Making an Impact: College of Business and Administration Spotlights Roth, Zhou

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Through teaching, research, and service, our faculty are making an impact on student lives, on our community, and on the world. Here’s a look at two College of Business Administration faculty members—one here less than three years and one here thirty-three years—who love watching their students grasp difficult concepts.

Harold Roth

Roth-postcardsProfessor Harold Roth has been making an impact on Tennessee students for thirty-three years. That’s not bad for someone who never planned on going into teaching.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in accounting from West Virginia University, he spent a couple of years in the army before practicing public accounting. After earning his MBA he got the opportunity to teach at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

“I enjoyed being around the students,” Roth said. “I decided I could probably do this, and I should probably get a PhD.”

So back to school he went—this time to Virginia Tech. After earning his doctorate, he joined UT’s Department of Accounting and Information Management in 1981.

Roth is a certified management accountant, a certified public accountant, and a certified financial manager. In his classroom, he focuses on concepts that accountants use to provide value to businesses, governments, and not-for-profit organizations and that students need for the certification exams they will take when they graduate.

“Dr. Roth has dedicated his life to educating and mentoring accounting students,” said Bruce Behn, professor and associate dean of the College of Business Administration. “While soft-spoken, his efforts to make a difference in the world of management accounting and to help students have successful careers will be felt for many years to come.”

Roth said his favorite part of teaching is “seeing my students grasp accounting concepts they weren’t familiar with before.

“When they leave my classroom, I hope they take with them a work ethic,” he said.

Roth applies that same work ethic outside the classroom as well. When he’s not teaching, he enjoys gardening and yard work. He and his wife, Gracia Bobbitt, an accountant with a firm in Knoxville, take time to pursue their interest in collecting antique glassware and postcards. Roth has an extensive collection of antique UT postcards—some are on display in his office. Roth and Bobbitt are avid Volunteer fans, especially when it comes to the Lady Vols.

Wenjun Zhou

zhou-sonAssistant Professor Wenjun Zhou may be a newer addition to the Department of Statistics, Operations, and Management Science, but she’s already making a name for herself for her dedication and eager approach to teaching.

Zhou joined the faculty two and a half years ago after earning her doctorate from Rutgers University.

“Dr. Zhou’s quiet, soft-spoken demeanor belies her passionate, enthusiastic, and entrepreneurial personality,” said professor and department head Ken Gilbert. “Her teamwork has been invaluable in the development of the curriculum and research programs in our department. Faculty and students love working with her.”

Zhou teaches courses in data mining, multivariate data analysis, and statistics—complex subjects that can be intimidating to students. And that’s why Zhou shines in the classroom.

“Helping students succeed is my favorite part of a career in academia,” she said. “Student success can be as small as a sparking idea in their course project, or as big as landing a rewarding job upon graduation.”

Zhou said when she sees students visiting campus after graduation, she feels like she’s greeting old friends. “There is no better way of making good friends every year than being a professor.”

Zhou teaches her students to take a creative approach to analyzing data.

“All models are wrong; some are useful,” she said. When her students leave her classroom, she hopes they have the foundation to continue to develop good instincts.

“Being a data miner is somewhat like a medical doctor—it takes good training and hard work to get well grounded, and it may take years of real-world practices to become really skillful and develop good instincts for performing the job creatively.”

During her spare time, Zhou enjoys crafting, gardening, playing tennis, and hiking in the mountains. She and her husband recently welcomed a new baby boy.

C O N T A C T :

Rebekah Winkler (865-974-8304, winkler@utk.edu)

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