Board, Employee Benefits Plan Council, National Association of State Budget Officers’ Executive Committee and Georgia ABLE Program Corporation Board. She also sits on the Board of Trustees of the Leadership Georgia Foundation. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and a Master of Public Administration degree from Georgia Southern.

Mike R. Davis, Alumnus of the Year in Professional Achievement
Mike Davis serves as executive director and CEO of the U.S. Golfing Association (USGA) – the seventh in the organization’s 121-year history. Davis is the senior staff member of the USGA, responsible for managing all aspect of the Association’s day-to-day operations, including core functions, essential programs and human and financial resources. Working closely with the USGA president and Executive Committee, Davis provides overall strategic guidance, serves as spokesperson with internal stakeholders and external constituencies, and represents the USGA’s interests within the golf community, courses and clubs, state and regional golf associations, the media, and national and international golf associations. He is also a board member of the International Golf Federation, the World Golf Foundation, Official World Golf Rankings, the World Golf Hall of Fame, and the Captains Club. Davis graduated from Georgia Southern University in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and was a member of the University’s golf team and Sigma Chi Fraternity.

Major General Leslie C. Smith, College of Business Administration Alumni Award
Maj. Gen. Leslie C. Smith serves as the Deputy Inspector General, Office of the Secretary of the Army. Smith’s previous assignment was the Commanding General of the United States Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood. Smith received his commission from Georgia Southern University in 1983 as a field artillery officer. In 1985, he graduated from the University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting as a distinguished military graduate and entered the Army as a chemical officer. His awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal and Joint Service Achievement Medal. Smith also holds a Master of Science degree in administration from Central Michigan University and a Master of Arts degree in national security strategy from the National Defense University.

Mychael Knight, College of Health and Human Sciences Alumni Award
Since his successful run on the Bravo hit show “Project Runway,” Mychael Knight has been excelling in the fashion industry. In addition to being sought after for his design aesthetic and fashion styling for celebrities such as Khloe Kardashian, Jagged Edge, 112, Jennifer Hudson, Tarji P. Henson and Toni Braxton, his designs have been displayed in a variety of print publications including The Atlantan, Elle, Essence, Marie Claire, Ebony, Black Enterprise YRB and The New York Times. His design and creative direction has also been sought from corporations including Starbucks, Louis Glick, Nike and Coca-Cola. Knight earned a Bachelor of Science degree in fashion merchandising and apparel design in 2001.

Robert (Bob) Mikell, Esq., College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Alumni Award
Bob Mikell is an attorney with Brown Rountree PC in Statesboro. Mikell serves as second-vice chair of the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce, on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Southern University Alumni Association, and president of Habitat for Humanity of Bulloch County. He is a past chair of the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority and past president of the Bulloch County Bar Association. From its inception, he has led the Statesboro YMCA Steering Committee which has successfully chartered the Statesboro Branch of the YMCA of Coastal Georgia. He is a member of the South Main Revitalization Committee working to improve the Blue Mile corridor between Downtown Statesboro and the campus of Georgia Southern. Mikell was one of three presenters in Durham, North Carolina, in the America’s Best Communities competition, in which Statesboro advanced to the top eight in the competition with a chance to win $3 million for the Blue Mile. A summa cum laude graduate of Georgia Southern, Bob Mikell completed the Bell Honors Program majoring in history with a minor in Spanish. He later graduated cum laude from the University of Georgia School of Law.

Chris Rustin, Dr.P.H., Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health Alumni Award
Chris Rustin is a professor of public health at Georgia Southern who previously served as the director of the Environmental Health Section for the Georgia Department of Public Health. He was responsible for supervision and statewide oversight of food safety, land use public swimming pool, spa and recreational water park safety, tattoo safety, tourist and lodging safety, chemical hazards, indoor tanning safety, healthy homes/lead poisoning prevention, entomology and surveillance, and environmental health emergency preparedness programs. Rustin managed and oversaw a staff of 430 Environmental Health professionals at the state, district and county Health Department level. In addition to a Bachelor of Science degree in biology, he holds a master’s degree in safety and environmental compliance, and a Doctorate of Public Health with an emphasis in community health.

Dawn H. Cartee, Ph.D., College of Education Alumni Award
After serving nine years as president of Ogeechee Technical College, Dawn Cartee became director of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education and Hotel in 2016. She oversees a 300,000 square-foot facility that includes meeting rooms, auditoriums, offices, two restaurants, banquet services and a 200-room hotel. The Center hosts more than 1,700 events each year, drawing about 95,000 participants. She manages a staff of 400 and an annual budget of $23 million. She was named Business Leader of the Year by the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce in 2011 and a Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind winner in 2010. She is a previous College of Education Alumna of the Year. Cartee earned her doctorate in educational administration, an education specialist degree, a master’s degree in education and bachelor’s degree in business administration, all from Georgia Southern.

Russell R. McMurry, PE, Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Information Technology Alumni Award
Russell McMurry serves as commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation, a $3.6 billion, 4,000-employee state agency responsible for planning, designing, constructing, maintaining and operating Georgia’s state-owned transportation system. Georgia has the 10th largest transportation system in the country. He began his career with the Department in 1990 as an engineering trainee and has served in a variety of roles that include construction project manager, district engineer, director of engineering and chief engineer. He graduated cum laude from Georgia Southern and is a registered professional engineer in the state of Georgia.

Dr. Louvenia A. Rainge, College of Science and Mathematics Alumni Award
Louvenia A. Rainge has crafted a successful career in the dental profession, including being named an Honorable Fellow of the Georgia Dental Association and a Fellow of the Pierre Fauchard Academy and the American College of Dentists. She has earned the Eastern District Dental Society President’s Award; the Georgia Dental Association Committee Award, Council on Dental Health; the Augusta Dental Society President’s Award; and the Dental College of Georgia Distinguished Alumna Award. After earning her bachelor’s degree in biology from Georgia Southern in 1983, Rainge completed the Harvard University Pre-dentistry Health Professions Program and graduated from the Dental College of Georgia.

Eugene (Nick) Wiley, Department of Biology Alumni Award
Nick Wiley is executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. He rose through the ranks from a wildlife resource biologist to his current position and serves as president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. A certified wildlife biologist, his work has been published in journals including Journal of Wildlife Management and Conservation Biology. Wiley is chair of the College of Science and Mathematics Advisory Board, a National Conservation Leadership Institute Fellow, a member of the Boone and Crockett Club, and a member of the North American Wetlands Conservation Council. He also previously served on the State and Federal Joint Task Force on Endangered Species Act Implementation. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Georgia Southern in 1983 and a Master of Science degree in wildlife management from Auburn University in 1986.

Wiley and Range, both COSM graduates, are also from Brantley County, Georgia, and graduated from the same high school there. Rainge was valedictorian and Wiley was salutatorian of their high school graduating class and both chose to attend Georgia Southern.

“Honoring our outstanding alumni is truly a privilege,” said Wendell Tompkins Jr. (‘87), senior director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving. “They have distinguished themselves as the best and brightest in their fields, and they represent Georgia Southern in a manner that makes all of the Eagle Nation proud to claim them as our own.”

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/Research University founded in 1906, offers more than 125 degree programs serving 20,673 students. Through eight colleges, the University offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs built on more than a century of academic achievement. Georgia Southern is recognized for its student-centered and hands-on approach to education. Visit


The Spring 2017 issue of the Eagle Executive magazine is available online at

Students compete in the fourth annual 3 Day Startup on campus

The Georgia Southern University Business Innovation Group (BIG) hosted the annual 3 Day Startup (3DS) February 24-26, with the final pitches delivered Sunday, February 26 at 7 p.m. in the Information Technology Building on campus. 3DS is a world-renowned, weekend-long program that creates a living entrepreneurship laboratory that brings together individuals from various backgrounds and provides students with the tools needed to start successful companies.

On the first day, participants arrive with their most promising ideas for new companies. Some bring pre-built technology that is waiting to be commercialized, while others bring napkins with ideas written on them. Throughout the weekend, participants shape and craft their innovations into pitches that are presented to a panel of judges and in front of a live audience.

This year’s 3DS facilitator from the Austin, Texas, program was Georgia native, Ellyson Glance. Glance helped students from all majors across the University prepare for the weekend as they gathered to create business ideas to develop. Six ideas were presented during final pitches, ranging from hair care products to digital shopping, and students worked with and received guidance from mentors throughout the weekend.

“This is by far my favorite event to organize for the students,” said Program Manager Suzanne Hallman. “It requires a lot of preparation, but the payoff is worth it. Every year we hear great ideas and see huge strides our students make over the weekend. I enjoy working with fellow Eagles and look forward to helping them launch their dreams right here at Georgia Southern.”

Ultimately, panelists chose “Whipp,” natural hair care products consisting of base cream and oils customized to each individual’s needs and “whipped” together by consultants, and “Easy Bustle,” a simple solution to complicated wedding dress bustling issues, as the most viable products to move on to participate in the FastPitch event in Savannah in April. FastPitch allows entrepreneurs to make a three minute pitch of their innovative venture and be assessed as to the viability of the ventures by local community leaders, academics, and investors. Coaching and feedback is provided before, during and after to better prepare presenters, their ideas and their presentations of that idea.

Other business ideas worked on throughout the weekend included:

  • FlashBack – glasses that record what “just happened” by using a cache so users can live in the moment and relive unforgettable moments
  • My Kid – a device that helps parents stay in range of kids to prevent losing them in crowded family theme parks and venues
  • Versity – an ecosystem for student entrepreneurs to connect with each other and the community to offer goods and services
  • Digital Shopper – groceries from the store delivered to the customer’s door via a fast and reliable service

This intensive weekend event was filled with activities including workshops, business idea generation, customer engagement sessions and pitching the ideas to the judges. 3DS is a collaborative event that encourages students to cross-pollinate, learning from each other.

“The Business Innovation Group creates this great opportunity for our students to get real experience with the development of ideas into business models, and the students love it,” said Steve Stewart, Ph.D., an assistant professor of management who teaches in the Entrepreneurship program. “It’s great when students get excited about seeing all their education come to life in real-world circumstance, and to have that validated by other mentors and judges … that’s always an important moment in the educational process, and ultimately will lead to students starting companies that create jobs.”

The Georgia Southern University BIG prides itself on its commitment to empower and equip entrepreneurs. 3DS is an example of the commitments BIG makes to create more businesses and jobs in order to sustain the economy. For more information, contact Suzanne Hallman, business advisor, at, or visit

Since its inception, 3DS has hosted more than 300 programs across six continents and has launched scores of startups, collectively raising millions of dollars in funding. Dozens of 3DS innovations are accepted into prestigious accelerator and incubator programs.

The event is provided at no cost to the students. BIG depends on sponsors like Coca Cola, Krispy Kreme, The Downtown Statesboro Development Authority, El Jalapeño, Little Italy, and The Clubhouse to help offset costs of meals and drinks for the weekend. This event would not be possible without BIG partnerships with the College of Business and the Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Information Technology.

University to participate in annual Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Next week, amid a sea of green, Georgia Southern will stand out as the Best and Brightest in the 193rd Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Friday, March 17.

For the eighth consecutive year, the University will host a float decked out in school spirit and a convertible with the University president. President Jaimie Hebert, Ph.D., will ride alongside members of the Southern Pride Marching Band, Georgia Southern cheerleaders and Miss Georgia Southern University, Tori Murray.

This year’s float will also feature The Dean’s List, a band comprised of Dean of the College of Business Administration Allen Amason, Ph.D., Assistant Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Jason Stone, Ph.D., faculty members Krista Petrosino, Ph.D., Tim Kintzinger, Ph.D., and alumnus Zeb Mitchell. The band will perform a variety of songs from famous Irish artists.

As always, the University’s bald eagle mascot Freedom will accompany the float and add some extra spirit to the event.

Thor Robertson, junior accounting major, will carry on his lasting family participation in the parade by being the third generation of Robertson men to work on parade committees.

Not only does Georgia Southern have a longstanding history with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, but it also has Irish roots that stem far past participating in the second largest national St. Patrick’s Day parade.

The University Honor’s Program, along with the Center for Irish Research and Teaching, have been introducing Georgia Southern students to Irish culture through the Wexford-Savannah Axis for almost four years. Undergraduate and graduate students spend several weeks during the summer in Savannah and in Wexford County, Ireland, researching Savannah Irish descendants.

Sarah Ryniker, current graduate student and one of many students who have participated in the study abroad program, has created a database of Irish families who came to live in Savannah. Through her research, she has been able to uncover lasting impacts the Irish made on Savannah after immigrating to the city in the 1800s.

For more information about the CIRT visit

BIG Pitch Award Competition Offers $10,000 to Collegiate Innovator

Ocean Exchange and Georgia Southern University College of Business Administration announce the 2017 BIG Pitch Award Competition for $10,000. They invite undergraduate and graduate student innovators with solutions in the field of sustainability to apply. The BIG Pitch Award is in its third year. Prior winners were from Stanford University and the University of Illinois-Urban/Champaign.

Dr. Allen Amason, Dean of the College of Business Administration, commented, “Georgia Southern is excited once again to sponsor the Big Pitch Competition, in partnership with the Ocean Exchange. The innovations we’ve seen and the solutions we’ve been able to support have been brilliant in concept and revolutionary in application. We truly believe this is an opportunity for bright, young innovators to change the world for the better.”

Eight finalists will be selected in early September by a multi-disciplinary team of business and technical leaders. The finalists will be invited to present at Ocean Exchange in Savannah, GA October 8th at the Ocean Exchange event which runs October 8-10, 2017 at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center.

Ocean Exchange is a 501c3 with the sole mission to help advance the adoption of solutions in the field of sustainability, focusing on startup companies with working prototypes. Watch for upcoming announcement of 2017 Ocean Exchange Awards Competition for early stage companies. Key sponsors are Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, Gulfstream, Savannah Economic Development Authority, Southern Company, Georgia Ports Authority, Bunge, and Oceaneering.

Find out more about the BIG Pitch competition rules and deadlines at

Source: Ocean Exchange