Contribution Creates Professorship for Predictive Analytics and Econometrics

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A recent contribution by University of West Georgia alumnus, David Johnson, will create the David A. Johnson Distinguished Scholar, establishing an endowed faculty position to direct the Predictive Analytics/Econometrics program in the Richards College of Business. The endowment will provide supplemental funding to an economics professor to lead the program to new heights.

This donation follows Johnson’s 2011 gift, which endowed the David A. Johnson Applied Econometrics and Analytics Fund at UWG and provided the financial resources to begin offering courses in econometrics and business analytics using SAS statistical software at the Richards College of Business.

“After seeing the success of the program, I was very interested in hearing about what else we can do to make a good program even better,” said Johnson, a partner at Cane Bay Partners VI, LLLP. “I was pleased to find out that, with this additional funding, UWG will be able to retain a top economist as a professor at West Georgia so that the students can have access to someone of that caliber.”

SAS, the world’s largest analytic software company, is used by more than 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies. UWG’s SAS Certificate program is one of only eight in the nation, and it is the only one in existence that focuses on econometrics and business analytics. The Richards College of Business also hosts an annual SAS Analytics Summit, an event that brings SAS employers, users and recruiters together with business students to network, discuss advancements in the field and share career experiences.

At this year’s summit, Dr. William “Joey” Smith, UWG associate professor of economics, received the title of David A. Johnson Distinguished Scholar. He has not only served as a key asset in building the econometrics and analytics program at UWG, but he has also developed a national reputation as an expert in the field, creating and delivering over 100 presentations and publications.

“Dr. Joey Smith is the perfect choice for the David A. Johnson Distinguished Scholar,” said Dr. Faye McIntyre, dean of the Richards College of Business and Sewell Chair of Private Enterprise. “Dr. Smith has worked with the Georgia State Legislature, conducted research for the Southern Company, was a guest speaker at the Nigerian Presidential Delegation hosted by the Nigerian National Planning Commission and USAID, and served as a member of the Governor’s Taskforce on Tourism for the Commission for a New Georgia. These and many other activities provide evidence that his work is recognized and valued in academia, business and government. We are fortunate to have him lead this program and work with our students.”

Smith has a clear vision for the future of the program. “The additional resources will allow us to offer more students the opportunity to work with SAS and to participate in undergraduate research in business,” said Smith. “Our goal is to give our students the competitive edge they need to thrive in today's data-driven marketplace. The endowment will also allow us to reach out to other disciplines to collaboratively develop a program to benefit students in many other fields across campus.”

Johnson is passionate about providing these top skills for students entering the workforce and is a key supporter of the SAS Analytics Summit, serving as a member of the discussion panel and providing guidance to students pursuing their careers.

“I think that it is important for this program to continue to grow and to be even more successful than it already is,” said Johnson. “My understanding is that this is a leading program among universities in the United States, and others will follow our lead. We need to continue to innovate and make it stronger for the benefit of the students.”

“Our relationship with David has grown over the past few years as he has become more engaged with our faculty, students and programs,” McIntyre said. “His willingness to fund this distinguished scholar shows both his dedication to the education of tomorrow’s leaders and his trust in the Richards College to provide a quality base for their future success. David has supported the Richards College with his time and energy, as well as financially. As a successful businessman, his willingness to give back and be part of our efforts is rewarding. I am especially proud that this distinguished scholar is named for one of our alumni!”

For more information, please visit www.westga.edu/business.

Photo: (from L to R) Dr. William “Joey” Smith and David Johnson