UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School


New visiting scholars program allows collaborative exchange of ideas


UNC Kenan-Flagler has launched a new visiting scholars program to bring leaders from various fields to the School to collaborate and exchange ideas with the students and faculty.

The Kenan Distinguished Visiting Scholar program will allow each academic area at the School to bring in one scholar per year for a weeklong visit. Each scholar in residence will give several lectures.

The first scholar George Shanthikumar, the chancellor's professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research at the University of California at Berkeley, visited in April. He gave two lectures on statistical operations research theory and one on the application of research in the semiconductor industry.

“The program lets you interact with the faculty and the students on a much deeper level than if you come for one day for a seminar,” Shanthikumar, said. “This type of interaction allows you to continually exchange ideas and collaborate.”

Shanthikumar has done similar programs with other universities. He said that he continues to interact with the faculty he meets during these visits by publishing papers together, for example. In addition, he has tried to recruit some of the PhD students he met at those universities, he noted.

Jayashankar Swaminathan, the School’s senior associate dean of academic affairs and Kay and Van Weatherspoon Distinguished Professor of Operations, Technology and Innovation Management, was instrumental in starting this program.

Knowledge sharing is the main goal of the program, he said.

“Our faculty get to learn about the research of top flight academics in our field while sharing with them what we do here at UNC Kenan-Flagler and its impact on the thinking of fellow researchers, students and businesses,” Swaminathan added.

“Our PhD students also benefit from extensive interactions with the expert. Given that one of the seminars is jointly hosted with another department on campus, this program also could serve as a catalyst for faculty collaboration with other departments on campus.”

Based on the success of the first visitor, the School will continue the visiting scholar project as a regular program, he added.