Category: EMBA

Executive MBA Program’s 30th Anniversary

Dean Michael Hardin honoring Dr. Lonnie Strickland at the Executive MBA 30th Anniversary Reception.

You only turn 30 once. On Friday, April 17th, alumni, faculty, staff and friends gathered to celebrate 30 years of the Executive MBA Program. The event was held on the rooftop of the newly opened Renasant Bank in downtown Tuscaloosa. The weather was perfect as guests networked, caught up with classmates, and met new friends on the patio.

The apex of the evening was the honoring of the EMBA founders by Dean Michael Hardin. Dean Hardin spoke of having the great honor to have known the late Dr. H.H. “Billy” Mitchell (Dean of Culverhouse College of Commerce from 1981 to 1986) and his affection for Culverhouse College of Commerce and The University of Alabama. His son, Billy Mitchell, accepted the award in memory of  his father.  Also honored was Dr. Lonnie Strickland (MBA Director 1982-1986 and current Professor of Strategic Management) and Ms. Gina Johnson (MBA Coordinator 1982-1986). Dr. Strickland praised the “many faculty and staff who have supported and worked so hard to make the program so successful.”

Mike Ross, President of the EMBA Alumni Network.

Host and President of Renasant Bank, Mike Ross said, “It was an honor to have the opportunity to host the event. We had a great turnout, and the crowd seemed to really enjoy the program. Personally, I appreciated the opportunity to communicate to Dr. Strickland just how applicable his curriculum is to everyday decision-making in the banking industry. I also enjoyed having the opportunity to network with so many alumni and current students of the EMBA Program. We are fortunate to have such a quality program at the University of Alabama!”  Ross is also President of the Executive MBA Alumni Network.

(L-R) EMBA Alumni Network Board member Beckie Crawford (EMBA 2013), Dr. Alex and Andrea Ellinger, and Ondria and Tim Jett (EMBA 2013).

The evening concluded as former classmates went out and enjoyed a newly revitalized downtown Tuscaloosa. One Stop Events and Parties, a local Tuscaloosa company, catered the dinner and beverages. Local television station WVUA was there to cover the event.

The 30th Tuscaloosa Executive MBA class, along with the sixth Huntsville class graduated on May 2, at The University of Alabama. Prior to commencement, the graduating class was officially welcomed into the EMBA Alumni Network by the Board members at the EMBA Graduation and Awards Ceremony.

The EMBA Program will be hosting several other 30th Anniversary events throughout the year. Up next will be the EMBA and Manderson Graduate School Family Day on Sunday, June 14, at the Tuscaloosa River Market from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. For more information on the EMBA Program and other EMBA Alumni and prospect events contact Donna Blackburn or Cheryl Altemara at the EMBA office or call 205-348-4501.

The International Trip – An EMBA Highlight

Nate Drees (EMBA 2015) and wife Annie, enjoy the boat ride to Contadora Island in Panama.

The 2015 Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA study abroad tour took us from Panama City in the Republic of Panama and then to Bogota, Colombia, February 28-March 6. While waiting to depart with some of the EMBA Class of 2015 students, who were excited and looking forward to heading to Central America, it was hard not to reflect on the many trips we have taken over the years.

Turning 30 this year, one of the many highlights of the EMBA Program is our international trip, which is part of the International Business course in the final semester.  The international trips began in 2003, and since then we have visited 15 countries, 28 cities and 118 companies. Students’ description of the trip include: Awesome, A Trip of a Lifetime, Challenging, Valuable and A Learning Experience I Will Always Remember! Students meet with senior executives from companies and government officials, in addition to touring the local sites.

Katherine Wayne (EMBA 2015) at Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal.

The EMBA Class of 2015’s Central America trip included business visits to Global Bank Corporation, Electric Transmission Company (ETESA), DHL Express Panama and the Panama Canal Authority in The Republic of Panama, and the Ministry of Defense, IBM, Alpina and the Coffee Federation in Bogota, Colombia. In addition, 38 students, faculty, staff, alumni and guests enjoyed city tours and a day on Contadora Island (part of the Pearl Islands) off the coast of Panama, and finally a closing dinner on Monserrate Hill in Bogota.

South America has been experiencing rapid growth.  Panama’s economy is service based, with GDP at $57.1B and 10.7% growth, and 16% of US-born trade passes through the Canal. Students were able to compare and contrast the economic and cultural differences between the two countries. Colombia, a member of the Pacific Alliance, is the third largest economy in Latin America, after Brazil and Mexico, with a 5% average annual GDP.

EMBA 2015 Class at Alpina in Colombia.

At Alpina, a manufacturer of consumer food products in Colombia, the EMBAs met with Diago Aparicio, Director of Talent Development. According to Aparicio, “Alpina was founded by two Swiss entrepreneurs in 1945 creating artisanal cheeses, and six decades later exports more than 500 consumer products to 20 countries.”  Colombia’s economic growth in the last five years has been steadily improving, even overtaking Peru as the region’s fastest-growing economy.

Speakers at IBM and the Ministry of Defense in Bogota spoke of Colombia as a success story with a lot of influence in the South America region. “We are seeing more investment, but still have a long way to go,” said Luz Stella Paez, Director of Business Management at the Defense Ministry.

EMBA alumni are welcome to join the students on their international trip. We will announce the e next trip at the end of July.


For more information on the Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA Program and its international trip, contact the EMBA office at 205.348.4501,

EMBA Women’s Leadership Luncheon Addresses Changing Landscape of Healthcare Industry

2015 WLL Panelist (l-r): Dr. Anne-Laura Cook, Beckie Crawford, Vanessa Pettway, and Dr. Lisa Mani



On March 11, a panel of leaders in the healthcare industry addressed the Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA Women’s Leadership Luncheon at the Summit Club in downtown Birmingham. The panel moderator was Beckie Crawford (TEMBA 2013), Vice President of Finance for Southern Medical Health Systems. The panelists included Dr. Anne-Laura Cook, Ambulatory Network Consultant/Hospitalist, Baptist Health System; Vanessa Pettway (TEMBA 2015), Region Operations Manager, Otsuka America Pharmaceutical; and Dr. Lisa Mani (MBA 2006) Physician-Consultant in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

TEMBA 2012 graduates Ben Paulk, Joshua Meeks and Allyson Welch at WLL event.

The panel discussion centered around the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and its impact across the healthcare industry.  In addition, the speakers addressed advanced innovations and new business models as methods for businesses to adapt in a very volatile market. The panel engaged the audience in a discussion on the “triple aim” of healthcare reform: decrease costs, improve outcomes and improve the patient experience. Finally, questions from the audience spurred the dialogue into many areas.

Audience members included alumni, prospective students, members of the Women’s Exchange, leaders from various industries and members of the EMBA staff. “This was a really great topic and the discussion comes at an opportune moment for everyone working in various sectors of the healthcare industry. It was very insightful,” said Joshua Meeks (TEMBA 2012), Director of Network Operations with Cigna-HealthSpring.

Tabitha Bostick, Mary Ellen Capps and Linda Brooks Geiss

Founded in 2011, the Women’s Leadership Luncheon is an annual event established by the Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA Program at the University of Alabama to bring professional women together to network and discuss business and leadership issues.

For more information on the Executive MBA Program or to schedule an interview or attend an upcoming event, please contact Cheryl Altemara at of 205.348.4501.

UA EMBA Celebrates 30 Years

30thAnniversarySince 1985, the Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA Program has been broadening our students’ horizons and inspiring professional and personal growth. In 30 years, our program has grown to include two locations – Tuscaloosa and Huntsville – and has educated over 800 professionals.

In celebration of 30 years of excellence, we will host several events throughout the year. Our kickoff celebration will be the Rooftop Reception at the new Renasant Bank in downtown Tuscaloosa on Friday, April 17, from 5 to 7 pm. At the reception, we will also be honoring Dr. Lonnie Strickland, strategy professor and one of the founders of the EMBA Program at the Culverhouse College of Commerce. With live entertainment and views of the Black Warrior River, this is sure to be a remarkable night of toasting to the EMBA Program’s 30 year anniversary. “We are looking forward to seeing our alumni, faculty, and staff return to Tuscaloosa and celebrate this great occasion,” said Associate Dean Brian Gray.

Next, we invite our EMBA alumni to join our 30th graduating class for brunch in the North Zone of Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, May 2, from 10-11:30 am. Come and meet the EMBA Class of 2015 at one of the most iconic locations on campus and enjoy the stunning scenery of the stadium as well as the Walk of Champions.
We will also host Family Day at the Tuscaloosa River Market on Sunday, June 14, from 4-7:30 pm. This will be a casual event for EMBA students, alumni, faculty, staff, and family. Join us for fun games such as Bingo and Corn Hole as well as barbeque, Steel City Pops, and a movie. You may even win a prize!

Other events will follow including an EMBA Alumni Network Tailgate during the 2015 football season along with our annual Women’s Leadership Luncheons in Birmingham on Wednesday, March 11, and Huntsville on Tuesday, April 7. Our 30th Anniversary events make this an exciting year full of opportunities to network, socialize, and celebrate.

The inaugural University of Alabama Executive MBA  – Class of 1986

With this landmark anniversary comes reflection and feelings of nostalgia. Pictured to the left is the Class of 1986 – the first of hundreds of Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA graduates.

Alumni, what are your favorite memories of your time in the EMBA program? Send us your stories and pictures to include in our Memory Book, a recollection of our first 30 years to be distributed at Family Day in June.

To RSVP for these events or to contribute to the memory book, please contact Donna Blackburn at or 205.348.8748.


For more information about the Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA, please contact Cheryl Altemara at 205.348.5401 or request information here.

EMBA Elite Spotlight: Alumni Network President Mike Ross

Mike RossMike Ross, the Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA Alumni Network President, also serves as Chief Commercial Officer and Eastern Region President of Renasant Bank. After earning his Bachelor of Science from the Culverhouse College of Commerce at The University of Alabama in 1986, he returned just a few years later to earn his Masters from our Executive MBA program in 1989. Mike believes that the program was critically important to his early advancement into senior and executive management. “The additional practice I gained through my course work gave me an early advantage over most of my peers in the industry from an early stage (I was a young 23 years old when I started the program!)” Mike said.

After his oldest son began his freshman year at The University of Alabama, Mike decided to run for UA EMBA Alumni Network President because he wanted to give more to his Alma Mater. As President, Mike plans to focus on enhancing participation and communication from his fellow alumni by hosting additional events for networking and reconnecting.

First up will be the kick off for the EMBA’s 30th Anniversary, a Rooftop Reception at the Renasant Bank in downtown Tuscaloosa on April 17.  “We are extremely excited to have Mr. Ross and Renasant Bank host our 30th Anniversary event at their new bank,” said Donna Blackburn, director of the EMBA Program.  “Showcasing our achievements since 1985, along with our alumni, students and corporate sponsors such as Renasant is an honor and we look forward to a grand evening.”

“To members of the Network,” Mike said, “please consider proactively reaching out to your classmates and encourage them to participate. We would welcome feedback from anyone as to how we can make the Alumni Network more attractive and beneficial to its members. Also, please send us any news as to major events, promotions, and/or career changes you have made. The success of our members in their lives and careers is the best indicator of the value of the program. The more we can help promote the success of our members, the more valuable all of our degrees become.”

“To prospective new students,” Mike continued, “the EMBA Program at the University of Alabama will change your life forever. The skills you will learn, the experiences you will encounter, and the work ethic that you will adopt will serve you and your families well for the rest of your life. If you have a desire to set yourself apart from your competition in the workplace, please consider submitting an application.”

For more information about the Executive MBA Program at The University of Alabama, contact Cheryl Altemara at 205.348.5401 or request information here.

2014 in review

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 2.56.05 PMHappy New Year to our followers and Bama fans.  We had an amazing 2014, welcoming our new Executive MBA classes in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa, celebrating the graduation of our EMBA Class of 2014, tailgating, connecting with alumni, showcasing companies, hearing great speakers and recruiting outstanding students.  Our visits to Santiago, Chile and Lima, Peru, and the breathtaking Machu Picchu, are some of the many moments we will never forget.

We are looking forward to 2015 as we celebrate our 30th Anniversary of the EMBA Program.  There are wonderful events being planned throughout the year and we look forward to having you join us to celebrate this milestone.  In addition, we will be reporting on recruiting events, showcasing our students and alumni, highlighting speakers, blogging about our upcoming trip to Panama and Colombia, and letting you get to know more about us, the EMBA staff and faculty.  Get ready for another AMAZING YEAR with the Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA at The University of Alabama.


Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,900 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

For more information on the UA EMBA Program, contact Cheryl Altemara at 205.348.4501, or

UA EMBA Welcomes T-EMBA Class of 2016

TEMBA 2016 Class PhotoThe Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA at The University of Alabama welcomed the Tuscaloosa-EMBA Class of 2016 at the Bryant Conference Center for orientation on Thursday, November 20.

TEMBA classmates Steve Grissett, Pritha Powell, Neil Morton and Stephen Burton
TEMBA classmates Steve Grissett, Pritha Powell, Neil Morton and Stephen Burton

UA EMBA staff introduced themselves and the program via informational sessions.  Incoming EMBAs got to know each other over team-building exercises, including the traditional scavenger hunt and the networking dinner with alumni hosted by the Executive MBA Alumni Network Board.
The new class of 26 students represents a diverse pool of industries; 12% from manufacturing, 16% energy/utilities, 16% retail/services, 12% defense, 12% finance, another 12% government, education, or nonprofit, and 12% technology/telecommunication, and 4% each in construction, and media.
The class reflects an assortment of job function areas including 38% in general management, 18% in engineering, 12% in marketing/sales, 12% in finance/accounting,  8% in MIS/IT, 4% each in business development and strategy, consulting, and operations.

TEMBA 31 orientation
Tommy Walker and Nate Hall discuss team values during the “Values and Team Charter” exercise at orientation.

In addition, this class includes 27% U.S. military veterans.  According to Jason Sellars, TEMBA 2016 student, and Assistant Director with The University of Alabama Office of Veterans Affairs, “The EMBA Program is one of the strongest military supporters on the UA campus.”


This class will join the Huntsville-EMBA class that began in August 2014 for their international trip in their final semester and will graduate together in May 2016.  This class is fortunate to have the opportunity to learn and grow alongside a cohort filled with talented and experienced professionals.

Please join us in welcoming TEMBA Class of 2016:

Patrick Briles, Wells Fargo Bank
Stephen Burton, Buckman Laboratories
Ben Caro, US Air Force
Joe Caubo, Mississippi Power Co.
Aaron Craddock, Randall-Reilly
Stefan Eitzinger, Drummond Co.
Paulo Gonzalez, Drummond Co.
Steve Grissett, Southern Research Institute
Nate Hall, Hubbard Properties
Cody Higgins, Social Security Administration
Jason Kennedy, KCI Crane Service
Josh King, WTI Transport
Neil Morton, Pradco Outdoor Brands
Crystal Mosley, M3 Accounting and Analytics
Pritha Powell, Regions Financial Corporation
Bradford Price, All-South Subcontractors Inc.
David Reiniger, The Boeing Company
Kimberly Rose, BBVA Compass
Jason Sellars, UA Office of Veteran Affairs
Beth Smith, Progress Rail Services
Joey Snowden, Enerfab Power and Industrial
Erik Spencer, Walter Energy
Michael Stanley, US Navy
Tom Thayer, FMG, Inc.
Josh Vinson, Verizon
Tommy Walker, Speedy Tire and Services

EMBA Alumni Network Hosts Conference

Ahmad Ijaz, Associate Director of the Center for Business and Economic Research & Director of Economic Forecasting, prepares for his presentation.

On Saturday, November 1, the Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA Alumni Network hosted the second annual EMBA Alumni Network Conference in Mary Hewell Alston Hall at The University of Alabama. The conference featured various informational sessions and updates on the EMBA program as well as the announcement of the newly-elected Alumni Network Board.

One benefit of becoming a Culverhouse EMBA alum is the option to accompany students, faculty, and staff during their annual international trip. Conference attendees learned the spring 2015 destinations: Panama City, Panama, and Bogotá, Colombia.

Session topics included Preparing to Face the Media, Alabama Economic Outlook, Promoting Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn, and Dealing with Difficult People. Kent Darzi, 2013-2014 Alumni Network President, shared updates and accomplishments with attendees, such as the network lunches in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Mobile, and Boston; their first annual tailgate reunion; and the creation of the website.

2014-2015 EMBA Alumni Network Board (L-R): Vice President Jennifer Thomas, President Michael Ross, Secretary-Treasurer Beckie Crawford, Communications Chair Ben Paulk, and Past President Kent Darzi

Please join us in congratulating the members of the 2014-2015 Alumni Network Board: President Michael Ross, EMBA 1989, Vice President Jennifer Thomas, TEMBA 2014, Secretary-Treasurer Beckie Crawford, TEMBA 2013, Communications Chair Ben Paulk, TEMBA 2012, and Past President Kent Darzi, HEMBA 2010.

The new Board has several fresh faces, but Ben Paulk and Kent Darzi are returning from the Network’s inaugural year. With Paulk and Darzi’s experience and the completed organizational infrastructure, the new Board has plenty of underlying support to put their plans into action. We are excited to witness the growth and prosperity of the Alumni Network. Under its new leadership, President Ross announced that the Board will engage in several initiatives, including the 30th anniversary of the Culverhouse Executive MBA.

For more information about the Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA Program at The University of Alabama, contact Cheryl Altemara at 205.348.4501 or request information here.

UA Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA Named Military Friendly School 2015


For the fifth year in a row, the UA Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA Program has been named a Military Friendly school by GI Jobs. “Schools that have earned the elite Military Friendly® designation have demonstrated a commitment to supporting student veterans on campus and in their careers,” according to the GI Jobs website. Last year, 25% of the Culverhouse EMBA graduating class had military experience.

GI Jobs is a magazine that works to provide veterans with a reliable education and employment resource to ease veterans’ transitions and connect them with career opportunities. The magazine also releases annual lists of military friendly employers, schools, and careers.

Factors considered in the Military Friendly school selection process include on-campus military support, credit acceptance, school offered tuition assistance, spouse and dependent benefits, and flexibility. The Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA program earned the highest scores in the school offered tuition assistance, flexibility, and on-campus military support categories.

For more information about the Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA at The University of Alabama, contact Cheryl Altemara at 205.348.4501 or request information here.

Celebrating the EMBA Alumni Network’s First Year

2014-2015 UA EMBA Alumni Network President Kent Darzi, Director of Engineering at ADTRAN, Inc.

With elections for the Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA Alumni Network board wrapping up on September 30 and his time as president drawing to a close, Kent Darzi, HEMBA 2010, proudly reflects on the Executive MBA Alumni Network’s initial year. “The EMBA Alumni Network provides an extensive system of support for alumni throughout the country, networking events, social gatherings for alumni and family and educational seminars,” said Darzi.  After building a solid foundation of logistics and infrastructure last year, Darzi is excited to see the UA EMBA Alumni Network continue to connect even more EMBAs and their families with each other and The University of Alabama.

Just like starting a business, chartering an organization demands a meticulous planning process. The founding Alumni Network Board litigated university permissions, bylaws, and other procedures, setting up the organization’s groundwork for years to come.

Kent Darzi with Tim Jett, TEMBA 2013, and Ben Paulk, TEMBA 2012, at the UA EMBA Alumni Network Tailgate

Not only did Darzi and the rest of the 2014 UA EMBA Alumni Network Board take care of the behind-the-scenes formalities, they also held multiple events, an EMBA Alumni Weekend last November, reunions in cities across Alabama, and a data mining session in Tuscaloosa.

Darzi is most proud of the tailgate that the Alumni Network hosted at the Alabama vs. Southern Miss game a few weeks ago, which was the perfect finale to his tenure as president.

Darzi is proud of the accomplishments that the Alumni Network has achieved in its startup year, but he is even more excited to see where it goes from here. With 797 alumni across the country and the globe, there is only room to grow. His advice to the new president: keep expanding the network from the ground up by facilitating communication.

Try to consider events that could bring the most alumni together. Plan around time zones to keep alumni active. While face-to-face interactions are the most desirable, communicating even when away from each other will only build alumni relationships. Take advantage of the chance to be creative now that the infrastructure is complete.

The newly elected 2015 UA Executive MBA Alumni Network Board will be announced in October and will be formally presented at the annual conference on November 1.

For more information about the Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA, contact Cheryl Altemara at 205.348.4501 or request information here.