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Maniam Named 2012 Piper Professor

May 1, 2012
SHSU Media Contact: Julia May

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A Sam Houston State University finance professor who was honored with the university’s most prestigious teaching award four years ago has been recognized for excellence in teaching at the state level.

Balasundram Maniam has been named a recipient of the 2012 Minnie Stevens Piper Award, which awards 10 Texas professors annually in recognition of superior teaching at the college level. He will receive $5,000 and a commemorative pin from the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation.

“Dr. Maniam is an inspiration to his students and colleagues,” said Charles Capps, professor of management and SHSU’s Excellence in Teaching Award recipient in 1994.

“Bala is grounded in ethics and is an example of scholarly grace and humility,” he said. “He has a solid educational and experiential background. He has both the breadth and depth required to be successful. He has the communication and human relations skills to be effective, and he has the organizational and managerial ability to lead.

“However, his best qualities may be his dedication to helping others succeed,” Capps said. “I believe Bala was born to be an educator.”

Maniam grew up in Malaysia in a family where education was valued.

“I had two sisters and four brothers,” he said. “Although both my parents only had a few years of formal schooling, they understood the importance of education and wanted all their children to be well-educated.”

By the time Maniam finished high school, most of the family’s savings had been spent on the education of his older siblings. However, his oldest brother was looking out for him.

“After he finished college, he informed me that he was sending me to the United States to pursue a college degree and that he would support me,” Maniam said.

His brother’s sacrifices motivated him to complete his undergraduate degree in Computer Science in two years. He graduated magna cum laude from Arkansas State University and immediately started work on his Master of Business Administration degree.

“During my graduate program, I taught several classes as a teaching assistant,” he said. “I realized I really loved to be in the classroom teaching. When my instructor commented that his students liked my teaching style and joked that I was a better teacher than he was, it was just the encouragement I needed to pursue a Ph.D.”

Maniam earned his doctorate in finance at the University of Mississippi and began his teaching career at Texas A&M International University in 1991.

In 1997, he and his family moved to Huntsville when he was employed by Sam Houston State University and his wife, Santhi, joined the faculty at Huntsville High School.

“The following year, my wife told me that she wanted to pursue her life-long ambition of becoming a medical doctor,” he said. “We decided that I would take over the primary care of our two sons, Ganesh and Pravin, while Santhi pursued her dream.” Santhi completed her studies in 2009 and is now a radiologist.

“We now again have the opportunity to be together full-time as a family with our boys,” he said. “After the long years of separation for medical school, we are all enjoying to the fullest this time in our lives before our sons head off to start their own college adventures.”

Since coming to SHSU as an assistant professor, Maniam has been promoted to full professor and served for three years as the chair of the Department of General Business and Finance.

He received the university’s “Excellence in Research” award in 2003 and the “Excellence in Teaching” award in 2008. In addition, he has been the recipient of many others awards and recognitions including, the “Excellence in Teaching” award by the Association of Business Administration and the “Outstanding Service Award” by the American Society of Business and Behavioral Sciences.

Maniam currently serves as the editor of the Journal of International Business Research and has served as an officer in a number of professional organizations. He is often recognized for his research during regional and national conferences. He is a member of numerous university committees and frequently serves as an adviser or sponsor of many campus organizations, including the International Graduate Students of the College of Business Administration and the SHSU International Students Organization.

Maniam says that his teaching philosophy comes from how teachers and professor influenced his life, which has translated into “what can I do” to enhance people’s education.

“This is probably why after 20 years of teaching, I still get very excited in my classes and try to do my very best each time,” he said. “Some of this is apparent from my teaching evaluations and student comments. I recognized that ‘true’ faculty must not only be good teachers and researchers, but must also support students and community in whatever way possible. I also realized one can never truly be an effective teacher, especially at the graduate level, without relevant research.

“Professionally, I hope to become more recognized within my field and be a role model to other faculty in terms of teaching and research,” he said. “However, I want to do all these things without sacrificing my commitment to teaching excellence. After all, a true teacher is one that makes a difference in the classroom before everything else, and I want to be remembered for my excellence in teaching before anything else.”

Sam Houston State University’s previous Piper Professors include Hazel Floyd, education (1961); George Killinger, sociology (1968); Mary Frances Park, education (1981); Fisher Tull, music (1984); Ralph Pease, English (1987); Witold Lukaszewski, political science (1992); Rolando V. del Carmen, criminal justice (1998); Caroline Crimm, history (2004); Vic Sower, management (2005); James Olson, history (2006); and Frank Fair, philosophy (2011).

 

 

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