Moore School trailblazer honored with Carolina Distinguished Professorship

For 21 years, Tatiana Kostova, Buck Mickel Chair and Professor of International Business at the University of South Carolina's Darla Moore School of Business, has been an integral part of the Moore School faculty. Her hard work and success with students have culminated this year with a Carolina Distinguished Professorship award.

The Carolina Distinguished Professorship is one of the highest honors awarded by the university to any faculty member, and those honored are among the most outstanding scholars in their fields nationally and internationally. To be considered for the award, the faculty member must demonstrate excellence in scholarship with a commitment to students, have a proven interest in the growth and success of their colleagues and an overall participation in university affairs.

Kostova embodies the spirit of this award and joins an elite group that includes her Moore School colleague Allen Berger who was named a Carolina Distinguished Professor in 2014.

“Being named a Carolina Distinguished Professor is one of the highest faculty honors we bestow at the university,” Provost Joan Gabel says. “Through her high-impact research, innovative teaching and dedication to the profession, Dr. Kostova exemplifies a commitment to excellence that elevates not just the Moore School, but the entire university.”

Coming to Carolina

After finishing her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, Kostova joined the university in 1996 as a tenure track assistant professor in International Business at the Moore School.

“I chose USC because I was interested in an academic career in international business and the Moore School was the best place for research and teaching in this area,” Kostova says. “It is quite remarkable that our school was so forward-looking and visionary to invest in developing cutting-edge expertise in international business more than 40 years ago.”

In the 21 years since she arrived at Carolina, the Moore School has sustained its leadership in international business research and education, something she recognizes and is proud of.

“Apart from the academic excellence and the formal rankings though, I really appreciate the collegial and developmental culture in my department, which we too have been able to keep over the years,” Kostova says.

Striving for student success

Kostova has made great strides in contributing to student success, including developing short-term study abroad courses to Europe that provide students the opportunity to learn first-hand about business and government in the region. Kostova says her experience with students abroad created lasting memories.

“In addition to visiting amazing companies and institutions, such as the European Union Commission in Brussels or the London Stock Exchange, it was always very special to share with the students many unforgettable moments of cultural immersion like seeing the "Phantom of the Opera" in the London West End, "Tosca" and "La Traviata" at Vienna State Opera, or overlooking the Blue Mosque and the Bosphorus from our hotel rooftop in Istanbul,” she says.

Additionally, Kostova says it has been a privilege to participate in the design and delivery of the global Executive IMBA programs in Austria, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan and a number of other countries around the world. She has been involved in different capacities in several exchange and cohort programs, including the first international business cohort exchange program with the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).

"It all started with a brainstorming session while visiting CUHK with my colleague C. Kwok,” Kostova says. “Both sides were motivated to provide the best world-class educational experience for students, and we succeeded.”

The international business cohort model has been replicated by universities in other countries and is widely recognized as one of the best innovations in international business education. The next initiative of Kostova and her colleagues in the international business department is in the domain of doctoral education — developing a global Ph.D. in international business with several universities from different countries.

“I am proud and honored to be part of this international business department and to have contributed to its standing not only in the U.S. but also in the global academic community,” Kostova says. “This, of course, comes with a sense of tremendous responsibility to continue to strive for research and teaching excellence and develop the next generation of global business leaders and academics.”

When it comes time for that next generation to leave the university, watching them graduate holds a special place in Kostova’s heart.

“The graduation ceremonies on the historic Horseshoe have always been a high point for me,” she says. “Walking with my Ph.D. graduates on stage is also a very special moment I always cherish.”

Honored and humbled

All of her accomplishments and initiatives here at Carolina throughout her tenure played a part in the honors Kostova has received as a Carolina Distinguished Professor.

“I am incredibly honored and grateful to my colleagues, school and the university who granted me this high recognition,” Kostova says. “I am especially humbled knowing the caliber of the many talented and committed faculty at USC. I couldn’t be where I am professionally if it was not for the continuous support and encouragement by my department, school and the university, and the inspiration from the many multinational companies and global managers that I have studied and learned from over the years.”

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