Faculty, Staff Awards

2023 Award Winners
Friday, June 30, 2023
Belk College of Business Honors Faculty, Staff for Research, Teaching, Service Excellence

Ten Belk College of Business faculty and staff members have received the college’s 2023 awards for excellence in research, teaching and service.

The awards and recipients are:

Distinguished Scholarship Award

Tao-Hsien “Dolly” King, Ruth S. Dickson Professor of Finance, who earlier in June was named interim dean for the Belk College, was recognized as a prolific researcher and outstanding citizen of the College. Nominators noted that she produces a high volume of research while also performing significant administrative duties. Since joining the college in 2006, King has authored dozens of published and forthcoming papers, with her work earning best paper and semi-finalist awards at conferences. Her publications have established her as a world class scholar in corporate finance, with a specific focus on fixed income securities. She has twice been a keynote speaker at international conferences. She served as president of the Southern Finance Association in 2018 and is on the editorial board of several journals.

Excellence In Undergraduate Teaching Award

Moutaz Khouja, Professor of Operations Management, has contributed to the college’s teaching mission since 1991. Students describe his teaching style as enthusiastic and humorous, and for many years more than 10 students each year have named him as the person who had the most significant and positive impact on their education at UNC Charlotte. Khouja incorporates real-life examples in his classes and shows respect for all his students and concern for their progress, his nominators said. He has developed new courses and helped redesign the Management Information Systems and Operations majors. He stays focused on excellent teaching and service even as he excels as a prolific researcher; his work has been recognized by honors including selection twice as a finalist for the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence.

Excellence In Graduate Teaching Award

Kexin Zhao, Professor of Management Information Systems, designed the Advanced Business Analytics course, applying a case study approach to advanced analytical techniques so master’s degree students can find subtle and non-trivial relationships that are understandable, useful, and executable to business owners. She also developed an analytics course for the newly established online version of the MBA program. She invites industry leaders in analytics from local companies, such as Bank of America, Deloitte, Gartner, Lowes, Siemens, Belk, and Red Ventures, for guest lectures. Since 2016, she has coached her master students in participating in the Annual Teradata Student Data Challenge Competition, with one team winning the People's Choice award.

Part-Time Faculty Teaching Excellence Award

Lisa Rolan, part-time faculty in Marketing[AS1]  when chosen for the award and now full-time, joined the Belk College in 2018 with a background as a CFO with municipalities. She is noted for her passion for teaching, which is strongly reflected in excellent reviews from students. Nominators describe Rolan as a mentor, someone who cares about students, and empowers them and engages them in learning. She brings energy to the classroom and makes learning fun. In senior surveys during the 2019-2020 and 2021-2022 academic years, students who nominated her for recognition said she had made a significant and positive contribution to their education. One student said, "I learned so much in your class and can't even describe to you the impact you had on me as a teacher.”

Outstanding Service Award

Karen Ford-Eickhoff, Clinical Professor of Management, has built a legacy of over a decade of outstanding service to the university, the college and students. Her service activities include serving in UNC System committee roles, as chair of the Honors Council and chair of the Special Faculty Committee. She has been a member of the Provost’s Non Tenure Track Excellence in Teaching Award Work Group. She has served the management discipline well through the Southern Management Association and the Southwest Academy of Management annual conferences and by acting as a reviewer for multiple academic journals.

Best Paper Award

A paper by Weidong Tian, Professor of Finance and Distinguished Professor of Risk Management and Insurance, and colleagues, arrives at a solution to an optimal portfolio selection problem for risky assets under circumstances where there is ambiguity regarding the correlation. “Portfolio Concentration, Portfolio Inertia, and Ambiguous Correlation,” was published in the elite Journal of Economic Theory. The paper explores portfolio choice by studying the impact of correlation uncertainty on the decision of portfolio selection in a multi-prior model. “This paper,” nominators said, “given the importance of the topic explored, the significance of contributions to the literature on portfolio selection, and supported by its publication in one of the elite economic journals, deserves the Best Paper Award.”

Dean's Award for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Scott Tonidandel, Professor of Management, has created meaningful impact in a number of ways. As director of the Organizational Science Ph.D. program for two years and associate director previously, Tonidandel has championed processes to minimize bias and encourage inclusivity in meetings, admissions and recruitment. He amassed an impressive body of research in DEI long before it became a popular topic of research, using data science to study ways to improve work outcomes especially for those groups that are marginalized and underrepresented in work and in leadership positions. He also builds DEI conversations into the classroom and into mentoring at all levels, such as by requiring readings on race and gender differences in the workplace. 

Belk College Staff Members of the Year 

This year, the Belk College presented two Staff Member of the Year Awards instead of just one, in recognition of the challenges faced over the past year and because of the caliber of the nominees.

Erin Knaul, Associate Director of Academic & Career Coaching, has been described by colleagues as a compassionate leader and someone who goes above and beyond and is the first to volunteer to do tasks that others find less appealing. Nominators describe her work as critical to the retention and success of our undergraduate student population. Her nominators note that the recipient has gone above and beyond over the last year to ensure that her team serves students at the highest levels. As just one example, Knaul developed a probation contract and process for corresponding with students on probation to help them get back into good academic standing.

Kalli Vimr, Assistant Director of Graduate Student Services – Advisor, has been described by colleagues as solution-driven and resourceful, and an advocate for students. She is described as always willing to go above and beyond to provide meaningful guidance to those who need assistance, whether students or colleagues. Nominators noted that she provides valuable guidance and training to colleagues taking on interim assignments within the department. During the last two years, Vimr seamlessly took on additional responsibilities, such as planning several events, with a sense of quiet efficiency and executing them with confidence, nominators observed.

Early Impact Staff Award 

A new Early Impact Staff Award honors the contributions of a member of the Belk College staff who has served in the college for a minimum of one year but less than three years and who has exhibited excellent performance that shows promise of future growth.

Mahalah Dalton, Assistant Director of Faculty Affairs & Department Administration, is described as collaborative, adaptable and a natural leader. Known for her learning spirit and giving heart, Dalton has developed deep knowledge about University policies and procedures and about the way the college operates. She works closely with offices around the University, representing the college in a professional manner. Overall, she has shown a deep commitment to the college’s shared values of integrity, knowledge and innovation, excellence, and diversity and inclusion.