Five Professors Awarded Distinction by Board of Trustees

Léonce Ndikumana
Léonce Ndikumana

Léonce Ndikumana, economics; Barbara A. Osborne, veterinary and animal science; and Sankaran ‘Thai’ Thayumanavan, chemistry; were appointed Distinguished Professors following approval by the Board of Trustees at its Friday, Aug. 2 meeting.

The title Distinguished Professor is conferred on select, highly accomplished faculty who have already achieved the rank of professor and who meet a demanding set of qualifications.

Anne Massey, dean of the Isenberg School of Management, was appointed with tenure as the Thomas O’Brien Endowed Chair in operations and information management; and Janet S. Fink, business admisistration, was appointed the Berthiaume Endowed Professorship at the same meeting.

Léonce Ndikumana

In their letter of nomination, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy and Provost John McCarthy wrote, “We are pleased to recommend Professor Léonce Ndikumana for the title of Distinguished Professor in the Department of Economics…He joined the UMass Amherst faculty in 1996 as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in 2002. Beginning in 2006, he occupied a succession of leadership positions at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the African Development Bank. He returned to Amherst in 2011 as professor of economics and director of the African Policy Program at the Political Economy Research Institute.

Léonce Ndikumana is, in the words of an external reviewer, ‘one of the foremost scholars on African development.’ He is particularly known for his work on capital flight from Africa, but he has made important contributions in many other areas as well. He has over 75 publications, he has received every award for scholarship that our campus offers, and he has been named honorary professor at two of South Africa’s best universities, Stellenbosch and Cape Town.

Professor Ndikumana has been honored as a teacher as well as a scholar, having received the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Teacher Award. His teaching evaluations are consistently excellent and he is a sought after and highly regarded advisor to graduate students.”

Barbara A. Osborne

 “Professor Osborne’s accolades for her research contributions are extensive. Most notably, she has been a pioneer in her research field, where she conducted innovative studies that used cutting- edge technologies and that were published in premier journals, including Nature, Nature Immunology, Blood, and the Journal of Immunology. She has also made significant contributions through translational research. She co-founded a successful company that engineered cattle that could be used for large-scale production of human immunoglobulins. On campus, she has contributed her extensive expertise in foundational and translational research to the establishment of the Institute of Applied Life Sciences. The impact of her research is reflected in her extensive publication record, which encompasses more than 125 articles that have been cited over 15,000 times, giving her a stellar h-index of 51. She has supported her research through NIH grants continuously since joining UMass, attracting over $39M in external funding.

External reviewers cite her extraordinary contributions and the significant impact of her research. One reviewer states: ‘Dr. Osborne is one of the foremost immunologists in the U.S. and the world. She has made seminal contributions to the biology of B- and T-cells that have been published in over 100 high-impact papers. Her contributions to the biology of Notch signaling in the immune system are second to none.” Her preeminence as a scholar in the research community was noted by all external reviewers, two of whom stated “Professor Osborne is clearly one of the world leaders in lymphocyte/T-cell biology and her elucidation of the role of Notch signaling in control of various T helper cell populations is a remarkable scientific feat.” and “She is nationally and internationally recognized because of the far- reaching effects of her research, especially in the areas of T cells and Notch signaling.

Professor Osborne has taught extensively at the undergraduate and graduate level. She led the creation of undergraduate courses in biotechnology. At the graduate level, she has directed the interdisciplinary graduate program in Molecular and Cellular Biology. She has also trained and mentored a large number of Ph.D., M.S., and Honors students and postdoctoral fellows in her lab. This contribution to education was noted by external reviewers: “Her graduate students, many of whom I have personally interacted with, have gone on to some of the best laboratories in the country.” and “I have always had enormous respect for Dr. Osborne’s teaching and interest in providing an outstanding scholarly but friendly environment for students and post- doctoral fellows in training.’”

Sankaran ‘Thai’ Thayumanavan

Subbaswamy and McCarthy wrote,“Professor Thayumanavan’s research is focused on the design and synthesis of supramolecular assemblies with novel functions that advance chemical, materials and biological sciences in applications that range from molecular recognition to drug delivery to renewable energy. His work is distinguished by a focus on dynamics, creating materials with the ability to respond across multiple length and time scales and following exposure to stimuli including pH, temperature, and light.

He currently has grants that run several years into the future: an NIH grant with a 1.0 percentile score (amazing), an NSF grant as a CCI, an ARO MURI grant, and several other federal funded applications that are still running (an NIH R01, industrial sponsors) and many previous grants. This alone shows the longevity of his program and argues strongly for continued productivity.

Prof. Thayumanavan’s research program is characterized by prolific excellence. Since promotion to Professor in 2008, Prof. Thayumanavan has published over 120 articles, with more than 30 in the top tier of chemistry journals as lead author. In the same time period, he has garnered more than $26 million in external support. He has given more than 100 presentations on his research since 2008, including keynote addresses and prestigious lectures such as the Nanqiang lecture in Xiamen University (2014), and he was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2011.”

Anne Massey

Subbaswamy and McCarthy wrote,“We are pleased to recommend Dr. Anne Massey for appointment with tenure in the Department of Operations and Information Management, with concomitant appointment to the Thomas O’Brien Endowed Chair. Dr. Massey is the newly hired Dean of the Isenberg School of Management, and the O’Brien chair, named after former Isenberg Dean Tom O’Brien, is designated for the sitting Dean.

Dr. Massey has a stellar record as a researcher. She has about 50 peer-reviewed publications, she has received numerous grants from the National Science Foundation, private foundations, and corporations, and she has been recognized in Communications of the Association for Information Systems (2017) as one of the 2.5% most cited researchers in her field.

Overall, Dr. Massey’s work addresses issues of theoretical and practical importance. She does so with an attention to detail and a focus on compelling contributions. On the basis of these assessments and other evidence in the dossier, we concur with the evaluation at all other levels of review that Dr. Massey’s research is Excellent. 
The award of tenure requires assurance of ‘continuing development and achievement.’ There can be little doubt that Dr. Massey satisfies this criterion. Despite two decades of leadership roles, she has maintained a steady output of high-quality publications and has continued to receive grants and honors.

We concur with the assessment at all other levels of review that Dr. Massey’s teaching is Excellent. An external reviewer puts the case succinctly: ‘Dr. Massey is also a skilled teacher. Her teaching has been recognized with several teaching awards and grants for pedagogy. She has also chaired several doctoral committees and served as a member of many others.’”

Janet S. Fink

Subbaswamy and McCarthy wrote, “We are pleased to forward with our enthusiastic endorsement this nomination of Professor Janet S. Fink for the Berthiaume Endowed Professorship in Business Administration in the Isenberg School of Management.

Professor Fink is an expert in sport consumer behavior, marketing of female athletes and women’s sports, and diversity in sport. She has published a remarkable 63 peer-reviewed journal articles, many of them in the top journals in her field. She has a stellar h-index (a measure of impact through citations) of 31. Her h-index of 28 just for the last five years is a solid indication that her reputation is continuing on a steep upward trajectory. Colleagues in her discipline have recognized her achievements with their highest award, the Earle F. Zeigler Award of the North American Society for Sport Management.

External reviewers are unanimous in their praise for Professor Fink’s accomplishments and stature in the field:

  • ‘Dr. Fink’s articles demonstrate high levels of rigor, use a variety of analytical techniques and are quite focused in on several important areas to the field, including the intersection of gender and sport.’ 

  • ‘In the field of sport management, it should be noted that achieving a citation pattern of this level is extremely impressive. I would speculate that Dr. Fink is likely one of the top 5 cited authors in sport management since 2000.’”