EPIC Spotlight: Dr. Scot Burton

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“It”s a tremendous place to find people who have interests that overlap with mine.”

Many products and advertisements are adorned with splashy designs, logos and striking visuals to attract consumers. Dr. Scot Burton believes packaging and advertising should also help people make informed decisions, whether those are the frozen dinners they buy or the hamburgers they get from a restaurant chain.

The Food and Drug Administration, other government agencies and product marketers often listen to what Burton has to say.

Since 1994, packaged food products have been required to have nutritional facts panels. But Burton says he would like the information broken down and summarized so it’s more visible and easier to understand. Many manufacturers have begun to show the levels of calories, fat, sodium and sugar content prominently placed on the front packaging. Others use rating methods, such as a stars or numerical values. “They’re designed to help consumers recognize the healthier food options at the retail shelf, but it is not yet clear which system is most effective,” says Burton, distinguished professor in marketing at the Sam M. Walton College of Business.

He is researching the various methods and providing them to the FDA, which is in the process of considering the standardization of front-of-package information for all food products, he says.

How restaurant chains can better provide nutritional information to their diners is also part of Burton’s research. He says he became interested in this many years ago after he read a carefully researched book detailing the actual amounts of fat, calories and other content in the appetizers, entrees and desserts at popular chain restaurants. Burton says he was surprised to learn that many of the large meals at chain restaurants contained up to three times the recommended daily intake of fat, saturated fat and sodium. While most people would view such meals as not very healthy, he speculated they were far unhealthier than most would expect.

He then discovered that fellow marketing professor Dr. Betsy Howlett was also interested in the healthfulness of restaurant foods. The two began collaborating, and their findings have been heavily cited as the federal government eyes requiring chains with 20 or more restaurants to provide calorie content on their menus. In response, some restaurants have already devised healthier menu options. “It seems to be encouraging the restaurant chains to think about the number of more healthful items, as well as the less healthful items, that they provide,” he says of pending regulations.

Then there are cigarettes. Having seen how smoking has negatively affected family and friends, Burton has been researching ways for warnings on cigarette packages to make stronger impressions on current smokers. Some of this involves the addition of visually graphic images reflecting the repercussions of long-term smoking.

He’s also embarking on a project that involves the consumer behavior of those who shop using their smartphones. Burton says he will collaborate with faculty from both Walton College’s information systems and supply chain management departments. He says collaborating with other excellent researchers is one of the many advantages of working at Walton College. “It’s a tremendous place to find people who have interests that overlap with mine,” he says.

The classroom also benefits from his findings. Burton says early in the semester, he talks to his undergraduate and M.B.A. classes about food labeling, for example, and he often enlists Ph.D. students to help design, collect and analyze data from experiments conducted in the Walton College’s Behavioral Business Research Lab.

Burton’s work has appeared in many publications, including the Journal of Marketing, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, Journal of Retailing, American Journal of Public Health and others.

He says researching and teaching at the University of Arkansas for the past 20 years has enabled him to pursue opportunities that he wouldn’t have been able to find elsewhere. “I feel like I’ve been able to grow with the Walton College,” Burton says.

EPIC Spotlight: Sarah Pittman

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“The camaraderie among students in the Walton College contributes to the overall college experience.”

Sarah Margaret Pittman puts a bit of a spin on her finance knowledge. Though she dabbles in the stock market, she also pays attention to up-and-coming musical acts, trying to figure out which ones will be successful. “That attraction is you want to get something before it’s big and kind of capitalize on it,” she says.

This integration between finance and music is something she hopes to explore in her honors thesis. She says her ultimate goal is working in investments in a big city either in the United States or internationally.

Sarah Margaret, a junior majoring in finance at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, says she wants to live somewhere where there is a financial hub as well as rich culture, such as London, England, where she is going this summer to study at the London School of Economics. (Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones went to school there, she points out.) She says she hopes to make contacts so she can potentially return after she graduates.

Her business sense began at a young age under the guidance of her father, Sam Pittman IV, a Walton College alumnus. When Sarah Margaret and her siblings requested a black Labrador retriever, he had them present their case boardroom style. The children used a tri-board as they pointed out the benefits of having a dog in the home. Their request was successful. The children pooled their money and got a dog.

Years later, Sarah Margaret was asked to make a similar pitch only if she planned to attend a school that wasn’t the University of Arkansas. A presentation was never given. The Texas girl had the University of Arkansas engrained in her. She spent her earliest years wearing an Arkansas Razorbacks cheerleading costume and knew how to call the Hogs. Besides her father, her older brother, Sam Pittman V, graduated from Walton College with a marketing degree. Dr. Molly Rapert, an associate marketing professor at the college and longtime family friend, also served as an inspiration. “I just adore her, and she was a fabulous ambassador and representative of the University of Arkansas,” Sarah Margaret says.

Torn between studying business and creative writing, she knew that the University of Arkansas offered excellent programs in both. During her freshman year, she took the introductory core business classes as well as some in creative writing. By the end of her first year, she declared a major in business with a minor in English. She says she focused on finance because it allows her to be in the middle of the action.

Since then, Sarah Margaret has participated in a number of activities with her fellow students. A member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, she has served on the Walton College Honors Student Executive Board where her duties have included acting as alumni chair. She has also studied abroad twice, once in England and once in Italy. She says the mentorship provided by the professors has been invaluable along with the friendships formed while here. “The camaraderie among students in the Walton College contributes to the overall college experience,” she says.

After graduation, she’ll draw from her classes, professors’ advice and other Walton College experiences as she finds her place in the finance industry. “It’s not like you read a book and just figure out what to do,” she says.

EPIC Spotlight: Samantha Francis

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When Sam M. Walton College of Business student Samantha Francis graduated from her Liberty, Missouri high school in 2007, she knew she wanted to study business. She ended up in one of its least-understood areas: transportation and logistics. “Unlike some people think, it’s not about driving a truck,” she joked. “To try and explain transportation and logistics, I would say it’s more than what you think. It’s a company’s entire supply chain, all the way from procurement and purchasing the actual supplies to manufacturing what you need and distributing it out to the customer. It’s the beginning to the end,” Francis said.

“A family friend is a vice president at J.B. Hunt and he told me that it’s lucrative for women to be in the transportation/logistics field, so I decided to look into it. I also really like problem solving and math, and I discovered that TLOG ended up being a better fit than I expected. There is a lot of ‘how do we do this,’ ‘how do we do it the best way,’ and ‘how do we do it efficiently,’ so it worked out really well for me,” Francis said.

“It’s definitely male-dominated. I would say out of all my TLOG classes, it’s maybe 20 percent girls. Maybe,” Francis said. Women in Logistics is a group that supports the field’s under-represented demographic. “It’s an organization that networks undergraduate and graduate students with our executive members that are out in the community and have careers that pertain to the logistics industry. We’re lucky enough to have Wal-Mart here, and we have a lot of suppliers for Wal-Mart on our Executive Board. We have an event at Powerhouse every semester that allows us to network with these executives and allows them to tell us what’s going on in the field—if they’re looking for people or if it’s slow. They take our resumes and try to place us in the community so that our degree is useful for what our jobs will be.” Francis joined the group her sophomore year and advanced to vice president as a junior. In fall 2010, she’ll begin her term as president. “I’m looking forward to it,” she said. “It’s going to be a lot of work, but it will give me a lot of good experience communicating with others and organizing events.”

Francis said she is also vice president of the Transportation and Logistics Association, an organization open to both male and female students. She said the two groups often coordinate their projects and programs. “We try to get out and show people what there is to do within the logistics community so they are just more educated about it,” she said. Some of the groups’ excursions include trips to the FedEx Freight facilities in Harrison and to one of the Wal-Mart Distribution Centers in Bentonville.

Francis said a benefit of her involvement in these clubs is learning how to make connections and communicate effectively, which will help her as she enters the business world. “I definitely think networking is huge in the business world. Right now, with the economy the way it is, the more people you know, the better chance you have of getting a job,” she said.

Communicating with professors is beneficial, as well, Francis said. “The Walton College will set you up for success if you take advantage of what they have to offer,” she said. One thing the faculty has to offer is insight and advice. “I was in a situation last fall in which I was offered an internship but I had just started working at J.B. Hunt. I wasn’t sure which way to go, so I talked to some of the faculty.” She presented them with the two job offers and asked what they thought she should do. “They were more than willing to help,” she said.

Francis said she is appreciative, too, of the proximity of her school to Wal-Mart and its many suppliers. “The Walton College is great about connecting you to the suppliers, which leads to networking, internships and jobs” she said. “You just have to take advantage of the opportunities that are offered. There is nowhere else that I’ve found where you are going to be able to have contact with so many people in such a small area. Often, it’s a very casual interaction. It’s not stressful—it’s what you want to make out of it.

EPIC Spotlight: Ryan Frazier

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Ryan Frazier, a Sam M. Walton College of Business senior, has utilized his passion and drive to excel in the business world to catapult him to success in the Donald W. Reynolds Business Plan competition.

According to dwrgovernorscup.org: The Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup is a statewide undergraduate & graduate business plan competition designed to encourage students in Arkansas, Nevada, and Oklahoma to act upon their ideas and talents in order to produce tomorrow’s businesses. This competition is aimed at simulating the real-world process of entrepreneurs creating a business plan to soliciting start-up funds from potential investors. Students involved in this competition gain access to networks of successful entrepreneurs, lenders and investors, team building opportunities, business planning skills, and media exposure. Frazier entered the competition with a group of classmates during his junior year, Spring 2009. Frazier decided to enter the competition outside of the classroom and spent hundreds of hours planning, developing, designing and competing over the course of four months.

“Our company was SooiieeSake’, LLC.,” Frazier said. “It was a sake’ brewery located in Hot Springs, AR. It was our vision to produce a premium, pure and natural sake’ in Arkansas.”

Frazier said the sake’ would be made from world-renowned Arkansas grown rice and premium Hot Springs spring water.

After months of work, Frazier said his most memorable moment from the competition was when his team was announced as a finalist. “We were really able to visualize our business from concept into the finished product,” Frazier said. “I love entrepreneurship and the Governor’s Cup is a great way to learn by doing.”

Jeff Amerine, adjunct entrepreneurship professor, said of Frazier’s group: “I was really impressed with this group, they are true quick studies. The amount of work these guys put into this competition in such a short time is amazing. They did the competition because they wanted to compete, not for credit in a class. Their business plan was a good as a seasoned venture company and they did as good as I have seen in 20 years in the business.”

Frazier said the Walton College has provided a “tremendous learning environment” as well as vast opportunities outside of the classroom. “Professors become advisers and fellow students become friends, team members and business partners,” Frazier said. “Some of my most rewarding experiences in the Walton College were from simply getting involved. As President of the Human Resource Management Association and Treasurer of the American Marketing Association, I was constantly meeting new people, building relationships with my classmates and professors, and getting involved with a wide variety of projects to keep busy.”

He is currently preparing to apply to different MBA programs in addition to a teaching position in Japan, where Frazier’s International Business Marketing major and minor in Japanese and Economics will serve him well.

“I’m keeping my options open and still have a lot of decisions to make, but I’m confident that regardless of what I decide my experiences in the Walton College have provided me with the skills necessary to succeed.”

Frazier said he spends a lot of time analyzing the market with Felix Investment Group, a group he started with eight classmates in 2008. He also enjoys rock climbing, soccer and golfing with friends.

EPIC Spotlight: Rohit Mittal

 

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“The professors are top-notch.”

The summer before he enrolled at the University of Arkansas, Rohit Mittal helped manage a Subway Restaurant franchised by his mother. Dealing with day-to-day operations gave him a new respect for the work done behind-the-scenes while teaching him another vital skill: survival.

“If you can’t do it, somebody else can and will,“ he says. “You have to constantly push yourself as hard as you can in order to not be surpassed.”

With some real-world experience under his belt, he decided to do the next natural thing: pursue a business degree with a combined major in accounting and finance at the Sam M. Walton College of Business. He is also minoring in Spanish because he appreciates the Hispanic culture and wants to make himself more marketable, he says.

Now in his second year, he continues to push himself. He maintains a 4.0 grade-point average, and attributes his discipline to his parents, who have always encouraged him to excel. As for career choices, he says investment banking looks interesting, especially since he’s young and can afford to take risks, but he’s also open to consulting and auditing.

Rohit was born in Jackson, Mississippi, and spent later childhood in Little Rock. His older brother, a former auditor for PricewaterhouseCoopers, has been an inspiration to him. He says they talk almost daily about various business concepts, but whenever there is a conflict relating to the business world, he’s the first Rohit turns to.

As a college freshman, Rohit became active in SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise), a global, nonprofit program that brings together a diverse network of university students, academic professionals and industry leaders with the shared mission of creating a better, more sustainable world through the positive power of business. Rohit says he enjoyed the bonding experience with his teammates as they went to a regional competition in Dallas, Texas, where they presented their yearly accomplishments to a panel of distinguished experts.

Last semester, he participated in Honors Freshman Business Connections. Through the program, Jason Adams, the assistant director of the college’s Honor Programs, was the primary leader of the class, while Rohit acted as a mentor to the combined 50 or so incoming honors business students in his two classes. He says that through the program he, too, found a mentor in Jason Adams. At the end of the school year, his FBC classes had a friendly football game against other classes in a similar program.

Rohit says he now serves as a Student Ambassador, a voluntary program with activities that include giving prospective students tours on campus in addition to being involved in the admissions process.

On campus, Rohit also tutors Financial Resources students through the business college – another rewarding experience, he adds. Off campus, he is active with the Northwest Arkansas Entrepreneurship Alliance, an organization that connects established businessmen and women to those who aspire to be young entrepreneurs.

Also rewarding: the caliber of teaching at the business college, including Dr. John Norwood, who taught his Financial Resources and Legal Environment of Business class, and Dr. Charles Leflar, who teaches Honors Business Strategies.

“The professors are top-notch,” he says.

Rohit says he looks forward to spending the Spring 2012 semester in Spain through the college’s Study Abroad program.

Meanwhile, this summer his education will also take place off campus in Lowell, Arkansas. There, he will intern at SC Johnson as part of the Wal-Mart sales team.

“I’m really looking forward to getting some corporate experience,” he says.

EPIC Spotlight: Robin Yang

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“It’s a lot more fun to look at the world through children’s eyes, so I started writing children’s books.”

In Robin Yang’s world, a mixed-breed puppy named Eli goes on journeys where both magic and danger happens.

Eli isn’t just any canine. He is the son of a deceased wolf king and is saddled with the task of restoring order in his father’s kingdom after a coyote poisoned the water, causing citizens to go mad. To do this, Eli must find the missing jewels from an enchanted collar.

Along the way, he hooks up with a pig named Earl before they’re joined by Skipper, a squirrel. In their travels, the three learn valuable lessons.

Children can learn those lessons as well.

The characters are part of Yang’s Enchanted Collar storybook adventure series that aim to inspire children ages 7 and older to learn math, finance, reading and writing while getting lessons on values such as honesty and dependability.

Yang’s own personal journey from financial analyst to children’s author and educator is almost as involved as the adventures of her storybook characters.

A graduate of the Sam M. Walton College of Business master’s program, Yang says she experienced two major financial crises when she worked in the business world. She says she learned minor crises happen about every five years while major ones about every 30.

“People never seem to learn from these lessons,” she says. “If you want to prevent a future crisis, you must teach everyone about finance.”

She says her first attempt was through rewriting fairytales with a financial spin aimed at grownups. But she found the stories didn’t resonate well. She realized that the best way to teach good money habits was to start with young children. Yet, most books written for children were nonfiction and not very engaging, Yang says.

“It’s a lot more fun to look at the world through children’s eyes, so I started writing children’s books,” she says.

The Enchanted Collar series was born and continues to evolve. It is also a role-playing game where children participate in real world scenarios, like pretending to interview for a job.

EPIC Spotlight: Quincy Jordan

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Quincy Jordan will admit she’s a country girl at heart – one who likes to ride horses and drive a pickup truck.

Yet when it comes to her life professionally, she envisions a future as a corporate lawyer. This was a decision reached during a career fair when she was in the seventh grade, she says. That was when a corporate lawyer visited. He spoke about his experiences working with Harley-Davidson, copyright law and his travels.

“That just fascinated me,” she says. “I’m very creative but, at the same time, I’m very logical.”

Learning that corporate law could combine those two skills, Quincy continued to explore a future in the field. In high school, she shadowed a corporate lawyer who tested Serta mattresses. Again, this fascinated her.

“It was so cool,” she says. “I didn’t know there was that type of corporate lawyers.”

When it came time to find a university to help reach her goal, she looked around considerably. She soon realized that the University of Arkansas’ Sam M. Walton College of Business would prepare her best. Its No. 11 ranking among public business schools by U.S. News and World Report’s 2009 America’s Best Business Colleges played a major role in her decision.

“I just loved it,” she says, adding that the university is not far from her home in Oronogo, Missouri, located just a few miles north of Joplin.

Quincy is majoring in both International Business and Accounting, and will continue her education through the Integrated Master of Accountancy (IMAcc) program before graduating. After that, she says she hopes to be accepted into the University of Arkansas School of Law. Yet, she says it’s too soon for her to narrow down what area of law she would like to pursue.

“It’s hard because I’m one of those people who’s interested in so many things,” she says.

One of those interests is movies. As a resident assistant at Maple Hill West, she not only mentors many of those who live in the dorm, she also shares with them her vast collection of DVDs.

She has also channeled her interests through her various activities on campus. She is a member of the newly formed Future Alumni Awareness Network, a group of 10 students who work with both the Walton College of Business and alumni to create networking opportunities, whether it be at a Razorback baseball game or elsewhere.

Quincy is also a member of Beta Alpha Psi, an accounting fraternity at the college, and is the founding president of the new National Honor Society for First Year Students, a program offered through Alpha Lambda Delta. She helped bring the honors program to campus after being inspired through her mentoring at R.O.C.K. (Razorback Outreach for Community and Knowledge) Camp, which is presented through the university’s First Year Experience office.

Her studies also enable her to do something else she loves: travel. She has already visited 11 countries, including Greece last summer when she was part of the university’s Study Abroad program.

All of these opportunities were made possible through the Walton College of Business. Quincy says she feels her instructors provide an education that isn‘t available elsewhere, adding that Dr. Charles Leflar, an accounting professor, has been especially helpful as a Beta Alpha Psi advisor.

“Walton College gives me a lot of real world experiences as well as a lot of people to talk to,” Quincy says. “Plus, they provide you with a lot of opportunities.”

EPIC Spotlight: Nina Gupta

NinaGupta “My firm belief is that if you’re doing research, you are a better classroom teacher than if you’re not.”

The idea was to come to the United States, earn her doctorate and return to her homeland of India.

Sometimes things don’t work out as planned.

Dr. Nina Gupta, a Department of Management distinguished professor, is now in her 28th year at the Sam M. Walton College of Business. The University of Arkansas is a far cry from her native Allahabad, India, where she was one of five children among a “whole family of professors,” as she puts it. A professor herself, Gupta deviated from the family concentration of literature and veered toward organizational psychology instead. “This was sort of my breaking away,” she says.

There was also her desire to travel. While she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Allahabad, her education took her to the University of Michigan, where she earned her doctorate. She had planned to return to India, but a fellow organizational psychology student named Doug Jenkins changed everything. The two married and both became management professors at the Walton College. Their marriage produced a son, Samir, who is now grown. Jenkins passed away in 1996.

Gupta says after she and her husband came to the University of Arkansas in 1984, they saw the management department evolve into a strong research center. “My firm belief is that if you’re doing research, you are a better classroom teacher than if you’re not,” she says. “You’ve got more experiences and knowledge you can bring.”

Though her degrees are in psychology, she says she shied away from clinical psychology in favor of workplace issues, which she continues to research. She says she is fascinated by pay in the workplace and how it relates to one’s status in society.

“I think pay is probably the most important thing that happens to people at work,” she says.

Her primary focus is on how pay motivates employees in the workplace. “It’s very interesting to look at, and what I find is there are a lot of discrepancies in what a company says and what is really going on,” she says. “It’s simply not the amount of pay, but it’s how it’s done.”

Her research has been published in many publications, including Journal of Applied Psychology and Academy of Management Journal. The courses she teaches reflects her research. They include Organizational Rewards and Compensation and graduate courses in management.

While there have been female professors at Walton College through the decades, Gupta says she is the first regular tenure-track female professor at the business school. “I was the first faculty member to have a baby,” she adds.

Management faculty now consists of several women, including Gupta, who has been named to the John H. Tyson Chair of Management.

Outside of work, Gupta says she usually keeps to herself. But there’s always one thing she tries to do each day:

“I go into withdrawal if I don’t do my daily New York Times crossword puzzle,” she says.

EPIC Spotlight: Nick Dintelmann

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“Getting involved right away at Walton College is key.”

After touring the University of Arkansas, it was the Walton College that helped me decide to enroll here. Seeing the Walton College campus and hearing about its programs and all it does for students, from Leadership Walton to the Research Institutes, made me feel at home. Even though I was at the last orientation, one week before school started, they worked with me to make sure I started out on the right foot and have kept me on that path ever since.

I knew that I wanted to do international business. Ever since my family adopted three of my siblings from South Korea, the world has interested me more and more every day. Walking into orientation, I was 100 percent sure that international business was for me, but I was not sure what to concentrate in.

Then we bumped into Renee Clay, a remarkable woman who helped me decide to pick Supply Chain Management. After my parents and I talked with her, we realized that International Supply Chain fit everything that I wanted, a global career that will always be exciting.

Getting involved right away at Walton College is key. I applied and was accepted into Leadership Walton of which I am a proud member to this day. They have provided me with many resources to success and knowledge into the ever-changing world of business.

I also joined the Transportation and Logistics Association, which helps students learn more about supply chain past, present and beyond. The Supply Chain Management Research Center and the department have been absolutely amazing, and I have learned so much through each of them. The research center encouraged me to apply to many of their programs, and through it I received a mentor from Kellogg’s who has helped show me the real life of supply chain. The center also sent me to Denver to participate in a team case study competition, which gave our team great skills and knowledge. Getting involved is the best thing you can do for your major.

On the international business side, I realized something – there was no organization! Through the Global Engagement Office and the Economics Department, we worked tirelessly in the year 2011 to bring about one of Walton’s newest clubs, the International Business Club, which celebrated its inaugural year during the 2012-2013 academic year.

We worked with the new Walton College exchange students and gave insight to U of A students who chose this degree. We’ve grown so much to around 200 members, and I cannot wait for this next year.

Walton College helped me to study abroad as well. The Global Engagement

Office made sure I knew what to do and when to do it and made sure everything was correct and in order. Through them and the Study Abroad Office, I was able to spend the summer of 2012 in Besancon, France, speaking French 24/7, staying with an great host family and gaining insight into the culture of France and its people.

The University of Arkansas has given me so much. I will now be a three-year resident assistant and am going to Maple Hill South this year. I will be working with the TLA and IBC as their president and working to bring Walton College students everything they need to take part in these two amazing organizations.

Because of all these things, I received an internship at the Hershey Company office in Bentonville. I enjoyed my time with them this summer and on into the school year as well.

Thank you, Walton College and the U of A. Go Hogs!

EPIC Spotlight: Molly Rapert

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“It’s exciting to see how everyone is pushing forward.”

A pendant in the shape of Africa hangs from a chain around Dr. Molly Rapert’s neck. For Rapert, it’s more than just a piece of jewelry. It symbolizes a country within Africa’s borders.

Ethiopia.

That was where she, and her husband, Jimmy, traveled in 2001 to pick up their adopted daughter, Marie, who was abandoned by her biological mother. The visit not only changed Rapert’s worldview, it also changed the way she taught.

Rapert, an associate professor in marketing at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, says she prepared for the journey in a scholarly manner by poring over statistical information, literacy rates and other government-issued demographics.

They arrived at night, and the country looked “sparkling,” Rapert recalls. The exhilaration didn’t last long.

“When we got up the next morning, you could smell Ethiopia and see the poverty,” she says. “Everything changed.”

Young boys were wearing dresses because they were the only things available in the local donation box. Very few wore shoes. Disease was rampant. Sanitary drinking water was seldom accessible. “That, I wasn’t prepared for,” Rapert says.

When she returned to teach at the University of Arkansas, she quit using textbooks. Instead, her required reading reflects how human conditions affect the business world.

“I think that’s why my students connect with the class,” she says.

She also created a class called The Global Consumer, which she teaches each summer as a University of Arkansas representative with the Consortium Institute of Management and Business Analysis (CIMBA) study-abroad program in Italy.

As an adviser with Walton Honors Program, she says she strives to provide a positive, yet challenging, experience to her students, who were eligible to attend any school on a scholarship, yet chose Walton College.

For Rapert, it provides a variety in the curricula where she works on topics she would otherwise never get to explore. “My approach is simply I provide the framework,“ she says.

The topics are left only to the students’ imaginations and can range from how people shop in Spain to the carbon footprint of plastic bags retailers use.

Rapert says that the most recent calculations indicate that 67 percent of her thesis students receive grant funding, which includes State Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF), and is the highest percentage of students from a Walton College professor.

“It’s exciting to see how everyone is pushing forward,” she says.

Her recent accolades include being the first Walton College faculty chosen for the Honors College Distinguished Faculty Award last fall and, this spring, receiving the Sam M. Walton College’s Excellence in Teaching Award. The Marketing Department also recently received the Gold Medal Department Award, which goes to the department that’s most active in student awards. (Rapert was the only Walton College professor this year to have more than one student receiving SURF grants.) The Arkansas Alumni Association also bestowed Rapert the 2012 Charles and Nadine Baum Faculty Teaching Award.

Rapert grew up in Tulsa, Okla., earning her bachelor’s degree in marketing and master’s in business administration at the University of Arkansas before moving to Harrisonburg, Va., to teach statistics at James Madison University. She earned her doctorate at Memphis State University.

When a teaching position opened at University of Arkansas, Rapert says she couldn’t resist. She applied and got the job.

She shared office space with professors who once lectured her classes, graded her papers and gave her tests.

“The first year I was here, it was awkward,” she says. “I was too aware of having been their student.”

Now, she says those insecurities are long gone.

In 1994, she married her husband, Jimmy, whom she dated after moving back to Fayetteville. In addition to Marie, they have three sons: Jase, Luke and Jonah.

And, for the past 20 years, there’s also her Walton College family.

“I get up every morning telling people I have the world’s greatest job,” she says.