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Distinguished Professorships

Distinguished professorships in Poole College are awards made to faculty who are considered to be the best scholars in their discipline. They are created using gifts from supporters of the college with matching funds provided by the state. The distinguished professorship provides funding to support and enhance the research activities of these faculty.

Meet our distinguished professors and find out how philanthropic support enhances their work.

Frank Buckless

Stephen P. Zelnak Jr. Dean of the Poole College of Management

How it Helps: The Stephen P. Zelnak Jr. Deanship provides the Poole College of Management resources to attract the best leader for Poole, who can lead the college’s strategy. A key part of Poole’s strategy is recruiting, supporting and retaining world class faculty who are outstanding teachers and researchers. These brilliant and talented faculty are committed to NC State’s Think and Do spirit.

The Impact: While some colleges are facing declining enrollment due to many external factors, Poole is attracting record-setting numbers of students. And at the same time, our rankings continue to climb. Our Undergraduate, MBA and MAC programs continue to be recognized in the space of entrepreneurship and analytics as some of the best in the country. Bloomberg Businessweek ranked our Jenkins MBA program No. 1 in the inaugural B-School Diversity Index in 2022 and our undergraduate analytics program is ranked No. 27. These rankings are justified by our outcomes, for example students who take the Business Analytics Honors Program saw a 20 percent higher salary in 2021-22. 

Our faculty are excelling and continue to lend their insight on important issues and are regularly called upon by national media outlets and business publications. We continue to support exceptional research through our faculty summer research program. In the summer of 2022, 19 faculty were awarded a total of $247,500 to help support their research activities.

Why I’m Grateful: I continue to be inspired by the caliber of individuals on both sides of the classroom. I truly believe there are no better educators out there than our Poole College faculty. Our students are extraordinarily gifted and incredibly qualified and they’re making a huge impact on the college, the university and our community. And together, as a team, we all continue to be strategic in our growth, working hard to create the impact that Poole is known for.

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Mark Beasley

KPMG Term Professor of Accounting

How it Helps: The KPMG Professorship provides me with time to lead Poole’s Enterprise Risk Management Initiative, which provides global thought leadership designed to assist business leaders in enhancing their organization’s enterprise-wide risk oversight in today’s complex world. The ERM Initiative is a great example of NC State’s “Think and Do” mentality. We engage with business leaders across the United States and globally through our research on emerging risk issues, our engaging speaker series and executive education, our website with more than 700 articles and thought papers, and our participation in global ERM think-tank projects.

The Impact: As an example, I am fortunate to be a part of a multi-year, five-person external advisory team that is assisting the Assistant Secretary-General and Controller of the United Nations and his leadership team in their efforts to continuously enhance internal controls over the UN’s operations, compliance and reporting. In addition, I have facilitated ERM training for members of the UN’s Chief Risk Officer team. Having the time and bandwidth to participate in activities such as these provides incredible insight that translates back into my NC State classroom and my research, illustrating how support like the KPMG Professorship extends beyond just the recipient professor.

Why I’m Grateful: I am honored to be the recipient of the KPMG Professorship in Accounting and grateful for the firm’s generous support. KPMG’s professorship not only affords me time to devote to our research-based thought leadership, but it also provides a stamp of credibility and endorsement recognized by business professionals and other academics around the world.

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Joe Brazel

Jenkins Distinguished Professor of Accounting

How it Helps: The Jenkins Distinguished Professorship has had an extraordinary impact on my career as a faculty member at NC State. I am a firm believer in faculty being inspirational in the classroom and tackling challenging research questions. The Jenkins Distinguished Professorship allows me the resources and time to be extraordinary at both.

The Impact: My teaching and research focus on the areas of financial statement auditing and assurance services, fraudulent financial reporting, professional skepticism, and data analytics. Thus, I always have important research questions to examine that are of interest to Poole College stakeholders and beyond.

Why I’m Grateful: Above all else, being a Jenkins Distinguished Professor offers me time. Time to tackle big-picture, high risk and impactful research projects. Time to develop my classes so that I bring cutting-edge research to my Poole College students. It also affords me the time to travel nationally and internationally, presenting my research to practitioners, policy-makers, standard setters, regulators, and fellow academics. Last, I have the time to be a monthly contributor at Forbes.com. I believe all of these activities substantially raise the profile of Poole College and NC State.

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Mehmet Caner

Thurman-Raytheon Distinguished Professor of Economics

How it Helps: My distinguished professorship helps me gain international recognition for my work. For example, I was asked to write recommendation letters for three outstanding international promotion cases at Oxford University in England, Vanderbilt University and Emory University. Unless you are recognized as a worldwide expert, these institutions do not ask you to write recommendation letters. A distinguished professorship helped to achieve this outcome.

The Impact: People have come from other institutions to work as postdoctoral students with me, which helps generate top publications. I am currently engaged in research with a postdoctoral student who was offered a job at the prestigious ETH University in Zurich, Switzerland. As PhD students write their thesis, they seek my advice as well. It has been an honor to be a distinguished professor.

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Jon Carr

Jenkins Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship

Current Impact: A key impact of being the Jenkins Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship is the ability to champion research projects with faculty at NC State and at other organizations that are interested in entrepreneurship research. A number of research projects directly benefit from the opportunities associated with the Jenkins Professorship, including projects on entrepreneurial frugality, business model processes, health and well-being and self-employment, and the implications of creativity within established organizations. 

The support from the professorship funded data collections, collaboration visits between faculty, and sponsorship of entrepreneurship programming at professional academic organizations.

Future Impact: I am very interested in using the professorship support as a means to showcase entrepreneurship and innovation research at NC State, but also to be a key player in the southeastern United States for regional research conferences and grants and contracts. 

Why I’m grateful: I think the Jenkins professorship will continue to allow me to shine a spotlight on our entrepreneurship research activities and give Poole College and NC State the visibility it deserves with respect to its engagement with the entrepreneurship community.

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Rob Handfield

Bank of America University Distinguished Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Management

How it Helps: The distinguished professorship helps me align my work with the university’s Think and Do motto. To ‘do,’ you have to have connectivity in industry; you need thought leaders; you need to bring in speakers. The professorship gives me the opportunity and the time – time to reach out to the community, to the business sector, to the government sector, to better understand what’s going on and then funnel that knowledge back into the university.

The Impact: My role as a distinguished professor at NC State allows me to lend that expertise to hospitals, medical manufacturers, government acquisition companies and others in discussion about supply chain logistics and issues. It facilitates interdisciplinary conversations on campus as well – talking with the Wilson College of Textiles, for example, about ways to reduce shortages in the supply chain.

Why I’m Grateful: Having an endowed position allows me the time and resources to dig deeper into supply chain problems. It provides the community and resources to support graduate students who can work alongside me with a hunger to explore today’s supply chain challenges and find meaningful solutions to these challenges.

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Sebastian Heese

Owens Distinguished Professor of Supply Chain Management 

Current Impact: I’m usually working on 15 to 20 research projects at the same time with doctoral students and faculty from NC State, Poole College of Management and other universities all over the world. Much of this ties back to the Owens Distinguished Professorship of Supply Chain Management.

The key themes in my recent projects are related to retail and healthcare operations. For example, I study new retail formats such as on-demand platforms – online channels and subscription services – and their interactions with traditional retail channels. In health care, I developed a framework to evaluate the benefits of a new medical test with consideration for both medical and operational implications.

Future Impact: In the coming years, I plan to continue my research in retail and health care operations, while also beginning several research projects related to aspects of sustainability. For example, we are exploring how legislation could induce firms to implement cleaner technologies in their product designs, or to enforce clean sourcing throughout their supply chains. In another study we aim to characterize indicators of inhumane working conditions to facilitate more efficient auditing mechanisms for firms that want to detect and eliminate such “modern slavery” from their sourcing.

Why I’m Grateful:  A good portion of my research is related to supply chain management problems. Since the endowment has, in essence, given me time to do research, each project is related to the endowment. All of my research is positively affected by the endowment. 

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Brad Kirkman

General (Ret.) H. Hugh Shelton Distinguished Professor of Leadership

How it Helps: The Shelton Distinguished Professorship supports my ongoing streams of research in leadership, teamwork, and cross-cultural management. It has also allowed me to expand my research topics, with a special focus on empowering leadership. Organizations need an empowered workforce more than ever before, as volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous business environments demand that we have all hands on deck to solve today’s problems and generate breakthrough thinking. My work focuses on helping leaders be more effective when empowering others around them. The professorship also provides travel support to major national and international management and leadership conferences. In addition to presenting my research to various audiences and watching others present, I have met most of my current coauthors at these conferences.

The Impact: The Shelton Distinguished Professorship provides funding for a variety of research-based activities that are instrumental in carrying out a high-quality research program. For example, the professorship has been especially helpful in translating the academic research I do for practitioner audiences. Sometimes academic research on leadership gets lost because it appears in scholarly journals that many practitioners do not read or have access to. I have used support from the professorship to publish several articles in the Harvard Business Review and Sloan Management Review, which are primarily read by practicing managers. I have also relied on support from the professorship to write two books for practitioners, 3D Team Leadership: A New Approach for Complex Teams (Stanford University Press, 2017) and Unbreakable: Building and Leading Resilient Teams (Stanford University Press, 2023). It is very important that Poole College be known as a place that publishes high-quality scholarly research that also has real, actionable implications for managers. The Shelton Professorship has allowed me to do this consistently over the last few years.

Why I’m Grateful: I am extremely grateful for the support the Shelton Professorship has provided me over the last eight years. It allowed me to expand my research reach to a much larger audience and also increase the types of outlets I can target. I do not take the research support provided by the Shelton Professorship for granted, and I am very appreciative of General and Mrs. Shelton as well Worth and Ann Harris, who graciously provided funding for the professorship.

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James Nason

Jenkins Distinguished Professor of Economics

How it Helps: Seven PhD students completed their dissertations under my supervision since I arrived at NC State in the fall 2013 semester. Dissertation defenses took place for two more PhD students at the end of July 2022 and in mid-August 2022. I applied funds tied to the Jenkins Professorship to support many of these students as they searched for their first employment following graduate school. All but one of the students found jobs in academia. Among these initial placements are positions at Fairfield University, James Madison University, Kenyon College, the University of Mississippi, and Williams College. Publishing in peer reviewed journals is another important accomplishment for several of these students. The Jenkins Professorship provided support that gave me the space to advise PhD students on their dissertation defense and in their development as professional and research economists.

The Impact: I used the Jenkins professorship to buy high powered workstations. The workstations are necessary for the kind of research in which I’m engaged in. This research involves simulation estimation of macroeconomic models that are computationally complex and time-consuming. There is little chance this research would have happened without the workstations purchased with funds supplied by the Jenkins Professorship.

The professorship has funded my travel to present research at conferences and seminars since the fall of 2013. I travel to conferences and seminars, in part, to remain connected to academic communities that are relevant to my research. The conferences and seminars are also opportunities for me to gauge the reaction of other economists to my research. These comments are invaluable for revising and improving research papers. 

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Luca David Opromolla

Owens Distinguished Professor of International Economics

How it Helps: Distinguished professorships are ways to attract faculty whose work is particularly groundbreaking, and to sustain and elevate their research and teaching. Doing so is beneficial for the university as a whole, since it both contributes to enhancing the reputation of the university and it promotes the establishment of collaborations across different departments of the university to find potential synergies.

The Impact: It was an honor for me to be offered the position of Owens Distinguished Professor for International Economics. The mission associated with my position is to develop resources within the university for whoever wants to study and understand, among other things, how trade policy and migration policy can affect the welfare of a country, how the performance of firms relies on the ability of exporting, importing and establishing subsidiaries abroad, and how careers, wages and inequality are affected by firms’ access to the international market.

In my first year as the holder of the first Owens professorship in international economics, I was able to set the foundations for making NC State a respected and long-lasting contributor to the study of international economics. First, a fellowship was established with the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the major think tank on international economics in the country. Second, both undergraduate and doctoral students had the option to visit a Caterpillar plant in the Triangle to directly learn from the management about how global sourcing and supply chain affect the business of an American Fortune 100 corporation. Third, thanks to the endowment from the Owens Professorship, we created a high-quality seminar series in international economics co-organized with Duke and UNC.

Why I’m Grateful: It is not every day that an economist receives the academic, financial and motivational support to develop a research and teaching program that is of interest to both academics, citizens, firms and institutions.

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Roby Sawyers

Dixon Hughes Goodman Professor of Accounting

How it helps: I am honored to be the Dixon Hughes Goodman (DHG) Professor of Accounting at NC State. The financial support provided by DHG allows us to recruit and provide scholarship support to top-notch students in our graduate program and to provide enhanced educational experiences for both our undergraduate and Master of Accounting students. 

Current impact: The financial support provided to the department through the professorship helps us to be innovative and forward-thinking in all that we do.  

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Stacy Wood

Langdon Distinguished University Professor of Marketing

Current Impact: The Langdon Distinguished Professorship in Marketing makes a great impact on the work that I’ve done to help innovation-focused firms use behavioral science theories to improve their chances for success, and do so in a manner that includes students. The Langdon Professorship helped fund collaborative research projects with firms like Bayer, Burt’s Bees and Cisco. This provided me the time and resources to train Jenkins MBA students in cutting-edge research techniques and lead them in interpreting data.

Most recently, I’ve used the resources afforded by this professorship to tackle the challenges that come from new innovations in healthcare and technology. This is something that is critical for the well-being of our society and the healthcare industry. In working with doctors, hospital administrators and new technologies for healthcare (e.g., the use of Amazon’s Alexa for in-home health management), I’ve been an ambassador for the role of patient-centric decision-making in these areas.

Future Impact: I’ve recently had the great honor of being named a forthcoming editor of the Journal of Consumer Research. I’m happy that this also builds the reputation of our university, as other editors are from Columbia University and the University of Oxford. Taking on this career pinnacle would not be possible if it were not for the Langdon Professorship since it gives me the extra time for scholarship. As editor, I have the unique opportunity to influence the trajectory and impact of my entire field. One of my goals in my continuing research is to translate insights from behavioral theories to find the win-win solutions where society (e.g., individual health, environmental protection) and firms both benefit. To me, these are the sustainable solutions that have the enduring power to change our world for the better.

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