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Faculty & Research

TRACIE WOIDKTE

Preparing for Adventure: Tracie Woidtke

Tracie Woidtke was on the faculty at Texas A&M University when the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, opened the Neel Corporate Governance Center in 2003. Jim Wansley, head of the Department of Finance, reached out to Woidtke to see if she’d be interested in a new faculty position they were creating.

“I agreed to meet with founding members of the CGC and the finance faculty,” she says. “I felt it was a very good fit for my research interests.” Woidtke and her husband, Shane, soon relocated to Knoxville with their two young children, Skyler and Knox. “When they were old enough to start reading, my son wondered why his name was on all the buses here,” she laughs. “They were both born in Texas, and we didn’t know we’d ever live here, so his name is a coincidence.”

Diving into her work at the college, Woidtke became Ph.D. program director for the finance department at the Haslam College of Business and worked to improve the doctoral program while recruiting high-quality faculty. In January 2016, Woidtke was named the new department head when Wansley stepped down after more than twenty years of service. “Our research productivity has definitely been improving, and I think the whole department is excited about the trajectory,” she says. “I want to continue to support that and take it to the next level. I also want to focus a little more on undergraduates, internships and placements.”

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Charles Simms

Economics of Ecosystems: Charles Sims

Is nature truly priceless? Perhaps so, but you can put a monetary value on it. Food, fuel, shelter and myriad other commodities are sourced from the natural world, and some economists, including one at the Haslam College of Business, are attempting to measure this natural capital in concrete, capitalistic terms.

A study published by Nature Climate Change in June 2014 estimated the total, global value of natural capital to be $40 trillion. While measuring benefits like medicines, building materials and drinking water might be fairly straightforward, economists also are attempting to measure the value of natural services like carbon absorption in forests and natural flood defenses from wetlands.

“An ecosystem is a lot like an economy,” says Charles Sims, an assistant professor at Haslam studying environment and resource economics. “Society may value something that nature produces like plants for medicine or trees for lumber. But nature can’t produce these things without a healthy ecosystem. Much like radiators and motherboards have value because they go into the production of cars and computers, an ecosystem has value because it supports the production of things society values.”

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Anne Smith

Images of Change: Anne Smith

Images communicate in ways that words cannot. Anne Smith, head of the Department of Management at the Haslam College of Business, sees photography as a way to observe management styles.

“I’m very interested in how to use images in the field, getting organizational members to take pictures and talk about them,” says Smith. “For three years, I taught a first-year studies course about photography and making sense of transition. I enjoyed that more than almost anything else I’ve done.”

Smith’s freshman students used photography to explore their transition to campus life. “We looked at finding comfort, missing home, becoming involved and ultimately adjusting to the college routine,” Smith explains. To help students develop their photography skills and find angles to express their thoughts, Smith led them on a behind-the-scenes tour of campus. “I took them to all the out of the way places around campus,” she says. “We went inside the old library, the alumni house, McClung Museum and to the top floor of the law school, where there’s a collection of platinum records on display.”

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