College awards - students

Outstanding Doctoral Student

Eric Negangard

Eric Negangard, a fifth-year doctoral student in accounting and information systems, "has been a great asset to our research production and classroom instruction," wrote Reza Barkhi, accounting and information systems department head.

Negangard's research focuses on judgment and decision-making processes in auditing and fraudulent financial reporting. "Eric has developed a program of research that has the potential to make a significant contribution to both the literature and practice," Barkhi noted.

Negangard has taught three undergraduate accounting courses. In 2011, he received a PwC INQuires grant to design a forensic accounting course that has been adopted into both the undergraduate and graduate curriculum.

In recognition of considerable positive feedback from students, Negangard received the 2012 Graduate Student Teaching Award from the college. "Eric is consistently one of our students' favorite instructors, and a significant amount of students seek out the sections he is teaching," Barkhi wrote.

Negangard has accepted a faculty position at the University of Virginia, starting fall 2014.

Ph.D. Research Excellence

Through his work on several research projects, Eric Negangard has collaborated with multidisciplinary teams and scholars from various research institutions.

Negangard has been working with the accounting and information systems and psychology departments at Virginia Tech on a study that uses electroencephalography measurements and face reader software to examine how auditors detect deception.

In another project, the American Accounting Association selected Negangard to serve on a research synthesis team for the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. The team's synthesis of existing research about auditors' considerations of internal controls over financial reporting was published in Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory in 2012.

For his dissertation, Negangard is investigating the role of correspondence bias in assessments of fraudulent financial reporting made by individuals without accounting backgrounds. Correspondence bias occurs when people attribute an individual's action to his or her disposition without considering other relevant factors.

"An improved understanding of correspondence bias within a fraudulent financial reporting context has the potential to inform future regulatory and standard setting activities," wrote France Belanger and Jack Maher, professors of accounting and information systems.

Outstanding Dissertation

Xiaoping Zhao

Xiaoping Zhao's dissertation investigates the success of framing and presenting techniques used in shareholder social activism initiatives. His research uses "a carefully crafted research approach and provides some very interesting and useful results," wrote management professor Richard Wokutch and management department head Kevin Carlson, who co-chaired Zhao's dissertation committee.

Shareholder social activism includes activities such as letter writing, direct communication to top executives, and selectively investing in or divesting from certain firms. For his dissertation, Zhao analyzed the vocabulary and presentation strategy of 1,621 shareholder social proposals submitted to S&P 500 firms from 1994 to 2012.

"Most importantly, Xiaoping found that the effectiveness and success of shareholder social activism would be largely determined by the joint effect of opportunity framing, threat framing, coalition building, and repeated submitting," Wokutch and Carlson said.

Zhao also examined trends in the subject matter of shareholder social proposals. He discovered that proposals advocating for product safety, employment diversity and equity, and community issues have declined in recent years. In contrast, proposals concerning corporate political expenditures and corporate impacts on the natural environment are increasing substantially.

In the 1,621 cases that Zhao studied, only once did a corporate board recommend that shareholders vote for the proposal. "This finding thus questions the effectiveness of shareholder social proposals in disciplining corporate management," wrote Wokutch and Carlson.

Zhao's study is titled "Investigating Shareholder Social Activism from a Perspective of Issue Selling: Issues, Strategies, and Success." Zhao received his Ph.D. in management in December 2013.

Ph.D. Summer Research Grants

Stephane Collignon, a doctoral student in business information technology, has received a grant to develop new methods for allocating the distribution of product loads to transportation carriers on the spot market.

"This research is particularly timely as it can facilitate improved supply chain operations and sustainability, both of which are critical needs," wrote Deborah Cook, business information technology professor.

Management Ph.D. student Jerry Flynn was awarded funding to investigate predictors of K-12 teacher retention, employee turnover, and career change.

"Jerry is looking at interesting and important research questions that have not been explored, possibly due to the difficulty in obtaining turnover information related to whether one stays in or leaves a profession," wrote Ryan Zimmerman, associate professor of management.

Marketing doctoral student Stefan Hock has received a grant to study the effects of celebrity scandals on the stock prices of companies the celebrities endorse.

"Stefan has cleverly used the event study approach to test the interaction between the firm's response and the market reaction in response to an event, and in that sense, his study rises above the typical event study," wrote finance professor Raman Kumar.

Jitendra Tayal, a Ph.D. student in the finance department, was awarded a grant to examine whether risk mitigation trades of investors can be used to find and explain predictable patterns in returns.

"Research on market efficiency, such as this paper, is important for our understanding of financial markets and implications for resource allocation," wrote finance professor Vijay Singal.

Graduate Student Teaching

Nicole Wright

Nicole Wright, a fourth-year doctoral student in accounting and information systems, has taught four undergraduate courses, including two upper level courses.

"Nicole spent eight years working at PricewaterhouseCoopers as an assurance manager," wrote Reza Barkhi, accounting and information systems department head. "She leverages her professional experience to bring real world examples and cases to the classroom."

Wright has averaged 4.8 on a 5.0 scale in student evaluations across all sections of her courses. "Her teaching evaluations are outstanding, especially considering the variety and difficulty of the courses she has taught," Barkhi noted.

Outside of the classroom, students frequently meet with Wright for career guidance. She has helped students decide which area of accounting to pursue and given advice on employers to consider.

"Nicole expects her students to take responsibility for their learning and holds them accountable for assignments during the semester," Barkhi wrote. "Students have noted that this has helped them perform well during internships and starting their career."

"She had passion for the course and the students," remarked one student. "She was always enthusiastic in her class, which made me love the class even more."

Outstanding Master's Student

Edward Halley

Edward "Ted" Halley has been named the Outstanding MBA Student for the class of 2014. A dual-degree student who is also completing a master's in civil engineering, Halley "has performed exceptionally well from an academic standpoint," said Steve Skripak, Pamplin associate dean for graduate programs.

"Ted has also served as president of the MBA student association, and he has proven to be a strong leader at a time of transition for the program," Skripak said.

Halley was nominated for the award by several of his peers and selected by the administrators of the MBA program, based on his academic achievements and his outstanding service to the college.

Outstanding Pamplin Senior

Colleen Thom

Colleen Thom, a senior honors student majoring in business information and technology and minoring in leadership and social change, "has an exceptionally wide and impressive range of service and leadership activities," wrote Bernard W. Taylor, business information technology department head.

Thom was the executive director of sustainability and outreach for the Virginia Tech Residence Hall Federation (RHF) for the 2012-2013 term. She led university-wide events and programs, including the Stories Campaign, which celebrates diversity through student narratives. She is currently a resident advisor for a freshman dormitory.

Among other campus positions, Thom serves as an officer for the class of 2014, a Hokie Camp counselor, and a student teaching assistant for University Honors.

During summer 2013, Thom interned at the Boeing Company, where she developed a training series and redesigned the website for the Boeing 737 airplane program planning and control team. Thom has also interned for Iris Interactive, a product commercialization software firm.

H.H. Mitchell Outstanding Leadership

Courtney Dobbs

Senior accounting and finance major Courtney Dobbs served as the executive vice president of the Virginia Tech Entrepreneur Club in 2010-2012. During her tenure, she helped launch the club's $5,000 Grand Business Competitions, raised more than $10,000 in sponsorships, and helped triple club membership.

Dobbs is a scholarship athlete on Virginia Tech's cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track teams. She is a member of the Virginia Tech NCAA Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and served as one of two representatives from Virginia Tech to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) SAAC in 2012. She received the Track Coach's Leadership Award and the Cross Country Coach's Leadership Award.

In recognition of her substantial community service, the ACC honored Dobbs with its Top 6 for Service Award in 2013. She regularly volunteers with local organizations, including Micah's Backpack, 3 Birds Berry Farm, and Kentland Farm.

Dobbs has interned with startup companies SendHub and Engagn, as well as Southern States Cooperative. She was an analyst for Pamplin's BASIS program in 2012-2013.

College Service

Jordan Jacobson

Jordan Jacobson, a senior honors student majoring in marketing management and minoring in psychology, has served as the chief marketing officer for Pamplin Re-Inventing Social Media (PRISM) since spring 2012. She has helped to build the PRISM brand, leading social media marketing for PRISM and outside clients, including Pamplin's Diversity Jubilee, an engineering group, and Relay for Life.

Jacobson was the public relations officer for Pamplin's Business Horizons career fair in 2011-2013. She promoted the fair to students using both traditional and digital media and led Business Horizons' first marketing analysis program to determine the effectiveness of each tactic.

As a brand management intern for Altria during summer 2013, Jacobson worked in digital marketing and analytics. She has accepted a full-time brand analyst position.

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