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Faculty and Scholarship

Meet Poole’s 15 Distinguished Professors

Among the talented faculty at the Poole College of Management are 15 who have been awarded distinguished professorships.

The wolf artwork inside of the Talley Student Union. Photo by Marc Hall

Philanthropic support, with matching funds from the state, make distinguished professorships possible and enhances the work of each of these individuals. The professorships are awarded to faculty who are among the best in their discipline.

Here’s a look at each distinguished professor as they share their thoughts on the meaning and impact of their professorships:

Frank Buckless is the Stephen P. Zelnak Jr. Dean of the Poole College of Management. He was named dean in 2019 and led the Department of Accounting for 18 years before that. Buckless first joined the NC State accounting faculty in 1989.

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.

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 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.

Mark Beasley is the Alan T. Dickson Distinguished Professor of Accounting. He joined Poole College in 1994 and is part of the Department of Accounting, as well as the director of the Enterprise Risk Management Initiative.

How it Helps: The Dickson 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 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 to my NC State classroom and my research, illustrating how support like the Dickson Professorship extends well beyond just the recipient professor.

Joe Brazel is the Jenkins Distinguished Professor of Accounting. He first came to NC State as a lecturer in 2003 and is currently a faculty member in the Department of Accounting.

How it Helps: 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.

Mehmet Caner is the Thurman-Raytheon Distinguished Professor of Economics. He joined Poole College in 2019 and is a member of the Department 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. As PhD students write their thesis, they seek my advice as well. It has been an honor to be a distinguished professor.

Jon Carr is the Jenkins Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship. He joined Poole College in 2016 and is currently department head of the Department of Management Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

How it Helps: 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 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. 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.

Stacy Wood is the Langdon Distinguished University Professor of Marketing. She came to NC State in 2010 and is a member of the Department of Business Management, as well as executive director of the Consumer Innovation Consortium.

How it Helps: 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.

The 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.

Jesse Ellis is the Alan T. Dickson Distinguished Professor of Finance. He joined Poole College in 2013 and is a member of the Department of Business Management.

How it Helps: My distinguished professorship award is an invaluable asset in helping me to be more productive in my research and teaching. The financial support provided by the award allows me to purchase necessary data and other resources required to conduct my research. Additionally, the award provides me with funding to attend conferences and workshops, which is crucial in staying up-to-date with the latest developments in my field and networking with other leading researchers.

The Impact: My distinguished professorship award enables me to delve deeper into the fields of finance I am passionate about, including the intricacies of the investment management industry related to institutions such as hedge funds, mutual funds, and financial advisors. My research and teaching efforts have not only advanced the understanding of these areas within the academic community, but also provided valuable insights for both professionals in the financial industry and for ordinary investors.

Rob Handfield is the Bank of America University Distinguished Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Management. He came to NC State in 1999 and is a member of the Department of Business Management, as well as Executive Director of the Supply Chain Resource Cooperative.

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: 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.

Sebastian Heese is the Owens Distinguished Professor of Supply Chain Management. He joined Poole College in 2016 and is a member of the Department of Business Management.

How it Helps: 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 Impact: 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. 

Brad Kirkman is the General (Ret.) H. Hugh Shelton Distinguished Professor of Leadership. He came to Poole College in 2012 and is a member of the Department of Management Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

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. 

The Impact: I am extremely grateful for the support the Shelton Professorship has provided me. It allowed me to expand my research reach to a much larger audience and also increase the types of outlets I can target.

James Nason is the Jenkins Distinguished Professor of Economics. He joined Poole College in 2013 and is a member of the Department of Economics.

How it Helps: 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. 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.

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.

Luca David Opromolla is the Owens Distinguished Professor of International Economics. He joined NC State in 2021 and holds positions jointly in Poole College’s Department of Economics and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Department of Agricultural and Resource 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: In my first year as the holder of the first Owens professorship, I was able to set the foundations for making NC State a respected and long-lasting contributor to the study of international economics. 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.

Jeffrey Pollack is the Lynn T. Clark II Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship. He joined Poole College in 2014 and is part of the Department of Management, Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

How it Helps: Being the Lynn T. Clark II Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship enables me to support important endeavors both internally at NC State, as well as externally. Internally, I have more time and resources to work with the Department of Management Innovation & Entrepreneurship and expand its reach across the university. We are consistently ranked among the top undergraduate and graduate programs. Engagement from faculty is a big reason we’ve become so celebrated, yet, we need to grow faculty involvement in amazing opportunities like the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic.

The Impact: I am so grateful to the Clark family for their vision, and for wanting to give back and support NC State through the funding for this professorship. To be doing what I love, at a place that I love, and to be awarded the Lynn T. Clark II Distinguished Professorship, is truly an honor.

Bill Rand is the McLauchlan Distinguished Professor. He joined Poole College in 2016 and is a member of the Department of Business Management, as well as executive director of the Business Analytics Initiative.

How it Helps: The McLauchlan Professorship will afford me the resources and time to continue this progress, with the eventual goal of making business analytics curricula available to everyone in the Poole College of Management and all of NC State University.

The Impact: As the leader of (the Business Analytics Initiative), I have helped design and implement two different graduate programs in analytics, as well as supporting our already existing undergraduate honors program and graduate certificate. We hope to expand our offerings and create additional innovative business analytics degrees and educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and executive levels of education. Our goal is to make the Poole College the global leader in business analytics.

Roby Sawyers is the Dixon Hughes Goodman Professor of Accounting. He joined NC State in 1989 and is a member of the Department of Accounting, as well as Director of Assurance of Learning.

How it Helps: 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.

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