Easler Joins Haslam as Director of International Programs

sara easler

Sara Easler

Sara Easler has joined the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business as director of international programs and study abroad. She began the newly created role at the beginning of August.

Easler comes to Haslam from the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, where she was director of business study abroad and managing director of the international business undergraduate major. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in higher education administration at the University of South Carolina.

Easler’s responsibilities at Haslam will include identifying international options for academic exchanges, internships and community service, said Lane Morris, associate dean of undergraduate programs and student affairs.

“Sara will provide leadership in assisting us to develop a new international programs unit,” Morris said. “She will build on existing global partnerships to create a new portfolio of international programs and services that will enable our students to achieve higher value-added educational outcomes and career progression opportunities.”

Easler will collaborate with Haslam faculty and departmental leaders as well as UT entities such as the Center for International Education to leverage resources and better serve students, Morris said.

Posted in 2014

Italian Experience Fosters Understanding of International Economics


Fourteen Haslam College of Business students returned from Italy Aug. 3 after spending three weeks living at the Santa Chiara Study Center in Castiglion Fiorentino, a small walled city perched on a hilltop in Tuscany.

With the fall semester now underway at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, supply chain management major Katie Keirstead says she looks back fondly at her time spent in Italy, which she shared with 14 students from the University of North Carolina.

“Our trip to Assisi to see the Basilica of St. Francis was particularly awe-inspiring and simply not the kind of experience you can get in the United States,” said Keirstead.

While the setting may have been bucolic, Keirstead and her classmates rolled up their sleeves during two 400-level courses on international business and management taught by Don Clark, professor of economics at Haslam, and David Woehr, professor of management at the UNC’s Belk College of Business.

The students also participated in two conversational Italian language sessions, as well as cultural lectures and tours.

“Our program gives students a true international cultural experience,” said Clark. “It requires living and studying in a foreign country with a different language, culture and business practice, as well as different economic and legal systems.”

Keirstead said international economics takes on a new light when, for instance, the effects of international currency exchange become part of daily life.

“Many things that feel theoretical in a classroom carry a lot more weight abroad,” Keirstead said. “Management case studies about how best to work with employees from other countries feel a lot more real when navigating cultural differences in person.”

One of the courses Keirstead took, International Economics for Business Majors, focused on economic strategies and tactics firms can use when competing in the global marketplace, while the other, International Human Resources Management, introduced issues facing organizations managing human resources at home and abroad.

Clark pointed out that, in addition to the knowledge gained through coursework, students exercised their skills in understanding Italian culture.

“Understanding culture is a prerequisite to successfully conducting business in a foreign country,” Clark said. “The coursework related to our daily Italian experiences, especially as students observed the excessive business regulations, oppressive taxes and unrestrained immigration that contributed to the British exit from the European Union. They gained an understanding of different tax rates, work ethics, business practices, lifestyle choices and advertising practices.”

During the program, cultural lectures and tours were conducted in the cities of Siena, Assisi, Florence, Orvieto, Civita, Arezzo, Cortona and Venice. Students took guided tours of the Medici Chapel, Opera di Santa Croce, Guggenheim Museum, Accademia Gallery in Florence, Basilica di San Francesco and La Pievuccia winery, which is eco-friendly and self-sustaining.

Posted in 2014

Nestle and Gerber/Taylor Professorships Awarded

Professors Christian Vossler and Rhonda Reger were recently appointed to two new endowed professorships established within the Haslam College of Business effective August 1, 2016.

Rhonda Reger was named the Nestle USA Endowed Professor of Business Administration. She serves as the doctoral studies director for the Department of Management and the director of research for the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

“Tennessee is a wonderful and welcoming state in which to study entrepreneurship and to observe how the local entrepreneurial ecosystems develop,” Reger said. “The Haslam College of Business really understands the value of evidence-based management and entrepreneurship education.”

“Rhonda Reger is a globally recognized scholar in the areas of managerial cognition and identity,” said Anne Smith, King and Judy Rogers Professor in Business and head of the management department. “She has recently extended her research to entrepreneurship which is a strategic focus of the management department.”

Reger has won numerous awards for teaching and research both within and outside the university. Her research interests include strategic management and entrepreneurship, and her published work includes articles in the Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review and Strategic Management Journal. She has taught strategic management and entrepreneurship courses at the undergraduate and graduate level since her arrival at UT in 2013.

Christian Vossler holds the new Gerber/Taylor Endowed Professorship.

“I am proud to be a member of the economics department at the Haslam College of Business,” Vossler said. “I attribute much of my success to the talented colleagues and the generous support I have received since my arrival. I am honored to receive this professorship.”

Vossler currently serves on the Faculty Senate and Student Life Council, is director of the UT Experimental Economics Laboratory, a fellow of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy and the director of graduate studies in the Department of Economics. He joined Haslam in 2003, after earning his doctorate from Cornell University.

“Christian stands out in many ways, including in his roles as the department’s graduate program director and as co-editor of two major academic journals,” said William Neilson, J. Fred Holly Chair of Excellence and head of the economics department. “Most importantly for us, though, he has built an international reputation as one of the world’s foremost experts on techniques for eliciting valuations for environmental goods and natural resources.”

Vossler is an applied micro-economist whose research primarily focuses on environmental and public economics issues. He has published in the RAND Journal of Economics, American Economic Journal, Journal of Public Economics and other prestigious academic journals. His research has been supported by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He also currently serves as a co-editor of the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, and a co-editor of Environmental & Resource Economics.

Posted in 2014

UT College of Engineering, Haslam College of Business Work with IBM to Tackle Big Data

KNOXVILLE—The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and IBM have announced a new computational lab and education initiative devoted to analytics that will enable the university to store large amounts of unstructured data in a security-rich environment while providing students and researchers the processing systems necessary to analyze it.

Established with technology donated by IBM, the “Advanced Analytics Lab, IBM Enabled” has been developed as a joint resource for UT’s College of Engineering and the Haslam College of Business.

It will provide enterprise applications and systems processing to analyze big data from corporate partners. Students and researchers in both colleges will benefit from the new computing and analytics lab, which will be located in the university’s Min H. Kao Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building.

“With this donation, we will be able to develop research applicable to both colleges that will ultimately help businesses such as IBM that rely on the successful development of students in those fields,” said UT Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek.

Approximately 3,800 undergraduate and graduate students in the business, electrical engineering and computer science programs will work in the lab, which officially opens Aug. 25 in an event featuring IBM executives.

“This lab will facilitate research at the crossroads of engineering and business and begin an evolution of research and education that positions UT faculty and students to be more influential and relevant in academia and industry,” said Steve Mangum, dean of the Haslam College of Business and Stokely Foundation Leadership Chair.

Both colleges will be using the lab for classes including big data and streaming data analytics, database management and design, supply chain analytics, marketing analytics, information technology (IT) audit and audit systems security, and supply chain IT.

“Any opportunity to combine learning with aspects of real-world experience is a plus for students,” said College of Engineering Dean Wayne Davis. “IBM is allowing students from both of our colleges to have the opportunity of a lifetime, to take part in something that can elevate them from their peers at other institutions.”

Students in the Advanced Analytics Lab will conduct research in the analytics of large data sets from the financial and health care sectors, including social media data, business-to-business transactions, Medicare claims data and real-time streaming data from the Internet of Things.

Based on an IBM PureApplication® system, the technology solution incorporates servers, storage, software, network devices and virtual machine managers that can be operated through a single console. The solution can recognize patterns even across video and audio files, and simplifies creation and reuse of applications using Bluemix, IBM’s cloud platform.

“The workforce of the future needs the skill sets to draw insights from big data that can transform businesses,” said Mike Ray, IBM’s vice president of business architect and transformation. “By working with the University of Tennessee to develop the Advanced Analytics Laboratory, we are working to bridge the skill gap when it comes to analytics and helping prepare the next generation of workers for the business challenges of the future.”


David Goddard, College of Engineering (865-974-0683, david.goddard@utk.edu)

Katie Bahr, Haslam College of Business (865-974-3589, katiebahr@utk.edu)

Posted in 2014

Graduate Business Analytics Student Interns at Nielsen

Nathan Parmeswar did not take an internship at Nielsen to gain work experience. A master’s in business analytics student, he came to the program after several years in the working world. Parmeswar took the internship at Nielsen to learn data insight skills no other company currently utilizes.

“Nielsen is the company that really sets the industry standards when it comes to measuring consumer behavior,” Parmeswar said. “I will definitely be using the data modeling techniques I have learned thus far after I graduate.”

Parmeswar works in Nielsen’s marketing effectiveness team determining what mix of techniques yield the highest return on investment. He examines the effectiveness of advertising on social media, television, online videos and multiple other mediums using multiple regression models within a software program called Statistical Analysis System (SAS). This data yields insights to optimize the budgets for each marketing technique and for overall strategy.

“I am working with the data modeling team within the marketing effectiveness department to develop a customized marketing mix ROI model that specifically handles e-commerce data from Amazon,” he said.

Despite having worked in a marketing research firm, Parmeswar says he would not have been prepared for the internship without the classes he has taken during his MSBA.

“The program really equipped me with the skills needed to handle large data sets, which is a skill I did not have before joining,” he says. “That is a very important skill set in my current internship. It also helped me polish my programming skills.”

Parmeswar plans to use both the technical and soft skills he honed during his internship in a position after graduation.

“I found that I love presenting and communicating my findings to co-workers and clients,” he says. “I also prefer working with certain software programs over others. That has helped me greatly when it comes to targeting specific full-time roles.”

Posted in 2014

Decade of Trips Down Under Provide Haslam Students Business Insight

Diane Mollenkopf, McCormick Associate Professor of Logistics at the Haslam College of Business, has been taking students to visit the same companies in Australia since 2007.

“Ten years ago, many of the Australian business managers didn’t understand why a group of American university students would want to study their firms,” Mollenkopf said.

The relationships Mollenkopf built came to fruition for her students this year, as one company shared its challenges maintaining market share amidst domestic and foreign competitors.

“The managers were very comfortable with having Haslam students visit and shared much more than we’d have ever expected had we not known the company for so many years and followed their progress,” Mollenkopf said. “The dynamics of competition, the importance of strategy and execution—these are great lessons for our students.”

Anya Aleksandrova, a senior majoring in accounting, said seeing the terms and concepts she has studied come to life brings them into strong focus. “We got to see first hand the supply chain and marketing issues specific to Australian businesses which are similar yet at the same time entirely different from the issues American businesses deal with.”

Students also witnessed the reaction to Britain’s exit from the European Union and a national election’s impact on business.

“Recognizing that a decision made half-way around the world will have implications for Australia took many students by surprise,” Mollenkopf said. “While their immediate focus during the program is on marketing and supply chain management, the bigger lessons come from realizing how interconnected the world is, how the global (as well as national) economy impacts business and society, and how political shifts and social norms impact business.”

Wiley Stidham a senior majoring in supply chain management with a collateral in international business, was impressed with the juxtaposition of distribution centers in Australia and the United States.

“Being able to see how Woolworth’s ran their DC compared to the Amazon DC I visited last year was a really cool experience, especially seeing the difference in technological systems and equipment,” Stidham said. “Not only did this trip affirm that I chose the right field, it also gave me a new perspective on the world.”

Charles Dick, a senior who has spent time in Australia before, said he chose the trip because of its ability to provide experience in his majors of supply chain and marketing.

“Australia is a very laid back environment, but I found myself learning more in three weeks than ever before in my life,” Dick said. “This is one of the most hands on programs that I could have chosen.”

Mollenkopf began the trip in 2007 to help give Haslam students exposure to the impact of Asian markets and supply chains on an economy similar to the United States. Marketing professor Dan Flint and supply chain professor John Bell also have contributed to the creation and honing of the program.

Posted in 2014

Haslam Students in Ireland Learn About FDI

Seven seniors were studying Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Ireland this summer in the midst of Great Britain’s vote to exit the European Union. The class was taught by associate professor of management Russell Crook, who says the vote provided a rich learning environment for his class.

“We talked about Brexit quite a bit,” Crook said. “The global markets reacted badly to it, but the jury is still out on Ireland.”

Patrick King, head of public affairs for the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, put Brexit into context for students during a tour of his offices, explaining that while Great Britain’s exit from the EU will strain business with Ireland’s largest trading partner, it might also drive more FDI to Ireland.

“Ireland will now be the only official English-speaking country in the EU,” Crook elaborates. “A lot of companies make their first moves to the UK because it is a larger domestic market, but Ireland might now be the recipient of new jobs from firms looking to expand into the EU that want to start in a place with language and other cultural similarities.”

On a trip to Ireland’s Industrial Development Authority, Niamh Breslin, the organization’s vice president, told students that attracting FDI has been a great job creation tool for Ireland and that he expects it to continue after Brexit.

Breslin’s talk taught senior Max Gavin the value of EU membership for Ireland in retaining FDI.

“The tax system was a good incentive, but what really made companies want to come to Ireland was the easy access to the EU and the highly educated workforce,” Gavin said.

In addition, students toured Olytico, a social media monitoring firm, and Kendlebell, a corporate telecommunications company, speaking with executives of both. The class also included cultural experiences such as a trip to the Cliffs of Moher and an overnight stay in Galway.

Posted in 2014