SUNY Recognizes Two Oswego Professors with Distinguished Faculty Rank
Sarfraz Mian of the Management and Marketing Department and Ampalavanar Nanthakumar of the Mathematics Department have earned the Distinguished Faculty Rank, which constitutes a promotion to the State University’s highest academic rank and is conferred solely by the State University Board of Trustees.
The appointment indicates that both professors have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to excellence, intellectual vibrancy, high standards of instruction and contributions to public service.
World-spanning achievements in research, publications and academics have earned Sarfraz Mian of SUNY Oswego’s Management and Marketing Department the rank of SUNY Distinguished Professor.
A typical submission for a distinguished rank in the SUNY system –- the top level of honor for talented faculty –- will feature a nomination letter from one colleague with plenty of supporting letters. In an unusual step, Mian’s nomination letter was signed by 32 faculty members of Oswego’s School of Business, underscoring the esteem in which his colleagues, as well as researchers and teachers around the world, hold Mian and his work.
“Dr. Mian has earned a worldwide reputation in the area of business incubation and entrepreneurship,” his nominators wrote. “Dr. Mian has published four scholarly books, multiple chapters in scholarly books, and over 50 peer reviewed journal articles. He also has presented his research work at numerous international conferences. He has research collaborations with scholars all over the world.”
Mian, who has a fifth book in the works, is exceptional in terms of influence as well as output. “Research published in the Journal of Business Research and Journal of Technology Transfer has identified Professor Mian’s work as the most cited and most influential among international scholars in the area of business incubation,” his nominators wrote. They also noted Mian has more than 4,000 citations for his work, according to Google Scholar.
Joining the SUNY Oswego family in 1992, Mian has chaired the Management and Marketing Department since 2010, where he supervises more than 25 faculty members and department staff. He previously earned the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities in 2012.
Mian’s expertise has led to invitations to serve guest-editor and/or co-guest editor for special issues of journals seven times, including for peer-reviewed journals Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Journal of Technology Transfer, Technovation, Small Business Economics and the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management. He also served as associate editor for the Journal of Small Business Management.
Mian has been invited to serve as keynote speaker at conferences in the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, as well as for the British Academy of Management. He also has been invited by various schools to help them set up their entrepreneurship programs, and held elected offices for the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences and the Academy of Management. Mian also was appointment by the Global Entrepreneur Monitor as the project chair for an internationally funded annual assessment of that nation’s entrepreneurial activity.
“Dr. Mian’s international reputation results in many graduate students from other universities seeking his assistance as a mentor for their thesis. His guidance has enabled young researchers to become accomplished scholars,” noted Richard Skolnik, a former longtime dean of Oswego’s School of Business.
“Dr. Mian is an inspiration with respect to leadership, work ethic and impact,” wrote Barry Friedman, a professor of marketing and management in Oswego. “He richly deserved and earned worldwide scholarly recognition in the business incubator and accelerator field.”
Friedman also noted that Mian spearheaded the addition of a new and very popular minor in entrepreneurship –- with more than 100 students in it already –- and teaches courses on the subject at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
“His impact extends beyond our students into the international community, as he conducted executive entrepreneurial workshops in Pakistan and Germany,” Friedman added.
Fellow marketing and management faculty member David McLain noted Mian’s key leadership role in bringing world-class scholars to an entrepreneurship symposium on Oswego’s campus. “That leadership has put Oswego on the map for entrepreneurship research, helped foster a minor program of study in entrepreneurship, and encouraged academic quality at Oswego,” McLain wrote.
Ashraf Attia, another marketing and management faculty member, noted Mian’s key role in leading both the entrepreneurship minor development and additional interest in the field at Oswego. “In addition, Dr. Mian has been leading and is actively involved in continuously improving the capstone management courses in the graduate and undergraduate programs and has designed and pioneered several new entrepreneurship courses,” Attia wrote.
One of the world’s foremost experts in entrepreneurship, Henry Etzkowitz, founding president of the International Triple Helix Association and a former senior researcher for Stanford University, praised Mian as “an outstanding scholar with the highest worldwide impact in his chosen field of business incubation and acceleration” and “most deserving and outstandingly qualified for recognition due to the significance and global impact of his entrepreneurship university related scholarly work, specifically in the area of business incubation and acceleration.”
Mian also received supporting letters from colleagues from around the U.S. and from such international institutions as the University of São Paulo in Brazil, Lahore University of Management Sciences in Pakistan, Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands, the University of Ottawa, the University of Cagliari in Italy, the Institute of Business Administration Karachi in Pakistan, Linköping University in Sweden and the National University of Mexico.
He earned his Ph.D. in management and organizations from the George Washington University School of Business, where he also earned a master of business administration. In addition, Mian holds a master of science in industrial engineering and management science and a bachelor’s/master’s science degrees in chemical engineering/energy engineering from University of the Punjab in Pakistan.
Outstanding work inside the classroom and supporting student research have earned Ampalavanar Nanthakumar of SUNY Oswego’s Mathematics Department the rank of SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor.
Nominator Fehmi Damkaci, professor and chair of the Chemistry Department, described Nanthakumar as “a well-rounded and continuously improving teacher and scholar who is also impacting the college and community in large with his activities.”
Joining the Oswego family in 2001, Nanthakumar has taught 14 different courses from introductory to advanced, developed two online courses and consistently receives very high student evaluations and satisfaction ratings.
He also supported more than 60 students with scholarly and creative activities –- often involving them in his publications and presentations –- while staying involved in several teaching and education-related community and college service activities.
Nanthakumar previously received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2020. He received the SUNY Oswego President’s Award for Scholarly and Creative Activity in 2018.
Mathematics can be a challenging subject, but Nanthakumar routinely receives very high marks in evaluations, Damkaci said, with students using such descriptions as: “Dr. Nanthakumar is very passionate about the subject matter,” “He cares about his students and always offers great help at office hours” and “He clearly understands the material, but more importantly helps us to comprehend it.”
“The examples he gives in these classes depend on his audience since mathematics is required for students in different majors,” Damcaki noted. “This made it easier for his students to understand the subject matter as summed up by a comment from one of his students, which mentions that Dr. Nanthakumar relates material to real-world application.”
Nanthakumar is an active scholar in publications and presentations, working with top international statistics experts and his own students. “He published about 42 peer-reviewed articles and five proceedings,” Damkaci wrote. “Of these, 22 articles and three proceedings were published since his appointment at Oswego. He also presented research at 14 international conferences and 12 national and regional conferences. Most importantly, he co-published three articles with his students in refereed journals.”
Calling Nanthakumar “a distinguished teacher and scholar who is a significant resource for students in the Department of Mathematics, particularly those studying statistics,” Kristin Croyle, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, noted his “very positive” teaching evaluations, “with students commenting about how much he works with them to ensure that they understand the material, and that he consistently works to integrate examples from different fields in order to capture the attention of students of many interests.”
“His mentees speak highly of him and their careers and advancement have greatly benefitted from working with him,” said Isabelle Bichindaritz, an associate professor of computer science and director of the college’s biomedical and health informatics graduate programs. “His research, in particular with students, clearly benefits society and the community, for example by studying data science and statistical analysis and their applications in business, forensics, astrophysics and business.”
Bichindaritz further emphasized that “the kindness and spirit of service of Dr. Nanthakumar are exemplary,” as he has provided support on grant proposals for the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health.
Committed to Students
Student letters supporting Nanthakumar consistently emphasized his teaching skills and how much he cares outside of the classroom.
“Dr. Nanthakumar creates an environment where students want to show up to class and are eager to learn,” said Olivia Peel ’20.
“He is not only a professor, but also a mentor, a coach and committed to all students and their success,” Peel noted. “I feel lucky to have had a mentor who not only pointed me in the direction to be successful but walked with me every step of the way to make sure I got there. He is dedicated to the students of SUNY Oswego, the mathematics department, the university and our community.”
Nanthakumar “truly goes above and beyond for his students to make sure they succeed after college,” wrote Caydee Blankenship ’22, a Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence winner, who described him as approachable, caring and always willing to help.
“Even though it is not a part of the course material, he makes the time to teach us how to use software, such as SAS, because he knows employers will look for this skill when hiring employees,” Blankenship added. “This shows that he wants us to succeed in life and not just in his course.”
Nanthakumar has additionally served students by leading creation of an applied statistics minor and advising students in the applied mathematical economics major.
As president of the Sigma Xi Oswego Chapter –- an international science organization where he was named a 2020 fellow –- Nanthakumer led the organization of a Science Day event for high school students, some of whom enrolled in SUNY Oswego.
Nanthakumar also has chaired the college’s Institute for Global Engagement’s Cultural Committee, which successfully implemented three “Country of the Year” programs, and its International Students and Visiting Scholars Committee, creating the Conversation Partner program, where international students are paired with U.S. students to improve language skills.
He coordinates Pre-University Science Poster Competitions organized by the Toronto-based Technological Advances in Science, Medicine and Engineering organization serving high school students mainly in North America. He also serves as an academic council member of the Athens Institute for Education and Research Conferences in Greece, organizing and reviewing submitted papers.
Nanthakumar received letters of support from faculty and colleagues around the U.S. as well as the University of Manitoba, University of Stirling in the United Kingdom, University of Balamand in Lebanon and University of Jaffna in Sri Lanka.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in math/statistics from the University of Jaffna in Sri Lanka, a master’s in statistics from Bowling Green State University and a Ph.D. in statistics from the University of Kentucky.
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