Sphere of Influence

Bauer College Centers & Specialty Programs Connect Academia to Industry

Bauer College has more than a dozen faculty-led centers, institutes and specialty programs that prepare students through experiential learning while serving as a resource for business. The convergence sparks forward momentum for both, expanding Bauer’s sphere of influence while encouraging connectivity.

Here, we profile several such centers and programs, highlighting Bauer research that is driving forward industry innovation.

Students have access to live financial data in a fully functioning trading laboratory at AIM, a priceless immersive experience that distinguishes Bauer graduates when they enter the professional world full time.

“Finance is about data and ideas,” said Tom George, finance professor, senior associate dean and director of AIM. “The AIM Center gives students and faculty access to state of the art financial and economic data, and it is a place where they can share ideas about how to analyze investment and portfolio strategies. Most top universities have a facility like this because digging into the data and analyzing real questions is how best to learn financial analysis.”

This year, AIM added 10 Bloomberg machines, which enables the finance department to add a course in Quantitative Portfolio Management. The AIM Center is home to the Cougar Investment Fund.

LEARN MORE: AIM Center for Investment Management →

Extensive professional development opportunities are offered through this wide-reaching organization, now housed within Bauer College.

In the past five years, Bauer faculty have served as DSI president (twice), executive director, associate editors of the institute’s academic journal Decision Sciences, national committee chairs, session chairs, and research presenters.

Through attendance at the DSI Annual Doctoral Consortium, Ph.D. students receive valuable career training and professional networking opportunities with leading researchers and educators in the field.

“DSI’s location within Bauer College provides international visibility and recognition for Bauer’s commitment to scholarly excellence and leadership in the decision science disciplines,” Professor Powell Robinson said.

LEARN MORE: Decision Sciences Institute →

Houston real estate professionals created and lead this practice-based program designed to offer students practical real estate knowledge through classes, mentorships, internships, scholarships and more.

Undergraduate and graduate students have the opportunity to collaborate with industry veterans as they navigate areas of real estate ranging from development and construction to finance and investment.

With endowment support from the Stanford and Joan Alexander Foundation, the Stanford Alexander Center for Excellence in Real Estate complements the academic curriculum of the Bauer College Real Estate Program through partnerships with professional real estate organizations and an Innovative Practice Award Program that brings together graduate students and real estate professionals to produce a report for an annual symposium.

LEARN MORE: Bauer Real Estate Program →

Executive Director George Gamble and Director Craig Clayton share research-driven knowledge about the impact of cultural factors on an organization.

Hands-on workshops provide an experiential forum for working through roadblocks based on ethnic, racial, or gender-based differences, (as well as others) that keep organizations and individuals from reaching their potential. IDCCM also provides services for businesses and other groups looking to expand marketplace diversity or wanting to conduct specialized research.

LEARN MORE: International Institute for Diversity & Cross Cultural Management →

The institute focuses on research that leverages the scholarship in marketing and decision-making to help generate insights on ways to maximize the health and wellness of the consumers/patients while maintaining the economic vitality in the health care industry.

Professor Partha Krishnamurthy, the Conn Appliances Fellow of Marketing, serves as the director of the institute. He notes that the faculty associated with the institute work and publish on a wide range of health-related topics including cancer screening, pain management, coping strategies for cancer survivorship, detection and reduction of HIV/STI, and understanding engagement with psychotherapy. The faculty of the institute have expertise in strategic and behavioral science aspects of health care consumption and delivery. In addition, they have experience in generating insights from statistical analysis of large health-related data sets including Epic®, one of the most widely used electronic health records platform.

LEARN MORE: Institute for Health Care Marketing →

Led by noted economist Robert W. “Bill” Gilmer, Bauer’s Institute for Regional Forecasting (IRF) isn’t necessarily a Houston “think tank” — rather, it’s Houston’s “do tank,” says Bauer College Dean Latha Ramchand.

Gilmer is the leading economist in Houston and the Gulf Coast when it comes to analyzing and interpreting regional business cycles that influence everything from real estate prices to employment demand in a variety of sectors. Under his leadership, IRF produces sought after economic forecasts.

Twice-yearly economic symposiums are attended by several hundred listeners representing businesses and municipalities from across the Houston area. Typically sell-out events, the luncheon and slide shows have maintained their reputation as an essential source of business intelligence for three decades. IRF also produces targeted forecasts for the public and private sector.

LEARN MORE: Institute for Regional Forecasting →

SEI sets the standard for sales research and education, with faculty who are the most widely published authors in the discipline, contributing 45 percent of all Tier 1 published sales research in the last 10 years.

Bauer serves as a model for other universities wanting to build a sales program, and SEI is instrumental in developing future sales leaders.

A recent endowment from Mattress Firm’s Executive Chairman Stephen Stagner will contribute to scholarships and funding for technology for a new class in digital selling. Another endowment, from Industrial Air Tool former president Andy Gessner and wife Barbara, will allow students to compete in additional sales competitions across the country. The couple is also funding awards for students who are the top sellers in their respective sales classes and trips to corporate headquarters for key account selling students. SEI hosts or is involved with The National Collegiate Sales Competition, State Farm Competition, and internal sales competitions for individual companies, which result in potential scholarships.

Executive Education further enhances SEI’s impact within the community, which provides specialized training opportunities for client companies and their sales teams. SEI is committed to collaboration that helps build value in many business sectors, said executive director Randy Webb: “Our mission is to make a difference in the world of ideas, in the lives of our students, and in our college, university, and communities.”

LEARN MORE: Stephen Stagner Sales Excellence Institute →

The institute is a leading venue for education and research related to the energy industry. Designed to both support and build upon on the deep energy knowledge base in Houston, GEMI is an active and dynamic conduit between industry and academia.

Students from certificate programs, as well as the undergraduate program (Global Energy Management) and specialized MBA (Global Energy Executive MBA) programs benefit from industry round-tables and symposia, and engage with faculty leaders with deep ties to the energy industry.

In 2016, Bauer’s energy management institute received a naming gift from energy executive Joe Gutierrez, a 2014 alumnus of the Bauer Executive MBA program. The gift has bolstered GEMI offerings by funding research initiatives and program support.

LEARN MORE: Gutierrez Energy Management Institute →

Aspiring and existing entrepreneurs get the tools they need to carry out their dreams at SBDC, which is an off-campus Bauer College program.

SBDC delivers its value via affordable workshops and no-cost advising services designed to meet specific needs – from developing a business plan, to applying for disaster aid, to developing a marketing strategy or reaching out to international markets.

The UH Bauer College SBDC is one of the 15 business advising and training centers that make up the Texas Gulf Coast SBDC Network, which serves 32 counties in Southeast Texas.

The center’s new executive director, Dr. Steven Lawrence, says expanded small business growth in the fields of health care and technology, and the business development opportunities provided by the UH Innovation Center are among the areas he plans to target. Lawrence also plans to look for new ways to utilize Bauer students and other resources the college offers.

LEARN MORE: UH Small Business Development Center →

Business creation empowers students at the Wolff Center — from students across campus who enroll with big ideas, to undergraduate majors who receive extensive mentoring while following a lockstep curriculum and graduate students charged with managing an early stage venture fund.

The center also serves students involved with technology startups through its RED Labs program and supports social entrepreneurship programs such as SURE™, Stimulating Urban Renewal Through Entrepreneurship, and the Prison Entrepreneurship Program.

In 2007, longtime Houston philanthropists Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff announced a naming gift for the center that has since become nationally ranked by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur, landing on the top 10 list of undergraduate entrepreneurship programs in the United States for the last decade.

“We want to encourage, empower, and give students the tools and networks that enable them to create successful businesses,” said Ed Blair, Michael J. Cemo professor and department chair for the marketing and entrepreneurship department. “We also want to make a difference in our communities. If nothing else, the students who go on to start businesses will be employers, not employees. Roughly 70 percent of new job creation in the U.S. comes from entrepreneurial businesses, and we want our students and alumni to be part of that story.”

LEARN MORE: Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship →

Bauer’s recognized supply chain program stays connected to industry through SCF, which offers continuing education, roundtables, and other opportunities for students and professionals to exchange up-to-date information from the field.

Students benefit from relevant curriculum that connects to current job offerings, and find support through internships, scholarships and other career preparation tools.

The Supply Chain Forum Case Competition gives undergraduate, graduate and MBA students an opportunity to show off skills through the analysis of actual case studies.

LEARN MORE: Supply Chain Forum →

The SURE™ Program creates a three-way partnership between students, business thought leaders and current or aspiring entrepreneurs from under-resourced communities in the Houston area.

The program gives University of Houston students, including Bauer MBAs, the opportunity to hone soft skills by managing projects, developing client relationships, and learning to manage and motivate others. The students provide business consulting to entrepreneurs in the program, sharing what they’ve learned in the classroom, and participate in a weekly symposium class, learning from and networking with subject matter experts.

Founding Director Saleha Khumawala, the Robert Grinaker Professor of Accounting, envisioned the program as a unique opportunity for students to gain marketplace skills while simultaneously stimulating economic growth in underserved communities. SURE™ partners with large corporations and individuals and has been instrumental in the education of more than 500 local entrepreneurs and the creation of nearly 100 local businesses.


Centers Border



Jessica Navarro


Julie Bonnin
Tedric Breed (BBA ’13)
Wendell Brock
Dan and Carol Crumrine
C. Gregory Harper (MBA ’97)
Robert E. King
Joe W. Martin (BBA ’76)
Jessica Navarro (BA ’07, MA ’12)
Amanda Sebesta
Hilario “Eli” Yanez-Puentes (BBA ’17)


Kaelyn Williams


Nicki Evans


Charlie Propst (BA ’10)


Brandon Moeller
Marla Molony


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