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Engaging Research

April 22, 2021 Jim Warner
Online Research Colloquium

One of the most significant challenges that we have faced in this pandemic year has been staying connected—as both colleges and peers. Often when we talk about the challenges of this disconnect as it relates to higher education, we (rightfully so) think about our students and how to ensure both their academic well-being and physical/mental health. But what of our instructors? Like all of us, they too have had to learn to adapt to a new way of being productive and had the similar challenge of maintaining their sense of camaraderie and support. Balancing passions in a pandemic has meant discovering new ways to engage with one another. Enter the College of Business Research Colloquium.

The desire to build a synergy between departments and expand the production of knowledge has been at the heart of the College of Business, but building a forum for that discourse is a newer initiative, one championed by Dean Todd Mooradian and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, Kristen Lucas, PhD. “It’s a platform for us to present research projects… at any stage from early-stage ideas or [work already] in a written manuscript. Some present work that’s in review with a peer-reviewed journal,” says Assistant Dean of Research, Associate Professor of Finance, Lori Tang, PhD. She is the colloquium co-creator alongside her colleague, Associate Professor of Economics, Yong Chao, PhD. “This way, our faculty can know what we are doing and help explore other opportunities for collaboration with one another.” The Colloquium’s importance only became more imperative in the light of a global pandemic. In a space where staying connected meant meeting virtually, the monthly event quickly became a place where faculty could remain engaged with one another while sharing their work.

“The Colloquium has been a good platform for our junior faculty to get their work out there,” says Dr. Chao. For some professors who have joined the College in the last year, the Colloquium has helped to introduce them to their peers. Tang and Chao have also worked to build a balance in the presentation line-up, mixing in senior faculty presenters and junior faculty. Having distinguished scholars such as Manju Ahuja, PhD, helps to serve as a model for conducting and presenting research.

While building interest around each other’s work helps keep the professors connected, the conversations which extend beyond the meeting may lead to collaborative opportunities between colleagues. Dr. Chao talks about one of those conversations, stemming from March’s presentation by Dr. Weihua Zhao (assistant professor of economics). “Weihua’s research is talking about taxing Uber, and I had asked her a question about pass-through rate. After the Colloquium, our department chair, Jose [Fernandez, PhD], followed up with an email to us, and [we] have continued our conversation.”

The ability to discuss each other’s work beyond the bi-weekly meeting helps to build both better research and additional opportunities to build synergy within the discovery. These insights from others ultimately build better research and expand the knowledge base created at the College of Business—an extension that makes a greater understanding for all. “I have collaborated with marketing and finance faculty peers on papers,” says Dr. Chao. “To paraphrase Steve Jobs, ‘Creativity is about making connections.’” 

Chao and Tang are excited about what year two of the Colloquium will bring come September. One of those shifts may include being in person, with an online component still being an option for those unable to attend in person. There has also been discussion that these colloquiums will eventually include students (particularly the College’s graduate students). “I think we can combine these impacts in research with our mission in teaching,” says Dr. Chao. “As teachers, we should be the exemplary learners. Our research is how we show that we are continuing to learn things. We are pushing the boundaries of our knowledge…it is through these questions and discussions [at the Colloquium] we push into the frontier of this knowledge.”

Expanding on this point, Dr. Tang adds that an invitation has been extended to colleagues from other universities, including Bellarmine University. She postulates that perhaps in the future, the local business community could be invited to join. “[The Colloquium] is a demonstration of our College research culture to others… It’s a good platform to promote the research of the College of Business and show the community what [our professors] are achieving and excel at.”

Learn more about the College of Business Research Colloquium
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