Erevelles named a finalist for University’s top teaching award

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Marketing Department’s Sunil Erevelles is the second of five finalists for the 2012 Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence to be profiled in Inside UNC Charlotte. The recipient of the honor, UNC Charlotte’s top teaching award, will be named at a special reception, Friday, Oct. 19. The other three finalists will be featured in alphabetical order in the weeks prior to the reception.

Sunil Erevelles stated, “I do not believe that I have taught a course in my life where the major focus was not on life itself, as opposed to business. I believe that it is easier to succeed in business than in life. I try to get my students understand this.”

Erevelles joined the Belk College of Business marketing faculty in 2002 and became chair of marketing in 2011. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in marketing and consumer behavior, returning the highest teaching evaluations in the department and consistently earning perfect scores in two separate courses, a “nearly unheard-of feat” according to a colleague. He also is a key faculty member teaching courses overseas in the Belk College of Business’ MBA programs in Monterrey, Mexico; Hong Kong, China; and Taipei, Taiwan.

In commenting on Erevelles’ teaching style, one graduate student noted he promotes “rational thinking and provides a sense of direction to students.” In his classes, he does not position anything as unquestionable truth and constantly encourages students to challenge precedent. A recent MBA student described Erevelles’ class as “a stunning experience as he entices you with the practical examples and insights thus proving his knowledge and excellence and the ability to stimulate thinking. …In all classes that I have taken until now, I would rate him the best in terms of widening my horizon.”

Erevelles hopes his students will see “beyond the horizon,” and he encourages them to think creatively outside of existing bodies of knowledge in order to make decisions that are not the norm in the industry. While it is important to give students information, he believes it is even more important to “enhance their imagination-based transformation capabilities.”

 As a teacher, Erevelles has received several awards, including the Belk College of Business Gray’s Award for Outstanding MBA Faculty in 2006, the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants Outstanding Conference Speaker Award in 2005 and 2007 and the Belk College Excellence in Teaching Award in 2009.

Steven Ott, dean of the Belk College, commented on Erevelles’ remarkable ability to adapt and grow with the changes in his field. He said as chair of marketing, Erevelles has conducted a review of the undergraduate and graduate marketing curricula to bring them in line with what contemporary students need. He is incorporating cutting-edge analytic and computer skills in order to prepare marketing students to navigate the era of “big data” and consumer analytics. He also designed the first social media marketing course in the department. Erevelles’ goal is to ensure the best education for UNC Charlotte business students so that they acquire the skills needed to become productive marketers.

Erevelles explained his teaching philosophy is driven by his professional cause, which is “to inspire and provide tools for the achievement of ‘success in life,’ especially for those whose ‘odds’ in life are stacked against them.” Importantly, he allows each student the freedom to define the meaning “success in life” individually.