2017 Top 40 Undergraduate Professors: Jason Miller, Michigan State (Broad)

Jason Miller

Assistant Professor of Logistics

Michigan State University, Broad College of Business

It only took Jason Miller one year to make his presence felt at Michigan State’s Broad College of Business. At the end of the 2016-2017 academic year, when seniors were asked to name the faculty member that was most impactful during their time at Broad, the top vote-getter was none other than Professor Miller. He joined Michigan State University from Colorado State University in June of 2016. Within this first year, the college also named him a 2017 Broad Integrative Fellow, a program that specifically targets promising early-career faculty with aims to enhance Broad’s teaching and learning culture through cross-discipline integration.

Miller is an Assistant Professor of Logistics. At just 30 years old, he excels in academic research just as he does in teaching. His research looks into logistics operations at various firms and he takes a special interest in studying motor carrier safety. In his short time in academia, he’s already had a long list of articles published in top level journals and he’s received numerous “Best Paper” nods including best conference paper and best doctoral dissertation by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals.

Age: 30

At current institution since: 2016

Education: Doctorate of Philosophy in Business Administration, major: logistics | minor: quantitative psychology, The Ohio State University in August 2014

List of courses currently teaching: Supply Chain Policy & Analysis (undergraduate), Distribution Fulfillment (master’s of supply chain management), Introduction to Supply Chain Theory (PhD seminar, co-taught)

Fun fact about yourself: I am from a small farm town in Northwest Ohio that is named Hicksville (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hicksville,_Ohio). Can’t make that one up.

“I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when…” There wasn’t a single moment. Several of my undergrad professors encouraged me to pursue a PhD right out of undergrad, and it seemed like a pretty good profession to be in.

“If I weren’t a business school professor…” I would be a statistics consultant

“One word that describes my first time teaching…” Overwhelming

What do you enjoy most about teaching undergraduate business students? Their eagerness to learn new things

What is the biggest challenge that comes with teaching undergraduate business students? Connecting complex abstract concepts to students’ limited experience outside the classroom

What is the most impressive thing one of your undergraduate students has done? I chaired several honors projects when I was a faculty member at Colorado State University that were outstanding.

What is the least favorite thing one has done? Cheating…nothing more needs to be said

What does a student need to do to get an A in your class? Put on their critical thinking caps, don’t procrastinate until the last minute, and don’t be afraid of trial and error. My undergrad course is case-based, so team execution is also critical.

“When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as …” Ridiculously difficult; I’m known for having one of the hardest undergrad classes in the College of Business.

“But I would describe myself as …” Difficult, but fair

What are your hobbies? Weight lifting and reading. I have a 17-month-old, so time for hobbies is limited.

How did you spend your summer? Doing research on firm-level safety and productivity in the motor carrier industry

Favorite place to vacation: Europe, especially Ireland and Scotland

Favorite book: Game of Thrones series

Favorite movie and/or television show: Conan the Barbarian (the original from 1982 with Arnold, not the remake)

Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist: Linkin Park

Bucket list item #1: Visit the Smithsonian

What professional achievement are you most proud of? Publishing a manuscript with my coauthors Brian Fugate (University of Arkansas) and Susan Golicic (Colorado State University) in Academy of Management Journal

What is your most memorable moment as a professor? Winning the Bernard J. LaLonde Best Paper Award for an article published in Journal of Business Logistics with coauthors John Saldanha (West Virginia University), C. Shane Hunt (Arkansas State University), and John Mello (Arkansas State University). Dr. LaLonde built the logistics program I graduated from at Ohio State, so it was a true honor to win an award named after him.

Professor you most admire and why: My primary PhD advisor, Dr. Michael Knemeyer (The Ohio State University) for his skill as a researcher and patience in working with PhD students

What are you currently researching, and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I’m working with several coauthors on a series of studies examining change in large trucking companies’ safety and compliance with regulations since a new regulatory program was implemented in late 2010. The most significant discovery comes from work with coauthors Susan Golicic (Colorado State University) and Brian Fugate (University of Arkansas) that is forthcoming in Journal of Business Logistics where we found a way to reconcile different predictions regarding the relationship between trucking companies’ extent of vertical integration and their safety and found empirical evidence consistent with what we proposed.

Twitter handle: I don’t use Twitter

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this…” Analysis of large spreadsheets to make business decisions. If we are ever to use “Big Data” for business purposes, it is essential students are comfortable using smaller slices of data first.

“And much less of this…” multiple choice tests that ask basic questions such as “what does this term mean?”

Looking ahead 10 years from now, describe what “success” would like for you: Continuing to publish research in highly-regarded journals, continuously improving the courses I teach, seeing my undergraduate and master’s students have success, and having our doctoral students become world-class researchers at peer and aspirant institutions.

Students say…

“Dr. Miller taught 470 for many SCM seniors, including myself. First off, his class was the hardest class I took in my major because he really challenged us to tackle complex case studies and think differently. Dr. Miller is perhaps one of the most brilliant professors at MSU, yet he is also one of the most humble and helpful resources here. It is obvious how much he cares about his students and their education. Dr. Miller helped me prepare for my full-time role as well as my future career, and I hope I can have him as a resource in the future. Also, Dr. Miller would be a great person to get a beer with.”

“Dr. Miller taught me more about supply chain in one semester than I learned in the past two years of courses and internships. His rigorous course blended all aspects of supply chain in realistic cases that have made me feel much more prepared for a full-time career in supply chain consulting. Dr. Miller understands that what students need to learn is application of the concepts, and he does not make it easy. He challenged us to work in teams to solve these complex supply chain problems using absurd amounts of data, much like a real company.”

“Professor Miller is absolutely phenomenal. His class is how an upper-level class should be, especially with MSU having the #1 SCM major. He challenges you, makes you think outside of the box, and is seriously the most intelligent professor I have ever had.”

“Dr. Miller is able to connect with students on a level that I have not seen in many of my other classes, and I believe he wants us to come out of his class with the knowledge we need to succeed in our careers. He has offered us all the help we can ask for, he is extremely smart, and also down to earth. Dr. Miller is someone who MSU should keep around, as I think he has many ideas that will take the SCM program even farther than it already has gone. If given the choice I would take his class again.”

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