MBA Archives - Collins College of Business


Business alumna shares insights on health care leadership

Collins College of Business alumna Kate (Flavin) McKinley (BSBA ’98, MBA ’00) is making great strides in the world of health care. Appointed chief executive officer of Elevar Therapeutics in July 2021, McKinley first joined the company in 2019 as chief commercial officer to lead its global commercial, medical affairs, business development, manufacturing, supply chain, alliance management and corporate communications functions.

Headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, Elevar Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing treatments for cancer patients who have limited therapeutic options. Such cutting-edge work calls for impeccable leadership. Fortunately for Elevar, being an effective leader is McKinley’s specialty.

Woman smiling for professional headshot
Kate McKinley

McKinley brings her executive attributes to the highest level and recently gave the inside scoop on being CEO and what she admired most about her time at TU.

How long have you worked in the health care sector? What made you decide to pursue the business side of the field?

I have been in health care since I graduated with my MBA more than 20 years ago! I am frequently asked why I do what I do, and it comes down to two passions of mine: building high-performing teams and the opportunity to serve patients.

What aspects of being CEO of Elevar Therapeutics do you most enjoy? What projects are you most eager to work on?

I am very grateful to have the opportunity to work with and learn from my executive leadership team and the rest of my colleagues at Elevar. We are very busy building the company, hiring and retaining high performers and subject matter experts and ensuring a culture of accountability, bravery, collaboration and trust.

We have approximately six programs in clinical development for multiple solid tumor indications in oncology. The three furthest along are ovarian cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma – liver cancer and adenoid cystic carcinoma – and head and neck cancer. I am excited for upcoming meetings with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding these three programs as I believe we have the opportunity to seriously impact cancer patients’ lives. We are meeting with the FDA on clinical development guidance and new drug application timing soon. It’s exciting work!

Work environments everywhere have evolved to adapt to the pandemic. What changes in health care efficacy and efficiency have you found most notable pre- to post-pandemic?

The growth in telemedicine and on-demand health care due to COVID-19 has exploded and is not poised to stop. My hope is this will lead to patients being more proactive in seeking care and not waiting too long to advocate for their needs.

Additionally, many companies have found they can be even more productive in a remote work environment and attract and retain top-tier talent. This also does not seem poised to stop as companies are seeking ways to ensure their employees remain connected to their mission and each other while leveraging the productivity benefits of remote work.

You received both your bachelor’s and master’s degrees at TU. After you completed your undergraduate degree, what made you decide to continue your education at TU? Did you have any professors that were especially influential?

The University of Tulsa’s business college offers fantastic programs. I am so glad I chose to pursue both undergrad and graduate degrees there. My TU education and experiences helped shape my entire life.

I was driven to continue my business education and pursue my MBA at TU for several reasons, some of which were the personalized education I received during my undergraduate years and the opportunity to experience hands-on learning. The internships and leadership opportunities offered throughout campus life and the flexible scheduling that allowed me to work full time and obtain my MBA were all huge components in my decision to continue my education at TU.

I had so many fantastic professors that impacted my education. One experience that stands out to me is a research project I conducted with Dr. Ralph Jackson. Our project consisted of analyzing the future impact of the wellness movement on health care delivery. It truly sparked an interest in me to pay attention to trends and always be considering how they may influence the future.

“On team projects, Kate would be the person to lead the team. She had a great sense of humor and a ready smile. She worked hard but seemed to balance that with the ability to enjoy life and enjoy her friends. Kate was a person who seemed to me to be destined for great things. She’s a great example for our current students.” – Professor Emeritus Ralph Jackson

Being CEO must be a huge undertaking. When you can get away from those responsibilities, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Throughout my career, I have been a huge proponent for work-life balance and ensuring a healthy approach to work and life. I enjoy being active with my husband, Paul, and my very active son, Grayson. We take advantage of the outdoor lifestyle available where we live in Southern California – lots of walks, bike rides, games and picnics outside. Additionally, we love the mountains and visit in both the winter and summer months.

I also serve as board secretary to Mary’s Path – Changing Two Lives at a Time, one of only four short-term residential facilities in California for pregnant and parenting youths and their children. We provide aid, options and opportunities for parenting youths ages 12 to 21. The majority of residents arrive from foster care and have been trafficked by someone they know, so I am very passionate about improving the lives of these young women.

What advice do you have for recent MBA graduates with an interest in joining the health care sector?

Health care in the United States is close to 20% of the GDP. The need for and opportunities in the sector continue to grow for numerous reasons, including the aging of the baby boomers and rapid advances in health technology. This represents significant growth opportunities in health care delivery, business, technology and administration. In sum, we need more people and intelligent minds to helps us pursue these opportunities!

TU and the Collins College of Business have a deep network in health care, and I highly recommend MBA students optimize connections with current students, professors and alumni. Additionally, LinkedIn is a fantastic resource and joining groups such as the Healthcare Industry Professionals Group is a valuable ways to network, learn about the advancements and needs within health care and to participate in the discussion.

Interested in learning more about the career-focused MBA programs offered through the Collins College of Business? Check out all the superb options!

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.

TU, Noodle Partners team up to offer online degrees

The University of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s highest-ranked national university, is launching an online MBA and elevating its online master’s in cybersecurity with Noodle Partners, the fastest-growing online program manager.

Increasingly, adult learners are opting for programs that fit their busy lives. TU is working to improve the accessibility of their programs by meeting those students where they are — online.

The online MBA offers a part-time option to prepare students for career advancement in the private and public sectors as well as for positions of leadership and responsibility in business and society.

Cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing job sectors in the United States; the BLS projects a 32% increase in employment from 2018 to 2028, more than six times higher than the average for careers in the U.S. For 20 years, TU has been one of just a handful of institutions designated as a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance and Cyber Defense Education.

“The University of Tulsa is excited to leverage the resources and expertise of Noodle Partners to further develop these two online degree programs and meet the needs of students seeking a research university-level education outside of a traditional classroom setting,” said Interim President Janet Levit. “TU’s MBA and MS in Cybersecurity attract highly motivated working professionals who will use the degrees to advance their careers and support the nation’s thriving business and technology industries.”

TU’s online MBA program features readily available student access to top-notch faculty along with small class sizes that promote participation and interaction among peers and faculty in the online environment. The degree is ideal for online learners seeking a flexible schedule that allows them to balance work and other priorities. Students who enroll in two courses per semester can complete the program in 24 months and receive career placement assistance from the Business Career Center.

The online MS in Cybersecurity requires 30 credits to graduate. The program offers an entirely online curriculum, along with an option to take immersive courses in which students spend one week on campus completing hands-on, intensive training guided by faculty. The program is designed to be completed in 24 months, and students can continue to work as full-time professionals while completing the degree.

“TU is making an excellent strategic move by launching these innovative online programs,” said John Katzman, CEO of Noodle Partners. “We have total confidence in our partnership with TU, and we’re excited to see how its incoming cohorts of students leverage their degrees in the workforce.”

About Noodle Partners
Founded by a team of education and technology veterans, Noodle Partners creates innovative online and hybrid programs while improving traditional classroom models. Noodle Partners has the capability to work with universities on every aspect of building a certificate or degree program that they choose—marketing, student recruitment, enrollment, curriculum design, student engagement, support services, graduate placement, and alumni engagement—and provides a high level of fit and finish. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @Noodle_Partners or LinkedIn.

Energy to spare: Get to know Linda Nichols, the marathon-running, globe-trotting new dean of the Collins College of Business

In August 2019, The University of Tulsa Collins College of Business welcomed a new dean: Linda Nichols. The first female dean in the college’s 85-year history, Nichols is an internationally respected expert in the energy sector who has been a faculty member at TU since 2011.

Nichols recently joined us for a wide-ranging interview, focusing on topics as diverse as her combination of industry experience and scholarly training, as well as her vision for the future of the university’s business college. One of the most important takeaways from our meeting was Nichols’ message for future students: “At the Collins College of Business, you are not just a number; you are an individual. We strive to help each student reach their career goals. We are not just teaching subject matter. We are preparing future business leaders.

Q. You have a background in both business and academia. What motivated you to pursue an academic career? How have you connected those two areas and how has that combination been a resource to you during your career?

I decided that I wanted to be in academia when I was an undergraduate student. I love teaching and working with young people, helping them to develop into professionals.

First, however, I wanted to gain work experience to see how the “real world” of business operated. That experience was invaluable to me when I entered academia. It made me a better teacher because I could share real business situations in the classroom.

Q. You worked in the energy sector before entering academia and you have been the director of the School of Energy Economics, Policy and Commerce since 2018. What is it about the energy sector that interests you?

The energy sector is amazingly dynamic. It is an industry that will never die, as the world will always need energy.

The industry has evolved a great deal since I worked in it full time. Alternative fuels are now part of the mix, and advances in technology have allowed us to produce sources of energy economically that had not been producible in the past.

Q. What are some of the important topics affecting energy today and in the future for which training in a business school uniquely prepares graduates?

The Collins College of Business recognizes the particular importance of the energy industry in our region. Currently, 41% of all graduates from the college are employed in the energy sector. That encompasses all of our majors.

We prepare our students to work well in an environment of change, such as is prevalent in the energy industry. Our School of Energy Economics, Policy and Commerce also offers industry-specific courses.

We have an undergraduate degree and a minor in energy management. These enable students to learn about the inner workings of the industry and its specific jargon, as well as many other aspects of the industry including, among other things, commodity markets. Not many schools in the United States offer this unique opportunity to their undergraduate students.

Q. During the past 10 years, you have provided industry training in 20 countries across five continents. Would you give us a few glimpses of your activities? Why do you engage in such work?

I have engaged in industry training on financial reporting matters because it keeps me current and on top of issues in the sector, as well as provides me with good contacts. From these opportunities, I learn so much about current problems and concerns facing the industry and reporting issues within it.

Over the years, I have done training for major integrated companies, including ConocoPhillips, as well as independent producers. The knowledge I have gained from these sessions is invaluable, including learning about new technologies and company strategies for weathering the cycles we see in the energy sector.

Q. What are some of the challenges facing business education in the United States at both the undergraduate and MBA levels?

The landscape of business is changing, and that affects business education tremendously. Advances in technology, for instance, have altered the nature of job responsibilities for those entering the business world.

Business education needs to recognize the rapid speed of change in the business world, and we need to ensure we are preparing our students to be change-agents in their careers.

Q. What is your vision for your college’s future? What kinds of innovation would you like to see occur during the next 10 years?

We need to be at the forefront of change in the business sector. To do so, we must work closely with the business community to make sure we are providing our students with the skill sets they really need, including the integration of new technologies into their roles. We also must provide our students with more spaces within our building that are conducive to teamwork and innovation.

In short, we want to make sure that we continue to provide the business community with graduates who can hit the ground running, even in a rapidly changing environment.

Q. Beyond being a senior academic and an internationally regarded expert in your field, who is Linda Nichols? What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Linda Nichols after her first half-marathon (Walt Disney World 2015)
Linda Nichols at her first half-marathon (Walt Disney World, 2015)

I love running. I started running only four years ago and have now run four marathons and many half-marathons. A few years ago, I ran the New York City Marathon. That was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. For vacations, I love cruising and have been on many such journeys, including a trans-Atlantic crossing from Barcelona to New York on the Carnival Horizon. This summer, I literally sailed on the last cruise ship from the United States to Cuba. The vessel that was on the way there the following week was diverted to Cozumel, Mexico.