Collins College of Business

Business students team up with local firms and nonprofit organizations

Students in The University of Tulsa’s Collins College of Business regularly share their expertise with companies and nonprofits in Tulsa and surrounding communities. These projects not only give the students real-world experience, they also help local businesses and nonprofits find creative solutions to expand their brands and better reach consumers.

Professor Charles Wood wearing a green shirt and smiling
Professor Charles Wood

Professor of Marketing Charles Wood believes that hands-on experience is a valuable tool for learning about the world of marketing. “The purpose of all of these collaboration projects is for students to apply concepts they learn in class to real-world settings,” Wood said. “For an applied discipline such as marketing, real learning occurs best when students are required to synthesize and experientially use theories and concepts in new contexts.”

Dee Harris of Tulsa’s Family and Children Service Center worked with TU business students in both the spring and summer semesters. “Professor Wood’s classes are the perfect example of balancing student learning with community need,” she said. “I’m thrilled to be a partner in real-world learning as it invigorates students and provides nonprofits with a new perspective about our marketing and communication plans. I always look forward to collaborating with students and enjoy watching them discover, create and solve.”

Integrated Marketing Communication

A potent example of this university-and-community engagement arose in the spring 2020 Integrated Marketing Communication course. In this course, undergraduate students formed teams and worked with seven local nonprofit and for-profit organizations. At the beginning of the project, representatives of the organizations came to campus multiple times to check-in with the students’ progress and provide assistance where needed. Then, once the COVID-19 pandemic altered the semester plans, the meetings between student groups and their organizations continued, albeit online.

Despite the unexpected transition to online classes, the students and their companies maintained a close working relationship that promoted growth for both parties. The student teams developed and managed a full Google AdWords campaign to help their clients achieve their goals. A local social media expert, Joe Hart, came to these sessions and supported the teams throughout the semester.

Consumer Behavior

During the summer, community engagement continued, but this time with graduate students. A consultancy brief project in the master of business administration (MBA) Consumer Behavior course paired small groups of students with 10 local companies including Scoops Rolls and Creamery, Runners World and Marshall Brewing. Each group of students listened to their partner-firm’s concerns and developed personalized plans to meet their needs.

For the summer course, Wood explained, “the only selection criteria provided was that the business be locally owned. Students were encouraged to choose their own clients based on what they believed was the organization’s potential and clear need for some advice and assistance, meet with the owners and then proceed from there.”

All the groups delivered potential aids to the companies, including ideas about better use of social media, customer loyalty programs, community engagement, retail layout improvements, partnerships, branding and promotions.

Danny Donley smiling and wearing a blue polo shirt
Danny Donley, MBA student

One student in the MBA course, Danny Donley, said of the summer experience: “The chance to work hands-on with a real company in our community that is struggling a little extra because of the COVID-19 pandemic was a tremendous experience. My team worked with a small massage therapy company and helped use our knowledge and research to immediately revitalize the company’s marketing strategy and reach. We had the opportunity to put creative ideas into action to test our own skills while benefiting a local firm, which is rewarding in two ways.”


A business degree from TU will bring you in contact with faculty members at the forefront of their fields who are excellent teachers as well as scholars. Learn about this vibrant, welcoming community.

Students reflect on life-changing opportunities during Internship Awareness Month

April is Internship Awareness Month, and although campus is closed, the TU Business Career Center is still actively working to help students make connections that can turn into internships, and possibly even careers.

Leonelle Thompson, director of the Business Career Center in the Collins College of Business, said that the graduating class of 2020 has demonstrated its tenacity and drive to secure internships. Many of these students completed internships that have promised exciting career opportunities upon graduating, including Muneed Yousufi and Lauren Milburn.

Yousufi is an energy management and finance senior
Yousufi is an energy management and finance senior

Yousufi is an energy management and finance senior as well as president of the Tulsa Energy Management Student Association. He’s had multiple internships during his time at TU, including the summer after my sophomore year when he interned as a business analyst for Waterfield Energy Software in Tulsa, now known as W Energy Software. This past summer, Yousufi interned for Encana Oil and Gas (now Ovintiv) in Denver, Colorado. “I was a land negotiator intern and helped design a digital dashboard for the company,” he explained.

These internships have not only prepared Yousufi for what he will experience post-graduation, but they have also led to lasting friendships.

He’s quick to acknowledge the university’s help in creating the opportunity. “TU offers resources, such as mock interviews, resume and cover letter advice, workshops on life after college, and Handshake,” he said. “All these resources, if utilized properly, can help set expectations for work after college and how you should navigate that area.” Using these tools, he made connections at the business fair that resulted in his internships.

For Lauren Milburn, a computer information systems senior, her internship with Chick-Fil-A Corporate in Atlanta, Georgia, turned into a full-time business analyst job offer.

Looking back on her internship experience, Milburn had nothing but great things to say about her summer in Georgia. “It was an incredible summer of growth as an IT intern,” she said, “And now, I’m overflowing in admiration for Chick-fil-A’s roots, vision and corporate purpose. I worked on meaningful projects on a staff-facing team. My work ended up being a really good balance of both consulting and technical, and my intern coach made me feel so welcomed and loved. My favorite part of it all was building relationships across the departments and experiencing first-hand what makes Chick-fil-A so different.”

Lauren Milburn, a computer information systems senior
Lauren Milburn, a computer information systems senior

Milburn came to TU with expectations of becoming a mechanical engineer but realized that was not the route she wanted to pursue, despite her love for serving students at the Little Light House through Make a Difference Engineering (MADE at TU) projects. Eventually, after personal exploration and support and guidance from professors, CIS became Milburn’s home and she never looked back.

While both Yousufi and Millburn’s successful time at TU is coming to a close under unusual circumstances in the midst of the COVID-19 virus pandemic, both seniors are optimistic.

Yousufi said that the times we are experiencing are certainly uncommon, but unfortunately inevitable. Although his senior year is ending off-campus, his hope rests in the future. “Being a senior during this strange time is certainly not the most ideal situation to be in, but it is important to keep in mind that times like this will not last forever, just as good times will not last forever,” he said. “This will be over eventually, and we should keep looking to the future while making the most of what we have in the present.”

Milburn echoed similar thoughts, saying that although her extraverted personality seeks to adventure and explore, she’s found a new perspective and is making the most of the free time she’s gained to start a small business that encourages others. “One of my recent projects has been making bracelets out of recycled pennies,” she said. “A penny appears very ordinary and worthless, but repurposing them challenges me to find worth and joy in the little things, choosing to live for something bigger than myself. I’m partnering with Tulsa’s Little Light House to sell the bracelets, promoting their organization and donating 50% of profits back to them.” If you’d like to support Lauren’s mission, the bracelets are available here.

Reflecting one last time on the impact TU and internships have made on her life, Milburn summarized it best: “TU provides students an outlet to pursue passions, change trajectory along the way, become a leader, improve communication skills, interact with a very diverse student body and foster deep relationships. I can’t wait to see what the future holds and can attribute any and all opportunities to my university and the incredible relationships fostered here. I can’t wait to serve as a University Ambassador even post-graduation, continuing to share my TU story and the immense impact it has on my life. Go women in STEM, Eat Mor Chikin, and Reign ‘Cane!”

Online MBA to Begin Fall 2020

The University of Tulsa is launching an exclusive online master’s degree in business administration (MBA), beginning fall 2020.

The program complements TU’s current MBA degree options. Once it launches in a few months, TU will offer three MBA tracks: the full-time cohort, the part-time MBA for working professionals and the online-only version that will include similar coursework. The online version is only available for part-time enrollment, but is expected to expand its reach in the future.

Ashley Chapa, director of marketing and student services in the Collins College of Business, said the program’s online offering can share the wealth of TU.
“I’m excited about launching the online MBA because it gives the community at-large a chance to experience the great things we have at TU,” she said. “From incredible professors with a lot of experience and valuable backgrounds, to the peer-to-peer learning and all the other aspects of a TU education that make us unique, there’s a lot of great things that we will get to share with more people now.”

Ben Holman, who will teaching a finance class in the first iteration of the online program, said it can benefit TU. “This program lowers obstacles of accessibility that will allow professionals in our region and beyond access to established TU resources that can help advance their careers. In addition, implementation of the online program includes a fresh view to delivering courses in a more focused, time-sensitive platform.”

TU mourns loss of Chairman Emeritus David R. Lawson

With sadness, The University of Tulsa announces that friend and Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees David R. Lawson passed away Feb. 12. For decades, Dave and his wife, Leslie, have been major figures of guidance, support and inspiration at TU, and the entire TU family shares their family’s grief.

Dave was a TU Distinguished Alumnus (BS ’70, Accounting) who built a standout career in finance and banking, beginning with Arthur Andersen and ultimately retiring as President and Chief Executive Officer of Capital One Auto Finance, Inc. (Dave once shared that he had chosen his accounting major based on the flashy Corvette driven by one of his father’s business associates – an accountant.)

Dave and Leslie Lawson
Dave Lawson with wife Leslie

Dave joined The University of Tulsa Board of Trustees in 1989 and served on several key committees before serving as Chairman from 2008 to 2012. Under his leadership, we completed the implementation of our campus Master Plan, grew our programs with nearly 30 new degree options, admitted some of the most accomplished freshman classes in TU history and raised $698 million during the Embrace the Future campaign. Earlier in his service to TU, Dave had served as president of our Alumni Association (1982-88) and twice as president of the Golden Hurricane Club.

Dave and Leslie have been deeply committed allies of TU and Golden Hurricane Athletics, with more than 200 gifts to their credit. Among these, they established The David and Leslie Lawson Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship for the Collins College of Business; The David and Leslie Lawson Family Foundation Trustees Scholarship Endowment Fund for the Collins College of Business; The Gayle and Emilee Lawson Endowed Presidential Scholarship Fund; and The David R. & Leslie L. Lawson Endowed Presidential Scholarship Fund.

The couple’s most recent giving had focused on our nursing program – a direct reflection of their experience dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease, a diagnosis that affects about 5½ million Americans a year – including Dave. Leslie, Dave and their family met this challenge with strength and dignity. To honor the professionals who helped them and to help prepare future generations of nurses, in 2017 Leslie and her family established The Lawson Family Nursing Simulation Center and Skills Laboratory and The Natalie Lawson Dooley Endowed Scholarship in Nursing.

Our hearts are with Leslie and their three children, Clint Lawson (BS Marketing ’94), Natalie Dooley (BS Nursing ’94), and Matthew Lawson.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, February 23 at Sharp Chapel.