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Business and Technology initiates ‘Executive in the Classroom’ program

Tuesday, September 30, 2008JOHNSON CITY—Dr. Karen Tarnoff, an associate professor of Management and Marketing in the College of Business and Technology at East Tennessee State University, came across an idea she thought would benefit her students.

Why not pair an experienced educator with a successful alumnus from the business world to team teach? The answer to that question resulted in the “Executive in the Classroom” program instituted at ETSU this fall.

Tarnoff invited Clark Phipps, the human resources manager for Alcoa Wheel and Transportation Products, to join her in teaching a management class, “Planning and Staffing,” a course taken by most human resource management majors. The two share the duties of developing and presenting the course content and materials.

Phipps is a 1980 graduate of ETSU with a degree in economics and political science. He brings to the classroom over 25 years of human resource experience in manufacturing, financial services, human resource consulting, and call centers.

In his current position, Phipps manages labor relations, staffing, training and development, compensation and benefits, community and governmental relations, and employee relations. He also serves as a national resource in organizational development and time and attendance system development and implementation.

Tarnoff has taught at ETSU for 14 years. She currently serves the college as the assistant dean for Assurance of Learning and Assessment, a position focused on gathering data to determine whether students are meeting the learning objectives for their programs of study and implementing improvements to help students reach those objectives. She has served as the faculty adviser for the award-winning ETSU student chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management since her arrival at the university. She also serves on the board of directors of the Northeast Tennessee Society for Human Resource Management.

Each Tuesday night, Phipps drives to the ETSU campus, rather than to his home in Duffield, Va., to teach. Students not only derive the benefit of having academic and field experience from their instructors, but they have visible proof, thanks to Phipps, that their hard work will lead to a solid career after graduation.

Phipps has held leadership positions in the Northeast Tennessee chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management, and he has consistently supported the student chapter on campus. In addition, he was chair of the local Workforce Investment Board that sponsored an ETSU skills gap study spearheaded by Tarnoff several years ago.

For further information, contact Tarnoff at (423) 439-5299 or


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