Haslam Faculty Recognized for Professional Promise

May 15, 2024

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, recently presented two Haslam College of Business faculty members with the 2024 Professional Promise in Research and Creative Achievement Award. Lauren Cunningham and ChuanRen (Charles) Liu were among only six UT faculty to receive the recognition, which was presented at the university’s Academic Honors Banquet on May 1.

Faculty research and creative achievement are central to the university’s mission, and the Professional Promise in Research and Creative Achievement Award honors tenured or tenure-track assistant or associate professors whose work is recognized nationally and/or internationally and who show promise for continuing upward trajectory in their fields.

Lauren Cunningham: Top-Tier Publications and Industry Impact

Lauren Cunningham is an associate professor in the Department of Accounting and Information Management (AIM), the Keith Stanga Professor of Accounting and a Cheryl Massingale Business Faculty Scholar. She also serves as the director of research for the Neel Corporate Governance Center and the coordinator of the center’s Distinguished Speaker Series.

Terry L. Neal, AIM department head and Richard L. Townsend Accounting Chair, nominated Cunningham for the award. “Lauren Cunningham’s research demonstrates creativity — for example, choosing to perform research in brand-new areas — as well as relevance to practice,” he says. “Each of her research studies has implications for corporations, audit firms, accounting and audit regulators or investors.”

Cunningham conducts archival and qualitative research on audit, corporate governance and the SEC filing review process. She has collaborated with the Center for Audit Quality to analyze audit committees’ evolving responsibilities, as well as with the Institute of Internal Auditors to measure corporate governance quality in the United States. Her research has been published in numerous prestigious journals and highlighted in professional articles, blog posts and podcasts. Some of her research has even been presented to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Economic and Risk Analysis.

Neal says, “Compared to other researchers throughout the country at similar stages of their careers, Lauren’s record is excellent in both quantity and quality (as demonstrated by the top-tier publications and citations). Few individuals in any area of accounting have the same number of A-level journal publications at a similar career stage.” 

Cunningham says, “University-level research awards are extremely competitive. The selection committee must find a way to compare completely disparate types of research. Having two award winners from Haslam this year is a testament to the contributions that Haslam scholars provide to the overall UT research community, and I am extremely humbled to join Charles Liu in representing Haslam in this regard.”

Charles Liu: World-Class Data Science Research 

Charles Liu is an associate professor in the Department of Business Analytics and Statistics (BAS), as well as a Sampson Enterprises Faculty Fellow. His research interests include data mining and knowledge discovery. He has published papers in numerous journals and conference proceedings, including IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering, INFORMS Journal on Computing and European Journal of Operational Research.

Michael Galbreth, BAS department head and Pilot Corporation Chair of Excellence, who nominated Liu for the award, says, “Charles Liu combines exceptional data science research abilities with a humility and helpfulness that makes the entire department better. The presence of a world-class data scientist like Charles is a distinct advantage for a business school faculty, and he has had a transformational impact on our department, the Haslam College of Business and UT as a whole. Charles continues to receive international accolades and publish influential scholarship, all while maintaining his focus on preparing our students for the rapidly changing business world. I cannot think of a more worthy recipient of this award.”

Liu says, “I am truly grateful for the supportive atmosphere provided by the department and the Haslam College of Business, which I feel privileged to be a part of. I want to thank my mentors, colleagues and students who have supported me in various ways and have given me opportunities to contribute to their endeavors.”


Stacy Estep, writer/publicist, sestep3@utk.edu