Both in the classroom and while leading study abroad, professor David Eckles in the Terry College of Business helps students build their capacity to solve new and unexpected problems.
Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
I am currently the coordinator of the Ph.D. program in risk management and insurance (RMI) and the coordinator for the undergraduate internship program in RMI. I teach at all levels (undergraduate, master’s, and Ph.D.). I have an undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia (Finance and Risk Management/Insurance) and a Ph.D. and master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
I returned as faculty in 2005. The RMI program at UGA is the top-ranked RMI program in the country!
What are your favorite courses and why?
All courses bring something unique to the table. The Honors Program sections have amazingly curious students, my upper-level and graduate courses have students excited about their upcoming careers.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
Building relationships with students and watching their careers and lives evolve. It is always fulfilling to hear from students who have been promoted, taken a different career path, or moved to a faraway place. To see the personal growth is incredible.
I have also tremendously enjoyed the two study abroad programs that I was involved in (Terry Travels-South America and SPIA-Verona). Those were two fabulous experiences. Not only was I able to share my knowledge with students in various countries (Chile, Peru and Italy), but I was also able to learn along with the students.
How do you describe the scope and impact of your research or scholarship to people outside of your field?
Insurance is often seen in such a negative light (such as denying claims and increasing premiums). My platform here allows me to show the positive side of the insurance industry (such as providing post-disaster funds) and to educate students (and the public) on necessary business practices in order to provide these benefits.
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?
It is not uncommon for a classroom-related question to act as the genesis of a research project. Similarly, I have had several ideas for class activities stem from research projects.
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
While it is of course necessary to learning the material, I hope that students do more than rote memorization and actually learn to think about the material and associated problems. Often, the same idea is being presented in different ways, and if the student can recognize these relationships, they can solve more problems than those presented in class.
Describe your ideal student.
Someone who thinks and/or does a bit of research before asking a lot of questions. Questions are great, but well-thought-out questions are the best!
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…
While not technically on campus, proper, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia is great.
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…
I like to travel and ride motorcycles; I have driven to 49 states, 9 (of 10) Canadian provinces, and 2 (of 3) Canadian territories. I also run quite a bit (surprisingly!), having probably completed more than 1,000 races.
Community/civic involvement includes…
I volunteer with Jasper County 4-H.
Favorite book/movie (and why)?
“Les Miserables” is a great (but long) book. The musical is good too! I like several movies, but “Stand By Me” is the one that immediately comes to mind.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
My two study abroad trips. The students on those trips were absolutely fantastic.