E. J. Ourso College Inducts 2013 Hall of Distinction Class

03/28/2013 10:20 AM

BATON ROUGE – The LSU E. J. Ourso College of Business inducted the 2013 Hall of Distinction Class on Friday, March 22, awarding the college’s highest honor to three deserving alumni and friends. William Balhoff, Toni Stephenson and Robert Stuart Jr. are the latest individuals to be inducted.

According to E. J. Ourso College Dean Richard D. White Jr., the three newest members personify the college’s vision of excellence.

“You are shining examples of what combining hard work with intelligence and fun can yield,” White told the inductees during the banquet. “Additionally, you have embraced and supported higher education and other worthy endeavors at LSU, and we sincerely appreciate everything you have done to advance our mission.”

Balhoff, managing director and chief executive officer of Postlethwaite & Netterville, is a 1976 accounting graduate of LSU. P&N is one of the largest independent accounting and business advisory firms in the nation and the only Top 100 firm based in Louisiana. Balhoff, who has 10 brothers and sisters, is one of the 10 among his siblings who earned a degree from LSU. His 91 year-old mother was in attendance for the banquet.

“She’s here tonight, I think, to make sure I wasn’t lying,” Balhoff joked about his induction.

On a more serious note, Balhoff spoke about the contribution that LSU has had to his profession.

“There are many, many ways and there are people in this room right now who are executives because of it (LSU),” Balhoff said. “But I will tell you, they mentioned before about me being vice chair (of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ Board of Directors). There are many states that have never had a board member of AICPA. There aren’t many states that have had a chair of the board of the AICPA. We’re fortunate in Baton Rouge to hopefully have had three chairs of the board of the AICPA. One was (H.J.) Monday Lowe. One was Jake Netterville, my partner, and hopefully the next one, I will be voted in. That’s in a 30-year period of time. There’s no other university in the country that can boast that kind of record. So, it’s something that I’m very proud of.”

Lowe and Netterville are both members of the E. J. Ourso College Hall of Distinction, and both were in attendance last Friday.

Stephenson, the president of Domain.com Incorporated and the cofounder and equal partner of StarTek Incorporated, earned her bachelor’s degree from the LSU College of Arts & Sciences, now the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, in 1967. She and her husband, Emmet, provided funding in 2007 to establish the Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute and the Stephenson Disaster Management Institute. Stephenson related a story about one of her early ventures with her husband – Cowboy Country International.

In the 1970s, the American television program Bonanza was wildly popular in Japan. The Stephensons began Cowboy Country International to entice Japanese citizens to come to Wyoming and live the Bonanza experience, complete with attacking American Indians, dude ranch, weapon firing and other activities. The venture was a success with 8,000 pre-sold tours. Unfortunately for the Stephensons, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries declared an oil embargo that fall, and Japan reacted with currency controls that forced the cancellation of tours.

“We lost all of our money in that venture, but we did have a lot of fun,” Toni Stephenson remarked. “So there are two lessons here. We learned that not every great business idea can make a successful business, and the second one is have fun in your life. Cowboy Country didn’t make it, but I got a great story to tell for after dinner conversations.”

Stuart, head of Middle Market Commercial Banking for Capital One Bank and the Louisiana State President for Capital One Bank, earned his bachelor’s degree in finance in 1978, and his master’s degree in finance in 1979, both from LSU. During his 30-plus year banking career, Stuart rose from trainee at a local bank to running the national middle market commercial banking segment for the sixth-largest bank in the country, “all while never having to switch jobs, just two mergers, and being able to remain based in Louisiana.”

“As I interact with banking professional from around the country, I really recognize the great foundation I got here at LSU,” Stuart told the attendees. “At Capital One, we actually hire in our Commercial Development Program more students from LSU than anywhere else, and it makes me proud to see every day how well they are doing in our company, not only in Louisiana, but in Houston and Dallas, Virginia and New York City. And it really is a tribute to what the students, faculty, and university do here.”

Since our establishment in 1928, the E. J. Ourso College of Business has continuously improved and expanded its offerings for students and alumni. Additionally, we have made it a priority to provide our faculty with the resources it needs to further research in every aspect of the business world and to produce industry leaders for our global work environment.

Wendy  Marx 
E. J. Ourso College of Business

Posted on Thursday, March 28, 2013