Former trustee, professor emeritus teach business leadership during spring EIR course


As the fifth Executive-in-Residence course wound to a close on Tuesday, April 27, the two men who co-taught Leadership 370 reflected on what it meant to be in the classroom together again.

Professor Emeritus Ed Osborne and former Board of Trustees Chair Tim Cooper ’73 shared the teaching responsibilities for the course that focused on leadership and entrepreneurship.

“First of all, it was great to be able to sit on the other side of the classroom as the instructor, as opposed to being the student,” Cooper says. “It was an enriching process for me to learn what each of the students brought to the course. Second, I got to share the experience with Professor Osborne, who was my accounting professor about 38 years ago.”

Cooper retired in 2000 from Arthur Andersen and was the former owner of Smoky Mountain Trains LLC, which he sold in 2006. Osborne also worked at the firm as a senior auditor from 1965-71, and then taught in the Department of Business & Economics for nearly four decades. He retired in 2008.

“One of the things that I found very valuable in the world of teaching is to bring in people who have a wealth of experience,” Osborne says. “Usually they can spare maybe a day of their time. But when I learned that Tim had retired, I spoke with (McDonough Dean, Gama Perucci) and said that he would be the perfect person to bring in because of his experience and his knowledge.”

Osborne and Cooper settled on a topic but decided not to focus solely on how to start a business. “We taught them how to grown and how to sustain a business,” Cooper says.

Rene Nikolopoulos ’12, a human resource management major, took the spring semester course hoping to enhance her leadership skills.

“I really enjoyed this class,” she says. “I’ve never been too interested in starting or running my own business but I believe I now have the knowledge to do it and do it well.”

The EIR at the McDonough Center allows a senior executive from a major business enterprise to spend a meaningful period of time on campus interacting with students and faculty. The Executive-In-Residence shares his/her own perspective on leadership—drawn from his/her experience in the business world. In turn, students and faculty have an opportunity to gain their own insights through their interaction with the Executive-In-Residence.