Huntsman School of Business Award Recipients 2012

Teacher of the Year 

Ben Blau

Dr. Ben Blau graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi in June 2008 after receiving both his B.S. (Finance, 2002) and M.S. (Economics, 2005) from USU. At Ole Miss, Ben was granted the academic achievement award for his research productivity and performance in the classroom. In 2008-2009, Dr. Blau was a visiting assistant professor at Brigham Young University where he was recognized for outstanding undergraduate teaching. His research focuses on short-sale constraints, market efficiency and informed trading. His research has been published in a number of different journals including Financial Management, Journal of Corporate Finance, and the Journal of Risk and Insurance. Ben is excited about the direction of the Huntsman School and eager to be a part of it.

International Professor of the Year

Christopher Fawson

Professor Fawson arrived at Utah State University in the winter of 1990 and has taught economics and economic systems in the department of economics and finance for the past 21 years. During his tenure at Utah State University Dr. Fawson has served as Director of International Programs, Vice Provost for Academic and International Affairs, Department Head and Senior Associate Dean in the Huntsman School of Business. Professor Fawson has served as faculty mentor in the month-long interdisciplinary Design Thinking for Innovation program based in Leysin, Switzerland. In addition, he has been involved in designing and teaching the new Business by Design class that will be required of all business majors starting in the fall of 2012. Dr. Fawson is passionate about designing and delivering transformational learning experiences for students and has been a program leader for a variety of faculty-led international learning experiences. He is currently on sabbatical leave with the Charles Koch Foundation in Arlington, Virginia where he is working on business school and faculty research initiatives sponsored by the Foundation. His research interests cover a broad spectrum of applied research topics in public finance and development economics

Undergraduate Faculty Advisor 

Jack Peterson

Jack Peterson joined the Utah State University faculty in 1984. He played an integral part in the accreditation process for the School of Accountancy and was a member of the faculty when the School of Accountancy received the USU Faculty Award for Teaching in 2004. In addition, Mr. Peterson has taken the leadership role in designing the accounting classes for delivery in the off-site economics degree program in China. He has visited the teaching sites in China and worked closely with local facilitators and spent considerable time mentoring students.

Mr. Peterson is now the School of Accountancy Mission Committee chairman, leading an exhaustive and detailed review and reconsideration of the school’s mission and vision. As a member of the Ethics Committee for the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, Mr. Peterson contributes significantly, teaching his students the importance of moral courage. He recently chaired the committee to identify attributes appropriate for advancement for non-tenured lecturer positions in the School of Accountancy. He has provided distance education to various sites throughout Utah and surrounding areas and maintains his investment securities licenses as a registered representative, financial advisor and insurance agent in Utah.

Mr. Peterson has taught classes in financial accounting principles, managerial accounting principles, intermediate accounting, both graduate and undergraduate financial auditing, strategic cost management, insurance and risk management and auditing for the USU MBA Alliance program on the campus of Utah Valley University.

Mr. Peterson brings to the classroom a diverse wealth of knowledge from his career of 29 years as a certified public accountant. He was the managing partner of the CPA firm Peterson and Allred for most of those years. Mr. Peterson is an active member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Utah Association of Certified Public Accountants. He has also participated in several non-profit organizations such as the Logan City Light and Power advisory board for 15 years and the original organizing committee of the Utah Festival Opera company.

Mr. Peterson is married to Marsha Maughan, and they are the parents of two sons, Matthew and David. With a passion for reading, he constantly adds a variety of literary, inspirational, historical and other good books to his library. Between chapters, he enjoys the therapeutic wonders and consistently defying challenges of the greatest game ever created, golf.

Researcher of the Year

Diana Thomas

Dr. Diana Thomas is an assistant professor of Economics at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. A German native, she earned her Diploma in Business Administration from Fachhochschule Aachen and her BS in Finance from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Dr. Thomas returned to George Mason University to complete her MA and PhD in Economics in 2005. While in graduate school, she met her husband Michael who is also an economist at Utah State University.

Her primary fields of research are in the areas of public choice, development economics, and Austrian Economics. In her work, Dr. Thomas explores the role political entrepreneurs' play in changing the formal and informal rules that govern economic exchange and society more generally. She has published papers on the regulation of late medieval German beer markets, informal property rights institutions among taxi cab drivers in Trujillo, Peru, and the Aggie Blue Bikes program at USU.

Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year

Tyler Brough

 Dr. Tyler J. Brough is an Assistant Professor of Finance in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. Dr. Brough earned a PhD in Finance at the University of Arizona in 2010, an MS in Finance at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2004, and a BS in Economics at Brigham Young University in 2000. He teaches Corporate Finance and Derivatives Markets to undergraduates, and Derivatives Markets and Computational Methods to graduate students in the Master of Science in Financial Economics program. His research interests are in empirical market microstructure, applied econometrics, and computational methods.

CEA Employee of the Year

Mary Price

Mary Price has worked for Utah State University for the past 14 years. She currently is the assistant director of education for The Shingo Prize. Previously, she was the administrative assistant for the dean of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business. Ms. Price graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in business with a minor in personal financial planning from Utah State University in December 2007. Ms. Price grew up in Cache Valley, Utah. She married her high school sweetheart, Sage, and they have three children. In her spare time, she loves to read, watch movies, dance and spend time with her family.


New Professional Advisor of the Year

Paige Geslin

Paige Geslin has worked at Utah State University since 1988, first with Physical Plant in personnel before joining the Huntsman School of Business in the Internship Department. She worked part-time as the internship coordinator for many years prior to fulfilling the role of internship director. As internship director, she was able to join the Huntsman Scholars on their first year excursion; she also visited China where she set up and maintained internships in Asia. After a brief leave of absence, Paige returned to the Huntsman School of Business in the role of assessment manager, and then became a full-time academic advisor in November 2010. Paige enjoys helping students achieve their career and academic goals.

Paige is married to Michael Geslin, and has two sons and a daughter-in-law. She enjoys traveling, running/fitness, and reading in her free time.

Scholar of the Year/Valedictorian

Jill Aoki

Jill Aoki graduated with honors from Utah State University in December 2011. She tripled majored in accounting, finance, and economics and minored in international business. Jill is continuing her education at USU and will finish her Master of Accounting (MAcc) in December 2012. In addition to maintaining a 4.0 GPA at USU, Jill has been involved in a number of extracurricular activities. She has served as president of the school’s internationally recognized accounting honor society, Beta Alpha Psi. She is a School of Accountancy Quigley Ambassador and a member of the Huntsman Scholars Program. Jill participated in study abroad programs in Asia and Europe. She has also volunteered in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program sponsored by the IRS.

Since her freshman year, Jill has created supplementary materials for, a free online accounting textbook developed by USU Professor Larry Walther that receives millions of hits every month. After her sophomore year, Jill interned in the financial reporting division of the Walt Disney Studios in California. Jill recently interned with Ernst & Young, and she will join the Big Four firm’s assurance practice in Salt Lake City full time next year.

Jill grew up in Farmington, Utah, and graduated from Davis High School. Her goals include becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) and learning Japanese. Jill’s interests include photography, scrapbooking, and visiting Disney theme parks.


PEA Employee of the Year

Jacob Raymer

Jacob Raymer is The Shingo Prize’s director of education at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. The Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence is regarded as the premier operational excellence award and recognition program in the world with Business Week dubbing The Shingo Prize as “The Nobel Prize of Manufacturing.”

In his current position, Mr. Raymer oversees the development of the framework and architecture of The Shingo Prize learning management system. He is also deeply involved in the creation of lean course-work, simulations, and workshops. Mr. Raymer leads the development and training of Shingo examiners and their understanding of the Shingo model and guidelines. He was part of the development team that refined the current Shingo model and continues research and application of the model for continuous improvement. Mr. Raymer has trained numerous individuals and various companies about the lean transformation that occurs by applying the Shingo model and its principles, he has taught in various industries including defense, automotive, food and chemical processing, healthcare, and others.

Mr. Raymer is a member of the National Oversight and Appeals Committee for the Lean Certification program that was created by The Shingo Prize, AME, and SME. In this capacity, he actively participates in the development of the certification program and review of candidates.

As a certified instructor for the Air Force Smart Operations (AFSO21), he has trained several lean facilitators throughout United States Air Force Europe (USAFE) in England, Germany, and Italy. His passion for lean has helped these groups navigate through their lean transformation.

As a lean motivational speaker, Mr. Raymer shows organizations that true innovation is not achieved by superficial imitation or the isolated, random use of lean tools and techniques and systems (“know how”), but instead requires the “know why” — i.e., an understanding of underlying principles. By blending his real-life stories and seven years of Shingo site visit assessments, Mr. Raymer educates, motivates, and entertains— delivering solutions audiences can use right away.

Mr. Raymer received a master’s degree in business information systems with an emphasis in instructional technology from Utah State University. His research has been focused on behavior analysis and cultural transformation by embedding guiding principles into organizations. Mr. Raymer has also keynoted at various conferences and universities on lean transformation and mapping organizational culture.

Legacy of Utah State

Blake Nemelka

Blake Nemelka is a senior majoring in marketing, business administration and international business. He will be graduating Magma Cum Laude in May 2012. Upon graduation, Blake will be entering the M.Ed. Higher Education Administration program at the Peabody College at Vanderbilt University (nation’s #1 ranked Graduate School of Education by US News & World Report 2008-2012). He plans to become a university researcher, professor and administrator in the areas of education administration, marketing and continuous improvement.
Blake is from Riverton, Utah where he graduated from Riverton High School Summa Cum Laude in 2006. He came to Utah State on the full tuition & fees University Ambassador scholarship and was recruited to play for the USU NCAA Men’s Tennis Team his Freshmen year. After serving a two-year LDS mission to Lima, Peru, Blake continued his involvement with Utah State by serving as a USU Ambassador (President of the Organization 2011-2012), member of the Student Giving Committee (President of the Organization 2011-2012) and member of the Huntsman Scholars Program (both as a Scholar and Mentor). He has enjoyed a variety of campus employment positions including: student researcher, undergraduate teaching fellow, intern to the Stephen R. Covey Group and intern to the Vice President of Student Services.

Blake enjoys spending time with his wife Staci Burgon Nemelka. They met as student Ambassadors on a USU recruiting trip. She is a graduate of Utah State and finishes her education to become a Registered Nurse through the Utah State/Weber State program in May 2012. They are expecting their first child in June 2012. Blake enjoys continuing his education, playing tennis and playing golf. He and his family are Aggies through and through!

Undergraduate Teaching Fellow of the Year

Kyle Call

Kyle Austin Call was born and raised in Layton, Utah, where he attended Layton High School. While attending Layton High he became involved with the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) club, where he served as an officer and won third place in state, with his team, in the Entrepreneurship competition. It was here that Kyle became interested in the world of business. After high school Kyle attended Utah State University and earned an Associates of Science in General Studies before leaving to Australia for two years as a service volunteer. Upon arriving home from Australia, Kyle continued at Utah State attending the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business majoring in Entrepreneurship with a minor in Operations Management. For the summer of 2011, Kyle was chosen as an intern for the SEED program and left to work in Uganda, Africa, for 12 weeks. Kyle will graduate with his Bachelors degree at the end of the summer semester 2012. His career goals are to receive a Masters degree, Doctorate degree, work in industry for many years and then become a professor.

Undergraduate Researcher of the Year - Joshua Blume

Joshua Blume was born in Ogden Utah in 1990, but raised most of his life in Utah County. During his 9th grade year of High School he studied abroad in Germany for 10 months where he learned to speak fluent German. A month before he graduated from High School he received his Associate’s of Arts degree from Utah Valley University. Directly afterwards he came up to Utah State as a Huntsman Scholar Candidate and Research Fellow, his drive for learning led him to meet great students and professors at USU and he was able to start and present a research project his Freshman year. At the end of his freshman year he travelled to Asia with the Huntsman Scholar program and directly thereafter served a religious mission in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario. After returning he went directly back to USU where he was supported as a Huntsman Scholar to go to Europe and learn more about global businesses and international trade.

Graduate Assistant of the Year

Sterling Morris

Sterling Morris is completing the final semester of his master’s degree in management information systems at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business where he also earned two bachelor’s degrees – one in economics and one in international business.

During Sterling’s time as an undergraduate student, he was a Hansen Scholar, Huntsman Scholar, and Koch Scholar. He appeared on the Dean’s List every semester as a Huntsman School student. He was also a supplemental instructor, an active Utah State University Honors Program participant, and was nominated for and selected as a Writing Fellow.

As an International Business major, Sterling tested out of 40 language credits in three foreign languages and broadened his global vision by visiting and studying on four continents and in 14 countries. This international experience caught the attention of Microsoft. He was selected out of more than 30,000 applicants to be featured in a Microsoft Office 2010 commercial that highlighted his work with an eyeglass clinic in Peru.

Sterling’s passion for social media fueled much of his research as both an undergraduate and graduate student. He began his research by investigating social media communication techniques and characteristics of all of the more than 480 AACSB accredited business schools in the U.S. where he eventually submitted an article ranking each business school’s performance on social media to BizEd¬.

He used many of the techniques he discovered in his research in developing the Huntsman School’s social media presence in his position as Director of Social Media where the Huntsman School now competes with top business schools in the nation and world. The Huntsman School’s current 5,100+ Facebook followers and its 9,000+ Twitter followers place it ahead of business schools including Stanford, Dartmouth, Northwestern, Yale, Cornell, and USC.

Mr. Morris co-founded – a software company whose goals include to measure the influence politicians have online and to provide software that helps politicians and political candidates optimize their online presence. PoliticIt was selected as one of five top startups in the nation by Intel.

Sterling Morris has applied to and been accepted into Ph.D. programs in instructional systems technology including two of the top five in the nation – Indiana University at Bloomington and Utah State University. Upon graduating, Mr. Morris plans to invest much of his energy in where he hopes to gain knowledge and provide value in the areas of social media, data analytics, and politics.