2023 Best Undergraduate Professors: Zhiwei Zhu, Purdue University Daniels School of Business


Zhiwei Zhu
Purdue University
Daniels School of Business

“Professor Zhu is a phenomenal teacher who is effective in explaining concepts and ensuring that students are learning the course content. He has created an open, welcoming, and judgment-free environment which enables students to ask questions and engage with content. He consistently demonstrates how the material taught in class is applicable in industry or in real-life situations, which compels students to contribute in activities and discussions.” – Shreya Rastogi

Zhiwei Zhu, 63, is Clinical Assistant Professor of Management at the Mitchell Daniels, Jr. School of Business at Purdue University. He is also Academic Director of the undergraduate Business Analytics and Information Management program. 

He offers a meticulously designed portfolio of undergraduate and graduate business analytics courses, each tailored to meet the specific needs of different learner segments. As a Fulbright Scholar candidate, Zhu is actively engaged in efforts to expand the school’s  international collaborations and bolster its influence in the fields of business analytics and data science.

As an academic director, beyond creating traditional experiential learning avenues like corporate-sponsored internships and practicum projects for students, Zhu is exploring and experimenting with various experiential education innovations, including fostering inter-program experiential education collaborations and encouraging creative initiatives by students themselves through operating student organizations like businesses.


At current institution since what year?  2018

Education: Ph.D. in statistics

List of Undergraduate courses you teach: Business Data Mining, Modern Data Driven Decision Making (Data Mining Lab), Business Analysis (online education)


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when … I was at a crossroads for a job change, after over 15 years of industry practices. 

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? The roles that data science currently plays and should play in the future of AI are of paramount importance. Drawing from my extensive experience as a long-term business analytics practitioner, I have had the privilege of witnessing and actively contributing to the widespread adoption of data-driven decision-making in the business world. This shift in the landscape has given rise to an increasing demand for harnessing the potential of Big Data and advanced computing power, ultimately giving birth to Data Science. My industry-oriented perspective equips me with unique insights and has enabled me to collaborate with highly respected scholars to explore the intricacies of data science’s scope and future.

If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be … a business analytics executive.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? My learning ability, passion for knowledge sharing, and extensive business experience.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Dedicated

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: How different it could be between communicating with business students and with business subordinates.    

Professor I most admire and why: Professor Hira Kou, my Ph.D. advisor, significantly influenced my choice to return to academia through his dedication and achievements in higher education. 


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? Encouraging their enthusiasm and efforts in pursuing a career path that I have some familiarity with.  

What is most challenging? Encouraging students to be agile and flexible while providing them with a strong foundation in scientific disciplines.  

In one word, describe your favorite type of student: self-motivated

In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: passionless 

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as … as a professor who values the development of multiple abilities. 


What are your hobbies? I like to try and experiment with new recipes in the kitchen around the weekends.  

How will you spend your summer? Visiting my wife’s and my families on the other side of the globe. 

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Maldives

Favorite book(s): currently, “The Meaning of Technology” by Arnold Pacey. 

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? I rarely watch TV, except for the news. 

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? I’m a fan of classical music, especially Debussy. 


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this … cross-disciplinary courses or programs offered by cross-disciplinary faculty members.  

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at … engaging in the design, development, and implementation of business schools’ experiential education courses and programs. 

I’m grateful for … the peaceful environment that we have for our work and our lives. 



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