Category: Faculty Spotlight

COB Announces Faculty Awards in Research, Service

Each year the Michigan Tech College of Business recognizes faculty for their accomplishments in the areas of service and research. A faculty panel of past recipients guides the selection process. This year’s honorees are:

Jenny Apriesnig–Service

This year’s Service Award went to Jenny Apriesnig, assistant professor of economics. A faculty member in the College since 2018, Apriesnig took on the advisor role for Michigan Tech Collegiate DECA last fall. Under her leadership and mentorship, the group reactivated and saw early success. Highlights include: Six students competing and placing at the state competition in February and four students competing in the national conference in Baltimore in April, with two earning a top 10 placement.

The organization now has 13 members and is looking forward to growing.

Apriesnig’s above-and-beyond efforts were noticed by her students, too—many of whom nominated her for Tech’s student organization advisor of the year, another award she received this year. Nominees noted that she traveled with the group to various functions across the country and held one-on-one mentoring sessions to ensure each student felt prepared and supported ahead of their competitions and presentations.

Many College of Business students were active in DECA during their high school careers, and were eager to continue their endeavors during college.

Professor Jenny Apreisnig holding a plaque in front of a step and repeat
Jenny Apriesnig

“Jenny’s dedication to support DECA students is appreciated by everyone in the College of Business; she is an outstanding role model for our students,”

Mari Buche, associate dean, Michigan Tech College of Business

William Breffle–Research

Many of Associate Professor of Economics William (Bill) Breffle’s research papers are published in top environmental economics journals, including the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, The American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Land Economics, Ecological Economics, and Environmental and Resource Economics. Breffle has also published in policy journals such as Contemporary Economic Policy and Urban Studies. Two of Breffle’s journal articles were selected for International Library of Environmental Economics and Policy book volumes as “important and influential essays.” Another publication he co-authored is listed among the top 200 most influential research papers in the discipline of environmental and ecological economics. Impressively, according to Google Scholar, his research has been cited more than 1,500 times.

portrait of Dr. William Breffle
Bill Breffle

During the first half of his 30-year career, Breffle’s research centered on the valuation of economic damages caused by injuries to natural resources, such as mining injuries, releases of organics, and oil spills. Research teams across 15 states that included him secured more than $700 million in settlements for restoration and remediation. More recently, his research has investigated pressing topics related to sustainability and carrying capacity, especially focused on the Great Lakes, but also climate change issues as far away as Laos and Uganda. Blending his teaching with research, Breffle’s co-authors frequently include students. 

“Dr. Breffle’s selection for the COB Faculty Research Award is a reflection of his career-long commitment to academic discovery. His research has informed policy decision-makers on national issues for more than 20 years.

“MTU students are fortunate to learn from a person who sits at the forefront of his profession,”

Dean Johnson, dean, Michigan Tech College of Business

About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, business analytics, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.

Dai and Min Named Ten Haken Faculty Fellows

Jun Dai (left) and Junhong Min (right)

Following a recommendation approved by the Provost and President, the College of Business (COB) is pleased to announce that Jun Dai has been appointed as the Ten Haken Faculty Fellow in Accounting and Finance, and the Ten Haken Faculty Fellow in Business is Junhong Min. 

“The College of Business is blessed with excellent faculty,” says Dean Johnson, dean of the College. “As such, a goal of the Ten Haken Faculty Fellows is to rotate these Fellows such that more faculty can be recognized and provided with a boost to their careers.

The COB has a goal of 50 percent of our faculty in funded faculty positions by 2035.

Dean Johnson, dean, Michigan Tech College of Business

Ten Haken Faculty Fellow in Accounting and Finance

Jun Dai’s most recent accomplishments include lecturing on “Teaching Blockchain to Accounting Students” at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Faculty Hour webinar in August, with more than 650 faculty colleagues from around the world in attendance.

Of the appointment, she says: “This offers tremendous support to my career from many perspectives—working with students on course tutors, establishing new student research projects, and traveling to conferences to share outcomes with academia and industry.”

Using the Ten Haken resource to support the local community through a new project that aims to identify social pathology through big data is also a goal for Dai.

Dai, who achieved her Ph.D. at Rutgers University and began at Tech as visiting faculty in 2018, is an assistant professor of accounting. Her research interests lie in applying new technologies such as blockchain, industry 4.0, and data analytics in the auditing profession. Her teaching foci include accounting systems, accounting analytical methods, and business database management. She also serves as the associate editor of the Journal of Emerging Technologies in Accounting and an editorial board member of the Journal of Information Systems.

In July, Dai chaired the 31st Annual Research Workshop on Strategic and Emerging Technologies in Accounting, Auditing, and Tax, held in San Diego.

She received the 2021 American Accounting Association Notable Contributions to Accounting Literature Award for a research article titled “Toward Blockchain-Based Accounting and Assurance.” In it, she explores how blockchain technology could reengineer the existing accounting and auditing procedures to make them more transparent, intelligent, and automated.

Ten Haken Faculty Fellow in Business

Junhong “Jun” Min, led students in a hands-on market research project that, through the study of digital metrics, directly benefited COB’s brand positioning and fall website refresh. As advisor of the American Marketing Association student organization, Min, an associate professor of marketing, mentors students through sales and digital marketing competitions in regional conferences, and hosts networking events with industry experts from leading companies. 

“The Ten Haken Fellowship provides new experiential learning opportunities for students, including alumni networking, community service, local marketing internships, and student-led research projects,” Min says.

The fellowship helps bridge the gap between academia and practitioners in the industry.

Jun Min, associate professor of marketing, Michigan Tech College of Business

Min was a finalist for the 2022 Distinguished Teaching Award, a reflection of his expertise and passion for leading hands-on marketing courses—including Principles of Marketing, Marketing Data Analytics, Sales and Sales Technology, and B2B Marketing in a Digital Age. He studies the relationship governance problems that threaten a firm’s long-term success and growth. He has presented potential solutions in a variety of journal publications, including the European Journal of Marketing, Journal of Business Research, and Journal of Business Ethics, as well as national and international conferences such as the American Marketing Association, the Society for Marketing Advances, and the Decision Sciences Institute.

His analysis, conducted with Matt Monte of Houghton-based Monte Consulting, earned the award for best paper at the Society for Marketing Advances conference in Orlando, Florida. Using more than 12,000 ratings and reviews collected from IMDb.com, the pair identified factors causing inconsistencies between online ratings and reviews. Their work aims to contribute to the understanding of sponsorship marketing performance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lasting Ten Haken Impact

The Ten Haken Faculty Fellows were established in 2017 through the support of Joyce and Richard Ten Haken, COB accounting alumni. Prior to the appointment of Dai and Min, Jeff Wall, associate professor of management information systems, and Sheila Milligan, associate teaching professor of accounting, fulfilled the roles from 2019 to 2022. “Sincere appreciation is extended to both Sheila and Jeff for their depth of service to the fellowships,” says Johnson. “We look forward to the new endeavors Dr. Dai and Dr. Min establish during their term as Ten Haken Fellows.”

About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, business analytics, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.

COB Faculty Earn Awards for Excellence in Teaching

photo of four MTU business faculty with plaques
L to R: Ulrich Schmelzle, Sheila Milligan, Junhong Min, Jeff Wall

This spring, two College of Business (COB) faculty members—Jeff Wall, associate professor of management information systems, and Sheila Milligan, associate teaching professor of accounting—received the Provost’s Award for Sustained Teaching Excellence.

Provost’s Award for Sustained Teaching Excellence

The Provost’s Award for Sustained Teaching Excellence was established in 2020 with a goal of recognizing instructional personnel who have been nominated as finalists for the Michigan Tech Distinguished Teaching Award four or more times. Both the provost and the deans recognized that faculty consistently delivering exceptional instruction to students over many years are worthy of special distinction.

The awards include a plaque and $1,000 in additional compensation and were presented at the Academy of Teaching Excellence event. Each recipient is also considered a member of the Distinguished Teaching Academy, an elite group with an established reputation for excellent teaching.

“Congratulations to Sheila and Jeff!! This is a terrific recognition for their dedication to our students,” says Mari Buche, COB associate dean.

Provost Jacqueline Huntoon adds, “For as long as I can remember, we Michigan Tech faculty have prided ourselves on providing quality educational experiences for our students. The Provost’s Award for Sustained Teaching Excellence was designed to recognize faculty members who have received accolades from their students and colleagues over the course of many years. Faculty like this year’s awardees are doing things that we can all learn from—and they are helping to make Michigan Tech a great place for students to learn.”

View a list of all recipients.

Academy of Teaching Excellence

Also this spring, Ulrich Schmelzle, assistant professor of supply chain and operations management, was honored in person for his 2020 induction into the Academy of Teaching Excellence. Junhong (Jun) Min, associate professor of marketing, was similarly celebrated this year for his 2021 induction into the Academy, which was established in 1998 to recognize those who have demonstrated continued dedication to and support of the University’s teaching mission. Academy membership is comprised of finalists for the annual Distinguished Teaching Awards and the Fredrick D. Williams Instructional Innovation Award.

“We are all proud of Drs. Schmelzle and Min. The College of Business has built a culture to consistently deliver high-quality teaching by the entire faculty,” says Dean Johnson, COB dean.

See the complete list of recipients.

About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, business analytics, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.

Xin Li is COB 2021-22 Teacher of the Year

Image of professor Xin Li
Dr. Xin Li, the Michigan Technological University College of Business Teacher of the Year

During his first year as assistant professor of finance in the College of Business (COB) at Michigan Technological University, Xin Li has been named by students as the 2021-22 COB Teacher of the Year. Li came to Michigan Tech in 2021 after earning his Ph.D. in finance from the University of Cincinnati and an M.S. in Economics from Texas A&M University.

Approaching his second year at Tech, Li is already supporting students as advisor to the Finance Club, in addition to instructing Principles of Finance; Advanced Financial Management; and Risk Management and FinTech.

“Being recognized by students is my life goal and it is the highest award for a teacher.”

Xin Li, assistant professor of finance, Michigan Tech College of Business

More than 80 COB students submitted instruction evaluation responses. Here are a few of their praises about Li:

It is a special experience to be in a class with a professor who clearly loves what they are doing.”

“Dr. Li asks us to bring in outside opinions, so we can diversify our abilities.”

“FIN 3000 is not easy, but Dr. Li helps students understand difficult concepts to really excel.”

“He has a very logical way of teaching material and it has helped the content click for me.”


“Dr. Li expressed his confidence in me ahead of the final exam.”

Li has earned previous recognition for his teaching ability. He was the sole winner for the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award of the College of Business at University of Cincinnati. He also won the Finance Department Teaching Award and was named to  the Dean’s List of Teaching Excellence.

Image of professor Xin Li

“Dr. Li has taken personal initiative by actively engaging with students, colleagues and staff. He is an excellent addition to the COB faculty, and it’s great to see him recognized for his contributions so early in his career,” says Mari Buche, Michigan Tech College of Business associate dean.

Dean Johnson, COB dean, adds: “Dr. Li’s impact on students is so great that students go out of their way to relay their praise of his teaching to me.”

On the research side, Li’s activities center on empirical asset pricing, financial institutions and markets, and market microstructure. He’s interested in understanding how human activities interact with the financial market and drive the dynamics of security prices. While existing finance research has focused on the equity market, Li’s research targets the bond market, which is occupied by passive investors such as pension funds, insurance companies and banks. He’s hopeful his papers will shed light on the strategic roles played by passive investors.

Li is also interested in burgeoning topics such as FinTech and sustainable finance.

“I love the research environment and diversified culture in the College of Business.”

Xin Li

He presents his research at national and international conferences including American Finance Association, Financial Management Association, European Financial Management Association, Eastern Finance Association, Southern Finance Association and American Risk and Insurance Association.

About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, business analytics, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.

Mickus Endowed Faculty Fellow Awarded to Sonia Goltz

Sonia Goltz, Mickus Endowed Faculty Fellow in Business Impact

Through an estate gift from Albert J. and Rosella J. Mickus, Michigan Technological University has created the Mickus Endowed Faculty Fellow in Business Impact. Sonia Goltz, professor of organizational behavior in the Michigan Tech College of Business, is the inaugural Mickus Faculty Fellow.

The fellowship was created in order to attract, reward and retain highly talented faculty in the area of societal impact as it relates to business.

Goltz is a co-principal investigator of Michigan Tech’s ADVANCE grant, which promotes faculty career development and gender equity in STEM. She was a recipient of Michigan Tech’s Diversity Award in 2021 and was an active advocate, based on research data, in creating Michigan Tech’s Diversity Literacy Program. Goltz also serves on the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Sense of Belonging (DEIS) Positive Action Team.

“Dr. Sonia Goltz is a diligent faculty member who effectively blends her research, teaching and service contributions for positive societal impact.”

Dean Johnson, dean, Michigan Tech College of Business

For Goltz, the designation will help deepen her scholarly work on defining coercion and freedom within psychology and business, continuing to impact the field of behavior analysis. She says that funding will also be directed to campus initiatives that promote business skill development and those that support Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Sense of Belonging (DEIS) efforts at Michigan Tech, specifically those that directly benefit student development activities, organizations, and internships.

The late Albert Mickus earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Tech in 1949 followed by bachelor’s degree in business a year later. He also earned a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Michigan. After a career with Kohler Company he retired in 1990 as executive director of distribution for the US and Canada. Rosella and Albert’s son Michael, is also an MTU alumnus, earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1974 and a bachelor’s degree in business engineering administration in 1975.

About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.