Lerner College of Business and Economics announces faculty awards
Ken Lewis, center, receives the Lerner College Outstanding Teacher Award from Dean Bobby Gempesaw, left, and Saul Hoffman, chair of the Department of Economics.
Raj Varma, center, receives the Lerner College Outstanding Scholar Award from Dean Bobby Gempesaw, left, and Jay Coughenour, chair of the Department of Finance.
Scott Jones, center, receives the Lerner College Outstanding Outreach/Service Award from Dean Bobby Gempesaw, left, and Guido Geerts, chair of the Department of Accounting and MIS.


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12:14 p.m., May 26, 2010----The University of Delaware's Lerner College of Business and Economics recently announced its 2010 faculty award winners during the annual spring meeting of all college faculty and staff.

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Teaching, Research and Service Awards

Three faculty members won the Lerner College awards for outstanding teaching, research and service, which are based primarily on nominations by students, alumni and faculty colleagues. Each of the winners will receive a monetary award and an award plaque for their outstanding accomplishments and contributions to the college.

Ken Lewis, Chaplin Tyler Professor of Economics, received the Lerner College Outstanding Teacher Award for his exemplary efforts in promoting graduate and undergraduate programs in economics. Specifically, he has been a primary driver in the development of the graduate program in economics over the past 30 years and was instrumental in establishing the doctoral program in economics, which began 15 years ago.

Lewis, who received his doctorate in economics from Princeton University, joined the Lerner College faculty in 1973.

“Ken is a truly gifted teacher at both the undergraduate and graduate levels,” said Saul Hoffman, chair of the Department of Economics. “Students praise his teaching excellence, which is more noteworthy since he teaches econometrics, among the most difficult courses in the program.”

One student wrote that when deciding to take one of Lewis' econometrics courses, he expected students who had taken the course to describe what he would learn, like how to deal with simultaneous equations. Instead, he was told he should take the course simply because Prof. Lewis teaches it.

“That student's statement exemplifies Ken's excellent teaching reputation and what it means to be a scholar-teacher,” said Dean Bobby Gempesaw.

Raj Varma, professor of finance, received the Lerner College Outstanding Scholar Award for his sustained record of exceptional scholarship in finance and corporate governance. Varma joined the UD faculty in 1987 after completing his doctorate at Pennsylvania State University.

In presenting the award, Gempesaw highlighted just a few of Varma's many prolific scholarship contributions in finance.

“In a study conducted last year of 17,601 authors who have published in 26 core finance journals from 1959 through 2008 -- a five-decade period that basically captures the growth of finance as a mature discipline -- Raj was ranked among the top 2.3 percent in terms of journal publications,” he said.

Jay Coughenour, chair of the Department of Finance, added that Varma has published in the top finance journals, including The Journal of Financial Economics, The Journal of Corporate Finance, and Financial Management.

“Four of his recent publications examine the role of boards of directors in firms that overstate their earnings or commit corporate fraud,” he said. “In addition, his corporate governance work has received extensive coverage form various media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Dow Jones Newswires and Associate Press Online.”

“Raj's many scholarly accomplishments over such an extended time period make him a most worthy candidate for the Outstanding Scholar Award,” said Gempesaw.

Scott Jones, professor of accounting and MIS and entrepreneurial studies, received the Lerner College Outstanding Outreach/Service Award for his exemplary educational and service contributions in entrepreneurship and new venture development.

Jones, who received his doctorate from Drexel University, joined the UD faculty in 1988. He is also an affiliated faculty member in the College of Engineering's Center for Composite Materials and the Delaware Biotechnology Institute.

Jones previously served as associate dean of the Lerner College and currently serves as director of the entrepreneurial studies program and the Venture Development Center. He is an active member of many professional organizations, and serves as a member of the board of directors for the Delaware Innovation Fund and the Delaware Economic Development Authority Pre-Venture Fund.

“Scott has demonstrated excellence in service in many ways, but his work in promoting entrepreneurship deserves the highest recognition,” said Guido Geerts, chair of the Department of Accounting and MIS. “He has initiated many academic programs in entrepreneurship, including the entrepreneurial studies minor, the MBA entrepreneurship concentration, the UD Business Plan Competition and the Venture Development Center.”

“Two years ago, I had the pleasure of working directly with Scott in establishing the President's Forum on Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” said Gempesaw. “The forum recently held its third conference with over 300 students, faculty and members of the business community and government sector in attendance.

“Scott is also practicing what he preaches, and currently serves as vice president and CFO of Pair Technologies, LLC and has led the start-up company through its early stage financing. During the past decade, he has maintained focus in promoting entrepreneurship. Today, entrepreneurship is among the strategic priorities of the University, and Scott's leadership in this field is exemplary.”

MBA Teaching Award

The MBA Teaching Award was instituted to recognize outstanding contributions to teaching in the UD MBA program. All full-time and adjunct faculty members who teach in the program are eligible to receive the award. Nominations are solicited from the graduating class each spring semester. The winners receive a plaque of recognition.

This year, John Wragge, associate professor of accounting and MIS, received the award. Wragge, who received his doctorate in accounting and MIS from the University of Houston, also received the MBA Teaching Award in 2008.

Ajay Manrai, professor of marketing and faculty director of Graduate and Executive Programs in the Lerner College, received an honorable mention.

Professional Excellence Award

The Leon and Margaret Slocomb Professional Excellence Award is given each year to a full-time faculty or professional staff member in the Lerner College. The award guidelines call for a recipient who exhibits a caring attitude for the interest of students and clients, and demonstrates an exemplary commitment to public service, community involvement and innovative activity. The winner receives a monetary award and a plaque of recognition.

Pamela Cummings, associate professor of hotel, restaurant and institutional management, received the 2010 award. Cummings, who held faculty positions at Georgia State and Texas Tech universities before joining UD, has been giving presentations on the topics of etiquette, civility, intercultural communication, international hosting and leadership for the past 25 years.

Cummings is currently conducting research in student attitudes toward community volunteerism. She volunteers with the Food Bank of Delaware, the Ministry of Caring and the Emmaus House, a Newark, Del.-based shelter for homeless families.

Lerner College Student Choice Teaching Award

Each year, the Lerner College Student Advisory Board sponsors and organizes the Lerner College Student Choice Teaching Award. This year, the award went to Debbie Dragone, an instructor of accounting and MIS, in recognition of her outstanding commitment to excellence in undergraduate teaching.

The Student Advisory Board also recognized the efforts of Krista Urbaniak, staff assistant in the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Services.

“We wanted to recognize her for her many years of dedicated service on behalf of the Business Student Advisory Board,” said Matt Restaino, president of the student board. “We couldn't have made it without her support.”

University awards

At the University level, Diane Wright, an instructor of accounting and MIS, received the UD Excellence in Undergraduate Advising and Mentoring Award. The award is based primarily on student evaluations, and Wright will receive a monetary award and have a brick, inscribed with her name, installed in UD's Mentors' Circle.

Wright earned her bachelor's and master's degrees at UD and her master of business administration at the College of William and Mary. She is featured further in the UDaily article, Excellence in Teaching and Advising awards announced.

Article by Kathryn Ann Marrone
Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson