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Deans and administrators from each college suggested two faculty members who deserve special “kudos” during Faculty Appreciation Week.

Russell Crook

Russell CrookBefore entering academia, Russell Crook worked in corporate America. He held positions at American Airlines, U.S. Airways and IBM. He tried to make a difference in each company’s bottom line, but didn’t feel like he was making a difference in the world.

Then in 1999, he discovered he had cancer and received chemotherapy and radiation. He has been in remission ever since. Feeling as if he was given a second chance, he vowed to make a profound impact on the world — in the form of teaching.

It was then that he pursued his doctorate and later joined the UT College of Business Administration as an assistant professor of management in 2007 to do his “dream job.”

“I have been given much,” he said. “Cancer was a wake-up call for me, and I have changed my life. I want to make a difference so that I make my family proud of what I do, and inspire people to become their best possible selves.”

Mission accomplished.

“Russell is one of the most productive researchers and highly ranked teachers in the college. His passion for what he does extends well beyond the normal job responsibilities. For example, he devotes hours to mentoring at-risk teens and teaching disabled veterans how to plan and start new businesses,” said Alex Miller, former interim head of the Department of Management and now dean of the Center for Executive Education.

Crook’s current department head, Terry Leap, adds:

“Russell has served on several dissertation committees and he is on the editorial board of the highly regarded Journal of Management. He is also extremely active in our primary academic professional association, the Academy of Management. In short, he is well on his way to becoming a scholar with a strong international reputation, and he is already a superb teacher at both the undergraduate and graduate level.”

Crook says he is honored and humbled to work with UT students, and he relishes seeing the “light bulb” go on.

He also enjoys the academic freedom of answering important research questions useful relevant to businesses today, such as the link between lobbying and firm financial performance.

His research has garnered a lot of worldwide attention. Over the past several years, he has published six articles in journals that were ranked among the Financial Times Top 45. In just the past couple of months, both BusinessWeek, a publication of international stature, and the Knoxville News Sentinel published articles featuring his work.

Crook received his doctoral and bachelor’s degrees from Florida State University and his MBA from American University.

Marianne Wanamaker

Marianne WannamakerWhen you meet Marianne Wanamaker, she leaves no mystery about her career.

“I wear my job on my sleeve, and I think everyone who knows me knows how I feel about my job — I love it — and the dedication I feel for the University of Tennessee. I’ve been a Vol fan forever, and now I get to work every day to make this place a world leader in business education,” said the assistant professor in economics.

A Tennessee native, Wanamaker left the state in 2001 to begin her career in management consulting before switching gears and receiving her master’s degree and doctorate from Northwestern University. After being away, she feared she would never return home. But as she tells it, the stars aligned.

“From my perspective, it’s been a great match. The faculty, administration and staff of the College of Business Administration live the principles I believe in: hard work, dedication to the team, purpose and the importance of properly educating the business leaders of tomorrow. Plus, we have fun while we’re at it,” she said.

Since joining the UT faculty, Wanamaker has launched the Knoxville Economics Forum, a local civic group focused on economic policy and began a new course on ethics for undergraduates, Economics 300. She also won the MBA Class of 2010 faculty teaching award for her work with the first class of MBA students.

“Marianne Wanamaker sometimes gives the impression of being everywhere at once. For example, she teaches in the Global Business Scholars program (half of the class wanted to major in economics when she was done), teaches economics to MBA students, and has developed a new business ethics course. At the same time, she created the Knoxville Economics Forum, raised external funds for her research and presented her scholarly papers at national meetings. Actually, it’s not an impression; she is everywhere at once,” said Robert Bohm, head the economics department.

Wanamaker is dedicated to providing her students with the tools they need to understand the economic logic of the world around them and to make smart, responsible decisions.

“She shares her passion for economics and academics and it is impossible to not respect her and adore her,” said economics senior Katherine Abercrombie. “What I really appreciate about her is how acceptable, understanding and personable she is. She will go above and beyond to ensure that her students understand the material she teaches.”

Tyler Howard, a junior in economics, said Wanamaker is “hands-down my favorite teacher.”

“She loves to teach. She made honors introductory economics class a joy. She was always there when I had a question, she stayed up late helping us study for tests and she showed just a massively caring attitude toward us. She is an amazing person,” Howard said.

Wanamaker’s research focuses on the interaction between household decision-making, individual health and longevity, and the economy, areas that are extensions of her graduate work at Northwestern University.