Dr. Cecilia Temponi is forging new relationships across the university and across the Americas By Mary-Love Bigony, University Marketing
In summer 2009, Dr. Cecilia Temponi traveled from the tree-covered hills of San Marcos, Texas, to the teeming city of Lima, Peru. Temponi, a professor in Texas State’s McCoy College of Business Administration and Ingram School of Engineering, taught a class for graduate students at Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima.
Temponi’s Peruvian sojourn came as a result of her Fulbright Senior Specialist Award. The Fulbright program awards grants to U.S. faculty in select disciplines to engage in short-term collaborative projects at higher education institutions worldwide. Recipients of the award are selected based on academic or professional achievement.
“I did a workshop for PhD students and master’s students,” Temponi says. “Two of the students were professors from a university in Guayaquil, Ecuador. The students were from different disciplines, from industrial engineering to business to textiles.”
Temponi’s own educational background is a unique combination of different disciplines: she holds a master of business administration as well as a doctorate in industrial engineering. Her specialty is supply chain management and logistics.
“I applied to the Fulbright Program’s business track,” she says, “although supply chain management and logistics is a common topic in both business and engineering.” She went to Peru as a Fulbright Senior Specialist in business engineering, an interdisciplinary field that focuses on how complex businesses should be designed and managed.
Peruvian Adventure Temponi, who grew up in Venezuela, was a little apprehensive about teaching in Spanish. “It was a little bit scary,” she says, “because I learned the technical terminology in English and I was going to teach it in Spanish. I was not 100 percent comfortable teaching it in Spanish, even though Spanish is my first language.”
She taught for three hours a day, Monday through Friday, in the evenings because most of the students worked during the day. The efforts these students made to get to the class impressed her. “The transportation in Lima is unbelievably complex,” she says, “so I was amazed at the difficulties students have to circumvent to get to class. The traffic is horrible. It can take an hour to travel 10 miles. About 75 percent of the students work full-time jobs, and most of them have to leave work two hours early to get to the university.”
While in Lima, Temponi had the opportunity to study supply chain logistics at local businesses and take that information back to her class. “I visited four different industries and then used examples from these companies to illustrate things in class,” she says. “So the students could extrapolate those concepts to apply in their own environments.”
Temponi also received attention from local media. “I was invited to do a 15-minute segment on public television about the workshop and how it benefits education in Peru,” she says. “And I also did interviews with two professional journals.”
She says she was amazed and pleased at the hospitality she received. ”The students wanted to make sure that I saw certain interesting places they are proud of,” she explains. “If I said I hadn’t, they’d say ‘on the weekend I will come and take you there, you should not leave Lima without seeing that place.’ That was something I wasn’t expecting. Most of them have to leave home at 5 a.m. to get to work, and they don’t get back home until 11 p.m. And then they have homework. But they were willing to go the extra mile.”
Life on Three Continents Temponi grew up in two cultures. She was born in Venezuela to a Venezuelan mother and an Italian father, then spent part of her youth traveling between Venezuela and Italy before coming to the United States in 1982 to study for her master’s degree in industrial engineering.
She spent 11 years working for Exxon and traveling between Houston and Venezuela. After receiving a second master’s degree – an MBA – she earned a doctorate in industrial engineering,
“With my life experience and my work experience, I have both cultural diversity and professional diversity,” she says. “So I enjoy working with my colleagues in the McCoy College. I have learned and am still learning a lot from them. I also enjoy working with the engineering school here at Texas State because engineering has a very diverse faculty; engineers come from all backgrounds — different disciplines and different countries. Both academic colleges are full of opportunities and challenges; I like that.”
Life at Texas State Temponi came to the university in 1993 as an assistant professor of business. She currently teaches in the Department of Management. “Dr. Temponi brings a passionate enthusiasm for her discipline to the classroom that is contagious,” says Dr. Paula Rechner, department chair. “Our graduate students respond especially well to her high expectations and the ongoing mentoring and research opportunities she provides. Dr. Temponi's blend of industry experience, well-honed research skills, and commitment to maintaining currency in her discipline allows her to make valuable contributions to student and faculty development.”
Temponi has seen many changes in her 16 years at Texas State. McCoy Hall, the beautiful and high-tech home of the McCoy College of Business Administration, opened in 2006. Then in 2008, the university opened the Ingram School of Engineering. The school’s director, Dr. Harold Stern, requested Temponi’s assistance.
“Cecilia symbolizes a very special type of collaboration between the Ingram School of Engineering and the McCoy College of Business Administration,” Stern says. “She is assigned three-quarters of the time to the McCoy College and one-quarter of the time to the Ingram School. Her expertise and her research are in areas where the two disciplines — management and industrial engineering — meet.”
Dr. Denise Smart, dean of the McCoy College of Business Administration, sees tremendous value in the partnership. “There is more appreciation than ever regarding the benefits of cross-disciplinary collaboration,” Smart says. “Dr. Temponi’s educational, work and academic experiences allow her to understand both technical engineering and applied business dimensions of a situation. Her expertise helps bridge understanding between the two areas. Ultimately the partnership between the Ingram School of Engineering and the McCoy College of Business strengthens our ability to educate students, produce meaningful solutions to complex problems through research and contribute to the economic viability of our region and state.”
Temponi says her involvement with the Ingram School of Engineering is twofold. “First of all, I’m helping them with the development of their graduate programs, a master of science in engineering,” she says.
She also serves as a mentor to the school’s young faculty members. “I am an engineer by training with a lot of industry experience,” she says, “and it’s a neat experience to mentor someone in academia in a discipline I practiced for many years.”
| || |
Cecilia Temponi file
Hometown: Boconó, Trujillo, Venezuela
Education: BS, chemical engineering, University of Zulia, Venezuela, 1977; MS, industrial engineering, Louisiana State University, 1984; MBA, St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, 1987; PhD, industrial engineering, University of Texas at Arlington, 1992
Currently: Professor, McCoy College of Business Administration
On Lima, Peru: “It’s interesting how well they are doing in spite of the limitations they have because of their infrastructure and their transportation. The alpaca fibers that are in high demand all over the world are successfully handled from the local production all the way to the export. That’s supply chain logistics.”
On the people there: “It is extremely important to them that any person who goes to Lima or to Peru has a good experience.”
Rising Stars Profiles
Rising Stars Archive