Ten faculty, staff and Ph.D. students at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business received recognition for their efforts during the 2021-22 academic year challenging themselves to drive discovery, create opportunity and empower students to lead the future of business. Kathy Farrell, James Jr. and Susan Stuart Endowed Dean and professor of finance, recognized five retiring faculty and staff members and announced the college award winners at a celebration in Howard L. Hawks Hall.
“In conversations with our community partners, I get the opportunity to share the great things they’re doing. I take great pride in knowing our community makes things happen to promote research and discovery, facilitate learning and transformation, and foster connection and engagement. Each individual’s story reveals how we continue to fuel the change and lead the future of business,” she said.
Distinguished Service Award
Amanda Colborn, building and event operations manager, ’12, received the Distinguished Service Award, for a staff member who consistently shows outstanding job performance, provides service or support above and beyond the call of duty, exemplifies or inspires a teamwork attitude and contributes to our community with a commitment to excellence. Colborn’s nominators noted she took on additional responsibilities involving behind-the-scenes event coordination all while keeping the 5-year-old Howard L. Hawks Hall in wonderful condition for thousands of people. She helps lead a team that “provides a great experiential learning environment for students.”
D'vee Buss Students First Award
Kendra Ritchie, associate director of recruitment, received the D’vee Buss Students First Award. This award named for the retired assistant dean and Husker alumna, honors a staff member who exemplifies a student-centered approach and makes unique or extraordinary efforts and commitment to the philosophy of “students first.” A nominator shared about her students-first passion and positivity: “She works hard to understand the perspective of students and to engage with them in meaningful ways. She has amazing insights and wisdom to share, and she does it in a way that makes students feel seen and valued.”
Ph.D. Student Teaching Award and Ph.D. Student Research Award
Izu Mbaraonye, Ph.D. candidate in management
ON THE MARKET, received both the Ph.D. Student Teaching Award, which goes to a graduate student with teaching responsibilities who excelled in making an impact in the classroom, and the Ph.D. Student Research Award, presented to the student with the most impressive research record. He specializes in entrepreneurship and strategic management with research interests in corporate political activities, corporate entrepreneurship and social evaluation. In addition to his seven projects in review or in progress, he has presented at many professional conferences.
On his impact in the classroom, nominators noted his dedication to teaching with creativity and improving engagement among students. During the initial phases of the pandemic, as a teaching assistant Mbaraonye conducted the in-person components of classes with flexibility and creativity. He continuously works to improve his instruction, his language skills and teaching methods.
Ph.D. Student Research Award
Yuzhou Chen, Ph.D. candidate in accountancy, also received the Ph.D. Student Research Award, presented to the student with the most impressive research record. His research interests include auditing, internal control, financial reporting quality and archival research. He currently has seven working papers with co-authors in the College of Business. In addition to his research, Yuzhou also taught auditing courses and actively participates in professional conferences as a reviewer, discussant and presenter.
Excellence in Teaching Award
Jina Morris, associate professor of practice in accountancy and Master of Professional Accountancy coordinator, ’94 & ’98, earned the Excellence in Teaching Award, which goes to a professor of practice, lecturer or adjunct faculty member who makes a positive impact on their students’ educational experience. Students shared how her thoughtfulness, fairness and welcoming demeanor improved their learning environment and made them feel she was invested in their success. “As far as professors go, Jina is top-notch in both generosity with her time to help students, and thoroughness to help us maximize our learning. UNL is very lucky to have her!” Another shared: “Not only does she make all of her students actually understand accounting, she makes class enjoyable and relates her coursework to things in our lives.”
MBA Distance Teaching Award
Emre Unlu, Paul C. Burmeister College Professor of Investments, professor of finance and executive director of the Center for Executive and Professional Development, received his seventh MBA Distance Teaching Award, honoring a faculty member who made the most positive impact on online graduate students’ educational experience. Online students vote for their favorite professor for the award. They noted how Unlu offered insights to real-world situations and adapted material to the students’ interests while making difficult financial concepts easier to understand. One student shared how “he used his engaging personality to create a learning environment that was fun, engaging and felt safe to ask questions and venture responses, even if wrong. It became very evident that helping students was Dr. Unlu’s top priority.”
Distinguished Teaching Award
Troy Smith, associate professor of management, received the Distinguished Teaching Award, which recognizes a tenured or tenure-track professor who makes the most positive impact on their students’ educational experience. Several students shared how his kindness, positivity and energy made his classes fun and how he made each student feel valued and welcome. His passion for courses on organizational behavior translated into enthusiasm from multiple student nominators, one who shared: “He loves his job and it shows by the heart he puts into each lecture.”
Faculty Service Award
Jake Messersmith, associate professor of management, ’01, received the Faculty Service Award. Based on a record of sustained performance that significantly contributed to the college’s service mission, the award recognizes a faculty member who made a distinguished contribution through service to the university, college, department, community or profession. A nominator noted how he takes on additional tasks and leadership roles for the benefit of the college and its community, including delivering nearly 25 executive education programs and serving on several college and university committees. Messersmith also served on the editorial boards of six journals and on committees for the Academy of Management, the main professional organization in the field.
Emerging Scholar Research Award
Dirk Black, associate professor of accountancy, received the Emerging Scholar Research Award, which recognizes a tenure-track assistant professor in the first three years of their career who makes an outstanding contribution to academic literature. Black’s research interests include financial reporting, performance measurement and evaluation. Since 2020, Dirk has published seven articles in top journals, including Contemporary Accounting Research, the Journal of International Accounting Research and the Journal of Accounting, Auditing and Finance. He also delivered presentations to colleagues at other universities, research symposiums, meetings and research series. His research is noted as an example of practical work being produced with direct application to businesses.
Distinguished Research Award
Varkey Titus, Jr., associate professor of management, received the Distinguished Research Award for his notable achievements in research. Published in numerous top journals, his research interests includes corporate entrepreneurship, corporate venturing and social evaluations. In addition to four forthcoming publications, his research has been published in the Journal of Management, Journal of Business Research and Strategic Management Journal. He serves as a reviewer and board member for many journals and conferences and serves as a Nebraska Governance and Technology Center Resident Fellow.
Upcoming Retirements from the College of Business
Longtime faculty and staff members who are retiring this year also received recognition at the celebration, honoring their years of service to the college:
- J. Jeff Burdic, ’75 MBA, assistant director of Business Advising and Student Engagement, has served at the College of Business since 2002.
- Deborah Eisloeffel, human resources manager, started at the College of Business in 2010.
- John Geppert, professor of finance, started teaching at the College of Business in 1989, becoming a full professor in 2009.
- David Rosenbaum, Department of Economics chair and John T. & Mable M. Hay Professor of Economics, began his faculty career at the College of Business in 1985.
- Marjorie Shelley, BKD LLP Professor of Accountancy, started at the College of Business in 2013.
To view past winners or nominate for the next awards, visit the Nebraska Business Recognitions webpage: https://business.unl.edu/nominate.