|March 29, 1999
Dear Awards Committee:
I enthusiastically nominate G. Rodney Thompson, Professor of Finance, for the University's 1997 Excellence in International Programs Award. Professor Thompson is a widely-published Wine Award recipient who takes his research skills and his classroom enthusiasm into the international mission of the University.
Professor Thompson has been involved in many college and university sponsored international programs during the past several years. These programs have focused upon three basic areas. The first area is technical programs where Professor Thompson traveled abroad and shared his expertise with groups of businesspeople, government officials, faculty, and students. The second is traveling abroad with students of Virginia Tech. The last is on-campus service to international students.
In the Spring of 1991, Rodney traveled with a group of Virginia Tech faculty to Beijing China, where he made presentations on Capital Decision-Making to the Chinese Enterprise Groups Advanced International Training Program, funded by the United Nations. In November of 1992, he traveled to Albania to deliver business education to the faculty at the Agricultural University of Albania as well as to employees of the Ministry of Agriculture. In the Summer of 1993 he traveled to Russia, Ukraine, and Lithuania, making several presentations to businesspeople, faculty, and students during his trip. During January of 1994 he traveled to Guyana, meeting with government, business, and University of Guyana officials and discussing potential programs and exchanges. During his 1994 study abroad in Russia, he had approximately 30 faculty, businesspeople, and students in his corporate finance class taught at Ulyanovsk State Technical University in Ulyanovsk Russia. More recently, Rodney has been involved with the Support for Agriculture Restructuring in Albania Project, travelling to Albania in 1995 and 1996. He has also served as advisor to several of the Albanians who have become students here at Virginia Tech. He continues to take his subject matter expertise to those outside the U.S.
Professor Thompson has taken students abroad during the first summer session of 1994, the second summer of 1994, and the first summer session of 1995. The programs during the first summer sessions of 1994 and 1995 utilized the University's Center for European Studies and Architecture. These were the first programs from the Pamplin College of Business to use this facility, and, as far as I know, the first programs sponsored by any college other than Architecture. The program of the second summer of 1994 was part of an exchange program between our University and Ulyanovsk State Technical University. Dr. Thompson developed this exchange with his contacts in Russia, and took ten students to St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Ulyanovsk for just over four weeks. These students lived in a dormitory at the Russian University, ate in their dining hall, and sat in class with approximately 30 Russians. The students who made this trip will be forever changed. During the fall of 1996 Rodney was part of the Pamplin program at the Center for European Studies and Architecture. This program involved 31 business students during the entire fall semester. He is scheduled to participate in this program again this fall.
The final area is support for international students here at Virginia Tech. Professor Thompson has been the faculty sponsor of the College's only two Alexander Hamilton Scholars. But his support goes beyond being their sponsor once they arrive here on campus. While many faculty accept Fulbright and Alexander Hamilton scholars who have been awarded grants and need a place to study, Thompson worked with these two faculty, one from Romania and one from Lithuania, until they were awarded grants. He served as sponsor for the four Russian undergraduate students who spent the fall semester of 1994 here at Virginia Tech, arranging for their housing, their dining plans, their classes, and he drove them to and from Dulles Airport. Finally, as mentioned above, he serves as sponsor to several Albanian students currently attending Virginia Tech.
Professor Thompson has also displayed significant research activity in the international area. He has published internationally oriented articles in Journal of International Development and Banking, Eastern European Economics, Review of Economics and Statistics, Economic Journal, Journal of Comparative Economics, Studies in Banking and Finance, Financial Management, and Economic Development and Cultural Change.
Rodney Thompson is not only an integral part of our international programs here in the Pamplin College of Business, he is in many ways the leader of our efforts. His work in transitional economies was of immense value to the College when he served as Chair of the Steering Committee of our 1994 International Conference, Economies in Transition. He has displayed unusual creativity in developing programs that differ from the other study abroad programs available to our students. His Russian exchange program brought Russian students into our business classes. His summer study abroad course offerings are directed toward rising juniors, with the expectation that this relatively early experience may alter their program of study. Professor Thompson is firmly committed to the internationalization of the College and the University.