Jessica Jarrell, a 2009 graduate in agriculture economics who is now working on her master’s degree in agricultural leadership, said she admires Professor John Riley, not just for his teaching, but also for the extra effort he makes for students outside of class.
A professor of agricultural and resource economics, Riley is also the faculty adviser for UT’s National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) team.
Each year, the NAMA team invents a product and then builds a marketing plan for it.
“Dr. Riley and his team begin the first day of the fall semester and work intensely every other day or night on the project,” Jarrell said. “I was on the team for three years, and it was my most meaningful experience in college. It made every other class make sense. It was really theory in practice.”
Jarrell said Riley was also a great classroom teacher.
“Any student who has taken his infamous ag finance class will tell you that he is willing to go back and reteach difficult concepts instead of pushing through so quickly that students get frustrated or give up,” Jarrell said. “He makes finance fun. It takes someone special for that alone.”
This past summer when Jarrell did a 12-week marketing internship with a large farm supply company, she learned how valuable her education has been.
Beth Newman, a senior in statistics, said she’d like to say “thank you” to a number of faculty members:
- Melissa Morris, a lecturer in statistics, “for helping me discover my passion for statistics”;
- Joe Carcello, the Ernst & Young Professor in the Department of Accounting and Information Management and the director of research for the Corporate Governance Center, in accounting and information management, “for helping me discover my passion was not accounting, but that I could do anything I put my mind to”;
- William Seaver, associate professor in statistics, operations and management science, “for raising the bar by providing the most academically challenging courses I have ever taken”; and
- Elizabeth Gentry, lecturer in English, “for giving me the confidence to be heard and a strong voice through writing and speech.”
“These professors and lecturers went above and beyond curriculum and taught me life lessons, from perseverance to discovering what my own values and beliefs were,” she said. “They each challenged more than just my academics.”
But Newman said there are also two professors who made a significant impact on her although she never took a class from them — Frank Guess in statistics and Associate Professor Tim Young in Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries.
Newman said she networked with Guess in her sophomore year to learn more about future opportunities in statistics. Since then, she said, Guess has become an educational resource, a role model and a source of motivation.
“He always knew what to say to encourage me,” she said. “He spent time helping me create future plans. He was there with heartfelt congratulations for my achievements, and even more, he was there with an inspirational quote when I felt lost.”
Guess introduced Newman to Young, and Newman began working at the Forest Products Center on the agricultural campus.
“I loved being a research assistant there,” she said. “Working there led me to a deeper understanding of statistical concepts that I learned in class.”
In honor of Faculty Appreciation Week, Tennessee Today will feature stories and videos based on comments about great faculty members submitted by students, alumni and others.
You can send a shout out to your favorite faculty member or read what others have written.
Also this week, area merchants will offer a variety of discounts for UT faculty.