Archive for ‘Research’

JP College Football Rankings: How did we do?

by   |  01.11.17  |  Academics, COBA Faculty, Research

by guest bloggers Dr. Ryan Jessup and Dr. Don Pope

Well, the dust has settled on another bowl season and it is time to evaluate the success (or, lack thereof) of the JP ranking system.

You might remember from last season that we concluded that a blind squirrel would be about as equally effective as our ranking system.  Well, this season that blind squirrel (technically, he is blindfolded) made us look silly.


Figure 1. How well did we do? If last season we did about as well as a blind squirrel flipping a coin then this season that blind squirrel took our money.


You see, out of 42 bowl games we correctly predicted the winner approximately 54% of the time, and, in the 6 games in which we predicted a different winner compared to the college football playoff (CFP) selection committee, we were correct half the time and they were correct the other half.  However, we correctly predicted against Vegas 48% of the time.  So, this year the squirrel beat us.

What went wrong?  This is always a useful question.  One issue is that the Big 10 was a Big Letdown, finishing a miserable 3-7 in their bowl games, performing overwhelmingly worse than expected.  Likewise, Clemson outperformed expectations as they upset both Ohio State and Alabama, two teams that both we – and Vegas – thought would win.  Why these things occurred is rather difficult to determine: did the Big 10 perform well against non-conference games – which usually take place early in the season – and then fall off later on?  It is hard to know for sure.

Regarding Vegas, last bowl season the Vegas favorite covered the line approximately 60% of the time.  Interestingly, they only covered the line a mere 35% of the time this season meaning even they had a hard time predicting the outcomes.  But in the end, you can’t fight city hall, and, really, you probably shouldn’t mess with Vegas either as the house is truly playing with a stacked deck.

One thing that does give us hope is that, even though hundreds of millions of dollars are on the line for the college football playoff and a prestigious 13 member selection committee generates the rankings, our simple ranking system fares about as well, getting the same number of correct predictions.  So, maybe next year the CFP should drop their committee-based ranking system and just hire that squirrel.



JP 2016 NCAA Football Final Rankings and Bowl Predictions

by   |  12.16.16  |  Academics, COBA Faculty, Current Students, Research, Uncategorized

by guest blogger, Dr. Ryan Jessup

Below is our final ranking dotplot for the season.  Note how Alabama ends the season way beyond the other teams, teams 2-4 are grouped together, followed by another large break after the 11th team, LSU.

bowl predictions

Although Navy’s loss to Army for the first time in more than a decade was a surprise, our rankings did not see them as a top 40 team anyway, so the surprise was rather mild.

The final network graph (below) demonstrates the inter- and intra-conference play (the lines connecting the dots) as well as the relative strengths of the teams within their conferences via the dot size.

ncaa football diagram

Lastly, below are our predicted winners and win margins for 40 of the 41 bowl games.  All of these bowls are assumed to be at neutral sites, so, for example, the Hawaii Bowl win margin does not adjust for Hawaii’s homefield advantage (a 5.25 point adjustment).  After the two national semi-finals have been played we will return to predict by how much Alabama will win.


Date Team One Team Two Bowl Game JP Favorite Win Margin
2016-12-17 UTSA New Mexico GILDAN NEW MEXICO BOWL New Mexico 0.75
2016-12-17 San Diego State Houston LAS VEGAS BOWL PRESENTED BY GEICO Houston 18.75
2016-12-17 Toledo Appalachian State RAYCOM MEDIA CAMELLIA BOWL Toledo 2.25
2016-12-17 Arkansas State UCF AUTONATION CURE BOWL UCF 0.75
2016-12-18 Louisiana Lafayette Southern Miss R+L CARRIERS NEW ORLEANS BOWL Southern Miss 2.25
2016-12-19 Tulsa Central Michigan MIAMI BEACH BOWL Tulsa 11.75
2016-12-21 Western Kentucky Memphis BOCA RATON BOWL Western Kentucky 7.75
2016-12-23 Colorado State Idaho FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL Colorado State 18.75
2016-12-23 Old Dominion Eastern Michigan POPEYES BAHAMAS BOWL Eastern Michigan 3.75
2016-12-23 Navy Louisiana Tech LOCKHEED MARTIN ARMED FORCES BOWL Navy 8.25
2016-12-24 Troy Ohio DOLLAR GENERAL BOWL Troy 0.75
2016-12-25 Middle Tennessee Hawaii HAWAII BOWL Middle Tennessee 8.25
2016-12-26 Mississippi State Miami (OH) ST. PETERSBURG BOWL Mississippi State 15.75
2016-12-26 Boston College Maryland QUICK LANE BOWL Maryland 3.75
2016-12-26 Vanderbilt NC State CAMPING WORLD INDEPENDENCE BOWL Vanderbilt 7.75
2016-12-27 North Texas Army ZAXBY’S HEART OF DALLAS BOWL Army 10
2016-12-27 Wake Forest Temple MILITARY BOWL PRESENTED BY NORTHROP GRUMMAN Temple 23.75
2016-12-28 Washington State Minnesota NATIONAL FUNDING HOLIDAY BOWL Washington State 5.75
2016-12-28 Baylor Boise State MOTEL 6 CACTUS BOWL Boise State 18.75
2016-12-28 Northwestern Pittsburgh NEW ERA PINSTRIPE BOWL Northwestern 3.75
2016-12-28 Miami West Virginia RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL Miami 18.75
2016-12-29 Utah Indiana FOSTER FARMS BOWL Utah 10
2016-12-29 Kansas State Texas A&M ADVOCARE V100 TEXAS BOWL Texas A&M 18.75
2016-12-29 South Carolina South Florida BIRMINGHAM BOWL South Florida 14.75
2016-12-29 Virginia Tech Arkansas BELK BOWL Virginia Tech 18.75
2016-12-30 Colorado Oklahoma State VALERO ALAMO BOWL Colorado 27.25
2016-12-30 TCU Georgia AUTOZONE LIBERTY BOWL Georgia 8.25
2016-12-30 North Carolina Stanford HYUNDAI SUN BOWL Stanford 8.25
2016-12-30 Tennessee Nebraska FRANKLIN AMERICAN MORTGAGE MUSIC CITY BOWL Tennessee 3.75
2016-12-30 Air Force South Alabama NOVA HOME LOANS ARIZONA BOWL Air Force 11.75
2016-12-31 Florida State Michigan CAPITAL ONE ORANGE BOWL Michigan 34.25
2016-12-31 Louisville LSU BUFFALO WILD WINGS CITRUS BOWL LSU 11.75
2016-12-31 Kentucky Georgia Tech TAXSLAYER BOWL Georgia Tech 1.75
2016-12-31 Alabama Washington CHICK-FIL-A PEACH BOWL – CFP SEMIFINAL Alabama 39.25
2017-01-01 Clemson Ohio State PLAYSTATION FIESTA BOWL – CFP SEMIFINAL Ohio State 23.75
2017-01-02 Iowa Florida OUTBACK BOWL Iowa 1.75
2017-01-02 Wisconsin Western Michigan GOODYEAR COTTON BOWL CLASSIC Wisconsin 20.75
2017-01-03 Oklahoma Auburn ALLSTATE SUGAR BOWL Auburn 11.75


Jessup Pope College Football 2016 Rankings: After Week 14

by   |  12.07.16  |  Academics, COBA Faculty, Current Students, Research, Uncategorized

by guest blogger, Dr. Ryan Jessup

The bowls are all set as 14 weeks of the NCAA football season have passed with only one game remaining: Army vs. Navy, to be held this upcoming Saturday.


JP Rankings after week 14


Our model ends with the same team on top that we had all season, Alabama, who ESPN and 538 acknowledge as the best college football team of all time.  Ohio State and Michigan remain 2nd and 3rd, respectively, but, thanks in part to Wisconsin’s loss and Washington’s crushing of Colorado, the Huskies move into our 4th spot.  Clemson is our 8th ranked team, behind Wisconsin, Penn State, and USC, respectively.  No. 12 Western Michigan is our highest ranked team from the Group of 5 conferences and Oklahoma is our highest ranked Big 12 team, at #18.  As Don Pope pointed out last week, the Big 12 looks more like a Group of 5 conference than a Power 5 conference this year.

Next week, after the Army-Navy game, we will give our projections for all 40+ bowl games.  My grad school alma mater, Indiana, will play in the Foster Farms Bowl.  That’s how you know you’ve hit the big time, why mess around with crummy bowls like the Rose or Sugar when you can throw a pigskin sponsored by a chicken.

Jessup Pope (JP) College Football Rankings: Week Beginning Nov. 28, 2016

by   |  11.28.16  |  Academics, COBA Faculty, COBA Staff, Current Students, Research, Uncategorized

by guest blogger, Dr. Don Pope

Well, sports fans, it was another exciting weekend of college football.  Several traditional big rivalry match-ups were played, the most notable being Michigan versus “The Ohio State University”.  The two schools up in Okie-land delayed their annual “Bedlam” rivalry game until this coming weekend so they could focus on the turkey and dressing last week.

The first of the following figures shows our adjusted rankings after week 13.


week of nov. 28 graph


Note that, as before, Alabama stands out way above the rest, followed by Ohio State and Michigan after their close game, then another Big 10 team, Wisconsin, and the remainder of the top 50 teams.


week of nov. 28 graph 2


The second of the figures is a network representation of college football this season, with the dots representing the teams in the various conferences, or independents.  The lines represent games played, both within conference and between conferences.  The size of the dots reflects their rankings in our system.  The large red dot in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) is Alabama, and 3 the large red dots in the Big 10 are Ohio State, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

The sad tale of these figures is the demise of the Big 12.   They seem to have forgotten that, after your team scores, you are supposed to put 11 other guys out on the field whose objective is to stop the other team from scoring.  Our rankings place many schools from many conferences above any school in the Big 12.  Thus, we do not predict the Big 12 teams this year to perform very well in bowl games, assuming that they get invited to any bowl game more significant than the Captain Crunch Breakfast Cereal Bowl.

Stay tuned for next week!

Jessup Pope (JP) College Football Rankings: Week Beginning Nov. 21, 2016

by   |  11.22.16  |  Academics, COBA Faculty, Current Students, Research

by guest blogger, Noah Bastable

The most notable game this week happened on Thursday when the Houston Cougars beat Louisville in a tumbling loss for the Cardinals as they fell down from #5 to #14, even though both teams have a 9-2 record. This is, in part, how the Jessup-Pope College Football Rankings (much like life) works. If you notice the bottom 6 teams on the chart, their PageRank scores do not differ as much as the top 4 teams. Even the difference between Alabama and Ohio State is huge. This just goes to show it’s easy to get to the top, but it is hard to stay on top (even though Alabama may say otherwise).


jp rankings 11.22.16


The University of Houston Cougars were previously ranked #46 and are now ranked #17 on the Jessup Pope College Football Ranking system.

We hope that everybody has a great week off of school and work and enjoys their Thanksgiving meals, perhaps while watching the 9-1 Cowboys face the Redskins on Thanksgiving day.

Jessup Pope (JP) College Football Rankings: Week Beginning Nov. 14, 2016

by   |  11.15.16  |  Academics, COBA Faculty, Research, Uncategorized

by guest blogger, Dr. Don Pope

Well sports fans, it was one of those weeks.  3 of the top 4 CFP ranked teams went down in flames to defeat, as well as my dear old Texas Aggies. Since the top 4 CFP ranked teams end up in the most significant bowl games and play each other for the unofficial (not recognized by the NCAA) national championship, then we are going to see a scramble for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th ranked teams at the end of the regular season.  That assumes, of course, that Alabama remains in their overwhelming number 1 ranked position, which is surely to occur unless their team bus blows an engine and they fail to show at their remaining games.  Our rankings did not change a great deal from the previous week (week 10) to week 11 (shown below).

JP_top50_rankings_2016_wk11_phat136 (2)

This is due to several factors:  first, our algorithm is not bothered by a “defeat” as much as other rankings, as in the case of Michigan only losing by 1 point on the road against Iowa.  Secondly, our rankings were never as excited about Clemson and Washington as other rankings had been.  Our rankings, after the 800 pound monster Alabama, are very impressed with the body of work of several Big 10 conference teams.  Among these is Northwestern, which is still flying below the radar on many rankings, but our rankings feel that they are a strong contender.

Stay tuned for this coming weekend’s games.  The only certainty is more surprises.


Jessup Pope (JP) College Football Rankings: Week Beginning November 7, 2016

by   |  11.08.16  |  Academics, COBA Alumni, COBA Faculty, Current Students, Research

by guest blogger and marketing major from Japan, Noah Bastable

Hello wildcats and welcome back to our weekly blog post on the Jessup Pope College Football Rankings!

This week is the tenth week of college football and we’d like to talk you through some noticeable changes since last week.


Our top four teams – Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, and Wisconsin – remain the same but their order has switched.

LSU lost to Alabama but they went up in the rankings from 16th to 11th. The score was close until Alabama broke the scoreless game in the last quarter by scoring 10 points.

Ole Miss shot up through the rankings from 28th to 17th after a 37-27 win against the Georgia Southern Eagles.

Nebraska went down from 12th to 20th after their staggering 62-3 loss to Ohio State.

The most interesting turnout, however, was one between two of our home state teams, Baylor and TCU.  TCU “clobbered”, as Ryan Jessup put it, the Bears 62-22 defeating them so badly that their running back was sidelined for attitude issues. Perhaps there is a silver lining in the Bears-Frogs game, the lesson learned that no matter how rough a game may get, one must always maintain a right attitude.

That is it for this week. Come back and check us out again next week for more of the new and improved Jessup Pope College Football rankings! Go Wildcats!!

Jessup Pope (JP) College Football Rankings: Week Beginning 30 October 2016

by   |  11.01.16  |  Academics, COBA Faculty, Current Students, Research, Uncategorized

by guest blogger, Dr. Ryan Jessup

I present to you the first edition of the second season of the new and improved Jessup Pope (JP) College Football Rankings in which we rank all 128 college football teams in the bowl subdivision based on their performances through the first 9 weeks of the current season.

A very brief history

Last season, Don Pope and I introduced our ranking system which uses a modified version of the Google PageRank algorithm – the algorithm that jump-started the search engine giant and still underlies their current approach today – to allow it to rank teams instead of webpages.  We also enabled it to account for home field advantage and temporal decay of performances (this is where games early in the season weigh less in the rankings than more recent games), among other things.

New and improved

You might recall that last season we ended with the same final 4 as the college football playoff (CFP) rankings and predicted that Alabama would defeat Clemson in the Championship by 5.7 points, a game Alabama won by 5 points.  Our model (a) beat Las Vegas and (b) correctly predicted the winner of the bowl games 51.2% of the time.  For us, that is not good enough.  So, in the offseason we grabbed more seasons of college football data to help our system better learn and made a few additional modifications to supercharge the system.  When we finally got around to running our new version on last season’s data, we found that it beat Vegas 61% of the time and correctly predicted the bowl game winner 56% of the time.

About our rankings

Before we get into the rankings here are a few quick reminders:

  • We do not care about predicting the CFP rankings. We care about good predictions of game outcomes and correctly predicting the CFP rankings may lead us in the wrong direction.
  • Our model does not care about win-loss records. A team with a losing record who lost multiple away games against tough teams by narrow margins will likely end up higher in our rankings than an undefeated team that has played a creampuff schedule.
  • Our model is not biased by name recognition, what conference a team plays in, or start of the season rankings – three potential weaknesses of human ranking systems.
  • Our model is forward-looking so as to predict future outcomes whereas traditional polls and ranking systems are backwards-looking and hence merely describe prior performance.

The rankings

As with last season, we are presenting the rankings using a dotplot which preserves the relative difference in JP values.  For example, this image demonstrates that the difference in quality between teams 1 and 2 is larger than the difference between teams 15 and 50!


JP Football rankings week 9


No one should be surprised that Alabama and Michigan are ranked at the top.  Our high ranking of Wisconsin is consistent with their strong performances against quality teams, despite their two losses, both against teams that we rank higher (Michigan followed by Ohio State at #3).

My guess is that undefeated Clemson and Washington will round out the CFP’s top 4 in the first ranking of the season which will be released on Tuesday; though, our model suggests that they are currently on the outside looking in.  Baylor and West Virginia’s losses this past weekend simplified the problem that would have otherwise arisen – people wondering why those two undefeated teams were ranked so low.

Spotlight on Katie Wick

by   |  10.12.16  |  Academics, COBA Faculty, College Decisions, Current Students, Faith Infusion, Research, Uncategorized

Dr. Katie Wick

Dr. Katie Wick

What is your educational background?

I was drawn to the University of Virginia for my undergraduate education.  The campus is a magical place steeped in history and tradition.  When I came to UVA, I was convinced I was going to be a doctor, and as I was taking my first course in chemistry I realized that I was going to have to slog and push myself through my prerequisites for medical school.  Simultaneously, I happened to enroll in principles of microeconomics with 550 other undergraduates and the class made my heart sing! I decided I need to dive into economics further.

My game theory and experimental economics classes convinced me to make the study of economics my future. Strategy, games, choices, and decisions came alive in the economics laboratory, and I simply had to find a way to get to graduate school to study further.  With the guidance of my advisor, I applied to experimental graduate programs and received an amazing offer from the University of Pittsburgh where the real work in economics began.

Playing economics games with handheld devices out on the famous UVA lawn with my experimental economics class (that's me on the very far right in the red and my advisor/professor right next to me). This was a big deal since it was WAY before iPads!

Playing economics games with handheld devices out on the famous UVA lawn with my experimental economics class (that’s me on the very far right in the red and my advisor/professor right next to me). This was a big deal since it was WAY before iPads!

After two to three years of the basic course work (basic is a misnomer since it was scary hard), I started my research in experiments.  My dissertation was based around two experiments I designed to test efficiency in public good giving.  It was such a thrill to conduct every aspect of the experiment and see it take shape from just an idea to the design then the programming, the recruiting of subjects, the running of the experiment in the laboratory, and the analysis afterward.  The day I defended my dissertation was almost as exciting as the days I welcomed my children into the world!


What is your work background?

You’ll notice the narrative of my work history exactly coincides with the development of my family.  My first professor job was at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA where I was blessed with amazing students who loved economics as well as game theory and experiments.  At the end of my very first week of work, our first foster child came to live with us, a little boy named Braden who we had the privilege of later adopting. Concurrently, my husband was in his family medicine residency, and when he graduated, he would begin active duty with the Air Force due to the terms of his medical school scholarship.  After two years of working at Allegheny, my husband was given orders to Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, TX, which we had to look up on a map! God went before us to provide a community of support including an amazing church and friends.

Dr. Matthew Wick, then a captain in the USAF on his first day of active duty service at Dyess with our 2-year-old son Braden

Dr. Matthew Wick, then a captain in the USAF on his first day of active duty service at Dyess with our 2-year-old son Braden.

I was 30+ weeks with our second child when we moved to Abilene, and I took two years off from teaching to be with our small kids.  I missed being with students and teaching, and I reached out to the academic community in town.  I started teaching part-time at McMurry in the fall of 2012 when I was 36 weeks pregnant with our 3rd child! I had missed the excitement of the first day of school in those two years away.  That was a busy semester!

I taught part-time at McMurry for one year and full-time for three years. We loved living in Abilene.  After my husband’s active duty commitment was over, we decided to stay and put down permanent roots here, and we had one more kid too!


What do you teach at ACU?

My main teaching focus at ACU is the principles of economics courses (macro and micro) and equipping our COBA students for their upper level business classes.  This spring I will be teaching one of my favorite classes on game theory which studies choices in strategic settings.  We also play a good deal of games which makes it a very fun and memorable class.  I also hope to add other economics topics classes in the future.


What drew you to teaching? Why did you want to work with students?

The mentoring process is my favorite part of teaching.  I love getting to know about student’s uniqueness and helping them learn material in a way that makes sense to them.  I went to a large university where having a mentor relationship with your professor was very difficult if not close to impossible in some cases.  It became paramount that my students have a different experience than I did, one where they were known.  In addition, I LOVE school, have always loved school, so it’s exciting that I always get to be in school!


What’s the best part of working with students?

I love that I get to be a small part of this transformational time in their lives.  College is a shaping experience academically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually.  It is a great privilege to be able to encourage them on this journey.  In addition, students make me laugh, and they help to keep me relevant.


Outside of teaching, what passions and hobbies do you have?

When I’m not teaching, I’m usually at home or out and about with my “tribe.” They are my biggest hobby and my greatest joy in life.  Currently, my kids are 2, 4, 6, and 8 years old so they are still at an age where they require attention which is both great and hard.

Other than my tribe, I love to spend time with my friends, exercise, read, and I am very involved in my church community.  I have a huge passion for the foster and adoptive community, and we hope to open our home again to children in the future.

What is a good, early story about your teaching?

While I was still a student in my doctoral program, I taught a section of Intermediate Microeconomics in the summer when I was 24 years old.  I remember walking into the classroom, very nervous, and one of the students asking me about the professor and if this was known to be a hard class.  I giggled on the inside.  I guess they thought that I was taking the class and not teaching it!


Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.

Up to this point, I don’t think anything has topped the feeling of the accomplishment of my dissertation.  Conducting every aspect of those experiments and single authoring the papers created an incredible sense of triumph.


Do you do any charity or non-profit work?

Most Thursday mornings I work in my church’s food pantry where we provide groceries and household goods to approximately 25 families that day. These families and the others working the food pantry bless my life in tremendous ways.  I also lead a life group and counsel couples in the premarital journey with my husband.


Who is your role model, and why?

My parents! My father worked tirelessly to provide for us as well as let us know we were always loved.  He was also an incredibly successful surgeon bringing healing to thousands of patients and teaching hundreds of budding doctors.  My mom was the rock upon which our whole family stood, and she is our earthly guide in this life.  She also led each of her children to know and love the Lord.


Who was your most inspirational professor and why?

There are many, and I could pick inspirational teachers/professors for different phases of my life.

Childhood – my mom, Helen Johnson, who encouraged me to love learning and see it as a constant adventure at a young age.

Middle/High School – Dr. Tracy Inman who taught me an intensive three-week summer course in humanities studying different perspectives of the afterlife at my favorite summer camp (lovingly dubbed nerd camp by my friends and family). Her guidance helped challenge my critical thinking skills and nourish my individual ideas.

College – Dr. Charles Holt who opened my eyes to the world of game theory and experimental economics. At the time, I didn’t know he was such a leader in this field and that working in his laboratory would put me way ahead in skills for graduate school. I was so blessed by his leadership and guidance.


At UVA's Intermediate Honors (I'm on the far right) with Dr. Charles Holt in the center. We all call him Charlie.

At UVA’s Intermediate Honors (I’m on the far right) with Dr. Charles Holt in the center. We all call him Charlie.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

Flying! Oh, how freeing it would be!  Plus, you could see the world from a different perspective and travel places quickly.


What is something that students might be surprised to find out about you?

My husband and I were dating for less than 10 months when we got married!  We are coming up on our 11th anniversary this Christmas.


What would you really want students and alums to know about you?

When I was in graduate school, I longed to teach at a university just like ACU. Working here is a blessing, and teaching, mentoring, and working with students is my professional dream-come-true. I am honored to share in the mission of ACU.

The Wick Family

The Wick Family

Spotlight on Ian Shepherd

by   |  04.05.16  |  Academics, COBA Alumni, COBA Faculty, Mobile Learning, Research, Uncategorized

What is your educational background?

DA, Middle Tennessee State Univ, 1998.
Major: Economics

MBA, Belmont University, 1989.
Major: Business Administration

BBus, University of Western Sydney, 1987
Major: Marketing

Mcert, Blacktown Technical College, 1982

Mitchell High School, Blacktown, N.S.W. Australia, 1975
(All my degrees after high school were done part time while working full time.)


Dr. Ian Shepherd

Dr. Ian Shepherd


What is your work background?

Partner, One Pulse. (May 2010 – Present).

Vice President of Operations, Gradeslayer Inc. (October 2005 – Present).

Professor Management Sciences, Abilene Christian University. (2003 – Present).

Associate Professor and Department Chair, Harris College of Business, Faulkner University. (2002 – 2003).

Vice President, Aussie Delivery Services. (July 2006 – Present).

Director of Finance, New Horizons. (June 2007 – May 2009).

Assistant Vice President, Logistics Systems, INGRAM BOOK GROUP. (2001 – 2002).

Assistant Vice President, Consumer Direct Fulfillment, INGRAM FULFILLMENT SERVICES. (1996 – 2001).

Director of Purchasing Operations, INGRAM BOOK COMPANY. (1991 – 1996).

Marketing Research Manager, Dollar General Corporation. (1987 – 1988).

Materials Controller, Alcan Australia Limited. (1978 – 1987).

Inspectors Clerk, New South Wales Police Department. (1976 – 1978).

Hole digger, Metropolitan Water Sewage and Drainage Board (1975)


What do you teach at ACU?

• Macroeconomics
• Microeconomics
• Managerial Economics
• International Business
• Operations
• Leadership
• Economics Boot Camp
• Organizational Behavior
• Human Resource Management


What committees/other duties do you have at ACU aside from teaching?



What drew you to teaching? Why did you want to work with students?

I have always wanted to teach at the college level. I just had to get ready to do so.


What’s the best part of working with students?

Seeing that look when someone really gets what you are talking about.


Have you ever given up any big opportunities to keep working with students?

50% pay cut to teach.
Lived away from my family for a year to make the teaching profession happen.


Outside of teaching, what passions and hobbies do you have?

Home projects and fishing.

What is a good, early story about your teaching?

I try to use life experiences to get the importance of economic topics across to students. Here is one of my favorite class moments….

The work bag lesson!
It sits in my office.
It sits on my desk in plain view.
Sometimes it goes unnoticed.
Usually no one asks about it.
Today, however, its story was told to my 9:30 am Macroeconomics class. I would be talking about the value of work and how work changes the legacy of your family. I had no better example than what sat at the front of our class. For the entire class my dad’s work bag sat in front of my 100 students. Each student sat there wondering what was going on. I was about to tell them.

ian and dad

Ian and his father, Cliff Shepherd

Cliffy (Cliff Shepherd for those who did not know him) grew up in Kurrajong at the base of the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. A boy from the bush. He won awards for farming at the county and state shows and can be seen in the attached picture with a serious crop of corn almost 12 feet high. Growing up, dad only finished through the 8th grade. He was a good worker. He worked hard on his dad’s (Cecil’s) farm. I guess he would have stayed farming had he not met the young pretty girl Audrey at a church function. At first Auds (Audrey) did not like dad. She told us she threw stones at him to get him to go away. But as you all know, hate is love in disguise. The boy from the bush and the girl from Granville “Lell in Fove” and were married on New Year’s Eve 1955.

After completing his national service and marrying mum dad was offered a job at Alcan Australia Limited in Granville. It was nowhere near the bush and so different than anything dad had ever experienced. I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that it was mum’s father, Jim Byrnes (a manager at Alcan) that got dad the job. I guess he was looking out for his daughter, Audrey. The job was not a fancy job. It was a case maker. You nailed together boxes to ship the aluminium (yes that spelling is intentional my American friends) sheets, coil, or extrusions. It was (at this time) 6 days a week (5 full days and half day on Saturday).

My first memories of dad as a child were of waking very early on Saturday mornings. Other families would sleep in and enjoy the day, but not ours. At 5:30 am I would here rustling around in the kitchen. It was methodical. The fridge door would open. You would hear items being fumbled and stacked on the table in the darkness. You would then hear items being returned to the fridge. All the time dad would try to be quiet but not quite pull it off. Things would be dropped. Messes would be made. Noises were inevitable. Then you would hear the sandwich, fruit, and drink being placed in the squeaky work bag in preparation for the 6th work day of the week.

I would lay in bed complaining in my head about why this man was keeping me awake! Then I would hear the bag. He would picked it up and as he carried it out the door on the way to work its handle would squeak as it rocked back and forth with each step. Why! I would ask myself. Its 5:30 am when normal people were sleeping. It took fifty or so years for me to grasp what was going on. Each squeak of that handle on each of those 5:30 am mornings was teaching me a lesson. You do what you need to do to take care of your family.

This man, with an eight grade education would go through this routine every day of the week, except for Sundays, for most of his life. I never heard him complain about it. He just did it.

Over the next 45 to 50 years, that young bush boy got out of bed and took that lunch bag to his job. At first he hammered nails. He was good at it. He was also the kind of guy that people liked to be around so dad worked well with people. I can remember when they made him foreman and gave him his own shift to run. I remember when they made him warehouse supervisor in charge of inventory location and movement. I remember when they moved him to work in transportation. Finally, dad was running the warehouse, distribution and transportation nationally for Alcan. Each day, the same thing. Get up, go through the bag loading ritual, work hard, and care for your family. It did not matter that dad had only an eighth grade education. Having little education does not mean you’re stupid. Having no drive to care for your family is stupid, he would tell me. Dad always did what he said he would do. He had promised to care for his family, and for 45 or more years he did that every day without complaint.

When dad retired due to poor health, the bag was stored in the tool shed. It lay there for years gathering dust. I found it two years ago while cleaning out the shed and when Sue (my sister) asked if we should toss it I said no…! It meant too much to me. That day, the enormity of those 45 years of squeaky handle noises struck home.

As kids, we never wanted for anything. We were poor, but we were not in need. We went without, but we were never hungry. We had no TV, flush toilet, or carpet on the floor, but we laughed and loved. We had sheets for curtains and no heat in the house and yet it was a warm place for our family to gather. We played cricket down the driveway with the neighborhood kids and we drove old hand me down Holdens (Chevrolets).

When I look back now I can see his plan. You live your life to make the next generation’s legacy a better legacy than the one you were given. To do that, you have to work hard and be a consistent example to that next generation. The goal is to make things better. If that means hammering nails at 6 am on Saturday, then that is what I will do to make life better for my kids.
That boy from the bush raise three kids and loved his wife. Between them the three children have 8 degrees, the lowest of which is a master’s degree and one a doctorate. They are teachers, executives, and government servants, all with their own homes and families. Not a bad effort on Cliffy’s part if you ask me. Not bad at all.

So the boy from the bush who couldn’t rub two pennies together when he met mum had his story told in class today. As I sit here writing this tome after teaching that class I wonder if the students got the importance of what I was telling them. I can tell you what I got out of that class…..? I suddenly had the desire to be woken up at 5:30 am on a cold Saturday morning as that squeaky bag handle rattles its way to the back door for the ten thousandth time, but this time I get out of bed and I hug the man who made me who I am, and I thank him for what he did to make my life as easy as it is today. Good one Cliffy…good one…!

So what can we learn from this experience?
1. You sometimes don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
2. Persistence makes perfect! Well, at least it teaches us to keep going.
3. What dad worked for took many decades to come to fruition. A good lesson for the “I want it now” generation in patience.
4. Do what you say you will do!
5. You will miss those annoying traits of your loved ones once they are gone.
6. You can’t make Devon (bologna) and sauce sandwiches quietly in the dark.
7. The rustle of a re-used bread bag to wrap a sandwich can frustrate small children.
8. I’d say “oil that handle,” but then I probably would not have had this story to tell.


Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.

The iPad initiative. Interview with CNBC on national television.


ian and apple

Brent Reeves and Ian Shepherd


Do you do any charity or non-profit work?

No, just regular church work.


Who is your role model, and why?

I have had two great men who have influenced me. The first is, my father, who taught me about life and the church and led by example. The second, my father-in-law who modeled continuing education and study to me.


Who was your most inspirational professor and why?

Most influential was a high school teacher at Mitchell High School in Blacktown in Australia. He taught business and commerce. His name was Max Wilson. He believed in me and made me feel like I could be successful at anything I put my mind to!


If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

Invisibility – so I can sleep all day and no one could find me.


What is something that students might be surprised to find out about you?

I slept with my current wife for 6 weeks prior to our wedding in Australia. Of course, I married her twice. Once in Stephenville TX for her side of the family. Then six weeks later for my side of the family in Australia. So, I have been married twice. To the same woman.

We have had three children, but only two are living now.

I played rugby and cricket in Australia.

I also played defensive lineman for the Argonauts in the Australian American Football League in Sydney, Australia.

I have written a humorous book of life stories entitled: “Life Lessons: A roadmap to surviving life’s twists and turns.” Available from Amazon.



What would you really want students and alums to know about you?

Born in Sydney in 1956 to Cliff and Audrey Shepherd, Ian spent the first six years of his life living in Granville, a working class suburb of Sydney, with his parents and grandparents. These formative years were spent mostly under the tutelage of his grandmother who provided day care while the rest of the family worked hard to get their own home built. Some of the early stories of his life date to this period and give an interesting insight into the mind of an active young Aussie with time on his hands.

In 1962 the family moved to their new home in Blacktown, a small outer rim suburb of Sydney that had just begun development. The author spent the next twenty-five years in this area completing high school and finalizing a degree in Marketing from the University of Western Sydney (Nepean). It was during these years that the importance of family and church were imprinted on his impressionable mind.
In 1979 Ian married a lifelong friend, Dee Ann Roper a missionary’s daughter, and took up residence in Marayong, a suburb of Sydney. After living and working in the area for nine years they made plans to further their education in America. In 1987 Ian and Dee Ann moved to Nashville Tennessee where they both entered school, Ian to complete his M.B.A. and Dee Ann to complete her Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education. It was during this time that Tabitha (1988), James (1990 deceased) and Ethan (1991) their children were born.

Ian spent many years working in industry in both Australia and the United States. In all his experience he was noted as having a unique sense of humor regarding the workplace and his home life. “After all,” Ian would say, “If I can’t laugh at the silly and stupid things I have done, my life would be pretty boring?” He is also known to tell a good story around the campfire.

After completing his M.B.A. Ian continued his education while working and in 1998 completed a Doctor of Arts degree in Economics from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. In July of 2003, Ian moved to Abilene Texas where he is now a Tenured Professor in Economics and teaching online and in the new MBA program.

Ian calls himself a “humorist”, trying to see the funny side of all the events that befall us in life. His stories and humor reflect on the everyday man and his ability to find joy in the simplest of things, mainly his own stupidity.

Ian has lived in the USA for 29 years, but only this year did he become a US citizen. He waited to do so because of his mum (who passed away last year in Australia). His wife (Dee Ann) is a Senior CPA with Davis Kinard in Abilene Texas. Ian has two living children, Ethan Shepherd who graduated from ACU and is an HR Manager at Abilene Regional Hospital, and Tabitha Shepherd who graduated with her masters from the Boston Conservatory. Tabitha teaches in Oregon. Ian’s son, James died at birth.

Ian loves ACU and the environment in which the school molds young lives for Christian Business Service.