2018 Top 50 Undergraduate Professors: Xenophon Koufteros, Texas A&M University (Mays)

Xenophon Koufteros

Professor and Jenna & Calvin R. Guest Professor in Business Administration

Texas A&M University, Mays Business School

Xenophon Koufteros of Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School is beloved by students not simply because of his teaching ability as a professor of supply chain management. Koufteros wears many hats ranging from professor and case writer to van driver and recruiter; all in the name of unwavering dedication to helping students succeed. More specifically, Koufteros demonstrates commitment by getting corporate executives to travel to College Station to judge student competitions, providing students advice on negotiating job offers, organizing international trips, and he event rents and drives a bus to transport students to several plant tours each year. With student success and access to top organizations always in mind, he’s also innovative, having created a “LaunchPad” partnership with SAP for new ideas from undergrads. Says Rich Metters, head of the department of information systems and operations management at Mays, “In short, he is a hero to the undergrads – while still producing academic research at a high level.”

Age: 52

Education: PhD, Manufacturing Management, University of Toledo

At current institution since: 2007

List of courses you currently teach: Sourcing/Procurement, Business Statistics, Operations Management  (EMBA)

What professional achievement are you most proud of? Association of Former Students (AFS) Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching at the University level

“I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when…” I realized the long lasting impact professors can have on the lives of their students; we can actually change the direction of our students lives and very few other professions can claim that.

“One word that describes my first time teaching…” Exhilarated!

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I study business decision making when ethical considerations are invoked. My studies are global in nature and use a lab experimental research design. I found out that given enough incentives, the overwhelming majority of people will act unethically and this propensity to act unethically varies across countries and gender. Furthermore, very few people make ethical decisions in a consistent fashion over time.

What is your most memorable moment as a professor? When my first doctoral student whose dissertation I chaired accepted an offer at a big state school.

Since you first started teaching, how has business education changed? Less emphasis is placed on mathematics/statistics while more emphasis is placed on the soft skills and globalization.

“If I weren’t a business school professor, I would be…” A medical doctor.

“Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a professor”: It is almost a 16 hour per day job if you want to be research active.

Name of the professor you most admire and why: Dr. George Marcoulides, Distinguished Professor of Research Methodology in The Gervitz Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has the gift to explain complicated methodology in simple terms and an incredible ability to cite specific manuscripts for any statistical methodology you ask him.

What do you enjoy most about teaching undergraduate business students? I feel like a sculptor; I shape students. I am entrusted with this awesome responsibility where I take students that have never heard of supply chain management to professionals that get placed with some of the best global companies.  

What’s the biggest challenge? Not enough time in the day to make more of an impact!

What is the most impressive thing one of your undergraduate students has done? Use her skills and knowledge as a supply chain management major to help others in need in impoverished regions of the world.

What is the least favorite thing one has done? Lied to me that he was sick to skip an exam.

Since you’ve been teaching, how have students changed over the years? They expect more of instantaneous responses on their inquiries, such as via email. I do not blame them, they can get two hour delivery to their dorms by Amazon, their expectations are shaped by what they are experiencing.

What does a student need to do to get an A in your class? Come to class, be an active participant, and Practice, Practice, and more Practice, especially for a course like Business Statistics.

“When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as …” Rigorous but fair.

If your teaching style/classroom experience had a theme song, what would it be? Dream on by Aerosmith.

Using just one word, describe your favorite type of student Intellectual

Using just one word, describe your least favorite type of student Lazy

“If my students can add positively to their lives, companies, and the society at large, then I’ve done my job as their professor.”

Fun fact about yourself: I like to prank people.

What are your hobbies? I am a magician that can do professional level routines!

How did you spend your summer? Doing research and traveling in Europe.

Favorite place to vacation: Cyprus and Greece.

Favorite book: The Odyssey

Favorite movie and/or television show:  The Hangover

Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist: Hard Rock

Bucket list item #1: Secretary of Defense in Cyprus

What’s the biggest challenge facing business education at the moment? Not giving enough practical training before students graduate. Students and companies would be best served if all of our students have a couple of internships or work on class projects with a significant level of realism.

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this…” Ethical training! Based on my empirical research I found that given enough incentives, it is very difficult for managers to act ethically consistently over time.

“And much less of this…” Political correctness. I would rather see people truly express themselves without necessarily being rude or demeaning to others.

Looking ahead 10 years from now, describe what “success” would be like for you Be respected by my students, peers, and family for all my contributions.

Students say…

“Xen Koufteros cares more about his students than anyone I know. He has put in a several 13 hour days driving van loads of students to distant plant tours – even though the tours are not part of his class. He spends hours with current and former students helping them negotiate job offers and prepping them for interviews. Even though he teaches half the students other faculty teach, he still wins the student voted on and alumni voted on teaching awards every year.”

“Dr Koufteros is a professor who is passionate about the future of his students. He is an educator, counselor, headhunter, and care taker. He counseled me on how to move to change my major, what classes to take that would give me a better hold of a concentration that fit my goals. He recruited companies to our school to be judges for case studies we had been working on. He identified companies needs and filled them with students. Most importantly he always supported us and our goals. He welcomed us to his home, fed us, and kept us laughing with his delightful magic tricks. He is an example of a wonderful educator and person.”

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