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        Business Analytics and Information Systems, Faculty

        Harbert professor’s dedication to students pays dividends

        November 1, 2023 By Laura Schmitt

        All News


        David Paradice, Kyle Davis holding Harbert backpack

        Harbert Eminent Scholar David Paradice (left) presents a backpack to business analytics senior Kyle Davis, the recipient of the inaugural Paradice Analytics Scholar award. Donors John Lee and Lynne Lummel established this award to honor Paradice's dedication to students. Davis embodies the core values of excellence and service as president of the Sports Analytics Club and by presenting tech literacy events in local communities. Photo by Julie Bennett

        An internationally recognized business analytics educator and researcher, David Paradice has played a key role in elevating Auburn’s business analytics program to be among the best in the country.

        But it was his mentoring and interest in students that won the admiration of donors John Lee and his wife Lynne Lummel, who recently made a gift to the Harbert College of Business to honor Paradice and enhance undergraduate education.

        The new Paradice Analytics Fund for Excellence is being used to support undergraduate scholarships and experiential learning opportunities such as the second-annual business analytics case competition on Nov. 10, where students will sharpen their critical thinking, teamwork and communication skills while solving a real-world problem in the home improvement retail sector.

        “This is our way of saying thanks to Dr. Paradice for going out of his way to recruit and encourage our son to go on for a Ph.D. at Auburn,” said Lee, a retired professor, corporate executive, author and speaker. “He didn’t do this for the recognition. He did this because he believes in Auburn, and he believes in getting good students.”

        Uzma Raja, chair of the Department of Business Analytics and Information Systems, believes their gift will have a positive effect on younger faculty.

        The Lee family gift marks the second time a donor has chosen to honor Paradice. In 2020, Auburn alumni Richard and Melinda Hale made a significant donation to ensure the business analytics curriculum remains poised to meet the emerging needs of today’s data-rich business environment.

        Their gift recognizes a type of service we often overlook when we get too bogged down by performance metrics—the act of mentoring students and identifying opportunities that align with the unique talents people possess,” said Raja, the Gayle Parks Forehand Professor of Analytics. “In recognizing the impact Dr. Paradice has made on the life of John and Lynne’s son, they are signaling to our young faculty that selfless service will not go unnoticed.”

        A professor’s influence

        Paradice first met the couple’s son Jonathan Lee nearly 10 years ago when they were both at Florida State University. An associate dean at the time, Paradice advised the then-undergraduate Lee to continue with his plan of majoring in both computer science (CS) and information systems (IS), rather than dropping the IS degree.

        “My academic and professional career may have taken a very different turn without his advice, and looking back, it was clearly the right call,” said Jonathan, who checked in with the professor from time to time as he earned a master’s degree and launched his career in software development.

        Fast forward to 2018: Paradice is department chair and Harbert eminent scholar in business analytics at Auburn, and he is looking for top-notch doctoral candidates to address new avenues of research in the emerging business analytics field, while also elevating the academic reputation of the Harbert College of Business.

        One particular candidate immediately comes to mind. It’s Lee.

        “When you come across a student that you think has what it takes to do a Ph.D., you make a mental note of it, and if circumstances evolve later, you look to see if they’re available,” said Paradice, who recalled Lee’s innate curiosity and stellar undergraduate academic record.

        “Naturally, part of the reason I was interested in Auburn’s Ph.D. program was that [Paradice] was here,” said Lee, who says his choice to pursue the degree at Auburn was among the best decisions he ever made for his career.

        A doctoral candidate’s work

        Working under the supervision of Globe Life Professor of Analytics Ashish Gupta, Lee is investigating how AI and persuasive systems can help manage energy consumption. He is also conducting a study that merges design science principles with energy sustainability to develop an AI-driven recommendation system.

        Prior to this, Lee worked on a Department of Homeland Security-funded project that studied financial systems, a critical infrastructure defined by the Department of Defense, said Gupta.

        In the classroom, Lee excels as an instructor.

        “He is an effective teacher in the classroom, and he recently received the department’s outstanding teaching award for a Ph.D. student in 2022,” said Gupta.

        John Lee and Lynne Lummel sitting together

        John Lee (left) and his wife Lynne Lummel established the Paradice Analytics Fund for Excellence in honor of Harbert Eminent Scholar David Paradice.

        Their son’s decision to pursue a Ph.D. at Auburn and Paradice’s positive influence pleased John and Lynne, who both have their doctorates—she from Columbia University and he from Arizona State University. Through the years, they quietly always hoped their son would pursue one, too.

        “Jonathan often joked that he didn’t want to be the only mister in our family,” said John. “We’ve never seen Jonathan so excited. He loves the classes at Auburn and he speaks highly of the other students. Auburn is a great fit for him.”

        An impactful faculty career

        An influential researcher, Paradice is best known for his insights on structuring problems properly so businesses can use technology and data to arrive at the best solutions.

        According to Paradice, business problems are broad and many factors are at play, including market, political, ethical, employee and economic forces. Finding solutions can be very difficult, particularly if the problem a firm is solving hasn’t taken all these factors into consideration.

        “My work examines whether you are solving the right problems, how to use technology to mitigate biases, recognizing the complexity of problems better and [knowing when] some problems are not solvable and should just be managed,” said Paradice.

        He’s currently collaborating on projects that examine whether nurses perceive ChatGPT as a tool or threat in providing quality care and the feasibility of forecasting AI innovation.

        As department chair at Auburn, Paradice worked to educate recruiters, parents, students, and, in some cases, other business school faculty about the analytics major and what these students would do in the business world at a time when the field was just emerging as a viable academic discipline.

        “When I arrived in 2015, there were 14 business analytics majors,” recalled Paradice, noting that even many companies didn’t know what this major was.

        Undeterred, Paradice hired a team of exceptional faculty and forged strong partnerships with several companies that continue to support the department’s students through internships and enhanced learning opportunities.

        Today, Auburn’s business analytics major has 210 undergraduates and is ranked 15th among all public universities according to U.S. News and World Report.

        Paradice is pleased with Auburn’s continued positive trajectory in educating students in this increasingly important field.

        “We’re producing undergraduates who will enter into business and I think can compete with a lot of master degree-level students,” he said. “Our students can go into a conference room and on the first day explain to [executives] why they should do something in business terms.”

        “Dr. Paradice’s most significant accomplishment is steadily raising the bar and elevating the stature of our programs, faculty and graduates,” said Raja.


        Learn more about Harbert College of Business giving opportunities.

        Learn more about the Business Analytics program.

        The Harbert College of Business which is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Raymond and Kathryn Harbert's transformational naming gift, is a nationally ranked hub of undergraduate, graduate and continuing business education that is inspiring the next generation of business leaders. Our world-class faculty deliver unparalleled academic rigor in the classroom, while our research-driven scholarship advances thought leadership and best practice across business disciplines. The largest college on Auburn's campus, Harbert enrolls more than 6,900 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students.