Posted on December 8, 2020 by Wendy Frost

The UTSA College of Business recognized the outstanding contributions and accomplishments of faculty members during the annual Carlos Alvarez College of Business Awards Ceremony. Ten faculty members were honored for excellence in the areas of teaching, research and service.

Faculty award plaques Teaching Excellence
Don Lien
, the Richard S. Liu Distinguished Chair in Business, was named the recipient of the E. Lou Curry Teaching Excellence Award. The award is presented in memory of Lou Curry, a respected accounting faculty member in the college, who passed away in 1995.

Throughout his tenure at UTSA, Lien has taught 21 different courses at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels, and his courses have been across disciplines in economics, finance and statistics.

He taught a new course on Economic Development last spring and another on the Chinese Economy this fall. Harnessing technology to the benefit of the students, he invited guest speakers from throughout the world to share their perspectives on the Chinese economy.

The recipient of the Endowed 1969 Commemorative Award for Teaching Excellence for tenured faculty is Kevin Grant, associate professor of technology management. Grant’s teaching is reflective of his enthusiasm and passion for project management. He primarily teaches Introduction to Project Management at the undergraduate level and Essentials of Project and Program Management to students in the M.S. Business program.

As an advocate for experiential learning, he teaches his students the fundamentals of project management, but he then challenges them to manage an event of their own—projects that directly benefit the college. Students have commented that this is one of their favorite classes, and they value the opportunity to put their newfound knowledge into action.

Arkajyoti Roy, assistant professor of management science and statistics, was named the recipient of the 1969 Commemorative Award for Teaching Excellence for tenure-track faculty. Teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, he has made significant contributions to the college’s M.S. Data Analytics program. He also developed the proposal for the new B.B.A. in Business Analytics.

His courses have a strong focus on applications and problem-solving. His graduate students recently completed a semester-long project that involved real-world topics such as modeling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rounding out the teaching category, Xiaolu Zhang, assistant professor in practice in information systems and cyber security, was awarded the Endowed 1969 Commemorative Award for Teaching Excellence for fixed-term faculty.

His passion for teaching is related to his interest in the fields of cyber security and forensics. He views teaching as an opportunity to not only share knowledge with his students but also to be inspired by them. He routinely teaches Java Programming, Operating Systems Security and Forensic Analysis I and II. He complements learning fundamental principles by providing students with hands-on labs that motivate students to solve real-world issues.

Research Excellence

The first recipient of the Col. Jean Piccione and Lt. Col. Philip Piccione Endowed Research Award is Elias Bou-Harb, associate professor of information systems and cyber security. Bou-Harb’s research focuses on the security and availability of complex distributed systems. His work has informed not only the development of such systems but also the sciences of computer security, networking and distributed systems.

He has authored more than 85 refereed publications that have been cited over 1,000 times in leading security and data science venues. His research and development activities focus on operational cyber security, attack detection and characterization, malware investigation, cyber security for critical infrastructure and big data analytics.

Wenbo Wu, assistant professor of management science and statistics, is the second recipient of the Col. Jean Piccione and Lt. Col. Philip Piccione Endowed Research Award. Wu is a statistician with two primary research focuses. The first is developing new statistical methodologies to overcome the emerging challenges in high-dimensional big data problems. His second focus is collaborating with researchers across multiple disciplines to apply modern statistical methods to solve challenges in their field.

He has 14 publications published or accepted in peer-reviewed journals. Many of those articles have appeared in top-ranked journals including Management Science, Applied Energy and the Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics.

The last recipient of the Col. Jean Piccione and Lt. Col. Philip Piccione Endowed Research Award is Zijun Wang, associate professor of finance. Wang’s research interests include empirical asset pricing, international finance and financial markets. His research seeks to answer financial questions such as, “What factors drive financial markets?” and “Do these factors reflect market participants’ behavioral biases or are they connected to fundamental economic risks?”

He has published over 50 peer-reviewed research papers in finance, economics and statistics. His research has appeared in elite journals such as the Journal of Financial Economics, Management Science, Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis and the Journal of Econometrics.

Service Excellence
Rita Mitra
, associate professor in practice in information systems and cyber security, received the Dean’s Excellence in Service Faculty Award. Mitra unselfishly shares her talents to provide outstanding educational programming online. Through her service, she has enabled faculty members to succeed in the development and delivery of online courses.

She was instrumental in keeping the college’s online B.B.A. in Cyber Security running as well as provided extraordinary leadership as the entire college shifted from in-person to online classes, requiring 100 percent of our courses to move online in a 10-day period.

This year’s Patrick J. Clynes Endowed Service Award winner is Ram Tripathi, professor of management science and statistics. Tripathi has been in service to UTSA for the last 45 years. A founding father of the statistics programs, he was instrumental in the development of the college’s statistics programs at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels.

During his tenure he has served on a multitude of committees. Currently, he is the graduate advisor of record for both the M.S. and Ph.D. programs in statistics–a position that he has held almost exclusively since these programs were created. He has also served numerous times as the president and vice president of the San Antonio chapter of the American Statistical Association.

Overall Excellence
In recognition of overall faculty excellence in teaching, research and service, Jerry Keating, the Peter Flawn Professor of Statistics, was presented with the Endowed 1969 Commemorative Faculty Award for Overall Faculty Excellence. This award, established by benefactors Jean and Philip Piccione and Shirley Sterling, was created to commemorate the founding year of the university.

Throughout his career, Keating has been recognized as an outstanding teacher. He is a member of the UTSA Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars, received UT System’s Regents Outstanding Teaching Award and was honored twice with the Chancellor’s Council Teaching Award.

His primary area of research compares estimators under various criteria including Pitman nearness or closeness. Additional areas of research include estimation theory, environmental statistics and statistics in sports. He has applied his research as a consultant in a variety of industries including a reliability analysis of NASA satellites in partnership with Southwest Research Institute and a patent to detect leaks in underground storage tanks with Valero.

During his 29 years of service to UTSA, he has contributed to numerous committees. And, more importantly, he dedicates his time to working with our students. He advises actuarial science students, assists M.S. Data Analytics students on their practicums and has been a longstanding advocate for undergraduate research. 

— Wendy Frost