The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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Excellence in the Arts Award: Joselyn Busato

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Bucknellian spotlight: Professor Jimmy Chen

Hayley+Leopold%2C+Print+Presentation+Director
Hayley Leopold, Print Presentation Director

Professor Jimmy Chen is a respected and accomplished associate professor in the Analytics and Operations Management department at Bucknell.  He began his career here in 2014, received tenure in 2021 and continues teaching here today utilizing his expertise in Supply Chain Management for a variety of classes within the Freeman College of Management. This week, The Bucknellian had the pleasure of speaking with Chen, learning about his academic and professional path and his experience at Bucknell.

Chen is originally from Taiwan, where he completed his undergraduate education at the National Taiwan University with a major in Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering. Although he knew he wanted to pursue something engineering related, when he had the opportunity to delve into management courses in his junior and senior year at the university, he was excited by the real world applications of his math and science driven background. 

This led Chen to SUNY Buffalo, where he received his MBA in Supply Chain Management and Finance. While he didn’t particularly love the cold, he shared that he thoroughly enjoyed the food, people and culture in the United States. This desire to continue his career in the U.S. motivated Chen to continue his education further at Penn State University where he earned a PhD in Supply Chain and Information Systems and had his first experiences in teaching.

Chen shared that although he did not always know that teaching was the career that he was going to pursue, when he had the opportunity to teach during his PhD program, he realized how much he enjoyed it. He noted his love for interacting with and getting an instantaneous response from students. 

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After completing the PhD program, when applying and deciding on universities to teach at as a full-time professor, Chen was mindful of finding an environment in which teaching is the first priority. He shares, “I didn’t want to go to a university where I would teach only to do research.  I wanted to be somewhere where I do research in order to teach. At Bucknell, research is highly valued, but we strive to get better and better and achieve excellence in teaching.”  

Chen enjoys the symbiotic relationship and balance at Bucknell in which he can prioritize teaching “bright, curious and intelligent students,” while continually receiving support to carry out his research in the Supply Chain Management field. 

Chen also spent a few years in a corporate role and shares how this has influenced his experience as a professor.  

“If you had told me that I would have ended up being a professor, I would not have expected it, but life led me to it,” Chen said.

He says, “Here, people really hold you accountable and want to evaluate you, assess you and support you to see that you are always becoming a better teacher. This is something that I find challenging but also very meaningful” . He went on to explain that peer support and this focus on continuous growth and learning is shared across the Bucknell faculty.  

“The Teaching and Learning Center, specifically Geoff Schneider, Brian Gockley and Sue Ellen Henry, offers weekly agendas that provide workshops and learning sessions and so many interesting ways to engage with students.”

In terms of the research that Chen conducts, much of it has been in the realm of the retail and consumer goods industry. “A lot of my research has been looking at the professional relationship between the major retailers and their suppliers in terms of improving their performance.  Methodologically it is about business analytics and how to use the data to extract insights, using computer simulation and mathematical modeling to build models that can inform the decision-making.” Chen collaborates directly with managers at major retailers and vendors such as Target, Walmart and Weis, among others, to gather data to determine what can be learned from it.

“I always love working with these companies because the business is changing so fast. This is what makes business management so interesting is that things keep changing and evolving organically,” Chen said. “It is exciting to get a real sense of what businesses are doing and to find new ways to do things.”

Chen also shared that he enjoys every class that he teaches, but he is particularly enjoying a class that he has just begun teaching, Tableau Data Visualization. “Tableau is a relatively new technology in the world of data visualization and nowadays people have access to a ton of data and Tableau allows them a way to absorb it.  What I like about this class is that it stands at the intersection of science, in the numbers, art, in creating visually appealing graphs and ethics, in terms of telling the truth instead of manipulating the data to alter peoples’ perceptions.”

Chen has also utilized his expertise in data analysis in volunteering as an advisor to the Green Dragon Foundation, a local organization that raises funds to improve the education experience for students in Lewisburg schools.  In this role, he has been able to leverage his skillset to help the foundation analyze their data sets within their donor base to develop a strategy to optimize their fundraising efforts.

When asked about what advice he has to offer to students throughout their four years at Bucknell, Chen shared, “College is a period of time when you deserve to enjoy yourself and have fun, but you also need to make sure to be committed to what you’re doing and be responsible for yourself and what you hope to do when you leave Bucknell.”

Although a career as a professor is not what Chen always expected, he contributes greatly to the Bucknell community and is appreciated by both students and faculty.  “I am really genuinely happy and so grateful to get to work with Bucknell students.  If there was only one thing keeping me here, it would be the kind, polite and mature students I get to work with everyday.”

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