Business & Economics Dept
Dr. Cowles’ background is in commercial banking, where he worked for one of the largest commercial banks in New England. One of the most fascinating and fulfilling aspects of his banking career was working with entrepreneurs who had a better idea for doing something and who left secure careers to start a successful business of their own.
During a recent sabbatical he redeployed his banking skills in microfinance, working in Washington, D.C. as an investment consultant and acting director of investments at MicroVest Capital Management, a firm that raises funds from commercial investors and invests them in microfinance institutions worldwide.
Dr. Cowles’ primary undergraduate teaching responsibilities include business ethics and strategy, international business, and an introductory survey of business. He also teaches a course entitled Comparative Perspectives on Business and Society in EMU’s MBA program, which examines business ethics and policy at the level of the employee, the firm, and the macro economy. As quoted in an article on the teaching of ethics in business schools published in the Daily News Record (3/27/10), Dr. Cowles stated, “The free market system is based on trust. It’s not a peripheral issue. It’s central to the free market.”
He has also led a variety of cross-cultural programs in Japan, Europe, Jamaica, and the Navajo Nation, many of them geared toward his interests in international business and development.
Dr. Cowles currently chairs the Department of Business and Economics and plays an active role in university governance. As Department Chair he is a practicing manager, continually involved in the types of actions and decisions concerning people, resources, and policy that most middle managers in a business–or any type of organization–are involved in. He has served on a number of committees, including the Faculty Senate, that take part in university governance, which includes formulating policy, making strategic decisions about the direction of the university, and developing new initiatives.
Dr. Gingrich specializes in development and international economics. His research activities cover a variety of topics, including the fair trade coffee market, mosquito net delivery in Tanzania, microfinance programs in Nepal, and financial crises in Southeast Asia. He has worked extensively with Mennonite Economic Development Associates and Mennonite Central Committee.
A professor at EMU since 1995, he teaches in both the Department of Business and Economics and the Master of Business Administration program.
Leah Kratz, CPA, MBA teaches various courses in the Accounting program including Financial Accounting, Intermediate, Advanced, Cost Accounting and Auditing. She earned an accounting degree at EMU and MBA at James Madison University. Her work experience includes public accounting and most recently in government, working for the State of Virginia as the Assistant Fiscal Director of Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center. Leah lives in Harrisonburg with her husband, Jeremy and their four children, Madeleine, Sophia, Anderson and Nolan. In her spare time she enjoys travel, cooking, reading and exercising.
James M. Leaman, Ph.D., is an EMU alum, having graduated with majors in business administration and computer science. After gaining several years’ experience in business management in the local region, Jim enrolled at James Madison University where he earned a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) focusing on nonprofit management and administration. For the next 12 years Jim worked in missions and business in Kenya, providing educational and operational leadership and management with an international non-governmental organization (NGO). Prior to joining the EMU faculty Jim earned a Ph.D. in Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. In addition to directing the MBA program, Jim teaches MBA courses in the areas of organizational leadership and nonprofit management, as well as undergraduate courses primarily in the areas of economics, organizational management, international relations, and sustainability.
Anthony E. Smith, PhD, teaches in the EMU Business and Economics Department and in the MBA program. He co-directed the EMU MBA program from January 2008 to June 2012, and helped develop the concentration in Nonprofit Entrepreneurial Management. Dr. Smith serves as founder-CEO of Secure Futures, LLC, a solar development company that developed the EMU solar project, Virginia’s first large solar photovoltaic system in 2010, and the W&L solar project in 2011. He previously directed the Staunton Creative Community Fund, Inc., a nonprofit community development financial corporation he co-developed with support from the City of Staunton and civic and business leaders. He also previously served as the Managing Director of the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, VA, where he contributed to its financial and managerial turn-around. He has founded, co-founded and/or directed numerous small businesses and nonprofit organizations in community economic development, sustainable agriculture, energy management, and commodity futures trading in energy. Previously he served as National Program Leader for Community-Based Entrepreneurial Development for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Cooperative Research Education, and Extension Service.
Dr. Ronald L. Stoltzfus, CPA, Ph.D., specializes in financial accounting reporting issues. His work experience includes the controllership of a large farm equipment company in southeastern Pennsylvania and summer projects with a local construction contractor, tire retreader, and an aviation company. He has been part of the EMU department of business and economics since 1984. His research interests include off-balance sheet obligations and pensions. Other interests include applications for the Balanced Scorecard.
Walt came to EMU with nearly 30 years of experience as a professional economist mostly with NERA Economic Consulting where he performed quantitative economic analyses in support of clients engaged in litigation or seeking professional advice and consulting. His work included the analysis of firms and markets and the calculation of business damages in a number of different industries. Walt retired from NERA at the end of 2005 and began a second career in higher education at EMU. He teaches courses in information systems, project management, economics, quantitative methods and research methods and statistics.
In addition to working as office coordinator for the business and economics department, Patty Eckard is a mother of two adult sons. Her hobbies include reading, crosstitch, scrapbooking, and cooking, and spending time with her granddaughter. She is actively involved in her church (Faith Community) where she is on the worship team.