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UA Little Rock Awards Varela with 2021 Harper W. Boyd Jr. Professor of Excellence Award

Otmar Varela
School of Business instructor Otmar Varela headshot. Photo by Ben Krain.

Dr. Otmar Varela, professor of management at UA Little Rock, has been awarded the 2021 Harper W. Boyd Jr. Professor of Excellence Award.

“One of the things we brag about is the quality of our faculty in the UA Little Rock School of Business,” he said. “My colleagues have an outstanding devotion for teaching and research. It’s a humbling and honoring experience to be selected from my group of colleagues for this honor.”

The Boyd Professor of Excellence Award was established to recognize a professor for his or her distinction as a scholar, a teacher, and a leader in the college, university, and community. The winning professor receives a $5,000 award to use toward research and pedagogy.

“Dr. Varela has been an outstanding faculty member since his first day at UA Little Rock,” said Dr. Robert Mitchell, director of the School of Business. “I remember interviewing him at an Academy of Management conference and knew immediately that he fit our needs completely. During his tenure at the university, he has been an outstanding teacher and an extremely strong contributor to program development and external relations. He is very deserving of the Boyd Award.”

Varela joined UA Little Rock as an assistant professor of management in 2010. He received the Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award for the College of Business in 2016 and the Faculty Excellence in Research Award for the College of Business in 2018. In 2020, Varela was promoted to a full professor of management.

Varela earned a bachelor’s degree in legal and political sciences from Universidad Central Venezuela and a MBA from Universidad Pontificia de Comillas as well as a master’s degree in international business and Ph.D. with a concentration in organizational behavior from Tulane University.

His research focuses on the development of managerial skills, the effectiveness of pedagogical interventions, and professional careers in academe. His work has been published in renowned journals, including “The Academy of Management Learning and Education,” “Journal of Business and Psychology,” and “Group Dynamics, Theory, Research, and Practice.”

Varela’s teaching involves distinct aspects of organizational behavior topics including leadership and teams. In addition to teaching in the U.S., Varela has served as a visiting faculty member in nine business schools located in South America, North America, and Europe.

“The university has given me the freedom to do the research I wanted to do,” he said. “Now I am trying to understand faculty success and what triggers success criteria. I’m also conducting research on teacher effectiveness and the quality of techniques teachers use to be successful.”

Most recently, Varela has been instrumental in founding the UA Little Rock Leadership Academy, which provides customized and affordable professional development training for local businesses and organizations. The Leadership Academy offers a variety of training in areas including business decision-making, personnel management, and communication through in-person or in hybrid learning.