A Force for Innovation
By unearthing new insights through research and teaching future professionals, Carlson School faculty drive business forward.
Their areas of expertise span the areas of consumer behavior, data analytics, entrepreneurship, human resources, strategy, and much more. Organizations around the world utilize their research to make crucial decisions, while students rely on them to break down challenging concepts and encourage skill development.
But competition for these leading thinkers, teachers, and researchers—both promising young scholars and mid-career standouts—is intense, and the growth of new degree programs and our undergraduate population increases demand. To maintain our high standards for educational excellence and continue to support research that addresses genuine business challenges, we must secure and retain high-caliber faculty.
The strong PhD program at the Carlson School demonstrates both the strength of the School’s faculty and the world-class teaching and research programs they conduct.
Nearly 100 current PhD candidates across seven areas of concentration work very closely with Carlson faculty, while pursuing full-time training in teaching and research. Fellowship funding is critical to attracting the best and most promising PhD students, and ensuring they have the support they need to pursue research and publication to launch their careers, while training alongside experienced instructors teaching undergraduate courses.
This year, three fifth-year PhD students have been awarded the Doris McNamara Fellowship Endowment for Women as they work to complete their dissertations. All three cite working with Carlson faculty as a reason for choosing the Carlson School for their studies and for their successes as they progress through the program.
“The opportunity to conduct problem-driven research in supply chain while engaging with the high-quality faculty within the Carlson School was a big draw for me,” says Jingwen Yang. “I work closely with Professor Kingshuk Sinha and Professor Anant Mishra [both Supply Chain and Operations]. Their commitment to conducting ground-breaking and problem-driven research inspires me. In addition, their advising approach provides me the necessary latitude to independently explore various interesting and impactful research topics within my domain of interest while ensuring critical and constructive feedback on my efforts.”
Lei Zhuang, pursuing studies in marketing, says there is a mutual benefit to having close working relationships with her advisors and other faculty. “Faculty treat the students as the next generation of the field and put their maximum effort to help the students improve. They are open to discuss research with their students and give feedback... they work closely with the students and become coauthors on their publications.”
While learning from faculty, PhD students both further the research program of the department and support the teaching needs of the school. Candidate in Strategic Management & Entrepreneurship, Hyoju Jeong, adds “I have found great joy in teaching undergraduate students who are intellectually curious and striving to apply their knowledge towards purposes of creating a better world.” She also shares the greater impact that her advisors have through her work, and the students they teach. “By closely working with my advisors [Professors Aseem Kaul and Jiao Luo] on research and teaching, I learned to value research questions that have broad societal impact, and have enthusiasm for teaching that prepares future generations with knowledge and critical thinking skills.”The opportunity to conduct problem-driven research in supply chain while engaging with the high-quality faculty within the Carlson School was a big draw for me.
When John Bradley first arrived at the University of Minnesota, he was working in a laboratory doing medical research. Quickly realizing that wasn’t the right career path for him, Bradley began exploring the School of Management and the field of accounting, which seemed to him a more challenging and exciting field. Encouraged by faculty who were both supportive of his career change and excellent instructors, Bradley enrolled using the GI Bill, earning his BSB in accounting in 1976.
He went on to thrive in his career, and after completing a masters in computer science, he developed general ledger accounting systems and an international banking system. Bradley credits the advice, good counsel, and quality of instruction from the Carlson School’s Department of Accounting faculty with launching him on the path to his rewarding and fulfilling career.
Now retired, Bradley, along with his wife, Neota (Johnson) Bradley, CLA ’74 (Journalism), has committed to recognizing the role that faculty excellence and the Department of Accounting has contributed to his life and career. The Bradleys are establishing twin funds through their estate in the Carlson School’s Department of Accounting and the College of Liberal Arts’ School of Journalism. The John L. Bradley Endowment for Accounting Excellence in Teaching will support outstanding faculty in accounting. The Neota Johnson Bradley Journalism Scholarship will support students enrolled in the School of Journalism.
“It is gratifying to contribute in a small way to ensuring that future students are able to receive the same very high quality education that we had,” says John.
The Bradleys have chosen to establish their endowed funds through an estate gift, which enables both the couple and the schools they support to plan for the future. Knowing that their endowments will continue to benefit students for many years to come, Neota adds, “It’s unexpected how much pleasure it has given us to make this commitment now, even though the gift won’t be realized for a long time.”
Learn more about the many ways to give through the University of Minnesota Foundation.It is gratifying to contribute in a small way to ensuring that future students are able to receive the same very high quality education that we had.
In 2017, the Carlson School celebrated a sizable gift from U.S. Bank to build and support online learning capabilities at the School.
First piloted in 2012 with a single staff member, the Online Instructional Design team was able, with the help of the U.S. Bank funding, to ramp up to a large team of professionals, implement standards and support, and enroll more than 2000 seats in online instruction in the 2018-2019 academic year. “The US Bank gift enabled us to significantly enhance the quality and breadth of resources available to deploy high quality online instruction,” says Phil Miller, Assistant Dean of MBA and MS Programs at the Carlson School.
This strong foundation in online learning has proven invaluable as the School faced the need to quickly pivot to 100% remote instruction for the second half of the spring 2020 semester. The investments allowed Carlson faculty to transition 200 classes and 300 sections to distance learning in just four days, with critical support from Instructional Design and IT staff.
According to Connie Buechele, IT Director at Carlson, “The ID team continues to offer ongoing instructional design and academic technology support for spring courses while also working to develop the next phase of a more sophisticated online digital learning environment moving into summer courses and beyond as needed and desired.”The US Bank gift enabled us to significantly enhance the quality and breadth of resources available to deploy high quality online instruction.
When David Schoeder, CFANS ’79, was young, he struggled in school. Growing up with dyslexia, he says he saw things backwards. Upon arriving at the University of Minnesota to study Agricultural Economics, he enrolled in courses at the business school in finance with Professor Timothy Nantell. He credits Nantell with helping him to figure out how to approach complex analytical problems in a way that worked for him – backwards.
“Professor Nantell gave me a framework that allowed me to absorb and evaluate large amounts of the financial data,” says Schoeder. “Dr. Nantell’s finance courses connected all the dots for me.”
After graduating from the U in 1979, Schoeder spent several years working in investment banking and finance before founding The Food Partners, an investment firm in the food and grocery industry, where he is principal. Schoeder says he’s trained analysts to evaluate deals utilizing the same framework he learned from Professor Nantell, and industry models have been built based on the analytical tools Nantell taught him.
Schoeder is grateful for the great experience and skills he gained at the Carlson School and University of Minnesota, and the success they have enabled in his career, which motivated him to give back. “I want to help other teachers learn from [Nantell’s] success,” says Schoeder.
In 2014, Schoeder established the Professor Timothy J. Nantell Fund for Excellence in Teaching, which awards grants to support innovative teaching by rising faculty stars. While Professor Nantell has now retired from full-time teaching at Carlson, Schoeder’s generous gift ensures that his influence and legacy of excellence in teaching carries on.Dr. Nantell’s finance courses connected all the dots for me. I want to help other teachers learn from his success.
Thanks to a grant from software company Adobe, two Carlson School researchers are on the cutting edge of helping brands design and deliver more effective video advertisements that resonate with their target consumers.
Information and Decision Sciences Assistant Professors Soumya Sen and Gordon Burtch were awarded the Data Science Research Award from Adobe. The award comes with a $50,000 grant to support their work and opportunities for direct collaboration with Adobe.
“We appreciate all of the support Adobe has given us,” Sen says. “It shows to us that the work we’re doing is of value to companies. It’s not some abstract research that we’re doing. It really has an impact, and that’s why industries are willing to sponsor an academic project like this.”
Sen and Burtch won the award with their proposal, “Designing Effective Ad-Video Delivery Strategies.” The goal of this research is to understand if and how incentives for watching or engaging with online advertisements change consumer behavior.
Online advertising is often viewed as distracting by audiences, and the brand recall on these ads is typically low because people don’t want to engage with them. By incentivizing consumers with rewards such as money, Sen and Burtch are exploring if those incentives increase brand awareness and engagement with the ads.
Sen and Burtch are running experiments to see, for instance, how much money it might take for somebody to watch a 30-second advertisement. They’ll also explore how much that price point shifts depending on how long the ads are and how much incentives it may take somebody to share the ad on social media.
Some companies are already doing something similar. For instance, some cell phone companies will allow users to get their data back if they watch sponsored content and some airports will allow you to watch an ad and get a certain amount of free Wi-Fi access.
“Ultimately, we want to create a platform or ecosystem where advertisers can subsidize users for engaging with their advertisements,” Sen says.
The award from Adobe allows the team to recruit more people to help them and carry out these experiments. The gift is unique in that a company is helping sponsor the project. Because of this award, the Carlson School team has met with Adobe, and the two teams have been able to collaborate with each other.
That collaboration has benefited both the Carlson School and Adobe. Anil Kamath, fellow and vice president of technology for Adobe, says the company is excited to partner with the Carlson School because of how impactful this type of research can be.
“Adobe’s collaboration with universities like Carlson School of Management to promote the understanding and use of data science in customer experience is invaluable,” Kamath says. “At Adobe, we’re focused on developing technologies that advance digital experiences, and our work with academia provides theoretical and empirical solutions to problems that not only inform our Adobe Experience Cloud products, but spur new ideas where real-world impact can be made for years to come. Carlson School of Management’s research is focused on an important need in the advertising industry—how-to design effective ad-video delivery strategies. This has the potential to help companies drive growth and orchestrate amazing customer experiences.”
The grant is one of nine awarded biannually by Adobe to top researchers across the country.We appreciate all of the support Adobe has given us. It shows to us that the work we’re doing is of value to companies. It’s not some abstract research that we’re doing. It really has an impact, and that’s why industries are willing to sponsor an academic project like this.
Few believe in “Business as a Force for Good” more than Anne Tsui.
As a business school professor, she’s seen firsthand the impact a professor can have on the students they teach. But the further she got into her career, the more she saw how most of the research being done at business schools focused on how to turn a profit, many times at the expense of the large stakeholders.
Tsui wanted to change that. She established the Dare to Care Award at the Carlson School, which encourages doctoral students to conduct research that not only improves a company’s operations, but also does right by their employees and better serves their customers.
The first Dare to Care Award was given in 2013 as a way to “assist advanced PhD students who have shown dedication to conducting research that will bring value to society, beyond providing good careers for themselves.”
“The award is to encourage students to look at business problems that would be beneficial to society as a whole and to encourage caring of groups that are less powerful in a business environment,” Tsui says.
Doctoral students play a vital role in the Carlson School community. Not only do they take part in groundbreaking research, they also teach young business students.
“The students are being trained to become the professors and researchers in different schools worldwide. They will be in a very powerful position to lead the future development of both the next generation of students, as well as businesses through their research,” she says. “We want to train our PhD students not only how to teach and what to teach, but also why to teach and why to do research.”
Tsui received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota-Duluth before coming to the Carlson School and earning a master’s degree in industrial relations.
Now living in Arizona, Tsui says although she hasn't been back to the state of Minnesota in quite some time, she still feels a connection and considers it “home.”
“I remember my time in Minnesota, and at the Carlson School, very fondly,” she says. “That’s a big reason why I wanted to give back.
With the Carlson School now focusing its efforts on “Business as a Force for Good,” Tsui says she couldn’t be happier to support the school and its mission.
“It tells me that the Carlson School, as a whole, dares to care,” she says. “It is entirely consistent with the vision of the Dare to Care PhD Award that business research can be a force for good by identifying business practices that contribute to the wellbeing of stakeholders beyond the shareholders.”We want to train our PhD students not only how to teach and what to teach, but also why to teach and why to do research.